Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA
View course-specific entry requirements
You should possess, or be expecting, a good undergraduate degree or, exceptionally, have previous relevant experience. Your previous undergraduate degree does not need to be in a related subject but you will be expected to display a substantial visual portfolio and some knowledge of context that demonstrates a commitment to studying documentary practice.
You will need fluent written and spoken English to study at postgraduate level. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of 7.0 or equivalent.
The course explores documentary practices and photojournalism as exciting and developing mediums, through a combination of practice based teaching and discussion of critical contexts.
We take each applicant on their own merit. This can include students of documentary photography or photographers in general who are interested in specialising in this area. Also welcome are artists who wish to focus their activities on a more social practice, and individuals from other disciplines, who wish to explore the subject area at post grad level.
The course builds on the international stature of the photographic and journalism departments of the University and is designed to equip you with an awareness of contemporary documentary and photojournalism, drawing on a variety of related media.
The course can be taken in full-time or part-time mode.
The Documentary and Photojournalism MA allows students to explore ideas of society through photographically related practice and within critically informed ways that maintain connections with the issue, yet also consider fresh visual approaches to the subject matter.
We approach photography as a social practice, situated within its own history, but also drawing on various discourses. We explore the idea that documentary practice and photojournalism may take many forms in the 21st Century.
Importantly, from your arrival, we emphasize the development of your own practice, through experimentation, critique and theory, and encourage analysis of practice through contemporary perspectives.
The course leads towards the Final Major Project, which is a consolidation of student learning into a high profile event in a central London exhibition space.
You will be taught by practising professional photographers, artists and writers, within a supportive course atmosphere. Technically, the course resources are equipped to the highest professional standards for both analogue and digital production of still and moving image.
All modules involve classroom teaching, tutorials, seminars, workshops, group work and your own fieldwork and are designed to equip you with advanced ways of working and negotiating your practice. We take the view that the work you make from the beginning of your studies with us is potentially valid currency for external use.
We encourage you to explore production of a body of documentary/photojournalistic works through the development of personal practice in the real world by:
- Creating an informal learning agreement which emphasizes a real world engagement
- Exploring appropriate responses to given situations
- Exploration of documentary methods
- Challenging expectations.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
You will explore production of a body of documentary work and developing on personal practice. This module will give you the opportunity to begin work that ultimately will inform your final major project and can be understood here as a testing ground for what will follow. Following an informal learning agreement which emphasizes a real world engagement, you will be expected to: find appropriate responses to given situations, explore innovative and discursive methods, be experimental with content and complete a body work that challenges expectations.
THE PHOTO BOOK
This module focuses on the photo-book and the composite elements required for book production. The photo-book can be documentary, or story based involving: research-based content and subject matter – normally based on people, a collaborative approach, creative photography, the symbiotic relationship of text and image, layout and design, innovative approaches to the photo-book, a written critical evaluation. The project is set within the boundaries of the M25.
HISTORY AND THEORY OF THE PUBLISHED PAGE
The module aims to equip students with the historical and critical contexts that inform contemporary editorial photographic practice.
This module offers the development of writing skills that will enable you to understand and put into practice the different models and conventions of writing with and about photographs, including; feature writing, critical analysis, appraisal, interviews, collaborative writing and captions. They include:
- Studies of the novel and storytelling
- The boundaries between fact and fiction
- Exploration of critical understandings of the relationship between text and image
FINAL MAJOR PROJECT
The final major project is your opportunity to produce a self-determined project expresses key disciplines and practice’s you have engaged in throughout the course. Your major project can take any appropriate form.
The Dissertation module provides an extended space for a self-initiated investigation, which builds on theoretical and critical debates studied earlier in the course. This module requires substantial research and an advanced level of understanding and analysis. You are encouraged to investigate a range of primary and secondary sources in the production of this intellectually challenging conclusion of your theoretical studies.
You will have to choose one module among the options below:
This module is offered by the Photography Arts MA. It is driven by student initiatives to address contemporary debates and the specialisms of the visiting lectures. The talks are designed to inspire and provide you with a critical framework to discuss issues and debates, via key theoretical concepts related to photography and visual culture. The speakers include practitioners and theorists working within the field of photography, visual arts and cultural theory.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND AESTHETICS
This module is offered by the Photography Arts MA. The module explores the specific effects of different photographic practices through their aesthetic strategies and rhetorical aims. The purpose is to situate practices within histories, theories and contexts to consider their place in relation to contemporary photographic debates. The module focuses on specific themes, e.g. documentary (the ‘document’, social documentary and realism,) and the issues it raises for its presence in today’s modern global context.
THE PORTRAIT IN DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY
Creative exploration of the photographic portrait. Gathering information through a variety of interview techniques. Production of a series of stand-alone portraits, with accompanying, supporting and appropriate text, based on original research, interviews, and creativity, to communicate: A documentary work, a sense of place, using the urban spaces and buildings of London, cultural demographics particular to an area of Greater London, factual and fictional stories. Producing a bound folio staple or stich bound) of the portraits with accompanying text of five hundred words per portrait.
We would imagine our graduate to be well rounded and confident individual with adaptability facilitating new ways of seeing
In addition to the skills acquired of photographers enabling the production of works this will also involve proficient use of a variety of hardware, software, social media, presentation and production skills. The course will offer the development of various hardskills such as:
- Curation and Management of large and small scale projects
- Direction (either within film or theatrical modes)
- Advocacy, (such as in educational or community roles)
- Experience of group and collaborative working.
We intend that the student will be highly employable as a still photographer, documentary film-maker, educator, activist, artist and writer, and much more, as well as having preparation for further doctoral study.
David Moore, Course Leader
David is a widely published and exhibited photographic practitioner using documentary practice, with several published monographs that observe state and social apparatus and explorations of institutional power.
His 2008 book publication and touring exhibition, The Last Things (2008) developed various aspects of this practice yet, his publication, ’Pictures from the Real World. Colour Photographs 1987-88’ (2013) offered a revisionist look at his early work, and was published to critical acclaim in 2013. With a background in commercial photography both in the UK and New York, David turned to focus on his own practice more intently and has had solo shows at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Belfast Exposed; Impressions Gallery, Bradford; The Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool and many others.
His work has been published in many magazines, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Observer, etc and is held in public and private collections, He has been the recipient of several major funding awards from Arts Council England and The British Council.
Visit David Moore's profile page.
Ben Edwards, Senior Lecturer
Ben’s career commenced as a painter/printmaker with a postgraduate degree from the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Ben is a photographer/ film-maker, with an extensive educational practice spanning many years. His current activities migrate between personal projects, commercial assignments and stock imagery. He is one of the founder members of Blendimages LLC and Director of er Productions Ltd. His work is in private and public collections in the UK and abroad:The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK; The MOMA Houston, Texas, USA. Work previously published in publications in the UK and abroad include: The Independent, The Guardian and Life.
Visit Ben Edward's profile page.
David Campany, Reader in Photography
David is a well-known writer, curator and editor. His many books include Art and Photography (2003), The Cinematic (2007) and Photography and Cinema (2009) and The Open Road: Photography & the American Road Trip (2014)
His essays have appeared in publications around the world, including Cruel and Tender (2003), Edgar Martins: Topologies (2006), Atget: Photograph de Paris (2008), and The Everyday (2009). David writes for Frieze, Ojodepez, Art Review, Source, Photoworks and The Oxford Art Journal, and is a co-founder of PA magazine.
Visit David Campany's profile page.
Harry Hardie, Lecturer in Photography
Harry has been working with photography for over 10 years, starting as the assistant to the director of photography at The Times, London, then as the photo editor for The Times Luxx Magazine. After The Times Harry worked as director of HOST Gallery, London before founding HerePress, a company that publishes books of photography that explore new forms of documentary practice. Harry is also director of cultural projects for Panos Pictures and has curated numerous exhibitions of contemporary photography.
Visit Harry Hardie's profile page.
Length of course
One-year, full-time or two-year, part-time
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
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