Photography BA (Hons)

In studying Photography BA (Hons), you will be part of an innovative, dynamic, fun, experimental community where you will have the opportunity to explore and challenge the notion of photography as well as your boundaries as an artist.

UCAS course code
York St John University
Course fees
2018 - 2019: Home & EU students: £9,250 per annum, International (non EU) students: £12,500 per annum
3 years full-time | Part-time options available on request
Study Abroad
Yes - see our study abroad web pages for more information
Start date
September 2018
Art, Design and Computer Science

Course structure

You will engage in practice-led, subject specific and interdisciplinary research contexts, projects and collaborations, live-briefs set by industry practitioners and also undertake a period of work-based learning. This diverse and creative environment allows you the freedom to explore your artistic interests and at the same time explore the impact of creative practice in society. As a result, you will form an emerging sense of practice and engage with your work in both a practical and conceptual level. Popular career directions for emerging practitioners upon graduation include and are not limited to postgraduate study, freelance practice, fine art photography and editorial applications and educational routes.

Level 1

During the first year of study you will form a technical and contextual foundation on analogue and digital photography, initiated through Photography Fundamentals and Critical Contexts modules. Progressively you will learn to think creatively about your photographic practice through a range of experimental sessions that challenge your understanding of photography as a form of both practice and research.

In Photography Explorations you will engage in experimental interdisciplinary activities that explore the relationship between photography and physicality, encouraging you to consider the camera as an extension of the human body. You will explore applications of this concept through the practice of photography, reflecting on the dynamic between photographer, subject and viewer.

Different modes of teaching and learning will facilitate your creative engagement with visual narrative challenging the relationship between the imagined, the storied and the printed image. You will increasingly begin to explore both the form and impact of your work within different viewing contexts, and use large-scale prints, projected image, video installation and performance to explore the viewing experience.

Throughout the course of your study you will evolve as an independent thinker and reflective practitioner, engaging with different stages of photographic production and layers of meaning. Your understanding of photography will be informed by on-going discussion, presentation and writing about your work encouraging the development of individual practice.

Modules include:

  • Photography Fundamentals (Semester 1)
  • Photography Explorations (Semester 2)
  • Critical Contexts (Semester 1 & 2)

Level 2

During the second year of study you will refine your skills through rigorous practice of photography, studio techniques, digital editing, large-scale printing and exhibition practice. This is underpinned by a period of work-based engagement with your industry and the production of a photographic portfolio.

The Critical Enquiry module will introduce your practice to research methods that will influence your understanding of photography as mode of enquiry and encourage academic research in your chosen discipline. Using the studio as a space of production and reflection, you will establish a practice-led approach to your photography and balance practical engagement with extensive research, reflective thinking and writing.

Photography Practice and Development and Photography Exposition introduce conceptual frameworks, which are both practice-led and interdisciplinary. Influences come from a range of areas such as pedagogic research, philosophy, visual art semiotics, arts and healthcare, science and performance. Internal and external research frameworks include collaborations with the School of Health Sciences, The School of Performance and Hospital Arts for North East Yorkshire. These collaborations define a creative research context that challenges your ideas and practice within a subject specific and also interdisciplinary environment. Through a continuous process of production, reflection and public dissemination of your work, you will acquire an emerging sense of practice, situating this within the contemporary visual art landscape.

Modules include:

  • Photography Practice & Development (Semester 1)
  • Photography Exposition (Semester 2)
  • Critical Enquiry (Semester 1 & 2)

Level 3

During your final year, you will pursue a continuous process of portfolio building and employ your technical expertise to produce an original body of work that demonstrates your ability to effectively integrate research and practice, defining your identity as a visual artist.

Your Portfolio and Independent Research Project will demonstrate a practice-led approach to your work by situating this within the wider context of contemporary photographic practice and the photographic industry.

Routes include:

  • Creative Education Project
  • Critical, Curatorial and Educational Practice
  • Client Project
  • Politically Engaged Practice
  • Advanced Studio Practice

The Degree Show showcases a range of approaches that are not limited to the still photographic image and which include a variety of approaches, such as moving image and installation art. Fulfilling your aspirations as a visual artist, professional photographer or postgraduate researcher, you could choose to pursue a Master’s Degree, a PGCE, or embark on developing your own photography studio, editorial or freelance practice.

Industry engagement

You will attend talks, masterclasses and live-briefs by leading industry practitioners. You will have the opportunity to undertake work-based learning and become involved in interdisciplinary projects and exhibitions with professional organisations (examples include Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, Hospital Arts for North East Yorkshire, Illuminating York Festival and York Fashion Week). Our students' photographic work has achieved distinctions and awards, such as The Royal Photographic Society's Showcasing Yorkshire Print Exhibition 2017 and The Eleanor Worthington Prize 2017.

What to present in a Portfolio Interview

A portfolio must include a selection of up to 20 images that you feel best illustrate your skills and most importantly, your passion for photography. Although you are welcome to present a digital portfolio, it is best practice that you present a portfolio of large photographic prints A4 or A3 size. You are also welcome to bring a sketchbook and a written piece of work.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Teaching & Assessment

Teaching, learning and assessment in Photography is centred on a progressive acquisition of skills, knowledge and experience through studio, critical and external projects which build your knowledge of your subject and your own practice within that subject. This form of practice based learning is aimed to introduce you to the core practices of Photography, (studio practice, darkroom skills, digital imaging, narrative construction) and the range of genres and possibilities within photographic practice as it intersects with other disciplines such as journalism, art, media, advertising and publishing, or social agendas such as sustainability, social justice, economics etc. From this foundation you will evolve a personal practice based on your interests and strengths through experimentation, reflection, critical engagement and realising work of focus and resolution.


Your practice based learning will take place within the University, in studios and workshops (both practical and critical); externally through live projects, work based learning placements, internships; and virtually through digital engagement on the web, in online archives, social media and through University digital platforms such as Moodle (Virtual Learning Environment) and forms which you will author such as your online portfolio. All these sites of learning integrate to stimulate and support your development as a reflective Photography practitioner.

Teaching methods

Teaching activities are focused on an interactive engagement with you and your work. You will have regular informal tutorials in studio as well as regular formal portfolio review tutorials. Seminars and reading groups will engage you in critical debates, and workshops will engage you in skills development. Skilled technicians and technical tutors will also support your work through workshops and informal tutoring. A programme of visiting speakers, including international speakers through remote link up will connect you to current thinking, research and practice in Photography and related disciplines.


A key interactive mode of learning is the critique or “crit” where a group of peers, tutors or professionals will engage in a collective discussion about your work. You will participate in many crits of others works and also experience others critiquing your work. This is an important focus for development as it allows multiple voices to give a rounded view of your practice.

Portfolio & assessment

One of the crucial ways that you develop as an independent practitioner is through assessment and evaluation. During the programme you will experience a range of approaches to assessment. You will experience assessment of your work by tutors, peers and also your own self assessments which ultimately are the most important as they demonstrate your own understanding of your practice. Assessment should be an ongoing dialogue which is centred on your work whether practical or theoretical; this dialogue is captured in your reflective portfolio.

Formative assessment is always focused on identifying your strengths and areas for development in order to focus your personal, academic and professional development. You will initiate and maintain a reflective portfolio which captures all your learning and enables you to make connections on your work within the curriculum and also externally to give a holistic perspective on your practice and direction. You will have regular one-to-one or small group tutorials centred on your portfolio with your academic tutor; this will collate formative assessment responses from all projects and activities happening in the review period as well as your self-evaluations of these activities in order to discuss and agree feedforward actions for you to develop your practice. Assessments will use the University assessment matrix which accounts for a range of assessment criteria in order to make it clear where your strengths and areas for development are.

Summative assessments usually take place at the end of the module and reflect the cumulative body of work that you have undertaken during the module and which is reflected in a numerical mark. This cumulative approach is intended to enable you to respond to feedback and develop your work.. It is also intended to encourage you to take risks with your work in the knowledge that you can reflect, refine and redirect your practice following formative feedback. For this reason, modules will formally end with some form of collection, exhibition or portfolio review which enables the work to be summarised and assessed. This will usually provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify your work to an audience of tutors and/or peers.

Entry requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 - 112 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Calculate your tariff points.

Personal statement

Essential criteria

As well as a strong standard of written English, we also look for the ability to demonstrate knowledge and commitment to the subject. This can be done in a variety of ways, for example, through previous study or wider reading.

Valued criteria

Candidates can demonstrate a real enthusiasm for the subject that goes beyond achieving good grades in exams. Examples of this include further study, career plans and transferrable skills such as time management.

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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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 will depend on whether you're a UK & EU student or an international (non-EU) student. Tuition fees are charged for each year of your course.

Find out more about funding for Foundation Year and/or Placement Year by visiting the Funding Advice pages of our website.

York St John offer special reductions to students graduating from York St John University Undergraduate degrees in 2018 and continuing directly onto Postgraduate study. Find out more about discounts and scholarships.

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

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2016 / 17

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2018 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE Primary and Secondary and UG Health Programme degrees is £9,250 per year for UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

Fees & Funding

Overseas 2016 / 17

The York St John University tuition fee for the 2018 entry to Foundation Degree, BA and BSc, PGCE degrees is £12,500 per year for international students.

Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

International Fees & Funding

Additional costs and financial support

Course-related costs

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

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation webpages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Study abroad

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

Financial help and support

Help and advice on funding your studies at York St John is available through our Money Advice service.

International students

We welcome international students from all over the world at York St John University and have a vibrant international community. You can find out more on our International Pages about how you can study with us and what it’s like to live and learn in York, one of the UK’s most historic cities.

Unistats data for this course

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