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Undergraduate Course

Photography BA (Hons)

Become a photographer who develops ideas through experimentation and critical thinking. Learn to communicate through the visual language of photography.

Photos in exhibition

When you study photography with us you have the freedom to explore your artistic interests. We will help you develop professional photography skills and explore the ideas behind contemporary image making. You will develop skills in documentary, editorial and studio photography, using both film and digital approaches to image creation.

  • Available in Clearing

York campus

  • UCAS Code – W64W
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2022 entry £13,000 per year full time

Course overview

This course will give you the confidence and skills you need to reach your potential as a photographer. You will focus on your practical photography skills and develop an understanding of photography theory to support your practical work. While studying with us you will:

  • Learn techniques for processing images both digitally and in a dark room
  • Create images in studios with controlled lighting
  • Work on location with available light
  • Work with a range of camera formats, lenses and technologies
  • Study the theories and histories of photography
  • Consider the impact your photography has on society, culture and the creative industries

You will apply this learning to different genres of photography. This might include documentary, art, editorial and studio photography.

Our facilities are available for you to use outside of taught classes. Our photography studio, Mac suite and dark room provide everything you need to create inspiring photographs. You can borrow equipment to try out different brands and lenses.

When you choose to study with us, you get more than the skills you need to succeed. You gain experiences that make you stand out. We give you opportunities to:

  • Learn from visiting photographers
  • Take part in work placement opportunities and projects with local businesses
  • Showcase your work at our annual degree show and national graduate exhibitions
  • Visit cities around the world to enrich your cultural awareness

Course structure

Year 1

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study: 

  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 1 
  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will introduce you to the history and theory of photography. In your lectures and seminars you will consider the key debates in the field of photography. You will explore how photography has evolved, from the invention of the medium to its popularisation. You will learn to understand the relationship between research and practice and consider how different theories can influence the work you create and help you to reflect on it.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This module is your introduction to the principles of photography. You will explore analogue and digital imaging using a range of cameras, lenses, studio techniques and software. In our darkroom you will learn to process film and print your photos using traditional methods. Moving onto digital imaging you will come to understand the rationale for the development in technology. We will instruct you in the safe use of different equipment and editing software used in industry. By the end of the module you will have a portfolio of images you can reflect on and discuss with your peers.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will build on your knowledge from Critical Contexts 1. Informed by literary texts and contemporary publications you will analyse different types of representation. You will do this using philosophical approaches and looking at symbolism. This will help you take a critical approach to contemporary representations. It will help you to adopt an analytical approach to both your photography and your written work.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

Start to develop your own approach to photographic practice. You will engage with different projects to help you develop your practical photography skills while gaining theoretical knowledge. Projects might help you consider the ethics of representation and how photography is used commercially. You will also explore political and documentary photography. Alongside image production you will engage with exhibitions as you consider different audiences and contexts of viewing. Throughout the module you will continue to add to your portfolio of work.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 1 
  • 2 compulsory modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will consider the role of photography as a creative activity, process and method of enquiry. We will encourage you to think about photography as a form of practice-led research. You will have the opportunity to attend artists’ talks and participate in workshops led by visiting researchers and practitioners. Everything you learn on this module will help you understand the principles of research enquiry and how to apply it to your work.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this module you will engage with projects and live client briefs to advance your photographic skills and knowledge. These projects will cover different types of practice and will be underpinned by theoretical understanding. You might attend a live brief and workshop at a professional photography studio or work on a set brief from a local organisation.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Continue to develop your understanding of practice research and expand your critical vocabulary. You will engage with literary texts that relate to photography and use these to inform your work. This module will help you to develop your ideas and form judgements based on the material you have studied. By the end of the module you will use all you have learnt to write a research proposal for your final year dissertation.

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

On this module you will develop a creative concept that will be the focus of a photographic research project. The subject of the project will address an area that interests you and will allow you to continue developing your practice. You will work independently on the project, with support from your tutors, as you take it from idea generation to realisation and exhibition. You will also consider the photography industry and begin to develop a professional online presence for your work. This module also gives you the opportunity to explore a professional placement, if appropriate.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 1 compulsory module across semesters 1 and 2
  • 1 compulsory module in semester 1
  • 1 compulsory module in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

On this module you will complete a piece of research that shows your ability to educate yourself and to construct a solid argument. Your idea for this project will come from your encounters with practice and theory and will be in an area of your choice. You will work with peers researching a similar topic to support each other and critique each other’s work. You will also be supported by a project supervisor in 1 to 1 tutorials.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on creating a body of photographic work that expresses your approach as a photographer and demonstrates your specialism. You will be supported in this work through group critiques, 1 to 1 tutorials, seminars and workshops. In studying this module you will learn the diverse nature of professional practice by engaging in exhibition curation, marketing, project management and creative production.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

You will consider your future as a professional photographer. We will help you to gain an understanding of different professional situations in your area of interest and prepare for them. You will start to build a professional network with external partners and create a career plan for your future. You will also create a website to present yourself and your work professionally.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

We deliver your modules through:

  • Tutorials
  • Practical workshops
  • Group critiques
  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Studio demonstrations

Each module has 3-6 hours of contact time a week. We schedule our taught sessions between 9.00am and 8.00pm, Monday to Friday.

You will need to conduct independent study outside of this time. This might include creative exploration, reading, writing tasks and research. You can also arrange individual tutorials with your module tutors throughout the semester to receive feedback on your work and discuss the course content.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.


There are no exams on this course. Assessment types vary from module to module. Some of your assessments might include:

  • Portfolios of work
  • Sketchbooks and developmental work
  • Exhibitions
  • Research reports
  • Essays
  • Personal critiques and reflections
  • Presentations

On each module you will receive ongoing feedback on your work from staff and fellow students. This will help you reflect and refine your work before your final submission or exhibition at the end of the module. Each assessment will be marked and returned with feedback so you can improve your work.

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in Photography

On this course you will gain the specialist creative and practical skills you need to pursue a career in photography. You will also build skills in project management, independent working and practical problem solving that can lead to a range of other creative roles.

This degree could be the first step toward your career as an:

  • Advertising photographer
  • Digital image editor
  • Editorial photographer
  • Events photographer
  • Gallery curator
  • Picture editor
  • Small business owner

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

Postgraduate degrees at York St John University

Photography MFA

MA by Research

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements


Portfolio Day

If your application is successful, you will be invited to a portfolio day. On the day, you will show your work to our tutors and share with them your passion for the subject.

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and Funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK, or internationally (outside the UK). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry onto this course is:

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time

These prices apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page:

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2022 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2022 entry £13,000 per year full time

International 2022 entry

The tuition fee for 2022 entry to this course is £13,000 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree:

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email

Course highlights

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