BA (Hons) Photography


This degree is based at USW’s purpose-built campus, in the creative centre of Cardiff.

Photography embraces everything from commercial image-making in areas such as fashion, editorial or advertising, through to exhibition-based art practice. This variety is reflected in our programme of study, which is one of the most highly regarded in the UK. USW has a history of 100 years of photography and we offer this exciting and innovative course in contemporary photography, through which you can develop your photographic voice and approach.

This photography degree, based at our Cardiff campus, takes a broad approach to photography. This allows you to nurture your creativity and work towards a specialist area. You’ll gain skills in digital photography and traditional analogue techniques, as well as in other related media such as moving image and sound.

This course is officially accredited by The Association of Photographers (AOP). The AOP is one of the most prestigious professional photographers’ associations in the world, providing a stamp of approval for this ambitious course and our fantastic students, all of whom can benefit greatly from this accreditation in the form of free membership benefits.

This mainly practical photography degree is underpinned by the history of photography and visual culture, as well as contextual elements. Studying these will encourage you to think critically about photography and its impact on culture and society.

Follow USW Photography on Instagram.

2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

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 challenging practical projects. All practical modules, whether based in fashion, advertising or fine-art photography, will develop your technical skills and provide stimulating assignments to develop your creativity.

As you move through the photography 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.

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
  • Professional Practice
  • Critical Catalogue

Modules are subject to change.


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 and tutorials, with screenings, gallery visits, field trips and other events. You will usually develop your practical work individually, but will occasionally work in groups.

You will have guidance on assignments but will also be expected to work in a self-directed way, especially in your final year Major Project that concludes with a public exhibition. Most theory modules have seminar sessions as well as lectures.


Assessment is through regular coursework submissions, in addition to examinations in some areas.


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, writers or curators 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.

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.


Applicants in the UK

Selection for this course is based on a suitable application and attendance at an interview with successful outcome. You may also be required to provide a portfolio of your work prior to attending interview where your course requires this, and full details of what is required will be provided once your application has been processed.

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 IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with a minimum score of 29 overall including 5 or above in English at standard level

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.

Find out how to pay your tuition fees in full or by payment plan.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

International Scholarships are available for self-funding international students.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* 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

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU 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 students

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

Admissions statement

The diversity of course content on the Photography degree, in practical and theoretical modules, ensures that you graduate with an all-round critical understanding of photography and its relationship to a range of other media forms.

Graduates have gone on to a range of career paths with many successfully entering the photographic industries. These include commercial fields such as advertising and fashion, as well as art contexts such as work for the gallery, museum and other cultural sectors. Graduates from the Photography degree often go on to study photography at postgraduate level leading to a range of enhanced opportunities in the field of photography.

Recent alumni include Matt Damsell, Senior Digital Designer at River Island; Lucy Gold, freelance interior stylist and photographer; Lisa-Jane Meates, freelance commercial photographer; and Michelle James, Photographic Manager at Kurt Geiger.

Graduates can also progress to a PhD or research degree.

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, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. 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 help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, 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.