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.
Our dedicated Career Development Centre is actively working with an ever-expanding network of over 3,000 employers to provide you with exceptional employability support and guidance. As a result we were nominated as finalists for a significant industry award – the NUE Awards Most Improved Commitment to Employability 2016.
We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
During your time at Westminster you will be able to use our comprehensive online vacancy service and meet with our experienced careers consultants, providing you with thorough training and support on CV writing, application forms, interview preparation and assessment centres.
In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Career options in your subject area
Our team of careers consultants work closely with Faculty departments to deliver tailored employability support, including subject-specific workshops, employer events and careers information, advice and guidance.
Study in the city
If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.
Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.
After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.
Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships
In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.
All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.
Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.
Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.
Personal advice and counselling
While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.
With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.
Study Abroad and Summer School programmes
Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.
If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.
Sport and recreation
The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.
University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.