Budding photographers from all over the world have chosen to study on the MA Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales (USW) – one of the only courses around that is delivered completely online.
USW is world-renowned for the study of Documentary Photography, and our students and alumni are extremely well regarded within the photographic community: winning awards, exhibitions, and book publishing deals.
Students from as far afield as the USA, China and Africa as well as Europe and the UK have joined the course, all benefiting from paying the same fees, rather than having higher costs for international students.
Associate Professor Lisa Barnard, course leader, said: “Since Brexit, European students are considered international students – but not on our course; all students pay the same fees. And because everyone studies for the same length of time, there is no requirement for an international visa. This is a real breakthrough in how studying can work, and so far it’s going really well.”
With a focus on real-world engagement with social and political issues, the MA Documentary Photography offers an exploratory and lively engagement with the subject. It is characterised by an expansive understanding of photography; as well as its more traditional documentary forms, it encompasses networked imagery, data, archival material, audio, and moving image.
Students complete the course online with the option of having a facilities access pathway, at USW’s purpose-built Cardiff Campus. There are also optional masterclasses delivered both on campus and internationally from visiting speakers, and peer-to-peer learning and networking forms an important component of the course.
Associate Prof Barnard added: “Students on the course have lots of opportunities to engage with our cohort of scholars undertaking PhDs in photography as part of our European Centre for Documentary Research (ECDR).
“The aim is to develop a strong, expansive and sustainable documentary practice that unites rigorous critical thinking with a body of work that students can confidently exhibit and publish. The MA will provide a strong foundation for developing a career as an independent documentary practitioner within the photographic industry. This course places an emphasis on the philosophical and theoretical implications of photography, as we believe it is important to contextualise practice and enable clear communication to a variety of audiences.”
Dominique Arieu, 28, is from Buenos Aires, and now lives in West Sussex. She decided to study photography after a lifelong interest in the subject.
“I've always been taking photographs, ever since I was a little kid,” said Dominique.
“I have a degree in Image and Sound Design, where I've focused on camera and photography direction, so I am keen on image making. I am always looking forward to doing more projects and improving as a photographer.
“Since I discovered USW, I knew it was a potential place to study Documentary Photography. I really like the work of the graduates and the approach to documentary that the programme proposes.
"The best part of the course is sharing with amazing people and photographers, my mates as well as our professors, from whom we can learn a lot. Also, the fact that it is online and you can follow it from home is a huge help. In the future I’d like to keep working into my projects, exhibiting more and possibly editing a book.”
Jack Wrigley, 38, is originally from Preston but now lives in Glasgow. His stepdad, who was a local press photographer, inspired him to take up the subject.
“After my A-levels, I studied a BTEC in Photography at Blackburn College, which led to me doing a degree in Fine Art Photography at Glasgow School of Art,” said Jack.
“Since then I’ve worked as a theatre designer, laser technician and artist, so even though I haven’t always used photography in my art practice, I’ve always made pictures for myself.
“When I was at college I heard about the courses available at USW from my tutor, John Harrison, who had studied the BA Photography degree. It had always been my intention to study a Masters in Photography, but it was difficult for me to relocate from Scotland to do this.
"So when the USW course became available as a remote learning course, I decided it was the perfect opportunity. The course has produced so many photographers whose work I admire, and together with the quality of the teaching staff, this was all the persuasion I needed me that it was the right course for me.
“The best part of the course is definitely the high quality teaching. We have a diverse range of lecturers, offering excellent insight and information about a wide range of photographic practices and theory. The course is thorough and well-structured, and distance learning has allowed me to stay in Glasgow where I have a part-time job to help fund my studies.
“I hope that after the course I will be able to establish myself as a documentary photographer, allowing me to undertake long-form photographic projects. Being part of a community of new photographers on my course has pushed and challenged my work. I am very much enjoying the course and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in developing their practice.”