School of Art, Design and Architecture

BA (Hons) Documentary Photography

Join our new course to learn, explore and develop as a photographer, building on your passion for medium, and its ability to tell amazing stories. You'll engage with the world of contemporary documentary photography in its many guises, and develop challenging, exciting and powerful work. Our high profile teaching team will support you in the development of your practice, and the purpose built environment and excellent facilities mean that your ambitions can be met and exceeded as a photographer.

Key features

  • Experiment – During the course there is a great deal of focus on the way you develop your photography. Contemporary documentary practice takes many forms, and you may end up with an approach that you had never even considered.
  • Think differently – An important aspect of our course is the development of you as a critically aware contemporary photographer. Documentary photography is diverse, and we encourage a broad exploration of the genre. By the end of our course you will have a wide understanding of your own practice, and where it fits into the world of contemporary photography.
  • Explore - Broaden your understanding of photographic practice in other cultures - our international opportunities include a residential field trip to Europe in year 1 and our ‘Exploration’ module in year 2, allowing the time and space to develop a significant body of work in a different context.
  • Facilities - Achieve your creative goals with our excellent facilities and resources, including a custom-built analogue and digital resource and an extensive equipment store. Be free to work when the inspiration takes you with our resources open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week and throughout the holidays.
  • Visitors - Deepen your understanding of the subject with our lively visiting speaker series, featuring well-known practitioners. Past speakers have included celebrated documentary photographers: Ed Clark, Anna Fox, Simon Roberts, Charlotte Dumas, Martin Parr, Mark Power, David Goldblatt, Laura Pannack and many many more…

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Core modules
    • DOCU401 Observations

      Students develop an understanding of core photographic observational practice. During workshops, seminars, and personal photographic exploration, key documentary approaches are developed. The relationship between individual practice, ideas and the context of others' work is explored. Students also begin to engage with other aspects of Degree level study, including approaches to digital literacy and methods for research and reflection

    • DOCU402 Practices

      Practices focuses on the need for core photographic skills in relation to contemporary documentary photographic practice. The module engages the students in a range of tasks to deliver these skills, in relation to a variety of professional contexts, including editorial, journalistic and press.

    • DOCU403PP Reportage

      The module continues an engagement with observation, but in the context of reporting. Students explore how photographers and illustrators report news to an audience using their local environment to disseminate a global issue.

    • DOCU404 Documentary Histories

      In this module students develop an understanding of documentary histories which chart the characteristics, practitioners and practices of the genre. Students gain a broad knowledge and understanding of these histories and acquire skills in critical thinking, research, writing and debate which are used to position contemporary practice.

    • PHO419 Storytelling

      Students explore the art of storytelling in the form of an editorial/journalistic photo essay and a bookwork, introducing and expanding the practices of editing, sequencing, portraiture, layout, design, to further refine an understanding of professional context. The relationship between individual practice, ideas and the context of others¿ work is continued.

    • PHO422 Histories 1

      In this module students are introduced to a wide range of photographic histories, which chart the development of the medium, its characteristics, its practitioners and practices, and its proliferation throughout society. Students gain a broad knowledge and understanding of these histories and acquire skills in critical thinking, research, writing and presentation, which are used to explore and challenge conventional understandings.

  • Year 2
  • Core modules
    • DOCU501 Mediations

      This module engages students in forms of contemporary documentary practice involving still and moving image, sound and text. These elements form the basis of a range of skills utilised as methods of intervention in disseminating current narratives. A single, short-duration multimedia piece is constructed over the course of the module.

    • DOCU502 Perspectives

      In this module students investigate the integration of contemporary theoretical ideas into documentary photographic practice. This is an up-to-date examination of the genre, where conventions and perceived histories are rigorously questioned. Students engage in a series of lectures and seminars, before they devise a plan of personal work that explores such correspondences.

    • PHO518 Collaboration

      The module offers the opportunity to work collaboratively. Individual practice is developed through projects collaborating with an external individual, group or organisation.

    • PHO519 Exploration

      The module is designed to extend students¿ experience and understanding of subjects beyond their immediate location. Students spend a minimum of ten weeks on location, offering the opportunity to increase communication skills, self reliance, a greater awareness of cultural values and increased professional prospects.

  • Final year
  • Core modules
    • DOCU601 Negotiation

      In this module each student develops an ambitious individual programme of documentary photographic practice in negotiation with tutors, through careful reflection on personal aims and objectives for the final year of study.

    • PHO620 Resolution

      After an initial period of self-initiated preparation, research and consultation, a written proposal for the production of a body of work is prepared and submitted. Subject to the approval of the programme team, the student undertakes a period of self-negotiated study leading to the production of a substantial body of work, supported by a critical reflection.

    Optional modules
    • PHO617 Dissertation

      This module completes the Photography research syllabus with an extended essay, researched and written by each student. Students have the opportunity to research and reflect on a subject of their choice, within an area associated with their practice discipline.

    • PHO618 Extended Dissertation

      This module completes the Photography research syllabus with an extended essay, researched and written by each student. Students have the opportunity to research and reflect on a subject of their choice, within an area associated with their practice discipline.

    • PHO619 Professional Futures

      Across the final semester, students reflect on both their own individual post University aspirations, as well as the current state of the field. This externally looking module supports students to understand and prepare for life after the degree.

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

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

BA Hons Documentary Photography programme specification 5838

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

96 - 120

A Levels
A minimum of 2 A levels, General Studies accepted.      

International Baccalaureate
28 points.

18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

All access courses
Pass a named Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferably art and design or combined), with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction.

Mathematics and English Language grade C.

Equivalent qualifications may be considered.

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

A portfolio presentation is a requirement for entry onto this course.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,400 £13,800
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed £770
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.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts and Humanities additional costs.

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

BA (Hons) Photography - Explore

Experience photographic practice in other cultures with our funded residential field trip in Year 1 and opportunities for studying abroad in Year 2.

Visit exhibitions in Europe and study abroad in countries like Romania, Sweden, the USA and New Zealand.

Find out more about our international opportunities

BA (Hons) Photography - Erasmus Exchange Programme

My main project was photographing in Roma villages around Brasov, taking a more in-depth look at the community.

David Hedges

Read more about David Hedges