MA Photography

Entry year
Course code
Creative and Cultural Industries
City Campus
15 months full-time
Full-time, starts September
Programme leader
Aaron Schuman
Dr Shawn Sobers

This course is open for applications.

Page last updated 17 January 2022


Art and industry combine on this innovative, practice-based postgraduate course, designed to develop your creative promise, deepen your experience of photography and moving image, and optimise both your artistic and professional potential.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Taught by award-winning artists, photographers and leading academics in the field, our distinctive, practice-based MA in Photography will allow you to explore the diverse applications of the medium, and to deepen your understanding of photography as a discipline.

Students on this course will benefit from our combined focus on personal work, professional practice and critical research. Through a course of intensive study, creative practice, and professional engagement, you will develop the passion that brought you to photography in the first place, and will be supported in the development and production of innovative work, whilst also building skills to maximise and contextualise your creative outputs.

Collaborative opportunities

Our partnerships with Bristol Photography Festival and IC Visual Lab, two highly reputable Bristol-based photography organisations with national and international influence, will provide you with a wide range of work experience placements and live briefs to work on. You'll also have access to industry talks and events, opportunities to display your work at prestigious exhibitions and venues and high-level industry mentorships.

The course includes guest-lectures, intensive week-long workshops, practice-based interactive activities, and individual portfolio reviews with professional practitioners and industry leaders, including curators, editors, publishers, producers, art buyers, agents, gallerists and designers.

You will have opportunities to meet with, share work with, and initiate long-lasting professional relationships with influential professionals within the creative industries.

Contextualise your practice

This course will enable you to contextualise your practice within relevant professional environments, such as research, education, exhibition, curation, project management, marketing, art direction, publishing, advertising, digital-media and design.

It is relevant for arts or humanities graduates wishing to progress from BA study, who want to focus their practice in the medium of photography, as well as for professionals already working in the field who are looking to develop and underpin their practice in an academic, theoretical, critical and creative contexts.

See some of our students' work

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The content of the course reflects the ethos of the photography department, which seeks to produce photographic art as well as develop the necessary knowledge and skills in this field.

You will study:

  • Enquiry and Context - this module covers the theoretical, critical and contextual underpinning of creative practice
  • Developing Practices - you will learn how to develop lines of enquiry through practical exploration and research
  • Consolidating Practices I - you will initiate and develop a body of photographic work to a self-directed theme building on the outcomes of the first semester
  • Consolidating Practices II - you will refine and resolve a body of photographic work to a self-directed theme, building on the outcomes of the previous modules
  • Dissemination in Professional Contexts - you will explore how to practically develop, promote and place your practical outputs from the previous module - as well as your general creative practice - within a diverse range of bespoke professional contexts.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Through a series of lectures, seminars, tutorials and presentations, you will explore relevant concepts underpinning the theoretical and contextual basis of the photography work you will undertake on the course.

Through location orientated workshops and studio based sessions, you will develop lines of enquiry through practical exploration and research, and test out your ideas and techniques in a highly supportive academic and technically excellent environment.

You will undertake active research, to critically engage with your chosen practice and produce a body of photographic work on a self-directed theme. You will also learn how disseminate this work via outward facing networks and events, with the help of focused tutorials and workshops.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The course includes 10 hours of contact time a week, which incorporates all the academic teaching and learning, technical workshops and engagement with industry visitors. In addition to this, you are encouraged to spend around 30 hours of individual study time a week, including the time you spend on your practical photographic work.


We will make use of different types of assessment, including project reviews, essays, reflective diaries, presentations and reports, as well as assessing your portfolio of work. Your portfolio can take a diverse range of forms, including a photo-book, film, installation or commercial photography portfolio.

For more detail, see our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

The course is affiliated to and accredited by the Association of Photographers who are a leading professional organisation representing photographers both nationally and internationally.

Study facilities

While studying with us, you will have access to state-of-the-art photography studios and equipment, including colour, and black and white darkrooms and professional standard digital and analogue workflow facilities.

Our industry standard digital darkrooms feature Adobe Creative Suite and Capture One software, plus film scanning and large format printing capabilities.

We also have an extensive range of camera kit including medium format digital cameras, full frame DSLRs, a large stock of medium and large format analogue equipment and location lighting kits.

Bower Ashton offers an excellent base within our City Campus, linking you with some of the city's most influential creative and cultural organisations.

You will also have access to our other facilities at Bower Ashton, including our main library and student support services.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.

Guest Speakers

Currency of practice is a feature of this course and it is crucial that your visual vocabulary and knowledge of contemporary practice is excellent.

In recent years the department has invited an array of photographers and creative industry professionals to conduct lectures, workshops and portfolio reviews with students.

For more information about MA Photography's recent course activities and student successes please visit us on Instagram and Facebook.

Alongside practitioners other significant professionals such as picture editors, art buyers, photography writers and bloggers, art directors, curators, photographers agents, publishers, book designers, stylists and prop designers have all contributed to the course in this way.

You will also be given the opportunity to travel abroad to photography fairs and festivals and to visit professional studios, labs and galleries as part of this engagement with current international practices.


Careers / Further study

This MA Photography course will enable you to contextualise your practice within relevant professional environments, such as research, education, exhibition, curation, project management, marketing, art direction, publishing and design.

You will be ready to work professionally and independently, using the experience, networks and opportunities offered by the course to act as a springboard to obtain commissions.

You will also be equipped to go on to work in other fields such as studio production, publishing, art direction, curating or picture editing.


Supplementary fee information

The additional costs listed are those that students could reasonably expect to incur during their studies and are for items not covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, text books, travel, clothing, software or printing.

See our funding pages for more information.


Entry requirements

We are looking for highly motivated students with skills and experience in photography or related subjects. Usually applicants will have an undergraduate degree but applicants with other qualifications or professional experience are also encouraged to apply.

International applicants

For country specific entry requirements please find your country on the country information pages.

Selection process

All applications are carefully reviewed and shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an online interview, which will consist of a portfolio-review and discussion of future projects. The emphasis of your portfolio should be on recent project-based work, and on quality rather than quantity. You should be able to show evidence of a depth of practice that engages in both image-making and research.

English Language Requirement

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades please visit English Language requirements.

English language support

If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.

Read more about our pre-sessional English Programme.

How to apply

Read more about postgraduate applications.  

We accept applications throughout the year but if you are working to a funding deadline, you should build this into your application process.

For further information