School of Art, Design and Architecture

BA (Hons) Photography with Foundation

Join our course to develop your passion for photography. On BA (Hons) Photography you will make, use and analyse images, engaging directly with the world around you while exploring the medium’s endless potential. You will develop a clear understanding of photography in its wider cultural, historical and professional context. Our high profile teaching team, purpose-built environment and excellent facilities will enable you to evolve your own unique style and personal visual language.

This course provides opportunities for students from non-standard entry points to develop the skills and knowledge needed to successfully complete an undergraduate degree. Upon successful completion of your first year, you’ll join the undergraduate BA (Hons) Photography course.

Documentary photography - red room

Careers with this subject

Once you graduate, there are far more options than simply being 'a photographer'. Our graduates have gone on to work as commercial freelancers, artists exhibiting and publishing nationally and internationally, picture editors, art directors, designers, lecturers, and company directors.

Key features

Your foundation year will:

  • Welcome you to an engaging, experiential learning environment with a focus on active exploration, experimentation and discovery across a wide range of material, methods and media.
  • Help develop your practical, technical and creative skills through studio and workshop based projects.
  • Provide training in key learning skills for further undergraduate study and build an awareness of practise, context and theory.
  • Introduce you to the accessible community of experienced academics, practitioners and technical staff that will support you on your studies. 
  • Give you access to a wide range of enviable specialist workshops, laboratories and facilities across the campus and become part of our vibrant student community through the various opportunities available within the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
  • Enable you to explore and develop your personal interests and strengths as a creative practitioner. 

This course is an integrated part of the BA (Hons) Photography degree at the University of Plymouth. Successful completion of your foundation year (Year 0) will not lead to a separate award or qualification in its own right but provides progression onto Year 1 of:

Or one of the following visual communication related degree programmes: 

When you join the BA (Hons) Photography with Foundation, you will:

  • Experiment - a key feature of our course is the space to experiment. During the three years there is a great deal of focus on the way you develop your photography, both in practice, and in ideas.
  • Document - a growing aspect of the course, in response to contemporary practice, is the importance of the photographic document. This includes opportunities to develop as a contemporary documentary practitioner.
  • Collaborate - a valuable skill for any creative practitioner, collaboration is sewn throughout our course including short studio projects, group presentations, a collaborative practice module, and our unique Set Construction Project that allows you to work collaboratively and develop the skills to build, style and photograph your own studio sets.
  • Think differently - an important aspect of our course is the development of you as a critically aware contemporary photographer. This means that you can move between ways of working that span the commercial and artistic worlds. The life of a contemporary practitioner is a varied and multi-faceted affair, and the skills taught on this course help you to navigate this exciting world.
  • Plymouth - take advantage of our stunning location in the South West. This natural resource will inspire your creative practice with its rural and city landscapes, brooding moors and dramatic coastline.
  • Explore - broaden your understanding of photographic practice in other cultures - our international opportunities include a residential field trip to Europe in year 1 and rich opportunities for studying abroad in countries like Germany, Romania, Sweden, Cyprus, Slovenia, France, Slovakia, Norway, New Zealand and the USA in year 2.
  • Facilities - achieve your creative goals with our excellent facilities and resources, including a custom-built analogue and digital resource and an extensive Artist Book Collection. 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 and former students talking about their work and career paths. Past speakers have included: Brett Rogers, Director of the Photographers Gallery; celebrated documentary photographer Ed Clark; image makers Anna Fox, Simon Roberts, Charlotte Dumas, Ori Gersht, Martin Parr, Mark Power, David Goldblatt, Laura Pannack and more.
  • We also work with Specialist Professional Practice visitors who create clear links between the creative practice of the course, and professional outlets in the future.

Course details

  • Year 0
  • Core modules
    • ADA001 Materials, Methods and Media

      This module will introduce students to various techniques, materials and mediums through practise-based experiments, play and problem solving. You will be introduced to different creative processes and methods of working that will help you to develop your ideas and engage in critical and reflective practice.

    • ADA002 Image, Type and Narrative

      Students will experiment with media, photography and typography to explore the relationship between image and word. This module enables students to gain knowledge within subject areas and explore the importance of developing an independent voice. Projects will become increasingly student driven as they develop their ability to propose ideas and solutions through self-directed inquiry, discovery and production.

    • ADA003 Risk and Resolution

      Students will consolidate their skills, knowledge and understanding in initiating, researching, developing and presenting a final project and exhibition. This module will also enable students to continue to research and develop their strengths as an independent art and design practitioner and prepare them for their next stage of study.

    • ADA004 Critical Themes in Art & Design

      This module introduces students to transformative phases within the historical and contemporary context of art, design, photography and media. Students will learn to ask critical questions and find answers through information gathering, reading and research. Through articulating responses, students will be introduced to academic conventions in preparation for progression to further Higher Education.

  • Year 1
  • Core modules
    • 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.

    • PHO420 Essentials

      In this module students develop an understanding of core photographic, technical and methodological processes of observational practice. Key photographic processes are explored through workshops, tutorials and personal photographic exploration. The relationship between individual practice, ideas and the context of others¿ work is explored.

    • PHO421 Establishing Practice

      Students develop an understanding of core photographic observational and constructed practice, including portraiture and still life. During workshops, seminars, and personal photographic exploration, key skills are developed. The relationship between individual practice, ideas and the context of others¿ work is explored.

    • 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.

    • PHO423 Histories 2

      In this module students expand their knowledge of photographic histories and further develop their skills in critical thinking, research and writing, building upon the knowledge and skills developed in `Histories 1¿, with greater emphasis being placed on the practice of academic writing.

    • PHO424 Making a Mark

      Students explore a range of `alternative¿ photographic processes, and techniques for printing photographic images. During a carousel of workshops and seminars, students are introduced to new processes, and facilities in the university. The relationship between individual practice, ideas and the context of others¿ work is explored through individual exploration.

  • Year 2
  • Core modules
    • PHO518 Collaboration

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

    • PHO520 Tableaux

      The module offers the opportunity to work collaboratively. Students work in groups to build and photograph an ambitious set construction in the studio or on location.

    • PHO521 Practising Theory

      In this module students are introduced to a wide range of photographic theories and related discourses. They develop more advanced critical skills, including analysis and evaluation, and the application of theoretical concepts to photographic practice, as well as academic writing and research skills. Students continue to develop undergraduate research processes through the use of the University¿s ILS facilities and procedures and prepare for the final year Dissertation.

    Optional 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.

    • PHO514 Developing Practice

      This module presents an opportunity to build on previous experiences in order to further develop personal creative skills and interests within the context of contemporary photographic practices.

    • PHO515 Critical Practices

      In this module students investigate the integration of theoretical ideas into photographic practice, exploring the various forms that this can take within historical and contemporary practice. They devise a plan of personal work that explores such correspondences, giving careful consideration to subject matter, visual (and textual) approach and presentation of work. The final part of the module will be concerned with preparation for the final year dissertation.

    • 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.

    • PHO522 Futures

      Through practical project work and its refinement, students prepare for the final year of study through the development of a self-negotiated study programme. Technical, methodological and theoretical elements of practice are consolidated.

  • Final Year
  • Core modules
    • PHO601 Negotiation

      In this module each student develops an ambitious individual programme of 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 Photography with Foundation Programme Specification 2020 21 6750

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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

32 - 48

Don’t have 32–48 UCAS tariff points? We will consider ‘non-standard’ applications on a case-by-case basis.

A levels: For Level 3 entry the Tariff points entry level will normally be 32–48 points from A level or equivalent. Non-standard applicants will normally be interviewed.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended

Irish Leaving Certificate: Irish Highers, H5 in five subjects equivalent to 32–48 points.

International Baccalaureate: 24 overall

Proficiency in English: Students for whom English is an additional language will need to demonstrate ability in spoken and written English equivalent to an IELTS score of 6.0 and/or successfully complete the university’s special test before entering the foundation year.

English language requirements

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

We are looking for applicants with good potential including with non-standard qualifications and background, so will consider every application on a case by case basis. Alternatively, if you have any questions or concerns about meeting the entry requirements listed above we would encourage you to contact the Admissions Team on +44 1752 585858 or email, where a member of the team can offer you further advice.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021 2022
Home £9,250 To be confirmed
International £14,200 To be confirmed
Part time (Home) £770 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. For more information about fees and funding please visit

Additional costs

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

Our facilities and resources

Photographing requires more than a camera! We make sure you have all you need to realise your ideas. From the fully equipped studios to several darkrooms, we have it all.

We are located in the Scott Building, a 19th-century building, which was modernised in 2008 specifically to accommodate the photography course amongst other arts programmes. 

Benefit from a custom-built analogue and digital resource and an extensive Artist Book Collection. Be free to work when the inspiration takes you with our resources open 8h30 - 21h00 Monday to Friday and 10h00 - 14h00 at weekends.

Discover what will be available to you

Are you thinking of applying?

We'd like to help you by explaining the application process, giving you advice on creating your portfolio and preparing for your interview.

Our teaching team like to meet you face to face for an interview. We ask you to bring your portfolio - including sketchbooks, workbooks, printed images and written work. The interview will be very informal and we always enjoy discussing your work with you. Three years is a long time for you to invest, so we will ask you questions to make sure we are the right course for you, and we would like you to ask us questions too – so bring some questions with you