Photography BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)


September 2016

code: W640

Available in Clearing call now 01223 698444


Prepare yourself for work in the field of photography by developing your individual visual language through experimentation and exploration. Learn about the history of photography, technique and concepts. We’ll give you access to the equipment and expertise you’ll need to succeed in this adventurous industry.

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Full description


Our students usually go on to employment in the photographic, creative and media industries, or are self-employed photographers and artists.

We hold regular career development events which you can take part in while you’re studying with us.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Photographic Practice 1 and 2
    In these two core modules, you'll develop the skills required in producing photography as a creative means of expression, including: the use of different cameras, 35 mm and medium format; available and studio lighting; printing in black & white and colour. The subtext for these modules is creative control and expression. Developing your technical foundations and being able to demonstrate competence across a broad range of photographic skills will allow you to experiment with confidence when working towards your project briefs. You'll attend theory lectures covering the basic concepts needed for understanding analogue and digital photography in practice, such as the application of aperture and shutter speed to gain creative control, the characteristics and use of different films and print media, an introduction to colour, the effects of different paper in B&W printing and colour printing.
  • The Digital Image
    This module will introduce you to the digital image, giving you the means to manipulate your photographic images using Photoshop. You'll learn to use digital hardware, computers, scanners, and printers via Photoshop software, and consider the digital image and its place within fine art and the media. You'll also learn basic digital colour printing as a method of producing images from digital files. Throughout the course, the emphasis will be upon the content and concept of the work produced as well as technical methods used. Group and one-to-one tutorials will support the development of your visual projects, and you'll need to bring your research journals to classes for sketching preliminary ideas and taking notes. In these classes, you will keep a visual record of ideas and discoveries as you develop self-evaluative judgements about your work. You'll also use research journals to map strengths and weaknesses, both technically and in aesthetic terms, and be encouraged to collect references, quotes and images towards the realisation of the final work. At the start of the course you'll be introduced to the software through illustrated lectures and one-to-one tutorials at the computer to support the briefs. During this period, your first assignment will be set. Once you've reached a basic understanding of Photoshop, a second project will be set. For both assignments you'll need to submit three final images with supporting research material, documented in your research journals.
  • Experimental Video
    This module will introduce you to video as a fine art medium. You'll expand your practice through experimentation with video and, wherever possible, pursue your own established formal or conceptual interests through the medium. The module will include an introduction to Experimental Video alongside an analysis of your work to date, to establish a relevant starting point. You'll attend common inductions and workshops early in the module, with individual technical support provided as appropriate. You'll be encouraged to consider the two-dimensional formal elements (line, tone, colour, texture, composition and pattern) to then form an awareness of the additional properties of video (time, sound and screen-based presentation). You'll produce original material in time-based media, which will be developed through group and individual tutorials. By acquiring specialised knowledge, as well as receiving tutorial guidance, you'll realise your video work - a process complemented by discussions of diverse examples of historical and contemporary time-based media. Your assessment will focus on intuitive experimentation & self-reflection - the relevance of your work to your existing practice and your understanding of the medium - rather than on the production of a 'polished' product.

Year one, optional modules

  • Photography Contextual Studies
    This module will introduce you to a series of historical, technical and theoretical perspectives for contemporary photographic practice. You'll trace many of the major changes and continuations in the development of the medium, ranging from an exploration of the ways in which technological advances have shaped the subject since its earliest days, to examining links with wider cultural, political and aesthetic trends.
  • The Photographic Image
    The module will give you a wide-ranging introduction to some of the leading questions raised concerning the photographic image. You'll consider contemporary photographic practice and the diversity of approaches within it. You'll also explore the uses to which the photographic image has been applied, as well as debates about the photographic role as 'document' or 'art' relating to notions of 'reality' and representation. Through analyses of contemporary photographic practices, you'll examine ethical issues in relation to gender, sexuality and ethnicity and, in the light of technological change, the relationship of the photographic to mass media and the museum, in terms of exhibition display. You'll particularly focus on current exhibitions, including critical debates in publications.
  • English for Study 1 & 2
    You'll focus on the advanced writing and organisational skills necessary for essays and other written assignments, including planning, paragraphing, and developing an argument. Your studies will have a particular emphasis on the importance of good academic practice, especially accurate referencing and the use of bibliographies. You'll also practise extracting key points from a variety of spoken or written texts and writing summaries, and develop your discussion skills so as to contribute confidently to seminars and tutorials. You'll also receive guidance about independent learning using the wide range of resources available in our University Library and Language Centre. These two modules are worth 15 credits each.

Year two, core modules

  • Professional Approaches to Photography
    This module will support you in expanding your practice through the introduction of new processes and skills. You'll be encouraged to experiment with different ways of interpreting images. With tutorial support you'll define a critical path between the different possibilities presented. In weekly talks and lectures, supported by tutorials, you'll focus on many significant aspects of contemporary lens-based and digital media, while in practical workshops you'll explore aspects of process to help build on your existing skills base. You'll discuss and explore documentary photography and constructed image as a concept and explore current uses of both genres, developing an understanding of where your practice sits on the spectrum between the two approaches. You'll also explore professional skills like pre-shoot planning, copyright and contracts. You'll be introduced to the 4"x 5" Camera along with studio practice and you'll revisit studio lighting and the portable and the on-camera flash.
  • Debates and Practices
    On this module, you'll explore the links between critical studies and practice, enriching your knowledge and developing your articulacy about your specialism, as well as drawing on wider perspectives in relation to your own work. You will focus particularly on debates about contemporary practice. Your studies will be seminar-based and, where appropriate and possible, held in the studio. In discussions, you'll engage with theory and history alongside your own developing ideas about contemporary production, with an open agenda that will respond to current events, work and interests.
  • Photographic Sequences
    The emphasis in this module is on pre-conceptualisation in either the making or taking of a photograph, sequencing of images, post-production and presentation. You may begin to see yourself as director and/or as author of the image. With an emphasis on the importance of developing and exploring your own style or area of interest, you can interpret this project as a hand-made artist’s book or a digitally-produced book through a self-publishing website. You might like to produce more than one outcome, and your supporting material may include prints, videos or sound. You'll need to consider sequencing, layout and appropriate presentation for your chosen body of work. Your contextual research will go further and deeper, exploring artists and theorists along with the technical aspects of your final presentation. You'll present your work in groups or to the whole class regularly, and be expected to contribute to class discussions and group critiques.

Year two, optional modules

You must choose 45 credits, at least 15 from Group A and 15 from Group B

Group A

  • Printmaking: Materials, Processes and Ideas
    You’ll have a chance to expand your existing studio practice through the medium of print. You’ll be encouraged to use experimental and innovative print processes as part of a self-reflective strategy informed by practice and theory. Analysis and evaluation of studio research will be developed through a student-led research project supported by tutorial supervision. You’ll also have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours through allocated 'open access' slots. Formative assessment of student progress will take place at specified points through individual tutorials and group critique.
  • Installation Practice
    On this module you’ll explore various approaches to installation, which as a discipline manifests ideas around context, physical space and the nature of the artwork itself. Work can be developed in a variety of ways including sculpture, paintings, mixed media work, film, video and sound, from collections of ephemeral materials to substantial assemblages. In groups, you'll explore the qualities of specific locations in relation to your practice. For each project, you must demonstrate intensive working practice, research and engagement with the problems, both in the sense of what your own work and ideas require, as well as a sensitivity to the individual space or context itself. You’ll contribute to seminars and critiques and learn about the history of installational practice from the early 1960s to the present. At the end of the module you will have contributed to the staging of your work within an installational framework in your chosen location. Assessment will consider both preparatory research and the final outcome, which will be presented in the form of an exhibition.
  • Time Based Media
    In this module, you'll receive a thorough introduction to video as a Fine Art medium, while leaning heavily on your established practice to provide subject matter and direction. You'll be expected to expand your practice through experimentation with digital video acquisition, digital video editing and televisual presentation. You'll start by presenting and discussing your work to date with your classmates, to establish relevant starting points and a group dynamic. You'll also be inducted, as a group, in the use of digital video cameras and Final Cut Pro HD. Once you have gained confidence, your individual projects will be supported as needed, with the group dynamic being maintained through critiques. You'll identify and engage with the formal properties of video and explore how the additional properties might be employed to expand your established practice. For example: time, sound and screen-based presentation. You'll be supported in this by presentations and discussions of historical and contemporary time-based art. The presentation of your final work might incorporate single-screen, multiple-screen, projection and sound.
  • Site-specific Work
    On this module you’ll take part in a project geared towards researching a specific site and finding ways and means of interacting with that site. Your previous experimentation from other modules (for example Installation Practice) may also be relevant for this module, but these are not pre-requisites. The given site will most likely be the grounds of the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, and you’ll be encouraged to think of ways of relating and researching ideas relevant to the site. This might include reflecting upon the physical locations within the grounds, or thinking more obliquely about the kinds of practice and research that takes place within the Institute itself, and the corresponding issues of 'space' and 'place' in connection with these issues. You’ll receive tutorial guidance that focuses on your ideas and research and aims towards a practical outcome or intervention within the site, as well as critiques of your projected pieces at earlier stages.
  • Printmaking: Photographic Processes
    On this module, you’ll explore photographic print processes appropriate to your specialist discipline and individual research interests. Photographic and digital processes now form a major element of contemporary print practice, enabling artists and designers to explore a wide range of creative possibilities. Integration of digital media to such processes continues to offer potential for further innovation, particularly in combination with media such as screen-print and photo etching. Through studio research, you’ll tests and develop your proposed ideas and explore experimental strategies towards a range of media as a means of articulating visual themes and ideas informed by practice and theory. Risk taking, through speculative and experimental investigation of print media will therefore play a significant role in the formulation of your learning. You’ll have access to workshop resources outside of specified taught hours through allocated 'open access' slots. Formative assessment of your progress will take place at specified points through individual tutorials and group critique, while the summative evaluation will consist of a portfolio presentation at the end of the module.
  • Contemporary Digital Approaches
    You’ll explore new possibilities in image creation and articulate ideas about them through this integrated approach that uses digital imaging software in conjunction with fieldwork and research. You'll be expected to have at least a basic knowledge and level of skill in Photoshop at the outset and you'll also generate all your own source images through fieldwork and/or photography studio practice. The emphasis throughout the course will be on the integration of technique and practice to explore ideas and concepts. By examining the imaging workflow, from capture through to output, you'll experiment with different aspects of image construction to enable a clearer understanding of the processes and skills involved. There will be assignments and technical workshops to illustrate these points, as well as tutorial guidance to help develop your practice and research. You'll share your assignment outcomes and research with the rest of the class through participation in class crits. Your assessment will consist of a portfolio of practical work together with research and development journals.

Group B

  • Identities
    How do we define ourselves? How do we define others? How do images perpetuate stereotypes, and how do artists and film makers unpick these and explore alternatives? How fluid, open and multiple are our identities? These questions are at the root of this module. It’s an opportunity to explore identity-formation from psychoanalytic, sociological or philosophical perspectives. You may select the image of the artist or film maker as a topic, exploring notions of body image and role-play, as well as the connections between memory and history. Gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationhood, class are all important aspects of identity that you will consider, while feminist theories and postcolonial studies are major contributions to debates about identities. How have artists and film makers explored these issues? This is an opportunity for you to decide on a focus of study that links into your own interests in the studio.
  • Business for the Creative Arts
    This module will introduce you to the practical tools needed to set yourself up in business in the creative arts, as a company, a partnership or a freelancer. You'll explore a sector of the creative industries, identifying potential opportunities within it and producing a basic business plan. Your emphasis will be on self-reflection, innovative thinking and communication skills, while the subjects that you'll cover include: the creative industries; developing and analysing a business idea; types of business model; assessing your market; ideas behind marketing; basic accounts; tax and legal issues; and planning for start-up. You'll be asked to translate these into practice by applying them to your own ideas, which will then become part of your own business plan.
  • Writing for Images
    This module will allow you to explore the relationships between texts and images through your own creative practice. In the contemporary world of art and design, the practitioner is often called upon to accompany images with texts written in a variety of voices. This module will prepare you for these professional expectations, as well as informing and complementing your work in studio specialisms, such as illustration, photographic and digital media, video, animation and fine art. The process of writing for images will be addressed in a series of seminars and writing workshops led by a professional author. You will also have the opportunity to combine your writing with moving image, and to use short films - both live action and animation - as a starting point for your writing. Your assessment will centre on a project that combines text and image, as well as a selection from the pieces of written work produced during the module. Please note that this module is intended to develop your skills in creative writing, not a study skills module to improve basic written and spoken English.
  • Contemporary Film and Video
    On this module you'll look at contemporary film and video, starting with Hollywood conventions and ending with Art Installation Video displayed in galleries. You'll discuss how established genres are used and changed; how we compare mainstream Hollywood approaches to art house and independent production; how ethnic, gender, national identities may be represented; and how literature or history may be translated into film. You'll also consider how 'documentary' approaches explore different 'realisms' and how there may be tension between the direction, production and promotion of films. You'll also discuss audience reception of film theatre, through DVD and in the gallery.
  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Year three, core modules

  • Specialised Practice: Photography
    This module will allow you to further refine your photographic practice in preparation for the major project and final degree show. You'll consider the crucial importance of effective editing and presentation, and the variety of ways that images can work both with and against one another, in composites, installation, or through the incorporation of either video and/or sound. You'll be encouraged to seek creative solutions to practical problems, supported by group and 1:1 tutorials. Your research will play a significant role in helping to contextualise your work within the context of contemporary fine art practice. You'll discuss ways of presenting, installing, and exhibiting your work, and to consider the implications of such in terms of both audience and curatorial perspectives. Your work may come from a documentary or constructed image approach. You'll need to be acutely aware of your materials, processes and level of skill, and be able to adapt and work consistently towards a major body of work. You'll present your ideas and research, and provide a written proposal outlining your ideas. Your portfolio will consist of a set, series, video, installation, or book, incorporating your new concerns and showing your developing awareness of the importance of critical contexts. Your assessment will include research-contextualising practice, documented in your research journals, and the production of your final submission. The final part of your Personal Development Planning will be included in this module.
  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project which will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.


You’ll demonstrate your learning through both written and practical (portfolio) work.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

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Cambridge School of Art has been inspiring creativity since 1858 when it was opened by John Ruskin.

Engaging with current debates surrounding contemporary practice and with the state-of-the-art facilities, Cambridge School of Art houses light, bright studios, industry-standard film and photographic facilities, and 150-year-old printing presses alongside dedicated Apple Mac suites. Our digital art gallery, the Ruskin Gallery, exhibits both traditional shows and multimedia presentations, from national and international touring exhibitions and our own students.

We are the only university in Cambridge offering art and design courses at higher education level. A tight-knit community of artists, academics and over 900 students, we collaborate across our University, the creative industries, and other sectors. Cambridge is a centre for employment in the creative industries and there are rich opportunities for collaboration with the city’s entertainment, technological, scientific, arts and heritage industries.

Our graduates have a history of winning national and international awards and an excellent employment record. They include Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett and Dave Gilmour, Spitting Image creators Peter Fluck and Roger Law, and illustrator Ronald Searle, the creator of St Trinian's.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

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Choose from formal and informal professional experiences that will help you to establish your own professional network. Opportunities such as working for magazines, galleries and photographers will be available throughout your studies.


Every year you’ll have the opportunity to enter a number of national and international competitions, which our students have regularly been shortlisted for or won, as well as those organised by Anglia Ruskin, such as the Eaton Portrait Prize and the Student Sustainability Prize.

Specialist facilities

You’ll have access to computer laboratories equipped with Apple Macs, A4 and A3 flatbed scanners, 35mm, medium format, large format scanners, and printers capable of calibrated wide format up to 44in width.

A CGI/HDRI research lab is integrated into our specialist facilities.

You’ll work in black, white and colour darkrooms with enlargers catering for 35mm, medium format and large format film, as well as three fully equipped daylight and artificial light studios.

We also have a large stock of equipment that you can borrow, including digital cameras (DSLRs and medium format), large format cameras, lenses, light meters and lighting kits.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


Fees statement 

Tuition fees for UK/EU students 2017/18 are currently set at £9,000. These fees are regulated by the UK government and may increase in line with government policy. There is a possible increase for the 2017/18 intake of 2.8% which would put the fees at £9,250.

Additional costs

Costs depend on the direction and ambition of your work. We suggest budgeting approximately £250 for materials and work-books in the first year.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Portfolio requirements

You must submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates:

  • Your skills in photography (analogue and/or digital)
  • Your understanding of photography as a medium of communication
  • Your awareness of recent practitioners/ artists in your research books
  • Your approach to idea development in your sketchbooks (You can combine your research and sketchbooks if you want to).

If you’re invited to interview you’ll receive a letter with more information about our portfolio requirements.

If you’re an international applicant, please host your portfolio online if possible and let us know the URL, or email it to us as a PDF. We’ll also accept CDs or hardcopy sent by post to our International Admissions Office, but please note that these will not be returned to you.

For more information, please download our digital portfolio pack.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

Entry requirements are for September 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online