BA (Hons) Photography

Top in Wales for course satisfaction in Film Production and Photography Guardian University Guide 2023

This contemporary BA (Hons) Photography course is based at our purpose-built Creative Industries campus 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.

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

The course brings together commercial, fashion, and art-based image-making wherever you find it in contemporary society. This variety is reflected in our programme of study, which is one of the most highly regarded in the UK. This practical photography degree is underpinned by the history of photography and visual culture, informed by our active links with industry.

Our course will encourage you to think about the impact of photography on culture and society and enable you to identify your place within the contemporary photographic industries. We work on this together, as a close community of learners and friends, to develop your own unique voice and approach.

USW has a long and notable history of delivering innovative photography courses that prepare graduates for the real world, as demonstrated by the considerable achievements of our graduates, many of whom are working at the highest levels of the industry. Graduates will be employed in a variety of roles as highly skilled photographers, independent artists, photographic assistants, art directors, stylists, photography managers, medical and forensic photographers, curators, writers, publishers, agents, educators 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 this ambitious course and many benefits for our fantastic students. In addition to this, we are also an invited member of the International Photography Network, Blurring the Lines, involving notable institutions from India, Mexico, South Africa and Singapore, as well a number of European institutions in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Amsterdam.

Follow USW Photography on Instagram.

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

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

The first year of the photography degree introduces and explores key concepts that are relevant to contemporary photographic practice 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 of the medium.

As you move through the course, you will reinforce your emerging photographic practice through a sound knowledge of the history of photography and an awareness of contemporary developments in the medium. The contextual elements of the course will encourage you to think critically about photography and its impact on culture and society and help you to apply this knowledge to your fast-developing photographic work.

Year One - Photography degree

  • Photography and the Real
  • Photography and Illusion
  • Photography as a Narrative
  • Photography and Responsibility
  • Critical Practice: Histories
  • Critical Practice: Filters

Year Two - Photography degree

  • Defining Practice
  • Negotiated Project
  • Critical Practice: Paradigms
  • Critical Practice: Research

Year Three - Photography degree

  • Refining Practice
  • Professional Resolution
  • Critical Paper or Critical Catalogue
  • Professional Practice

Modules are subject to change.

Industry Engagement

We take pride in our links with industry and provide numerous opportunities for our students to work with creative professionals through live projects, interviews and work placements.


The emphasis of this photography degree is practice, but it also contains theoretical elements that provide context. The practical teaching is delivered through a combination of workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials, with screenings, gallery visits, field trips, live projects, 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.

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 and/or portfolio.


Assessment is through regular coursework submissions throughout the three years. There are no traditional exams.


BA (Hons) Photography is the only course in Wales officially accredited by The Association of Photographers. This industry stamp of approval means USW meet the relevant criteria for reinforcing best practice and incorporating key elements of Beyond The Lens. 


We take pride in our links with industry, and provide numerous opportunities for our students to work with creative professionals through live projects.


The BA (Hons) Photography course is taught by a dedicated team of tutors – many of who are accomplished photographers, film makers and writers on photography who will help you develop your vision to the best possible outcome. We also invite people from the photographic industry to come to talk to you as part of a lively visiting lecture programme.

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.

The entry criteria below reflect our standard entry requirements for the course for September 2023. However, all applications received by the University are reviewed holistically and individually. Entry criteria for September 2024 is changing and will be published on from 8th May 2023. Entry criteria for September 2024 will be updated on our website from the end of October 2023.

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

BCC - CDD to include a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level with a relevant art and design subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 80 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 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £14100 

August 2024 - July 2025 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International:  £14950 

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 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

Before we start, it’s important to note that this degree can lead to a whole host of possible career paths within the creative industries.

The diversity of course content on this Photography degree ensures that you graduate with an all-around understanding of photography and its relationship to a range of other media forms and visual culture in general. We also work a lot on your overall confidence, especially with regard to presenting your ideas, collaborating with others and developing your own personal 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, stylists, photography managers, medical and forensic photographers, curators, writers, publishers, agents, educators and media consultants.

A number of our graduates also go on to study further at postgraduate level at notable institutions, leading to a range of enhanced opportunities within the creative industries.

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 well 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.