Photography Arts MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
Successful applicants usually will have a good BA or BFA degree in photography or fine art, art history, cultural and media studies. Applicants with a good professional experience of photography or related practices in television, film, and the wider visual arts are also welcome. Applicants without these may be accepted in exceptional circumstances, provided applicants can demonstrate their ability to meet the demands of the course. An interview is normally held and a portfolio of practical work demonstrates the applicant's skills, passion and ambition for developing their own photographic work is essential. Evidence of written research knowledge may be requested. If English is your second language you will need an IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.0 in each element.
This highly successful photography course offers a dynamic and exciting environment for studying Independent practice and critical theory of photography at Masters level. You will develop a high level of expertise and scholarship in visual practice techniques and written research. The course explores the different relationships between photographic practice and photography theory in a flexible scheme. You will develop your practice in the context of thinking about photography as a broad social and historical phenomena in art, popular culture and global mass media. Students develop their own project work and graduate with a solid portfolio of work that shows awareness of the social, ethical and critical issues involved in photographic representation.
Throughout the course you will work on projects designed to develop and extend your practice and skills. Critical theory modules contextualise the practice of photography and enable you to develop personal areas of research interest, extending and often transforming your own visual practice.
Image and Language and Uncommon Practices are practical modules that provide a tutored framework for your work, the former developing a specific practice, the latter introducing new practical and critical approaches to visual work.
The Text and the Body and Aesthetics and Rhetoric are lecture/seminar-based modules engaging in the fields of criticism and cultural theory relevant to the study of photography. The module Contemporary Debates, supported by distinguished guest speakers, develops the relationship between theory and practice and provides a pivotal focus for the later stages of your work. In theory modules you will write and be assessed on 3,000-word essays.
You will complete your study with a major body of visual work, a dissertation, or a theory/practice option.
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.
AESTHETICS AND RHETORIC
Through this module you will explore a critical history of modernism and postmodernism in relation to photography, and consider the questions of cultural aesthetics and rhetoric informing such discourses.
This module will enable you to address contemporary problems within the field of photography and culture in a shared programme of seminar-based study. It will place photography within a wider perspective of cultural theory and criticism through exploring questions of culture and history in our period of change and uncertainty.
This project will give you the opportunity to consolidate your use of theories and concepts introduced on the course in a written form. You will develop a thesis argument in a self-generated programme of research work with tutorial support.
IMAGE AND LANGUAGE
You will consider the notion of the ‘purely visual’ image in relationship to meaning, and explores the function of language in relation to photography, producing new work along the way.
This provides a framework for you to undertake sustained photographic inquiry, and produce a final body of photographic work at an advanced level, which will usually be exhibited in a public venue.
This module will help you to develop a photographic project through research in practice, and identify potential strategies for the Major Project.
THE TEXT AND THE BODY
This module will develop your understanding of critical debates in the theory and history of photography. It challenges assumptions about the production and consumption of images, through an examination of the relationship between authors, pictures and readers.
The Theory/Practice module provides a framework for you to produce a body of photography-based work, in conjunction with a theoretical paper related or parallel to your practice. The final visual work is usually exhibited in a public venue in London in the September of the graduating year.
You will take the Theory Research module if you are looking to complete your course through either the Dissertation or Theory/ Practice path. This module will help you to identify an area of research that leads to the production of either of those two pieces of work.
You will have the opportunity to deploy new strategies in the realisation of a body of practical work. You will be encouraged to question and extend the use of visual images, and experiment with different photographic production techniques. The module draws on a range of visual strategies drawn from the historical avant-garde, conceptual art and recent contemporary practices.
The course prepares graduates for a range of career paths in the arts, media and photography. Many successful graduates work as artists/photographers and also develop careers in related work within the creative industries. Graduate opportunities range from picture agency work, curators and as innovators of independent projects. Many also pursue careers in lecturing and teaching of photography. Graduates have a high success in developing their research work at doctoral level and the MA also has a high reputation amongst potential employers within the sector.
David Bate, Course Leader
David Bate is a photographic artist and writer. He studied at Portsmouth College of Art before going on to do the famous BA Honours Film and Photographic Arts course at the Polytechnic of Central London (PCL). After working as a photographer and tutor in London he took the MA in Social History of Art at the University of Leeds, also completing a PhD there with Griselda Pollock during the 1990s.
David was one of the first UK photographic artists to experiment with digital photography. His work has travelled widely. Most recently he was Artist-in-Residence in Melbourne, Australia where he shot his new work, about ‘globalisation’ called Australian Picnic. His writings include the books Photography and Surrealism and Photography: Key Concepts. A founder member of the artist-run gallery Accident, later re-named as Five Years, he also co-curated several shows there. As an influential teacher, he has taught and was the course leader of the famous British Social Documentary Photography programme at Surrey Institute of Art (now University of the Creative Arts) at Farnham. He later moved to the University of Westminster, where he is currently leads photography research including Doctoral candidates and the MA Photographic Studies programme.
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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