University of Chester

Programme Specification
Digital Photography BA (Hons) (Combined Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

Digital Photography

Digital Photography [NEW]

University of Chester

University of Chester

Warrington Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,

3 Years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Media

Art & Design, Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies



Wednesday 20th March 2013

This programme is aimed at students who wish to pursue a career in the design, production and professional application of the digital photographic image. This programme will provide an environment in which to develop up-to-date knowledge and skills (both practical and critical) as well as the capacity to anticipate and contribute meaningfully to the on-going developments within the creative industries as a solid foundation upon which to build their professional practices. Its distinctiveness will derive not only from its digital focus but from the opportunities for cross-disciplinary study with the other programmes within the department’s portfolio, including Advertising, Commercial Music Production, Film Studies, Journalism, Sports Journalism, Media, Media Studies, Radio Production and Television Production. In addition, students will also have the opportunity to combine this programme with those from other faculties available at the Warrington campus, such as Business, Management and Public Relations.

Its aims are:

  • To offer a dynamic and cross-disciplinary education in digital photography and imaging.
  • To produce graduates who have an informed and critical approach to understanding both digital photography and its commercial and professional contexts.
  • To foster the cognitive abilities of undergraduates through degree-level study focusing on the processes of digital photography.
  • To instil critical analysis and reflection on media production and, in particular, digital photography.
  • To highlight the complex role played by photography, in societal contexts.
  • To provide a degree that fulfils the criteria suggested in the relevant QAA subject standards and benchmarks.
  • To ensure the practical, transferable and subject skills to enable the graduate to work in a range of employment opportunities within the creative industries.
  • To provide a supportive and structured framework for students' learning.
  • To prepare for and encourage higher-level study.

Knowledge and Understanding

The emphasis in level 4 and 5 will be on individual creativity and problem solving in addition to the acquiring of relevant practical skills. Production work will be carried out individually; in group situations the student will possess an understanding of where his/her individual contribution is most effective.

At level 5 they will be expected to have knowledge and understanding of the ways in which research methodologies operate and assess their usefulness for different research topics.

At level 6, students would be expected to demonstrate skills of analysis and reflection. Understanding and knowledge will be assessed through a combination of presentations, individual production and seminar work, and coursework and seminar assignments.

Level 4

Skills in production work, creativity and problem solving. (ME4707)

Professional skills in relation to client requirements and approaches to creative work. (ME4707, ME4708)

Skills in the application of theoretical knowledge to photographic practice. (ME4709)

Level 5

Professional skills and application of a range of media outputs and platforms for image based work. (ME5706)

Skills in relation to individual media based projects. (ME5706, ME5707)

Skills in industry and professional media production. (ME5703, ME5707, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)

Level 6

Specific knowledge and skills in relation to business approaches to digital photography, social media and professional output. (ME6709, ME6739)

Advanced project planning, research and professional skills. (ME6722, ME6723, WB6001, ME6739)

The emerging graduate will be confident and capable of analysing and evaluating areas of knowledge and digital photographic practice. They should be able to critically assess media and in particular photographic texts, as both producers and consumers of them. A dissertation at level six (not available to minor weighted students) provides all students with the opportunity to culminate their academic work with an in-depth study of a chosen topic. 

Level 4

Skills in planning and producing work. Creativity and problem solving. (ME4707, ME4708)

Skills in relation to client requirements and professional approaches to creative work. (ME4707, ME4708)

Application of theoretical knowledge to photographic practice. Academic writing and referencing skills. (ME4709)

Level 5

Skills in the planning, researching and undertaking of substantial client based briefs and projects. Client/industry related skills. (ME5703, ME5706, ME5707, ME5716, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)

Level 6

Skills in business approaches to digital photography and social media, professional output. Planning, budgeting and marketing skills. (ME6709, ME6739)

Skills in advanced project development, production and exhibition. (ME6709, ME6739)

Skills in research methods and independent research. (ME6709, ME6722, ME6723, WB6001, ME6739)

Practical Skills

The acquisition of subject specific technical and practical skills cannot be seen in isolation and is not an end in itself. In aiming to produce the reflective practitioner, the synergy between theory and practice will be achieved both within individual modules and by a combination of them. A wide range of creative technical skills using creative media and software across all modules.

Transferable Professional Skills 

These will be embedded in modules at each level, in both practical outcomes and the ongoing process of creating media products as well as in a varied programme of seminar work, presentations and projects. Specific research skills will be developed at all levels. Transferable skills include communicating orally and in writing, using information technology, working with others and problem solving. 

Level 4

Skills in production work, creativity and problem solving. Time management skills, awareness of ethical considerations when working with people or animals. (ME4707)

Skills in the awareness of client requirements and professional approaches to creative work. Project management skills. (ME4707, ME4708)

Level 5

Skills in the practical understanding of a range of media outputs and platforms for image based work, web building, movie making, digital image application. (ME5706, ME5707)

Skills related to substantial client based briefs and projects, professional networking and presentation. (ME5703, ME5706, ME5707, ME5716, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)

Industry placement and work experience skills. (ME5703, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)

Level 6

Skills in specific business approaches to digital photography and social media for professional output. (ME6709, ME6739)

Advanced project development skills, production and exhibition. Problem solving, managing timeframes and curating skills. (ME6739)

Research, planning, time management, academic writing and presenting skills. (ME6709, ME6722, ME6723, WB6001, ME6739)


Communication skills are embedded in different formats throughout the programme. Students will interact and discuss work, ideas and concepts in a variety of settings. These include seminars in group discussion, presentation skills to peers and lecturers, communicating and working directly with clients in a professional capacity. 

The range of means of communication include oral, written, visual, electronic, as well as utilising social media and platforms for a variety of professional purposes.


Level 4

Skills in presenting, discussing and critiquing. (ME4707, ME4709)

Skills in the application of theoretical knowledge to photographic practice. Academic referencing and writing skills. (ME4709)

Level 5

Skills in managing substantial media projects, professional communication skills developed through the production of multimedia work. (ME5706, ME5707)

Industry placement, project management and team communication skills. (ME5703, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)

Level 6

Communications skills within business and project management approaches to digital photography, utilising media platforms for visual communication. (ME6709, ME6739)

Skills in advanced project research, academic writing skills, critiquing and professional engagement. (ME6709, ME6722, ME6723, WB6001, ME6739)

The programme offered is a Combined Honours programme studied over three years on a full-time basis. Modules are worth 20 credits with 200 hours of associated teaching and learning, which are studied over the course of the entire academic year. The proposed programme takes into account the benchmarking statements for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies and the Higher Education Qualifications Framework.

The structure has at its core the establishment and development of digital photographic skills and practices situated within an understanding of the social and economic factors which impact upon them and upon which they impact. Assessment of these modules will be through vocationally orientated outcomes designed to prepare the student for work and/or further study, as well as by theoretical approaches intended to address and develop students' aptitude for critical questioning and application. The emphasis is on education of the would-be photographer as well as on vocational training. The graduate will understand the context and ethical, moral, commercial and societal frameworks in which the photographer operates and the responsibilities that are the legacies of the profession.

At level 4 the student will gain exposure to a wide range of skills, practices and theories underpinning the practice of digital photography. Practical skills include camera formats, lighting, studio practice, multimedia production and web design. Genres such as photojournalism, documentary, fashion, and advertising are explored. Students will also examine and analyse photography as a visual narrative, trends and 'schools', the history of the medium and the social and cultural environment as it impacts on photography today.

Level 5 will see the development of these skills into more extensive industry orientated photographic projects, and will offer students the opportunity to take their skills into the workplace as part of the Enhancing your Employability through Work-Based Learning or Experiential Learning modules.

WB5004 (Learning in the Wider World) is similar in ambition to WB5101 but facilitates undertaking the work based learning placement at a location outside the United Kingdom. WB5004, although available to all students as an alternative to WB5101, must be applied for and participation is restricted to students who meet the criteria of interview, attendance and behaviour during Level 5. All students will be required to receive clearance from their PAT prior to departing on their overseas placement. Students must complete and have a Risk Assessment approved before they are eligible for this module.

WB5008, The Study Abroad Experience, will be offered as a complementary year of study abroad to students who have successfully completed their second-year of study (Level 5). Application will occur in January of Level 5. As such, students may be required to present evidence of successful completion of Level 4, satisfactory on-going assessment, academic references and attendance in order for their application to be accepted. Students must also complete a Risk Assessment to indicate that they are fully aware of the requirements for the exchange, university/college and destination that they are applying for.

In level 6 students produce more ambitious projects, which test the skills, practices and theories learned over the duration of the course, as well as exploring the newest innovations of the information society. Problem-solving skills and analytical techniques will be developed that can be applied in many types of employment.

The digital photography graduate will be able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements, to communicate effectively, and will have developed both subject specific and key-transferable skills applicable to a wide range of contexts - including photography. The incremental approach to the development of photography skills through the three levels of the degree programme within a context of critical questioning, reflection and application will reassure employers that students will be ready, both academically and practically, to enter the workplace and meet their need for graduates who can contribute from day one.

Level 4: 120 credits from:
ME4707 20 credits*
ME4708 20 credits*
ME4709 20 credits*
Plus 60 Credits from Combined Subject Area

Level 5: 120 credits from:
[Level 5 credits can be substituted for a full year exchange via the module WB5007 120 credits]
ME5706 20 credits*
ME5707 20 credits*

And, 60 credits from:
either ME5716 20 credits
or Combined Subject Area Modules (minimum 40 credits)
And, 20 credits from
ME5703 20 credits (Experiential Learning),
Combined Subject Area Module 20-credits (Experiential Learning),
or WB5101 20 credits (Enhancing your Employability through Work-Based Learning)
or WB5004 20 credits (by application)
leads to Diploma of Higher Education 240 credits

WB5008 The Study Abroad Experience 120 credits (non-award credits)

Level 6: 120 credits from:

Major - 80 credits from:
ME6722 40 credits**
ME6723 40 credits**
ME6739 40 credits*

WB6001 40 credits**
Combined Subject 40 credits

Equal - 60 credits from:
ME6709 20 credits*
ME6722 40 credits**
ME6723 40 credits**
WB6001 40 credits**
ME6739 40 credits
Combined Subject 60 credits

Minor - 40 credits from:
ME6739 40 credits*

Combined Subject 80 credits

** Not combinable with each other

Combined Honours only
Mod-Code Level Title Credit Major Equal Minor
ME4707 4 Digital Narratives Practice and Application 20 Comp Comp Comp
ME4708 4 Commercial Photographic Practice and Application 20 Comp Comp Comp
ME4709 4 Photographic Context and Criticism 20 Comp Comp Comp
ME5703 5 Experiential Project in Media 20 Optional Optional Optional
ME5706 5 Digital Multimedia Photography 20 Comp Comp Comp
ME5707 5 Digital Image Economy and Professional Practice 20 Comp Comp Comp
ME5716 5 Research for Professions, Practice and Academic Purposes 20 Optional Optional Optional
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional Optional Optional
WB5007 5 International Exchange Module – Full academic year 120 Optional Optional Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional Optional Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional Optional Optional
ME6709 6 The Business and Entrepreneurial Skills: Photographic Digital Technologies 20 N/A Comp N/A
ME6722 6 Media Academic Dissertation 40 Optional Optional N/A
ME6723 6 Media Production Dissertation 40 Optional Optional N/A
ME6739 6 Digital Photography: Production, Curation and Exhibition 40 Comp Optional Comp
WB6001 6 Work-based Project (40 Credit) Module 40 Optional Optional N/A

  • 120 credits at Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education
  • 240 credits by the end of Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Education
  • 360 credits by the end of Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor’s degree

UCAS points: 104 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - CCC/BCC

BTEC Extended Diploma: DMM

BTEC Diploma:D*D*

Irish/Scottish Highers: B in 4 subjects
International Baccalaureate: 26 points
Access Access to HE Diploma, to include 45 credits at level 3, 30 of which must be at Merit

OCR National Extended Diploma: Merit 2

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - DMM

OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma - D*D*

Extra Information:

Please note that we accept a maximum of 8 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.

The media department and all of its current portfolio broadly reflect the aims and characteristic expectations emerging from the QAA benchmark statements relating to communication, media, film and cultural studies. Having engaged with the overarching principles of the benchmark statements for Art and Design within which programmes in Photography generally sit, we see many areas of similarity between the two sets of benchmark statements. As this programme is being developed by the Department of Media and its concentration is on commercial and professional practice within a critical and contextual vocational context we have chosen to reflect those overarching and defining principles which guide the design of the suite of cognate programmes that exist with the media department and which will complement the design and delivery of this digital photography programme.

Defining principles:

  • Degree programmes within communication, media, film and cultural studies share the aim of producing graduates who have an informed, critical and creative approach both to understanding media, culture and communications in contemporary society, and to their own forms of media, communicative and expressive practice.
  • In so furthering students' academic and personal development, programmes within communication, media, film and cultural studies are committed to forms of pedagogy that lay emphasis on developing critical and creative independence, flexibility, sensitivity to audience, and self-reflexiveness, across both individual and group work, and both critical and production work.
  • Most programmes, however, promote a combination of understandings and skills. Many that emphasise critical engagement also require students to produce a substantial piece of self-managed research and/or a creative production or portfolio of work demonstrating their command of specific skills. Similarly, programmes that concentrate primarily on media practice or production also require students to develop analytical and research skills together with a critical grasp of their responsibilities as practitioners, and awareness of the dynamics - whether cultural, economic, ethical, legal, political, social or affective - which shape working environments.

This programme has taken these statements particularly to heart in developing a range of activities across a variety of themes that are designed to engage students in a development of their own creativity and encourage independent thought and action, rather than concentrating on the acquisition of technical skills or knowledge alone. We feel it incumbent upon us to concentrate on the work that may be produced with technology, rather than the technology itself. Content will always be required. We make no formal distinction between theory and practice, believing these are two sides to the same coin.

Students will progress through the programme, developing from a position of reliance and dependency on tutor guidance and support in the initial stages to a self-supporting, self-directed and autonomous approach to their studies. Students will increasingly be expected to demonstrate the ability to originate, research, assimilate, develop and critically review ideas across a range of practically and academically focused modules, in accordance with level-related assessment criteria.

Level 4 study will provide opportunity for students to develop key and core skills, knowledge and understanding, thereby creating an effective platform from which greater autonomy, academic awareness and production skill may be evolved. Students, typically, will not work with external bodies at level 4 but will be evolving skills and practices relevant to a workplace environment. At level 5 and 6, students may engage with external companies through their production modules and experiential/work based learning, forging working relationships between themselves, the media creative industries, other clients and the University. Level 6 study will normally require the writing of a dissertation based upon independent research.

Students will experience a range of teaching and learning methods related, and relevant to the acquisition of key and subject specific knowledge and skills. The curriculum and learning experiences offered to students will be designed to reflect the specific aims, emphases and learning outcomes of the programme. Students will be made aware of these at the outset of the programme and individual modules.

Students of this programme will reap the benefits of exploring a wide range materials and sources, from both academic and non-academic contexts cognate with the field of study. Learning opportunities will be via a selection of lectures, seminars and tutorials given by lecturers, visiting lecturers, external contacts and practising professionals from across the creative industries sectors, who would have first-hand and current experience of the opportunities in the discipline for potential graduates and an ability to relate the course to prevalent contemporary practices and trends. Opportunities for active assimilation, application, questioning, debate and critical reflection are therefore provided.

The Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning module or Experiential Learning module at level five will also afford students the opportunity to develop skills in the workplace and other relevant environments. Reflection on their own and industry practices should enhance the student's portfolio of knowledge and experience, enabling them to think critically and objectively about their chosen field.

As students progress through the levels of the programme they will be expected to become more independent in their learning and to develop the capacity for critical reflection. From the student point of view, the three levels of study can be considered to be foundational, developmental and independent in their nature. The increasing emphasis on student self-direction and self-responsibility will be reflected in the learning and teaching strategies and methods deployed.

The variety of methods employed will include the following:

  • Lectures
  • Demonstrations
  • Guest speakers
  • Screenings
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Work-simulations
  • Tutorials
  • Group and individual project work
  • Live projects
  • Supervised independent learning
  • Computer aided research
  • Open and resource-based learning activities such as digital acquisition and post production techniques
  • Field activities such as location work
  • Exhibition
  • Group and individual presentations
  • Gallery visits
  • Small group tutorials
  • Independent study
  • Dissertation and work based or experiential learning.

Students will be expected to work independently outside timetabled teaching sessions. Students will be expected to keep up to date with current affairs and developments, especially in the area of photographic practice and criticism and they will, naturally, be expected to read critically a wide range of media-related academic texts, newspapers, journals and magazines and engage with broad and narrowcast media.

Assessment on this programme is designed to provide feedback to students on their performance in order to shape future learning, to verify achievement in order that students can progress through and beyond the programme and to evidence for internal and external use the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the programme. In the early stages of the programme, the formative role of assessment to help students learn may be as important as the summative assessment for certification. As students progress through the programme more emphasis may be placed on the verification of achievement.

The assessment strategy of this programme is on the basis of the following assumptions and practices:

  • Assessment is acknowledged to be a major driver of student learning.
  • A variety of assessment practices will be employed in order to provide students with a range of opportunities to display intellectual, practical and transferable skills, and to accommodate the different learning styles of individual students.
  • Clear criteria for grading and the rules and regulations for assessment and awards will be available for all students throughout their programme.
  • Assessment at early stages of the programme will focus on evidencing the acquisition and development of foundation undergraduate knowledge, skills and understanding: later stages of the programme will focus on the demonstration of students' ability to independently synthesize advanced knowledge and skills. Assignments and projects at the start of the programme will be largely tutor determined. By level 6 students will have significant elements of self-determination in their coursework assessments and dissertations.
  • Tutors delivering the programme have explored and discussed maps of module aims, learning outcomes and assessments across the programme during the programme's design process in order to understand how their module assessments complement others in the programme and to develop equivalences in assessment weightings and balances.

Typically, students graduating within this programme will display: 

  • Skills in research, production and communication appropriate to the learning tasks set by their programme, as well as an array of generic critical and creative skills.
  • The capacity for independent thought and action, particularly in problem solving, to enable them to survive in a deregulated world where employment may be temporary and/or transient.
  • Understanding of a range of concepts, theories and approaches appropriate to the study of those objects and processes, and the capacity to apply these.
  • Substantial knowledge of the communication, media and cultural forms and processes chosen for study within their degree programme.

Students graduating in this area would be employable in a wide range of employment opportunities and models - typically freelance as professional photographers and also within the broader media and creative industries; advertising, corporate communications, marketing and public relations, but also setting up small and medium enterprises, social, health and community work, working with charities and other public bodies - and of course further study.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

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