BA (Hons) Photography

General

Program Description

Our distinctive BA (Hons) Photography programme focuses on a blend of creative and critical practice. It examines and encourages the many types of photographic image-making that emerge from photography as contemporary art.

As a student, you will develop technical, creative and analytical skills throughout the three years of the programme, to become an accomplished, innovative and critically informed image-maker.

Photography is a part of all of our daily lives, and the visual world as it is photographed is a crucial way for us to communicate our thoughts and our feelings – and to reflect on the world that we live in.

Today, we take more photographs than ever before, and it could be argued that photographic image-making is the most relevant and important creative discipline in the 21st century.

Taking an enquiring and experimental approach, while developing your technical and communication skills, will open up a range of creative and professional possibilities for you as a photographic practitioner. 

You’ll use a variety of media, covering digital and film-based photography, stills and moving image in order to proficiently express your photographic vision. You will also learn to critically reflect on your own practice and creativity.

You will be encouraged to develop your own ideas in relation to your practice and in doing so will try out a range of photographic methods, working with people and places, in urban locations, natural environments and in the studio. 

You’ll consider the photograph as document and object as well as in its virtual contexts, exploring self-expression and experimental processes. We will support you in discovering different ways of working and in finding a photographic language that works for you.

In addition, you will examine photography as a contemporary art form, and in relation to other practices. You will also consider photography in relation to culture, society and the wider world. 

On top of developing your individual identity as a photographer, you will be encouraged to work collectively and develop networks that will support your creative and professional future.

Ultimately, our photography programme will help you build your creativity, confidence, knowledge and expertise. Within the creative environment of our photographic centre at Plymouth College of Art, you will learn from staff who are practising artists and have a range of internationally recognised experience across art, documentary, curatorial and participatory-based forms of practice. 

As a teaching team, they will help you build your own distinctive and innovative creative practice. They will support you in developing your networks and help you to find your place within the world of contemporary photography. Over the three years of studying with us, you will be publishing, exhibiting and presenting your work and your ideas.

What will I achieve?

Our graduates have all the skills and knowledge that they need to work in the creative industries and build their artistic reputation. Our professional practice modules, which begin in the first year, help you to understand how to develop a career in creative photographic practice. 

You will need to gain entrepreneurial skills and will explore how to promote and support your work through exhibitions, publications and online formats. 

You will also learn how to develop supportive professional networks through genuine creative collaborations and how to fund your emerging practice through a variety of means such as sales, grants and competitions. 

Recent visiting artists and lecturers have included: Peter Kennard, Sian Davey, Louis Porter, Mathew Broadhead, Aaron Schuman, Eileen Perrier, Richard Billingham, Nicholas White, Daniel Meadows, Tom Hunter and Sophy Rickett.

Each year there are national and international study trips and visits as well as online exchanges, arranged to enrich and support the student experience and introduce you to the global photographic community. During 2017 these activities have included trips to Paris Photo and Tate Modern in London and a virtual photo-exchange and online symposia with students in Varanasi, India.

Students exhibit their work both within the college, nationally and internationally exposing your work to a range of professionals and audiences within the wider creative economy. Our graduating students show their work annually at the prestigious Free Range Shows in London and have been consistently recognised for their innovative and groundbreaking work with numerous awards, prizes, exhibition opportunities and magazine features. 

Thinking & making  

Study with us and you’ll expand your critical approach alongside developing skills in research and analysis. Our academically robust and intellectually stimulating degree programmes are delivered by our team of academics, technical demonstrators and invited experts who together deliver excellence in learning, teaching and assessment. Our programmes encourage diversity in thinking and making - from practical applications through to reflective, analytical writing.

We provide a dynamic, stimulating learning environment from which to test new models of practice while investing in the rich relationship between practice and theory - based on the potential in material and visual exploration, collaborative working, cross-fertilisation of ideas, and the exploration of histories and contemporary contexts.

Opportunities for studying abroad are available at our partner institutions.

BA (Hons) Photography — Highlights:

  • Develop creative, production and critical skills across a range of different lens and photographic-based media and consider the production, distribution and meaning of images, as well as examining the relationship between practice and theory.
  • Benefit from some of the best facilities and equipment resources in the country, providing access to a range of industry-standard photographic studios, traditional darkrooms, lighting and camera equipment.
  • Learn in the unique environment and study experience of a specialist art college, characterised by creativity, experimentation and imagination. You’ll be exposed to a broad range of influences and experiences, and benefit from opportunities to share ideas and work across disciplines.
  • Engage with opportunities to meet and interact with industry professionals, including photographic artists, picture editors, curators and writers, through our close links with the world of photography. Our curriculum includes a rich schedule of visits from lecturers and artists, many of whom also take an active role in the student experience, contributing to workshops, group critiques and seminar discussions, and providing portfolio review sessions.
  • Gain a wide range of skills and knowledge, enabling you to shape your future and make a positive impact in the creative industries. In addition to being technically proficient, visually sophisticated and professionally astute, our students graduate with a broad range of transferable skills that enable them to excel in the world of work.

Modules

Year 1

  • PHOT101 Introduction to Contemporary Photographic Practice 1
  • PHOT102 Introduction to Contemporary Photographic Practice 2
  • PHOT103 Exploring Photographic Practices
  • PHOT104 Professional Practice & Professional Development Plan (PDP) 1
  • BAIS300 Interdisciplinary Studies
  • BCOP100 Contexts of Practice 1

Year 2

  • PHOT201 Photographic Narrative 1
  • PHOT202 Photographic Narrative 2
  • BACP203 Professional Practice & Professional Development Plan (PDP) 2
  • GCOP200 Contexts of Practice 2

Year 3

  • PHOT301 Research and Development
  • PHOT302 Creative and Professional Development
  • PHOT303 Creative and Professional Conclusion
  • PHOT304 Contexts of Practice 3
    • Pathway One - Written Research Project (WRP) is an opportunity to conduct a substantive piece of independent research, which is focused on an area related to creative practice. 
    • Pathway Two - Contextual Enquiry Project (CEP) is a practice-led research project with critical commentary, in which students conduct an in-depth inquiry intended to inform and reposition their creative practice.

All modules listed are compulsory.

Careers & alumni

Connecting you with industry

Throughout your studies, your practical production work will be underpinned and informed by a rich programme of contextual and theoretical study. Alongside this, professional practice modules will provide you with the grounding in business, legal and ethical considerations that you’ll need to pursue your own career in the creative industries.

Recent visiting artists and lecturers have included Tom Hunter, Richard Billingham, Peter Kennard, Sophy Rickett, Sian Davey, Louis Porter, Matthew Broadhead, Aaron Schuman and Eileen Perrier, while the college’s onsite gallery has hosted exhibitions from Martin Parr, Suki Dhanda and Corinne Day.

Our strong international connections also allow our students to take a semester of study with one of our partner institutions within Europe and North America, and in turn, we welcome overseas students from those institutions to join us in our studios, creating an exciting cultural exchange.

Graduates become:

  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Curators
  • Art or Creative Directors
  • Creative Producers
  • Filmmakers
  • Writers
  • Academics, Lecturers and Teachers
  • Online Producers

‘Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

Our students say

Maciej Krzyminski – BA (Hons) Photography

"Being immersed in this arts institution has been very beneficial. The focus on a diverse range of arts programmes means that the people you meet around the college understand visual language, so having a chat with a fellow student or technician can instigate a great exchange of knowledge.

"There is a comfortable atmosphere right from taking the first step into the building. Plymouth College of Art is a fantastic place for making and learning, it has shaped my vision as an artist and has allowed me to progress and continue producing more work."

Anna Whittall – BA (Hons) Photography

“My Dad bought a compact digital camera and that started my interest in photography. Over the past four years I’ve tried out all the different genres and on the BA I started researching people like Troy Paiva who photographed derelict buildings in coloured light. My project is called ‘Derelict Perspective’. I’d started to photograph derelict spaces around Plymouth but found it difficult to access these sometimes dangerous buildings, especially at night. So I decided to build sets and models and to leave them out to weather, even set fire to them! Martyn (Ellison) is always very helpful – I couldn’t do it without him. All the tutors are brilliant.

"The models have almost become more important than the photographs, and I’ve been thinking about going on to work towards sets for animation and the MA in Entrepreneurship.

"I went to school in Liskeard and did Extended Diploma in Photography here before starting the BA. My brother came here years ago and I always wanted to come here. I looked at other Uni’s but they didn’t have these facilities.”

Entry requirements

2020 onwards: A portfolio and 112 - 120 UCAS points (earned through A-levels, BTEC National Diploma, or Foundation Diploma etc).

We also welcome applications from students who do not have formal qualifications but can provide evidence of their creativity, skills and experience. You will also be required to attend an interview in person or via Skype, Google Meet or similar online platform.

International students

Language requirements for study at Degree level

  • Trinity College London
    • Integrated Skills in English II (Level B2), minimum grade required: Reading: Pass Listening: Pass Certificate valid for two years
  • IELTS SELT Consortium
    • IELTS (Level B2), minimum grade required: IELTS overall score of 6.0 with a minimum score Listening: 5.5, Speaking: 5.5, Reading: 5.5, Writing: 5.5,
    • Certificate valid for two years

Visa requirements

  • As an international student, you will need a Tier 4 (General) student visa which you can apply for online.

Resources

Supported by our expert technical staff, our equipment and resources are among the best in the country. You will have access to a wide range of camera and lighting equipment, industry-standard photographic studios, both digital and traditional darkrooms and high-specification digital imaging and printing facilities.

You’ll be encouraged to use all of the resources available to you – including the 6,000 pieces of kit that are free to hire from our Equipment Resource Centre. The resources at the college and the experience of our teaching team will help you explore your creative potential as an image-maker in the 21st century.

Through regular seasons of talks by artists, academics, curators, picture editors, photobook publishers and web-based professionals, we explore the collective and individual opportunities available to you within the world of contemporary image-making.

Throughout all of our year groups, there are national and international study trips and visits arranged to enrich and support the student experience, such as to Paris Photo and exhibitions in London.

Our Careers & Enterprise office provides support from a dedicated team who are focused on employability and developing creative opportunities for students. And this doesn’t stop once you graduate – we want to keep in contact with you through our growing alumni network. 

Facilities at the college include:

Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Digital Print Bureau

Our Digital Print Bureau offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services.

Equipment Resource Centre

Our highly experienced Equipment Resource Centre staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Fashion Studios

This large professional studio offers a real-life fashion experience in a fabulous space with sea views. Specialist industrial and domestic sewing machines, a range of knitting machines and a wide stock of fabrics and knitting yarns sit alongside a media and marketing Mac suite, a fully operational CAD cutting facility, and a library of designer garments to inspire.

Last updated Aug 2020

About the School

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art is an art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers. We are home to a dynamic, cross-disciplinary community of makers and thinkers for whom ... Read More

Founded in 1856, Plymouth College of Art is an art school run by artists and designers for artists and designers. We are home to a dynamic, cross-disciplinary community of makers and thinkers for whom making is as important as reading and writing, and where the purpose of learning is inseparable from that of living your life. A place for making things, and making things happen. For making a difference. Read less