Photography BA (Hons)
BA Hons Photography
Applying for 2021/22 entry? See how you'll be taught in our Covid information for applicants.
Photography is undergoing a revolution in how images are made, encountered and experienced.
On this BA (Hons) Photography course, you'll gain the knowledge, experience and professional skills you need to work with the latest photographic ideas, techniques, and technologies.
Through research, experimentation, and production, you'll get an advanced grounding in analogue and digital photography and develop a professional, conceptual and aesthetic appreciation of the medium.
You'll engage with modern developments in photography, using our extensive professional photographic facilities and equipment such as our photographic studios, analogue and digital darkrooms, and the latest camera and production equipment. You'll also be introduced to new advancements in photography, such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), photogrammetry and 3D printing, setting yourself apart from others in a challenging job market and preparing yourself for work in the creative industries.
Industry and professional practice is embedded throughout the course, giving you plenty of opportunities to apply your skills and knowledge in situations you'll experience in your photography career. You can also do an optional paid placement year between years 2 and 3.
When you complete the course, you'll be set for working on commissions and self-assigned photography projects, either self-employed or working for a company. You could also continue your studies at postgraduate level.
95% Graduates in work or further study (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019)
94% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2020)
- A levels – BBB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDD–DDM
- International Baccalaureate – 25
- All shortlisted applicants will need to attend an interview with a portfolio of work.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
What you'll experience
On this Photography course, you'll:
- Challenge photographic traditions, think progressively and act radically
- Gain a thorough grounding in the challenges of image making, including images as documents, narrative, fiction, and physical and virtual objects
- Through research, experimentation and production, develop your distinct photographic approach within the field of photography
- Be taught by practising professionals with experience in exhibiting, publishing, curating and writing about photography
- Access an impressive range of industry-standard equipment, including digital medium format cameras, professional DSLRs
- Use the latest advanced image processing software, such as Adobe Suite, Capture One, and Cinema4d
- Enjoy excellent photographic studio facilities, including our photographic studios with flash and tungsten lighting setups and black and white, colour and digital darkrooms
- Work with pioneering technologies and techniques, such as computer-generated imagery (CGI), photogrammetry, virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing
- Conceive and produce exhibitions and presentations, promoting your work to the public through industry portfolio reviews and a final-year graduate showcase
You can also:
- Take advantage of our connections, with the opportunity to meet a variety of world-renowned speakers such as Clare Strand, Peter Kennard, Kalpesh Lathigra, Emma Hardy, Simon Norfolk, Laura Pannack, Oliver Chanarin, Bettina von Zwehl, Faisal Abdu'allah, Sunil Gupta and Brian Griffin
- Go on optional annual study visits to galleries and photography festivals – previous locations have included London, Paris, Berlin and Brighton
- Spend a sandwich year applying your skills in the photography industry after year 2
BA (Hons) Photography student work
Click on an image to enlarge and find out more about the photographer and their work.
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the industry.
Previous students have gone on to work as:
- studio photographers
- video directors
- picture editors
- fashion photographers
Other graduates have continued their studies at postgraduate level or set up successful businesses with help and support from the University.
After you graduate, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry.
You can work for a relevant company or organisation. Or set up and run your own business, alone or as a group. Previous students have completed placements as studio assistants at Camera Work London and photographic and video archival assistants at Miraculous Entertainment.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll have access to Creative Careers, a team within the faculty that can help you to find placement opportunities within the creative industries. The team will provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search (including help with applications and interviews) and support throughout your placement, if you need it.
Work experience and career planning
This course features several modules that allow you to get professional experience, giving you the experience, business knowledge and contacts to start your career.
Our Careers and Employability Service and faculty-based Creative Careers service can help you find relevant work experience in the photography industry during your course. They can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your portfolio.
What you'll study
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
Core modules in this year include:
- Creative and Industry Skills
- Introduction to Photographic Practices and Research
- Introduction to Visual Culture
- Professional Practice and work experience
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Advanced Skill and Innovation
- Photographic Critical Practices and Research
- Photographic Practice and Project Development
- Professional Experience and Freelance Experience
Optional modules in this year include:
- Art, Design and Performance Study Exchange
- Visual Culture: Cult, Taste and Collecting
- Visual Culture: Performing Identity
- Visual Culture: Technology and the Image
- Visual Culture: Visions of the Body
- Research in the Public Sphere
- Student Enterprise
- Professional Experience
- Engaged Citizenship through Interdisciplinary Practice
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
You can work for a relevant company or organisation, or set up and run your own business – alone or as a group. Previous students have completed placements as a studio assistants at Camera Work London and as a photographic and video archival assistants at Miraculous Entertainment.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll have access to Creative Careers, a dedicated team within the faculty helping students to find placement opportunities within the creative industries. They’ll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search, including help with applications and interviews, and support throughout your placement, should you need it.
Core modules in this year include:
- Advanced Practice Research
- Major Projects in Photography
- Professional Practice and Graduate Employability
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Blogs, Grants and Catalogues: Writing Visual Culture for the Public
- Advanced Digital Process
- Visual Culture: Research Project
- Visual Culture: Dissertation
We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.
Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
Carousel is an installation piece designed to replicate the domestic viewing of colour slides within the mid 20th century. The slides projected for this installation derive from my own collection, found in junk shops, often jumbled up to be sifted through. The random juxtaposition of lives and situations has inspired this work. The work both celebrates the slides and the era of its popularity and makes use of it to suggest the ephemeral nature of human existence.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- photography assignments projects
- industry and innovative projects
- professional practice, work and freelance experience projects
- research and development reports and journals
- essays and presentations
- portfolios and artist books
- screen-based and moving image work
- exhibition projects
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:
- Year 1 students: 13% practical exams and 87% coursework
- Year 2 students: 23% practical exams and 77% coursework
- Year 3 students: 7% practical exams and 93% coursework
Teaching methods on this course include:
- individual tutorials
Teaching on this course has a practical focus.
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.
For more about the teaching activities for specific modules, see the module list above.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
In 2021/22, we're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, tutorials, fieldwork, project supervision, external visits and supervised time in studio or workshop for about 11 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – early October to January
- Assessment period 1 – late January to early February
- Teaching block 2 – February to May
- Assessment period 2 – May to June
Extra learning support
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
You’ll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.
Student support advisor
In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.
Academic skills tutors
You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
- Understanding and using assignment feedback
- Managing your time and workload
- Revision and exam techniques
Creative skills tutors
If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.
IT and computing support
Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5pm to midnight at busy times of the year.
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Tuition fees (2021 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £15,500 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.
You may have to cover the cost of professional finishing of prints and portfolios in your final year. The estimated cost is £250–£1,200.
You will incur extra printing costs on portfolio work of around £100–£600.
Material and production costs vary from around £300–£800 per year.
All study trips are optional and you'll need to cover the full cost of these.
Optional study trips abroad cost around £200–£800. Optional UK trips cost £50–£150.
How to apply
To start this course in 2021, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – W640
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.