BA (Hons) Photography

Top in Wales for assessment in Film Production and Photography Guardian University Guide 2024

The BA Photography course is a gateway to a variety of creative careers.

Our course recognizes and embraces the dynamic nature of the field, where new tools and techniques lead the way and trends emerge with lightning speed. We aim to ensure that our students not only master the fundamentals but also become agile and adaptable photographers capable of thriving in any work environment. This includes advertising, fashion and art photography as well as a whole range of related career paths. It’s a broad course capable of sustaining the journey and transformative growth of each and every one of you.

We do this from our enviable purpose-built Creative Industries campus right in the heart of Cardiff, comprising state-of-the-art studios and equipment; and a community of passionate people fully engaged in shaping the future of visual culture. In short, we genuinely couldn’t be better located!

Before we go any further, just take a look at the work of our recent graduates.

At our core, we believe photography is for everybody and that it’s not just about learning the skills and negotiating how to apply those skills in the world of employment; we aim to nurture your own unique vision and help you to grow as photographers and as individuals. We foster an environment that is encouraging and community driven so that you can learn from each other, exchange ideas, and inspire one another’s growth. We want you to explore your passions and challenge your preconceptions. We know from what our past and present students tell us that this is a rewarding journey of self-discovery, so it could be for you too!

We actively promote flexibility, responsiveness, and innovation and we’re constantly updating our curriculum and extending our industry partners to reflect the shifting demands of the ever-expanding photography landscape, ensuring that you receive the most relevant education available. We aim to nurture your potential, helping you to locate and develop your interests both in terms of subject matter and the specific area of the industry in which you decide to work. We help you to explore the latter through our numerous industry connections, including notable course Alumni; all of whom are there to offer advice, guidance, and support as you move toward embarking on your career post USW.

USW has a long and notable history of delivering innovative photography courses that prepare graduates for the real world. Graduates will be employed in a variety of roles as highly skilled photographers, independent artists, photographic assistants, art directors, producers, photography managers, stylists, retouchers, printers, medical and forensic photographers, curators, writers, publishers, agents, educators, marketeers, and media consultants.

This course is officially the only course in Wales accredited by The Association of Photographers. The AOP is one of the most prestigious professional photographers’ associations in the world, providing a stamp of approval for our ambitious degree course and many benefits to our fantastic students.

Follow USW Photography on Instagram.

UCAS Code Study Mode
2024
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
PW36 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
UCAS Code Study Mode
2025
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
PW36 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

Modules on our exciting Photography degree are designed to push you and help you to develop as a photographer and as an individual, helping you to quickly grow into a professional who can thrive in the fast-moving photographic and creative industries. This is achieved through the development of considered technical, conceptual and vocational skills relevant to a wide range of potential career paths made possible by a completing a degree in Photography. You will learn new ways to think, create, collaborate and promote yourself, so you’ll be ready to respond to working in this dynamic, rapidly evolving and demanding industry.

Each year, modules build on the skills you have already gained with the intention of fast kick-starting your creativity and applying this to the real world.

Modules you’ll study:

Year 1

The first year of the photography degree introduces and explores key ideas that are relevant to contemporary photography industry through engaging and challenging practical projects. All modules will develop your technical and conceptual skills and provide stimulating assignments to develop your creativity and overall control and understanding of the medium.

Is It Real?

In this initial start-up module you’ll investigate the interesting difference between physical and photographed realities.

How We Tell Stories

For this project you’ll learn about photographic storytelling using key narrative tools such as selecting which images to use and in which order.

Fake Views

In this module you’ll be exploring photography as make-believe: how can photography make us believe that something is true?

What Do We Remember?

How does photography shape our memories? This module encourages you to explore photography in relation to memory and time. 

Who We Are

Does photography shape who we are? This module investigates the construction of identity through the photograph. 

Can We Create Change

In this module, you’ll look at and explore the potential of photography to have a real impact on the big issues that shape society today.

  

Year 2

Taking the knowledge learnt in the first year of this course, you will now learn to understand and experience how this knowledge relates to and can be applied to the contemporary photographic industry and various potential job roles that exist within it, at all times further developing your skills, knowledge and confidence.

The Public

In this module you’ll explore commercial photography that is produced to inform and educate the public. You’ll learn how work of this nature is commissioned and produced.

The Client

Building on the previous module, you’ll now work directly with a notable figure from industry to produce a commercial photographic advertising campaign. This guest will set you a brief and offer invaluable guidance and feedback.

The Idea

This module teaches you how to initiate and research ideas and encourages your own ability to develop important subject matter for photographic exploration, informed by the big issues of today.

The Commission

Working with another external industry professional, this module invites you to initiate, develop and realise a personal project in response to a given site, allowing you to further develop and grow your unique identity as a photographer.

Finding Your Place*

This module is all about your future career working within the creative industries. You will gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of specific industry jobs via direct interaction with industry figures, helping you to make informed choices about your future as well as helping you to build your own industry network.

*25% of this module can be studied in Welsh

Optional Sandwich Year

Some students may choose to undertake a year working directly within industry between their 2nd and 3rd year of the course. During this period within industry, you gain valuable experience and knowledge, helping you to further shape your future and prepare you for your final year of study and future career.

  

Year 3

The final year of the course places you in the driving seat, allowing you to make decisions about the kind of work you want to make, subject matter you wish to explore, and where you and your work exist in the world. The year also focuses heavily on further building your confidence as an individual as well as preparing you for employment in the industry following the completion of your degree, so that you’re ready for your next chapter post degree.

Independent Vision

In this extended practical module, you’ll develop a personal photographic project and take it through various stages. The subject matter is chosen by you and developed over time, supported by feedback and guidance from tutors, ultimately leading to the completion of an ambitious and relevant body of final work.

Either

Critical Catalogue

This module guides your construction of a publication designed to accompany an imagined exhibition on a specific theme of interest to you.  

Or

Critical Paper

On this module you are mentored towards the completion of an essay exploring a subject relevant to your practical photographic work. 

Making Ready

In this final module of the course, you’ll work towards publishing your work in a specific area of the industry and presenting yourself to that industry as a professional. The module can include the development of exhibitions, publications, websites, social media profiles, portfolios, CV’s, blogs and much more.

Modules are subject to change

Teaching

You will be taught by a team of passionate and dedicated tutors who are committed to your progression as a photographer and a creative individual, providing you with the support and encouragement to talk about the things that matter to you.

The primary emphasis of this photography degree is practical, but it also contains theoretical elements that provide context and help you to appropriately place your work within the wider world. The practical teaching is delivered through a combination of workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials, with screenings, gallery visits, field trips, live industry briefs, guest talks and other events to further enhance and enrich your experience. You will predominantly develop your practical work individually but will occasionally work in small groups for specific projects mirroring real world experiences as well as preparing you for working collaboratively within industry.

You will have guidance and support with all assignments but will also be expected to work in a self-directed way managing your time carefully, especially in your final year which will conclude with the publishing of a significant body of work.

Assessment

Assessment is through 100% coursework, there are no exams to complete on this course.

All assessments are undertaken through regular but carefully planned and staggered submissions throughout each academic year to ensure that all deadlines are achievable within the time allocated.

Accreditations

BA (Hons) Photography at USW is the only course in Wales officially accredited by The Association of Photographers (AOP). The AOP is one of the most prestigious photography associations in the world whose aim is to promote the worth and standing of photographers. It brings professionals and students together and provides an important community for all.  

This industry stamp of approval means that this Photography course meets all of the relevant criteria for reinforcing best practice and incorporating key elements of the AOP’s industry guidelines as defined in their publication Beyond the Lens. 

This relationship offers students a free 4-year membership, considerable added value and further support and guidance, from access to additional learning materials, talks, discounted entry to awards and competitions, a free digital copy of Beyond the Lens, free legal advice, portfolio reviews and more.

Placements

We take pride in our notable links with industry and provide numerous opportunities for our students to work with creative professionals through live projects and industry facing modules such as Finding Your Place in the 2nd year and Making Ready in the 3rd year.

Direct engagement with individuals and organisations from industry, including the possibility of undertaking a placement, forms a major part of the 2nd year of the course, through which you begin to hone in on areas of the industry that are of particular interest to you.

You also have the option to undertake a Sandwich Year between years 2 and 3 of the course during which you can undertake a longer placement within a relevant area of the industry.

Our network of notable photography alumni, working in numerous professional industry positions, often generously give their time to further support current students and the next generation of creatives.

Field Trips

The collective act of seeing things and visiting places together and discussing the experience as a group can be hugely valuable, rewarding and enjoyable, so for us, trips are an important part of your education, locally, nationally and internationally. These can vary from places of interest to inform your work to key exhibitions of notable themes or by leading photographers.

Recent international trips, pre and post covid, have included visits to Berlin, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam. For us, it is important that these trips are available to as many students as possible, so we work hard to make them as cost effective as we can. In addition to this, we also link up with industry contacts in these cities to further enrich your experience and introduce you to the ins and outs of the Photography industry further afield.

There may be additional costs associated with this course

Facilities

As a Photography student here at USW, you will have access to all of our amazing industry standard facilities, the majority of which are located on our dedicated photography floor, which we share with the Documentary Photography course.

 

These facilities recreate the environment of industry and include two large professional photography studios, one with an impressive three-sided white infinity cove, an editing suite, high-end print room, analogue darkroom, and a really well-stocked equipment store, as well as a fabrication workshop with laser cutting and 3D printing facilities. You will have access to these spaces 7 days a week and can work well into the evening when the teaching day is over. This provides you with incredible access to the tools you need to develop as photographers and to fulfil all elements of this carefully designed course.

 

Our photography store includes a wide range of both digital and analogue cameras of all formats. This includes high-end cameras produced by leading manufactures such as Phase One, Fuji, Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad and Sony. You will also have access to a number of lighting solutions including flash and continuous options produced by companies such as Profoto, Dracast and Aputure. Once inducted, students can loan equipment from our store at no additional cost, simply by making a booking using their online Connect2 account.

 

The photography floor also features a creative space with numerous sofas where students can meet to collaborate, continue working, host meetings, network, socialise and relax. This area helps to form a really tight knit community around the course where 1st, 2nd and 3rd years mix and offer invaluable support and guidance to one another.

 
All of our spaces are designed to make you feel comfortable and at home, so that you’re free to be inspired, to be ambitious, and to push the boundaries of the medium and your own personal ability.

Lecturers

The BA (Hons) Photography course is taught by a dedicated team of tutors – all of whom are accomplished photographers, artists, film makers and writers on photography, who are passionate about the subject and committed to helping you develop your vision to the best possible outcome. We also invite people from the photographic industry to come to USW to either work with you or to talk to you about their photographic work or about the creative industry they work within.

Lecturers:

Peter Bobby – Course Leader and Year 3 Leader

Magali Nougarède – Senior Lecturer and Year 1 Leader

Dr Eileen Little – Senior Lecturer and Year 2 Leader

Dr Ian Wiblin – Senior Lecturer

Matt White – Senior Lecturer

Sarah Hayton – Hourly Paid Lecturer

 

Technical Staff:

Gawain Barnard – Photography Technical Instructor

Ian Llewelyn – Photography Technical Instructor

Sarah Barnes – Photography Technical Officer

+ additional technical specialists from the faculty

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

Contextual offers

We may make you a lower offer based on a range of factors, including your background (where you live and the school or college that you attended for example), your experiences and individual circumstances (as a care leaver, for example). This is referred to as a contextual offer and we receive data from UCAS to support us in making these decisions. USW prides itself on its student experience and we support our students to achieve their goals and become a successful graduate. This approach helps us to support students who have the potential to succeed and who may have faced barriers that make it more difficult to access university. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy.  

Other qualifications and experience
 

We can also consider combinations of qualifications and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable. We can sometimes consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or advanced entry to year two or three of a course where this is possible.

To find out which qualifications have tariff points, please refer to the UCAS tariff calculator.

If you need more help or information or would like to speak to our friendly admissions team, please contact us here

 

Applicants in the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application. If you do not meet the entry criteria, you may also be required to provide a portfolio of your work to help us assess your suitability for the course.

Applicants outside the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and submission of a portfolio of your work which the Course Leader confirms is suitable for an offer to be made.

 

Typical A-Level Offer

CCC to include a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C in the Skills Challenge Certificate and CC at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Merit Merit Merit in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 96 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 96 UCAS tariff points

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course

 

August 2024 - July 2025 Fees


  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £14950 

August 2025 - July 2026 Fees


  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £250 - £1000
Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera with interchangeable lens option - this to start the academic year and to be used as a research camera for projects – a number of additional cameras, both digital and analogue, are available to borrow from the Photography stores following USW induction
Field Trips £50 - £120
Year 1 residential trip to UK destination (All trips are subject to change and viability in relation to student numbers)
Field Trips £200 - £350
Year 02/03 Annual International Trip e.g. Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona (All trips are subject to change and viability in relation to student numbers)
Materials * £150 - £400
Per Annum cost of printing papers/film etc. dependent on nature of an individuals photographic work
Other: £300 - £1500
Mac or PC computer capable of image and video editing, image processing and file storage
Other: * £0 - £600
Cost of professionally publishing final year work – this cost is dependent on the nature of an individuals photographic work and their specific aims regarding career steps and possible employment

Funding

Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

UK students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International and EU students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Admissions statement

It’s really important to note that this degree can lead to a whole host of related career paths within the creative industries for which the creation and understanding of images takes centre stage. 

The diversity of the courses content ensures that you graduate with a comprehensive understanding of photography and its relation to a range of other media and visual culture in general. We also work to grow your confidence, especially with regard to presenting your ideas, collaborating with others and building your own personal and targeted industry network.

Graduates have gone on to a wide range of career paths within the photographic or broader creative industries. These include commercial fields such as advertising and fashion, as well as art contexts such as work for the gallery, museum, community and other cultural sectors. Graduates will be employed in a variety of roles as highly skilled photographers, independent artists, photographic assistants, art directors, producers, photography managers, stylists, retouchers, printers, medical and forensic photographers, curators, writers, publishers, agents, educators, marketeers and media consultants. A number of our graduates also go on to further study at postgraduate level at notable institutions, leading to a range of enhanced opportunities within the creative industries. 

Our valuable relationship with The Association of Photographers (AOP) also provides further guidance and support with regard to your career development. This support continues for free for a full year after you have graduated. 

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, by email through our ‘Ask a Question’ service, or through virtual online meetings. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself professionally to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application guidance. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students and you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.

Full-time