Documentary Photography and Photojournalism MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
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 film or media, but you will be expected to display a substantial visual portfolio that demonstrates a commitment to 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 sees documentary practice as an expanding and developing medium. The course offers a unique combination of critical understanding for documentary photographers and photojournalists working in the field of contemporary media practice. It 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 is especially useful for photographers, media professionals and graduates who wish to broaden and deepen their skills and knowledge in relation to a variety of documentary practices.
The emphasis of the course is on the development of your practice, through experimentation and knowledge creation through contemporary approaches to documentary, visual storytelling (including photo essays and single images for publication), picture editing, critical academic and journalistic writing, as well as many related areas such as collaborative practice, montage, the archive. The subjects covered and the major project will allow you to consolidate your learning through exciting research into independent practice. The primary course resources are those in the Margaret Harker Photographic Centre and J block video facilities, which are equipped to the highest professional standards for both analogue and digital production.
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. All modules involve classroom teaching, tutorials, seminars, workshops and your own fieldwork.
Core modules, semester 1
Design and Concept – Documentary Photography. The Photo Book
This module extended, to be taken in semester 1-2 on alternative weeks on Tuesday evenings. 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.
The development of writing skills that will enable you to understand and put into practice the different models and conventions of writing with photographs, including; feature writing, critical analysis, appraisal, interviews, collaborative writing and captions. Studies of the novel and storytelling, including the boundaries between fact and fiction. Exploration of critical understandings of the relationship between text and image.
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.
Core modules, semester 2
Design Photography and Text – The Publication
To collaborate and collectively produce a publication, that will:
- explore innovative and innovative content outside of popular magazine culture
- be creative with content typography and design
- have equal image and text contribution from all of the editorial team
- explore and experiment with the possibilities of a photographic publication, in the broadest sense
- be able to collectively adapt a photographic ‘style’ with the entire editorial team
- produce a publication that can be conceived as a hard copy OR web publication.
Critical Theory – 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.
Core modules, semester 3
You can elect to undertake the major project or Dissertation.
Practice Based – The Major Project
The Major Project is the opportunity to produce a self-determined project that expresses key disciplines and practices you have engaged in throughout the course for the creation and production of a documentary, which is informed by creative experimentation, investigation, research and development, and production.
Your ‘major project’ can be produced as:
- a photo-book
- portfolio or folio of prints
- audio visual presentation
- online presentation
- other appropriate presentational forms in discussion with tutors
It summarises and reflects the anticipated potential of your practice.
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. Students are encouraged to investigate a range of primary and secondary sources in the production of this intellectually challenging conclusion of their theoretical studies.
The course gives you a number of key skills that will make you highly employable in the media and publishing industries, whatever area you choose as your speciality, be it photography, book or magazine publishing or web-based publications. You will create work of high standard to enhance your professional portfolio.
David Moore, Course Leader
David Moore is a widely published and exhibited photographic practitioner using documentary modes to observe state and social apparatus and whose practice includes explorations of institutional power and hegemony using still photography, performance and moving image. With a background in commercial photography both in the UK and New York, and as an editorial photographer in the UK, 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 others. His work is held in public and private collections and 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 practice migrates between protracted personal projects, commercial assignments and stock photography/footage. He is one of the founder members of Blendimages LLC and Director of er Productions Ltd. His stills and film work are represented by Getty Images. 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 major publications in the UK and abroad include: The Independent, The Guardian and Life.
Visit Ben Edward's profile page.
Dr 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). He is co-curating the inaugural show at Le Bal, Paris, and 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 Here Press, 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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