School of Art, Design and Architecture

MFA Photographic Arts

The MFA Photographic Arts offers you the opportunity to continue your postgraduate practice. Develop critically reflective practice and broad theoretical understanding of photography, then plan and negotiate an extension of your MA project. The professional perspective of this programme will nurture your awareness and outlook towards making, producing, publishing and exhibiting photographic work in a public context.

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Key features

  • Extend your study – the MFA has been designed for MA alumni in arts, science and humanities, so if you want to expand your practice within a professional context, you'll have the opportunity to develop your project through our extensive professional practice network. MA progressing to MFA is two years full-time or three years part-time. If taken in addition to an MA, the MFA covers two terms and is a further six or seven months of study, resulting in an additional 60 credits. 
  • Nurture a more professional awareness by following a curatorial model of teaching and learning – generating and facilitating industry contacts in the gallery and museum environment, publishing and education. Your project is likely to take place off campus either through placement or location visits. 
  • Benefit from flexible learning approaches including distance learning, off campus tutorials and seminars, site and studio visits, field trips and research activities. You will be able to take part in group sessions and one-to-one tutorials, depending on your specific circumstances and the focus of your practice.
  • Engage in experimental practice and become part of a broad research environment, supported by our internationally renowned staff, including Professors David Chandler, Jem Southam and Liz Wells
  • Experience a dynamic research environment which includes an extensive visiting speaker programme – a number of whom contribute to small, directed seminars, workshops and tutorials. Recent visiting speakers include Martin Barnes, Sian Bonnell and David Campany.
  • Special events that highlight the aspects of the taught programme are organised each semester including intensive study days and symposia. We have held study visits at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate St Ives and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
  • Interrogate the relationship between theory and practice, with opportunities for a residential field trip and study trips both in the UK and abroad.
  • Benefit from a city centre campus with excellent library and photographic facilities including a bespoke daylight studio, analogue and digital imaging and printing resources, C41 processing, letterpress, printmaking and silkscreen workshops. 
  • Explore the rich urban and rural landscape offered by the South West peninsula – diverse towns and cities, industrial heritage and urban regeneration, coastal and marine environments, dramatic moorland and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Core modules
    • MAPY701 The Practice of Research

      During this module students examine models of photographic practice-based research, enabling them to reflect on their own practices methodology. They begin to establish fields of visual enquiry and explore the conceptual frameworks of their initial proposal. Students will learn to critically reflect on their practice through the form of a workbook or journal. A small bookwork project provides them with the opportunity to critically examine their own practice.

    • MAPY702 Photography: Histories and Criticism

      Through critical examination of photographic practices, historically and now, students will familiarise themselves with and question ways in which photographers have deployed photographic and associated media to engage, question, investigate and respond to people and places, objects and scenarios, ideas and issues.

    • MAPY703 Experiment and Practice

      To explore mindful practice and experiment, responding to both self initiated and set tasks, to test, reflect and evaluate the scope and limitations to further develop the MA project.

    • MAPY704 Photography: Interdisciplinary Practices and Contexts

      Through the selection of themes, this module introduces models of interdisciplinary practice involving photographers/artists working with forms of mixed media, across diverse research contexts, with specific sites and with modes of collaboration; examples are critically examined. Students develop case studies to extend their understanding of such practices relevant to their own projects and interests.

  • Final year
  • The MFA is achieved by extending the 180 credits of an MA Photography programme by a further 60 credits, giving you the opportunity to reflect on, and significantly extend, your masters-level research and practice through developing a new body of work. The programme will also take a professional perspective and help you to consider and prepare for the external contexts in which your work may be subsequently placed and seen. This further study could work well as a point of focus from which to develop a proposal for a practice-based MPhil/PhD. This MFA award can be taken directly after completion of your masters or after a gap from study. It is designed as a progression from the Plymouth photographic practice awards however, if appropriate, it is open to you with awards from other institutions. By 'practice' we refer to a photographic practice that is inclusive of a wide range of making and working with photography: as photographers, curators, editors and writers.
    Core modules
    • MAPY705 MA Project

      This module completes the journey of the MA Project including production and resolution. It provides the students with a context to consolidate and refine their practice for presentation whether in exhibition, book or other appropriate format. A report provides a critical commentary to their practice.

    • MFAP706 Extended Project

      This module provides students with the opportunity to significantly extend their practice after successfully concluding the MA 505 Project module. It also requires them to plan the dissemination of their work in external professional contexts, furthering their research skills and their experience, understanding and skills of collaborative practice.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA MFA Photographic Arts 4707

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements


For an MA progressing to an MFA, you will normally need a 2:1 degree or above in photography or a relevant subject. Appropriate professional experience or prior experiential learning will also be assessed on an individual basis. If you have an honours degree in other disciplines, you are welcome to apply with proposals that demonstrate an innovative approach to the use of your practice, in a critical context, within the field of your own specialism in relation to photography. 

You will be required to attend an interview, bringing a portfolio of work. This could cover evidence from a broad range of experience, including photographic projects, curatorial projects, or a collection of examples of the practice of writing. You will also need to write a 500-1,000 word MA project proposal to accompany your application form.

Accredited Prior Learning (APL) will not normally be considered as the MA programme is designed as a coherent whole.


If you are an overseas applicant you will be required to attend an interview with a portfolio – a Skype interview and electronic portfolio are possible.

You can check the compatibility of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through NARIC, who provide an advisory service.

English language requirements.

If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5. 

For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU To be confirmed To be confirmed
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £420 To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

How to apply

Applying for postgraduate taught study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Postgraduate Admissions and Enquiries team are on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

If you would like any further information please contact the Postgraduate and Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Applying for postgraduate research study

The University aims to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. The Doctoral College is available to answer any queries on our postgraduate research degrees.  If  you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via

If you would like any further information please contact the Doctoral College:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 587640


Submitting an application

Apply for postgraduate study using our online postgraduate application form.

Alternatively you can download a copy of the application form to be submitted by hand, by post or via email with accompanying attachments.

Additional guidance information can also be downloaded on how to fill in the postgraduate application form.

Graduate profile

Through engaging in explorative practice and stimulating debate, the MA facilitated a rich environment for postgraduate study. This ultimately led me to working with a number of American short story writers on a series of collaborations and book works.

Brendan Barry – MA Photography and the Land graduate.

View Brendan Barry’s work

Research with the School of Art and Media

The Centre for Media, Art and Design research (MADr) forms a gateway to harness and attract opportunities; we invite proposals to work with partners locally and globally.

MADr - a platform to promote art and creativity.

Visit the MADr website

Meet the tutors

I have worked with photography and photographers for many years as a curator, editor and writer, in particular as Director of Photoworks, one of the leading contemporary photography organisations in Britain. I have brought that experience to Plymouth.

Professor David Chandler is developing research into aspects of post-war British photography, within the wider contexts of visual culture and history.

Learn more about Professor Chandler