University of Chester

Programme Specification
Photography BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)


Photography (including Foundation Year)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester / Kingsway

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Art and Design

Art & Design (2008)


Learning and Teaching Institute (Level 3 only)

Art and Design (Levels 4-6)

Monday 18th January 2016

  • To facilitate the study of photography through practice-based, research-led teaching within an interdisciplinary art-based context which emphasises the significance of developing an independent/research based practice.
  • To acquire the specific skills and critical knowledge-base in the practice of photography which enables students to seek a career in art-related professions or other cultural industries.
  • To provide opportunities for a wide range of students, with diverse experiences, qualifications, and origins to think creatively, critically and analytically so that they may be prepared for graduate employment and/or independent practice.
  • To enable students to progressively locate the study of photographic practice in a theoretical and historical context.
  • To develop independent thinking and the students' critical facility and understanding of the visual and aesthetic significance of the medium through critical-reflection, contextualisation and self-evaluation.
  • To develop self-initiated practice and autonomous learning in an environment conducive to intellectual and visual experimentation and investigation.
  • To equip students with the practical and intellectual facility to develop a body of work which is manifest across a range of different contexts. These could include diverse approaches to combinations of the following: folio, exhibition, moving image, publication, writing, object-based works and other intertextual forms.

The following outcomes derive in general from the Subject Benchmark Statement for Art & Design. The programme team understands the importance of the facilitation and acquisition of appropriate knowledge and understanding in regards to key attributes and skills, professional practice, and personal development.

From the outset of the course students will begin to acquire a knowledge-base related to the history and theory of photography in relation to their burgeoning practice. As the course proceeds students will align their own practice with an understanding of the context in which it is situated, set against the research which informs this practice. The course advocates a meeting of practice and theory in the widest sense. 

Students will demonstrate the ability to:

FHEQ Level 3:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of terms and concepts relevant to the subject-specific modules. [FP3302, FP3303, FP3304]
  • Use academic study skills at the required level for further study at the University.[FP3002, FP3003]
  • Identify how theory can be applied to practice. [FP3002, FP3003]
  • Be aware of how undergraduate study prepares students for a professional career. [FP3003]

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Acquire technical skills in the use of materials, techniques and technologies related to digital and analogue forms of photography (AD4301 & AD4303)
  • Form an understanding of the historical and theoretical contexts within which photographic practice is situated (AD4302)
  • Exercise rigour and self-management with regard to workflow and deadlines (AD4301, AD4302 & AD4303)

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Independently generate concepts, proposals and practices as part of a self-initiated responses to a range of project briefs (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Adopt different modes of thinking in order to develop alternative forms of investigation, speculative inquiry, visualisation and making (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Analyse information and critically reflect upon experiences, in order to formulate coherent responses in visual and written form (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Select, test and make appropriate use of materials, processes and environments (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Resolve ideas from their point of origin to their practical outcome as either images, artefacts, products, systems and processes, alongside critically reflective annotation and academic writing (All modules)
  • Correlate intention, process, outcome, context in relation to appropriate modes of practice and output (AD6305 & AD6304)
  • Utilise research skills to navigate archives and databases in order to retrieve and manage information from a variety of sources (All modules)
  • Apply entrepreneurial skills to enhance their own practice, and/or the practice of others (AD6110)

The Module Descriptors provide a more detailed account of the learning and teaching processes and their relationship with the following: independent study, set goals, deadline and workload management; contingent situations related to other factors which might include ambiguity, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity, and the ability to work in collaboration with peers and tutors. The programme also assimilates the student's life journey and personal growth, intellectual development and life skills and these are integrated as part of ongoing teaching and learning dialogues.

  • A student's ability to recognise and situate their own experience as part of their phenomenal relationship with specific and diverse environments  is fundamental for photographic practice. How this phenomena is revealed and transformed by the medium of photography manifests a unique relationship with time and space, which is investigated via a series of project briefs which ultimately lead to a perception rooted in experience, aesthetic production, making and research. 

Students will be able to:

FHEQ Level 3:

  • Analyse, interpret and summarise information. [FP3002, FP3003]
  • Write in an academic manner. [FP3002]
  • Begin to reflect on their own learning and use feedback as part of this process.[FP3002]
  • Demonstrate independent learning. [FP3003]
  • Integrate a variety of information sources to develop academically and professionally.[FP3002, FP3003]

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Engage with the cultural, critical and contextual debates relevant to their own practice (AD4301, AD4302 & AD4303)
  • Investigate the significance and relevance of other photographic and art practices (AD4301, AD4302 & AD4303)
  • Monitor their own progress, plan and then make effective evaluation of their proposals and actions (AD4301 & AD4303)

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Investigate, interpret and analyse a range of different approaches via practical projects based upon experiential and contextual practice and research (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Assimilate ideas and information and develop appropriate working strategies which reflect upon the process of the work itself (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Critically reflect upon and evaluate decisions and strategies related to process and subject (AD5301 & AD5302)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Critically reflect upon process and adapt knowledge gained in order to consider alternative approaches and strategies (AD6303, AD6304 & AD6110)
  • Integrate ideas, form, content, processes and techniques based on reflective evaluation and feedback (AD6303, AD6304 & AD6110)
  • Develop perceptual and cognitive skills in the selection and analysis of information visual or otherwise (All modules)
  • Visually communicate complex ideas via photographic practices which have a self-reflexive relationship with the medium and subject (AD6303, AD6304 & AD6110)


Students are encouraged to explore all aspects of the medium and its technical usage whether analogue or digital. Fundamental practical skills related to exposure control and light are key in developing the foundation upon which aesthetic practice is based where the image making process is commensurate with its subject. This is extended in how a student develops the necessary means to capture and output (image modification, selection and editing and archiving processes). Professional skills related to the arts and creative industries form part of the contextual position and ultimately lead to career or creative choices based on individual decisions related to photography multiple roles.

The programme requires students to: 

FHEQ Level 3:

  • Retrieve and collate information from a variety of sources. [FP3301, FP3002, FP3003]
  • Use proficient reading and writing skills in preparation for the next level of study. [FP3002]
  • Demonstrate ability in Creative Arts applications. [FP3002, FP3303, FP3304]
  • Present creative skill in the production of their assessed work.[FP3303]
  • Work with others for problem-solving activities.[FP3302]

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Achieve a high standard of competence in the use of photographic apparatus and technologies (AD4301 & AD4303)
  • Respond to different contexts and challenges and formulate responses in visual and written form (AD4301, AD4303 & AD4302)
  • Originate a sustained project related to project briefs and personal practice (AD4303)
  • Implement a controlled and coherent approach to work flow and time management of projects (AD4301 & AD4303)
  • Adhere to health and safety and good working practices (AD4301 & AD4303)

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Integrate visual and text-based source material derived from art and design and interdisciplinary sources (AD5301 & AD5302)
  • Develop applications of photographic practice which are related to varied art contexts and the creative industries (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Work collaboratively in small groups with peers, associates and external individuals and organisations in the origination and installation of an exhibition with a coherent visual theme (AD5302)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Negotiate and undertake an independently conceived project, which is self-sustained across the course of the year and which leads to exhibition and related outputs (AD6301, AD6303 & AD6304)
  • Attain a high standard of intellectual, technical and aesthetic competency in the use of analogue and digital modes of photographic practice (AD6303 & AD6304)
  • Sustain an intellectual and coherent discourse in oral and written form related to their field of practice (AD6303 & AD6302, AD6305 & AD6110)
  • Present ideas via text and image based practices in a coherent and articulate form which in turn effectively engages with user or audience group actions and responses (AD6303, AD6304 & AD6110)
  • Deploy research skills in order to navigate archives and databases in order to retrieve and manage information from a variety of specific sources (All modules) 
  • Assimilate the critical input of their peers and others and critically reflect upon their position (AD6303, AD6304 & AD6110)

Philosophically, photography is grounded in its indexical relationship with what it reveals of the world it reproduces. As a form of communication it is at once medium specific and equally open to technological processes, which continually reconstitute its form. The photographic message is dependent on the individual student's understanding of genre, context and significantly dissemination of visual images. Practice-as-research uncovers experiences and contexts as well as strategic or conceptually driven approaches. Both are explored in a reflexive articulation of process and outcome. Students develop a sense of embodied practice that is manifest in forms, which are then rearticulated by users or audience.

Students will be able to: 

FHEQ Level 3:

  • Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format. [FP3002, FO3301, FP3003]
  • Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes. [FP3302]
  • Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process.[FP3002]
  • Convert researched information to a summarised form.[FP3002, FP3301, FP3303]

FHEQ Level 4:

  • Curate the coherent exhibition and dissemination of photographs and other related artefacts (AD4303)
  • Utilise presentation skills and techniques in order to effectively articulate, in oral and written form, the relationship between practice and theory (AD4301, AD4302 & AD4303)

FHEQ Level 5:

  • Explore the technological developments of the medium and related media in relation to contemporary practice (AD5301, AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Adapt and respond to set goals and anticipated outcomes within different settings and situations (AD5302 & AD5303)
  • Independently organise and facilitate site-specific and public-art projects (AD5302)

FHEQ Level 6:

  • Deliver high standards in exhibition projects, visual outcomes or related forms of dissemination which are commensurate with intention, form, content and meaning (AD6303 & AD6304)
  • Anticipate and adapt to change dependent on varied contexts (AD6303 & AD6304)
  • Engage in critical dialogues with staff and peers (AD6303 & AD6304)
  • Investigate the interdisciplinary possibilities of photography in relation to other media areas, and other disciplines or areas of knowledge (AD6304)
  • Identify a topic and context and formulate a research question and investigation which explores and analyses the same (AD6302)
  • Formulate a research question related to a specific context or argument which is subject to an extended indepth, analytical inquiry (AD6305)

The foundation year is aligned to the Framework for Undergraduate Modular Programmes and offers foundation level study whereby modules are 20 credits and students study for 120 credits in total to progress to the next level of study. 

The programme is designed to introduce students to topics within the Creative Arts undergraduate degrees offered by the University, in conjunction with an academic skills curriculum to support learning and preparation for progression to level 4. There are synergies between the foundation year and the level 4 curriculum that students progress to. This includes module topics and themes that relate to the transference of knowledge and skills to the workplace, and the relevance of differing modes of teaching, learning and assessment.

There is a 20 credit module within the foundation year, University Study Skills, which offers students skills-based learning in preparation for level 4-6 studies to support academic progression, and to provide an introduction to successful undergraduate studentship.

The undergraduate Single Honours Photography programme emphasises a meeting of practice and theory which initially follows two convergent strands: (1) photographic practices supported by (2) critical and contextual studies. These are intended to progressively develop the student’s capability and independence as a photographer and his or her critical and intellectual understanding of the medium. At the outset the two elements run concurrently. Progressively students develop a critical perspective in relation to their practice, which is articulated visually, but also evidenced in reflective statements prepared to accompany Folio submissions. Students attain appropriate skills based in a wide knowledge of the scope of the medium. During Level 4 students are provided with a grounding in practice which establishes the basis upon which research-informed decisions are guided by project briefs and the development of individual projects. Throughout the course the negotiation of personal projects becomes increasingly independent in modules at Levels 5 & 6. Subject areas are introduced which, although distinct, lead to an understanding of the diverse inter-relationships which characterise photographic art practice. An emphasis upon practice is informed by (both oral and written) interpretation, critical and interpretative reflection, contextualisation, and self/peer evaluation and criticism which form the basis of the department’s teaching philosophy. The course structure focuses on self-initiated, practice-based inquiry. Through the guidance of staff, students become familiar with a range of technical skills and associated critical concepts, as they evolve a distinct visual photographic identity where practice and theory are integrated in photographic work which critically responds to its subject. The skills, knowledge and understanding acquired leads to the articulation and manifestation of ideas in visual form which are creative and innovative. This is achieved on site or in studio and workshop areas. The aim of the programme is to encourage students to challenge perceptions of the medium as part of their critical reflection and evaluation.

Students progressively acquire an independence in their learning and research in the development of a self-initiated practice, which is critically framed. This is established on the basis of each student identifying a set of concerns or responding to subject matter appropriate to practice as research or conceptual modes of inquiry. Teaching and learning strategies introduce the key issues and debates which inform contemporary photographic practice relative to the deployment of appropriate skills and techniques. The curriculum is designed and structured to facilitate independent practice supported by the acquisition of intellectual and practical skills. The context in which this practice is situated is evaluated and assessed via a critical awareness which is nurtured throughout the duration of the programme during individual tutorial and group tutorial/critique sessions.

The programme is modelled on a structure where the student's independence and visual identity is guided via directed (Level 4), semi-directed (Level 5) and primarily self-directed study (Level 6). Students are taught, evaluated and monitored and receive feedback through group and individual tutorials, as well as group critique sessions. Lectures, seminars and workshops are delivered to appropriate set group sizes dependent on the nature of the teaching activity.

Level 4: Students acquire a core-base of practical, technical and critical skills required to practice photography across a range of contemporary contexts. These practices reference the key themes and debates which inform contemporary art practices and how these relate to democratic, vernacular and industry related photographic professions and contexts.

Photography Practices (AD4301) & Photography Theory (AD4302) facilitate and support the acquisition of the key practical and technical skills of the medium alongside an introduction to the historical, theoretical and contextual frameworks of photography since its invention through to its contemporary practice. The two modules are closely related where key case-studies, concepts and themes are highlighted in their introduction and significance across both modules where an understanding of practice and theory is embedded in practical and written assignments. These modules are shared with Combined Honours students. Photography Concepts, Materials and Processes (AD4303) provides Single Honours students with the scope to develop practical work which addresses distinct critical areas related to narrative, conceptual and interdisciplinary frameworks - the module focuses on developing practices through a diverse range of materials and processes commensurate with the different subject areas explored.

Level 5: Students begin to explore a meeting of practice and theory and wider contexts as part of semi-directed study. Contextual Practice (AD5301) introduces advanced practical skills whilst establishing a critical and intellectually-driven approach in the development of a considered and contextualised portfolio of photographs. These are based on a series of project-briefs, which are introduced via lectures, practical workshops, field-study and film seminar teaching sessions. Subject areas covered include: the archive, image & text, vernacular practices, the photobook and still & moving image. Practice and theory are shown to merge as each subject area is linked to workshops, set readings and associated essay questions which are integrated as part of this module. Each student's emerging practice is directed via their individual research which is monitored via tutorial guidance, which leads to an appropriate choice of written assignment that links practice and theory. Where Vernacular practices are introduced, this area is defined in terms of its original meaning relative to architecture, origin/place, and is developed to refer to the historic and contemporary use or reuse of existing photographs (authored and unauthored, institutional or found). This is expanded to explore online sources and the possibilities of virtual or online redistribution or publication. Specialist Photography Practice (AD5303) evolves an increasingly directed and critical approach to photographic practice which embraces live projects, commissions, biennial or photography festival contexts, which are community, regionally, nationally or internationally oriented. This module also incorporates aspects of the Association of Photographers Beyond the Lens Professional Practice Curriculum.

Collaborative Practice (AD5302) introduces students to installation, site-specific and the public artwork possibilities. Students work in collaboration in small groups to initiate and produce exhibition projects. An on-site project is followed by off-site projects in the city and beyond. Students develop the skills required to negotiate the use of public spaces and the associated skills required to market and promote their work. In the third semester all Level 5 students choose either Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning (WB5101) or Fine Art and Photography Experiential Learning (AD5104). This allows students to work off-site in placement or residential areas related to their photographic practice (field-study research or practice-specific projects), or work placement (agency, gallery, museum etc.). At the end of Level 5 students meet with departmental staff for an extended essay or dissertation workshop prior to the summer holiday. Following group and individual tutorial sessions, as necessary, students begin to plan their research in advance of the relevant modules which they have opted to undertake in their final year. This involves the choice of a topic or subject which emerges as a result of their practice and research concerns during Level 5.

There are further employability focused, options available such as WB5004 and WB5008.

(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 UK. WB5004, although available to all students as an alternative to WB5101, this module 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 This module 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.

Level 6: At the end of Level 5 students also prepare a reflective proposal/position statement, which might take the form of a Learning Agreement. Students evaluate their progress whilst provisionally establishing the context in which their practice is situated at this stage of their studies. At the beginning of Level 6 students are assigned a supervisor with whom they originate a plan of work which is undertaken as part of Negotiated Photography Project Single Hons (AD6303). This is a shared module with its Combined Honours counterpart (AD6301) Negotiated Photography Project Combined Hons. Both modules culminate in the final year degree show exhibition. Single Honours students attain a level of sophistication in their practice which is commensurate with this level. Publishing Practice (AD6304) facilitates a diverse range of approaches to this ever expanding area of photography of which the artist's photobook is just one possibility. This extends beyond the degree show exhibition in a portfolio, which specifically addresses a graduate context in an arts or industry arena. Level 6 offers two possibilities for written, research-based submissions, which emerge from personal-practice or other photography-related contexts. Critical Essay - Photography (AD6302) is primarily a semi-directed research module in which students negotiate an essay topic in the form of an Extended Essay (4000 words). Dissertation in Art and Design (AD6305) enables students to undertake in-depth research which investigates a research question or context in the form of a thesis (8,000 words). This is a cross-departmental module which facilitates cross-programme teaching input. Teaching and learning focuses on research methods, and also provides scope for field-study skills and seminar reading groups which are programme specific but also cross-departmental. In both modules students are formatively assessed based on an annotated bibliography, illustrated presentation of research, draft essay and summatively assessed on their final essay submission. Professional Practice (AD6110) is also a cross-departmental module where students' learning and practice is attuned to those career or practitioner-pathways which they might pursue upon graduation. Professional development is introduced via lectures and seminars, live projects, proposals, commissions and self-initiated projects alongside networking opportunities. At the same time students are prepared for the next step in their employability or trajectory as photographers, artists, designers or industry creatives through professional studies portfolio interviews and reviews, which are conducted by individuals from external organisations. This is augmented by a series of lectures by guest lecturers which include critics, writers and curators from the museums, galleries and the art press. Students also work collaboratively on the facilitation and organisation of the final year exhibition.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
FP3002 0 University Study Skills 20 Comp
FP3003 0 Independent Project 20 Comp
FP3301 0 Critical Thinking 20 Comp
FP3302 0 Tools and Methods in Visual Communication 20 Comp
FP3303 0 Concepts in Practice in Visual Communication 20 Comp
FP3304 0 Visual Culture: History and Society 20 Comp
AD4301 4 Photography Practices 40 Comp
AD4302 4 Photography Theory 20 Comp
AD4303 4 Photography Concepts, Materials and Processes (CMP) 60 Comp
AD5104 5 Fine Art and Photography Experiential Learning 20 Optional
AD5301 5 Contextual Practice 40 Comp
AD5302 5 Collaborative Practice 20 Comp
AD5303 5 Specialist Photography Practice 40 Comp
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
AD6110 6 Professional Practice 20 Comp
AD6302 6 Critical Essay - Photography 20 Optional
AD6303 6 Negotiated Photography Project Single Hons 60 Comp
AD6304 6 Publishing Practice 20 Optional
AD6305 6 Dissertation in Art and Design 40 Optional

Level 3: A candidate who successfully completes 120 credits at Level 3 will be eligible for a Foundation Certificate.

Level 4:  A candidate who successfully completes Level 4 will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education*. These 240 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 5: A candidate successfully completing Level 5 will have accumulated 360 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Diploma of Higher Education*. These 360 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of an honours level undergraduate degree award.

Level 6: A candidate successfully completing Level 6 will have accumulated 480 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of a Bachelor's degree in Photography*.

(*see the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education: The framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland—August 2008).

Photography programmes at the University of Chester are registered with the Association for Photography in Higher Education (APHE). 

For full details of the University's Admissions requirements and procedures, reference should be made to the current University of Chester Prospectus and/or the University and UCAS websites.

Widening Access and Participation
The learning and teaching strategies of the department are consistent with the University's commitment to widening access and participation, to preparing students to make positive contributions in their chosen careers or professions. The department also actively supports staff expertise by promoting research and scholarship which feed into and support teaching. The Department of Art and Design has a flexible admissions policy, and encourages applications from mature students and from groups normally under-represented in higher education.

Entry Requirements
UCAS entry profiles may be found at Mature students are considered on an individual basis and where appropriate relevant work experience will be taken into consideration. Students with non-UK qualifications should consult the University's Admissions team or its International Office.

  • 72 UCAS points from GCE A Levels
  • BTEC Extended Diploma: MMP-MPP
  • BTEC Diploma: MM
  • Access Diploma – Pass overall
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points
  • Irish / Scottish Highers - CCCC

Other vocational qualifications at Level 3 will also be considered, such as NVQs.

Mature students (21 and over) that have been out of education for a while or do not have experience or qualifications at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The structure of the photography programme takes into account the Subject Benchmark for Art & Design, available on the QAA website, and the Higher Education Qualifications Framework - also available on Within each module the learning outcomes and the assessment criteria  are based on the descriptors of the ‘Characteristics of Learning’ at each level detailed in these sources. The programme recognises that qualifications should be awarded to mark achievement of positively defined outcomes not as a compensation for failure at a higher level or by default.

At Level 4 students undertake ‘the acquisition of an understanding of underlying principles and appropriate skills’ and then continue to ‘pursue a programme of development progressing to increasingly independent and personally focused learning’. The programme aims to create a solid base of knowledge and an ‘understanding of the critical and contextual dimensions’ of photography. Students also acquire the technical and communication skills necessary for the practice of photography. At the same time students ‘develop the critical awareness required to learn and articulate their process of learning’ in photography.

The programme centres on the development of the ‘students' intellectual powers and their ability to communicate’. The acquisition of skills, whether ‘subject specific’ or ‘generic’, defines the nature of the student's experience in ‘an enquiring, analytical and creative approach’ which ‘encourages the acquisition of independent judgement and critical self-awareness’.

The transition from study to art-related or industry-orientated practices and employment requires the development of professional practice skills. As such, ‘anticipating and responding to change, public presentation of work, entrepreneurial skills and client/audience negotiation skills’ are essential. The ability to do this successfully is dependent on an understanding of the ‘contextual setting’ of photography and the ‘related theories within historical, contemporary and cultural settings’ which inform photography. The course emphasises the integration of practice and theory commensurate with the acquisition of practical and intellectual skills, in the development of independent practice. This entails a critically reflective practice evidenced in the practice itself, but also via non-visual means of articulation: essays, critical reflection, position statements, proposals and learning agreement documents to ‘articulate and synthesise their knowledge and understanding.

The Subject Benchmarks makes reference to ‘common characteristics’ shared by a broad range of disciplines which constitute Art & Design. These include ‘... conception, production, promotion and dissemination of material outcomes ...’. The Single Honours programme is structured to initiate debates and practices within a wider art-based context, which propagates a self-initiated, critically reflective practice. Students are encouraged to assimilate and interpret a wide range of experiences in order to expand their personal artistic ambitions in a meeting of practice and theory. The emergence of ‘multi’ and inter-disciplinary approaches to photographic art nurtures ‘creative skills, imagination, vision, and - at the highest levels of achievement - innovation.’

The programme fosters an approach to the making of, and production of photographic images rooted in personal experience which references the notion of "embodied" practice. Photography is also introduced as an instrumental tool of research where authorship is sublimated. Across the core modules the manifestation of photographic practice and objects is explored via a diverse means of dissemination. These are expanded via exhibition and publication projects embedded in all modules and specifically highlighted in others.  Fine Art & Photography Experiential Learning (Level 5) and Professional Practice (Level 6) modules facilitate the transition from study to independent practice and diverse employment possibilities following graduation. Students are made aware of specific and transferrable skills and prospects through vocational or post-graduate opportunities upon completion of their studies.

Foundation Year (Level 3)

The learning, teaching and assessment methods for the foundation year (level 3) are designed to development students’ academic skills and subject knowledge to successfully prepare them for their undergraduate degree programmes. There will be a focus on introducing students to the mode of delivery they will experience at undergraduate level on programmes across the University. These include the development of professional skills, seminars, lectures, debate, group and individual projects, and confidence with presentations and group discussion. Diversity of assessment types enables students to practise and demonstrate a wide set of knowledge and skills. There will also be instances whereby assessments will have a relationship with real-world scenarios and professional practice. Examples of assessments are group and individual presentations, exams, essays, posters, and the development of a portfolio or project.

Formative assessment is a key component of development on the foundation year (level 3). This will be used so that students can monitor their own performance, reflect on their development and prepare for summative assessments. This is particularly salient for the study skills provision, where skills development will be continuously (self) appraised by students and lecturers via group and personal tutorials. The subject-specific modules and study skills curriculum are not delivered as two distinct areas of the foundation year. Students will need to demonstrate proficiency in academic study skills throughout all of their modules.

A key aspect of the foundation year (level 3) will be the identification and development of critical thinking skills and reflection on one's own progress. This will be 'situated' within the University Study Skills module but students will be expected to utilise skills-based learning from this module across the programme. The programme aims to give students opportunities to take charge of their own learning by identifying their own interests and areas for development.

Levels 4 - 6

The teaching will emphasise practice on location, as well as in studio and workshop environments in ways which are conducive to each student's acquisition and application of specific skills in relation to creative and artistic challenges and briefs. Students establish their individual approaches to practice which becomes increasingly independent as the course progresses. At Level 6 students will be able to work autonomously, guided and supported by tutor supervision and mentoring. From Level 5 students’ learning is structured around a series of project briefs, which introduce key issues, debates and practices related to contemporary photographic practice. These are monitored via individual tutorial and group critique sessions, which review the students interpretation and development of projects via folio or other related forms of production and contextualisation.

The learning agreement or reflective statement at Levels 5 and 6 will provide students with a point of reference, at appropriate stages of their study, which documents and evidences the progress of their work against stated learning outcomes. This is key to the student's ability to monitor and assess their performance in relation to their emerging subject and research interests. Tutorials provide a platform where the writing of a learning agreement or position statement is negotiated at key phases during the year.

Students will be involved in both individual learning and/or learning through collaborative activities. In each case, as students gain confidence and develop their own approaches to learning, they will be encouraged to become more independent and critically reflective.

The practice modules will typically consist of weekly practical workshop, studio and field-study sessions. These sessions involve teaching and tutorial input where instruction, demonstration, critique, dialogues etc. takes place. It is important for students to recognise the significance of independent practice and research and that an important part of the learning process will involve students managing their time to undertake self-initiated practice and associated post-production as part of their self-study or 'production-time'. Students are actively encouraged to engage in 'production time' outside of timetabled teaching contact as an essential part of their learning and progress. This is critical to each student's practical and academic development. As such students may also seek additional, individual tutorial input across the year.

In addition to learning and research through practice - history, theory and contextual studies lectures and seminars are related to critical and contextual aspects of the programme. Students are expected to expand their knowledge-base through reading and studying set-texts, visiting libraries and galleries, workshops and exhibitions. This research experience, insight and understanding, establishes the context in which photographic art practice emerges. Evidence of this process is documented in each student's module-specific journals and visual work-books. The Learning Resources offered by the University also includes access to the University's intranet resources.

The teaching philosophy is aimed at enabling a progressively rigorous engagement with the cultural and aesthetic implications of photography as art. This involves a shift in attitude in how photography, as a medium, is both democratic in its ubiquitous identity, but how its use and function is altered as a result of intention, use and context in relation to its technological advances. The programme will equip students with an understanding of photographic practice in wider art and design as well as interdisciplinary areas alongside professional contexts and employability. Students acquire specific technical and critical skills which facilitate individual and collaborative production that has been subject to analysis and critical reflection. This will enable the student to articulate and communicate their ideas via photographic images which are grounded in their own experience as well as the possibilities of developing practices where photography is an instrumental tool for research. In so doing students acquire a self-awareness and confidence aligned with skills-based attributes, which are beneficial to each student’s specific ambitions and potential employability. The transferrable skills associated with reflexive, interpretative, aesthetic and critical practices are also an invaluable asset with which students are equipped.

Delivery Mode

The greater part of the learning takes place on location or in a studio, photo-lab and workshop areas as well as seminar and lecture rooms. The course emphasises the significance of practice as research and the relationship between the experience of making or producing photographs and how they are manifest and ultimately disseminated and experienced by an audience. The necessity of access to specialised equipment and facilities, take place in darkrooms, lighting studios, workshops and seminar rooms within the Department of Art & Design. These sessions involve: critical dialogues in seminar and 'studio' situations  (including practical workshops and demonstrations); tutorials and group critiques with staff and peer group feedback. Students will also be required to manage their own learning as part of self-directed study or production time.

The needs of part-time students, as far as is practical, will be taken into account in accordance with the University's Widening Access and Participation strategies. In order to accommodate part-time students, personal schedules may have to be negotiated so that they can concentrate their learning at particular levels in specific modules as appropriate.

The module descriptors provide detail related to teaching contact hours in all modules across the programme, which reflect the ways in which students progress towards an increased autonomy throughout their study. Self-directed study and 'production time' involves a sustained work-ethic supported by individual tutorials and supervision, critiques; seminars, and workshops. All aspects of teaching and learning activities are evidenced through the construction of a critically reflective journal, visual work-book, notebooks, blog or other forms of documentation and dissemination associated with art practice which reflects the creative process in an Art and Design teaching and learning context.

During their course of study students learn to become independent and creative practitioners of photography. This is achieved through the acquisition of appropriate practical and technical skills and knowledge. These skills are contextualised via a meeting of practice and theory as part of a process of production, interpretation and reflection. In this way a relationship between the two elements of study: practice and theory (in its widest sense) are integrated in a manner which reflects each student's individual practice. It is appropriate that assessment takes account of these two elements separately as well as acknowledging how one informs the other. Throughout each module students will be expected to critically reflect on their work-in-progress, and to develop the ability to evaluate their own position and develop their work from one project to the next. During Level 5 an integrated understanding of the subject areas introduced across the year and their relationship with what has been introduced in Level 4 is reiterated within each module where appropriate. From Level 5 students will be expected to negotiate a learning agreement or position statement with a tutor, which will identify a personal learning programme relevant to the module content, aims and learning outcomes where their emergent practice and research is established and contextualised.

Assessment will therefore involve:-

  • An examination of practice-based work (photographs and artefacts) which have been produced during the course of a module, or for the specific purpose of formative and summative assessment points. Normally photographic work will be presented as a set of prints in a portfolio folder/case/box, and/or as an exhibition. Students can also present their work in the form of an installation, moving-image, publication or make use of other modes of production and dissemination. The quantitative volume of practical work which students present for assessment is dependent on a 'value' judgement or qualitative assessment in relation to the manifestation of their proposed intentions and the scope of their individual responses to project briefs.
  • The assessment of written assignments in the form of a critical essay 4,000 words (20 credits) or a dissertation 8,000 words (40 credits).
  • Assessment of a visual and contextual journal: visual work-book, sketch or note books or blog. The journal is an umbrella term which might refer to different ways in which a student's practice might be documented and evidenced. These are maintained by the student throughout their studies, for each module, and duly provide a means of documenting technical learning, visual experimentation, contextual research and critical reflection related to an emergent, photographic practice.
  • A seminar presentation or critique (group or individual) in which the student orally articulates their work as part of a  presentation which includes visual research, photographs, images and artefacts, data and/or other contextual material. The extent of the research for each seminar presentation will vary according to the component weighting of marks within each individual module.

Each form of assessment varies and is weighted accordingly in relation to the overall mark which each student achieves in each module. They are generally referred to as summative assessment.

At all levels the student may be required to submit some of the assessment components for some modules during the academic year - marks for those components may be awarded at that stage on a provisional basis. This process of fulfilling some components at the mid-way point (or later) in the year provides the student with a valuable benchmark and indicator of their progress at that level and is designed specifically to allow students to focus on the remaining components for a later part of the academic year.

At Levels 5 and 6 formative assessment is primarily dialogue-based in nature, and operates as part of a system of continuous feedback throughout the duration of the course in the form of tutorial and group critique dialogue. Final grades are not awarded for formatively assessed work. Its function is to support and inform each individual student through a process of discourse, interpretation, reflection and criticism. It may take the form of a one-to-one dialogue in an individual or as part of a group tutorial or critique, in a seminar or workshop session. Normally these sessions will highlight areas of shared concern for the students involved, directly and indirectly, by reviewing work submitted from other perspectives, where alternate opinions and technical advice is offered in terms of possible courses of action and further development forthcoming from staff and peers alike.

Assessment Methods and Criteria

The standard achieved during the undergraduate programme of study should reflect a rigorous and reflective engagement with the medium and subject in relation to the key issues and debates which inform contemporary photographic practice.  These will encompass wider art and design, social, cultural and political as well as professional contexts. Assessment will take account of the fact that the pedagogic aims of the programme facilitate personal development via an engagement with visual concepts, aesthetic and conceptually driven, research-based concerns, process-based strategies, materials and techniques as well as an understanding of cultural and critical contexts. Each student will be able to demonstrate and evidence a clear understanding of the subject in the realisation of their personal projects. Each student's ambitions, potential and achievements are aligned with the aims of the programme whilst allowing scope for students to develop new and innovative approaches to practice and research.

Assessed submissions include: exhibition/installation work, print portfolios, audio-visual, publication, visual and contextual journals, written assignments, dialogue and presentation assessments.

Graduates of the programme will be able to operate as independent photographic practitioners in a diverse range of art and industry contexts. They will be able to undertake self-initiated projects which effectively incorporate a broad range of photographic media and processes. They will be able to contextualise their practice in relation to the histories and theories of the medium, and the key themes and debates which inform contemporary photographic art practice and its wider contexts. They will also be equipped to recognise the scope of their practice within the creative industries. They will be able to critically analyse and research a diverse range of resources, which enable the production of meaning. They will also be able to synthesise and correlate experiences, concepts and research, which have originated as a result of practice-based learning. They will possess a specific knowledge-base of artistic, cultural and aesthetic precedents. This will allow them to critically evaluate the significance of relevant photographic, art and interdisciplinary contexts. This will lead to an intellectual approach to the medium based upon sustained and rigorous critical inquiry. Graduates will be able to manifest their ideas visually as well as be able to articulate them orally and contextualise them in written form. This will be manifest in many different forms which encompasses a wide range of possibilities which includes the following modes of reception, production and dissemination: exhibition, installation, portfolio, photo books and publishing, mixed, multi and new media possibilities and platforms.

The transferable skills acquired by graduates of this programme will equip them for employment in the creative and cultural industries. A significant number of photography graduates secure employment in related roles such as curatorial practices, moving image production, gallery and museum contexts, photographers' assistants, press and publishing, as well as in image libraries and archives and photographic agencies. Other employment possibilities relate directly to skills based upon visual literacy, a critical-eye and other areas where the creativity of photographic practice is valued and utilised in diverse ways. These roles are exemplified in film, television and analogue and new media platforms. Other graduates will also enter the teaching profession as a vocation where their practical and research skills impact upon their pedagogy and research in a teaching and learning context. Photography embraces many interdisciplinary areas and offers avenues into alternative career pathways for those who are motivated and able to recognise these possibilities. The list includes: fine art, publishing, fashion/magazine photography, photo laboratories, digital imaging, advertising photography, public commissions and employment within museums and galleries, as well as the retail sector and visual merchandising etc. Such examples serve to confirm the significance of students’ transferable skills and subject knowledge. As a result of their experience in dealing with complex practical and intellectual visual challenges, and their ability to think laterally. Graduates also have the potential to consider a number of other career paths including public relations or marketing.

Significantly the nature of the programme, with its emphasis on self-initiated practice, intellectual and independent creativity in preparing graduates as photographic practitioners, is such that it will also equip them to contemplate freelance photographic work or to become independent or self-employed practitioners and artists. Some may choose to go on to study for a higher degree either in the Department’s postgraduate Fine Art, Design or MRes programmes, or another similar or alternative postgraduate course at another institution.

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.

The following additional information applies to Levels 4, 5 and 6 of the programme.


A one week induction period is provided for all new students. Sessions typically encompass familiarisation with the structure of the programme and introductory lectures or practical workshops or study/orientation visits. Students are also introduced to the Art & Design undergraduate experience, and wider University areas related to managing finances and issues of health and safety. Students will have learning resources and library induction sessions, and will  also have the opportunity able to meet with and discuss any questions they may have with Department staff.

Personal Academic Tutors
The Department fully endorses and adheres to the University's established Personal Academic Tutor scheme. All students on degree programmes administered by the Art and Design subject group are allocated a Personal Academic Tutor, and students are required to meet with their PAT on a regular basis  particularly during their first year of study. The PAT will usually remain your tutor throughout the course of study and advises on academic development and progress. He or she is there to offer support at a pastoral level in both academic and non-academic matters.

Academic and Learning Support
In addition to the PAT system, academic members of the Department remain regularly contactable. Students who wish to discuss matters with a member of staff can approach the relevant lecturer to arrange a mutually convenient time. Although students will receive written feedback on their work, they may also make an appointment to see the relevant lecturer regarding any work submitted.

The University's learning resources centre has dedicated Arts & Media librarians. Learning Support & Guidance also provide study support for students who experience difficulties with their learning.

Programme Information and University Regulations

A Programme handbook, module handbooks and schedules detailing the structure of the programme are made available to all students and are regularly updated as appropriate. All relevant information concerning the University's regulations is widely available via the University intranet Moodle pages in Portal.

Careers Advice
Faculty specific Careers Advisors are available to advise Art & Design students and are able to help students access information related to both vocational and educational opportunities following graduation.

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