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 the applicant can demonstrate their ability to meet the demands of the course. An interview is normally held and a portfolio of practical work, which demonstrates the applicant’s skills, passion and ambition for developing their own photographic work is essential. Evidence of written skills and research knowledge may also be requested. If English is your second language you will need IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in each element.
The Photography Arts MA is a new revalidated course, which replaces the former Photographic Studies MA (1996-2016). The programme helps you develop your own distinct photographic practice and visual research, and is designed to enable you to advance and focus your photographic practice in making new work, supported by a positive educational environment where you can accumulate new knowledge and develop new critical thinking. Students are fully supported by our internationally renowned photography staff.
In an open-minded educational environment you will be able to explore the dynamic range of your photographic practice, engage in innovative thinking and cultivate new independent creative strategies for your practice. Situated in the dynamic Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, you will draw on extensive photographic facilities and a wealth of inter-disciplinary expertise in this world-famous centre for the practice and critical research of photography.
The course has an open definition of photography as a medium and practice, recognising plural tendencies in its definition and identity. Different modes of practice may be developed and pursued on the course, which encompasses a wide range of methods and techniques: conceptualism, expanded documentary, video, archival, fine art, experimental, installation, fictional realism, and other performative modes of photographic practice. The course encourages open experimentation in the development of new ideas and work. You will advance your practical work choosing new or traditional techniques, digital or analogue forms, or a mixture of approaches. The course champions a long and proud tradition of new and challenging photography at the University.
This is the right course if you are highly motivated, excited to develop and expand your independent practice alongside critical research. Working with our highly experienced staff you can find new approaches and forms of thinking about photography. Alumni from the course (under the former title Photographic Studies MA) now work all over the world in a range of careers as photographers, artists, picture editors, researchers and careers in the creative industries. Do you want to join them?
The course aims to develop your practice, informed by research. The course sets out to stimulate thinking through practice as a way to generate new innovative work. Students make and actively present their visual work in exhibition, book and/or screen modes of presentation to explore ideas and experiments in new methods of practice and representation. Critical research modules help inform and elaborate the contemporary situation of photography as cultural practice, whether considered in the arts and/or media environment. Excellent facilities and technical workshops support the research and practice. Students write three short research essays during the course, each aimed at broadening knowledge of photography and its related histories and criticism. There is no dissertation on this course except as an option.
The course enables students to become independent practitioners, generating new and informed work. You will be empowered with new visual, practical and critical skills that culminate in the Masters Project, which you will show at the end of the course in the degree show. The final degree show is in our fabulous Ambika P3 exhibition venue in Marylebone, London.
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 Photography
The module explores the question of photography in relation to aesthetic issues. Questions of affect, the real, and modes of production of photographic meaning are explored in contemporary culture and the histories of photography. Critically informed by lectures and seminars, the module enables a broader knowledge and experience of the theory and practice of questioning cultural and aesthetic functions of the photographic image and process.
The course invites a range of international guest speakers (e.g artists, photographers, critics, philosophers), to give dedicated talks about contemporary culture and image debates. The issues, visual work and themes explored in talks and the critical discussions afterwards are a means to inspire questions and debate. Students are then encouraged to develop their own paths of research and explore new topics of visual research.
The Masters Project is the major body of work developed on the course and forms the key work in your photography portfolio. You be able to direct your personal goals and advance them through your practice. The Masters Project is usually exhibited in the final degree show at Ambika P3, our fabulous exhibition venue near Baker Street in Marylebone, London. Students are supported with individual tutorials, group reviews of work, exhibition presentation and professional career support. The framework of the course and its research modules all help to inform this Masters project, which provides the future orientated career path of its producer.
The Photography Practice module enables you to expand, develop and test photographic ideas and explore them in a longer photography project, lasting up to one year. Your photographic project work will help to develop a visual form of project work through exploring different methods and modes of working process. The module offers a supportive environment, providing an important context for advancing the photographic work. Photography staff help to stimulate new directions for the work, with individual tutorials, group discussions and practical workshops providing a clear curriculum.
In creative and critical play, students develop a research process to inform their Master’s project. Research Methods explores new methods, photographic techniques and visual strategies and provides the basis for research and development of this major project, its subject matter and contextual knowledge. Students acquire new critical tools and research paths alongside practical techniques and new intellectual ideas. ‘Doing and thinking’ is a key part of the development process for new work.
Theories of the Image
Photography theory, first developed at this University, helps to develop a critical understanding of photography as a plural practice, and to introduce current theoretical debates on photography. The various uses of photography in art and media environments offer a challenge in constructing a view of what photography is and does. Theory and practice are brought together in this module to show their mutual relations.
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.
Lucy Soutter, Course Leader
A multi-disciplinary background provides the foundation for Lucy Soutter’s teaching and writing. After concentrating in Visual and Environmental Studies and English at Harvard College, Lucy received an MFA in Photography from CalArts. Her Yale University PhD thesis in the History of Art, The Visual Idea, examined the uses of photography by first generation conceptual artists. An influential teacher, Lucy has held posts at The London College of Communication, The Sotheby’s Institute and The Royal College of Art. Ideas developed through her teaching can be found in her book Why Art Photography? published by Routledge in 2013 and translated into Spanish and Chinese. She joined the University of Westminster in 2016.
Informed by her background as an artist, Lucy’s writing focuses on questions of value and meaning in photography, particularly in relation to the global networks of contemporary art. She writes art criticism for publications including Aperture, Source, Frieze and Art India. Her current research interests include the translation of photographic concepts between cultures, and the current expansions of photography into other art forms.
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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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.
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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.
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More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
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