BA Photography in the Arts
BA (Hons) Photography in the Arts is concerned with exploration, self-discovery and innovation. Students are encouraged to pursue personal interests and individual pathways throughout the course, in order to develop a unique visual photographic signature. Due to the friendly atmosphere and small class sizes, the course enjoys exceptional student/staff interaction and communication.
Students are encouraged to pursue personal interests and individual pathways throughout the course, in order to develop a unique visual photographic signature.
Based in the Dynevor Centre for Art, Design & Media in Swansea‘s city centre, the BA (Hons) Photography in the Arts programme provides an exciting platform from which to explore the unique and critical position that the still and moving photographic image finds itself within contemporary culture at this exciting time.
The course encourages students to explore and challenge the conventions of contemporary photographic art practice. Underpinned by historical and critical research, students are expected to undertake an extensive, risk-taking enquiry into the possibilities of photography, with individual creativity and personal ambition at the core of the course’s philosophy. The programme is predominantly self-directed and allows for a flexible approach to image-making in relation to both subject-matter and technique.
This flexible approach reflects the evolving nature of photographic art practice, with photographers increasingly pushing the potential of the medium in unexpected and innovative directions. Students are encouraged to explore ideas and develop skills applicable to contexts such as contemporary art, publishing, advertising, fashion, interiors, architecture and travel. To this end, the course enables students to position and critically articulate their work in relation to their audience and a wider cultural context.
Level 4 Modules
- Photography Production
- Photographic Art Practice
- Visual Studies 1
- Ways of Thinking
- Fugitive Testimonies
- Individual Practice
- Visual Studies 2
- Ways of Perceiving
The first year provides a thorough and intensive grounding in key techniques, theories and concepts through a series of projects supported by regular contextual seminars, group tutorials and critiques. Students are initially required to work with traditional photographic materials (both black & white and colour) whilst also attending workshops on digital capture and output.
Level 5 Modules
- Experimental Strategies
- Collaborative Photographic Practice
- Visual Enquiry 1
- Creative Research
- Personal Philosophies
- Professional Photographic Practice
- Visual Enquiry 2
- Research Practices
During year two, students continue to explore the myriad photographic possibilities whilst beginning to forge an individual path through an extended personal project. Popular and important aspects of this are a site-specific group exhibition and a photographic book assignment.
Level 6 Modules
- Major Project and External Liaison
- Marketing & Self Promotion
- Advanced Creative Enquiry (Fine Art and Photography)
The third year is predominantly self-directed and enables students to adopt a more independent approach to their work. There is an external project requiring students to produce work in real-world contexts, either for professional clients or for public exhibition. The year is dominated by the major practical project, theoretically underpinned by a written dissertation. The Marketing & Promotion module involves presenting work to external agencies or curators and acts as a launch-pad for students’ careers, and culminates in shows in both Swansea and London.
We are small and friendly with just over a thousand students in the Faculty. This means that the staff are more approachable and available to help, support and challenge you as well as there being ample studio space, and access to the most up to date equipment and facilities for you to thrive in.
We have all the latest industry standard facilities including a new large-scale, state-of-the-art lighting studio. In addition to our extensive black & white darkrooms, our digital provision includes Apple Mac computers running the latest Adobe Creative Suite, linked to professional proofing and inkjet printers, a colour-managed digital darkroom with Hasselblad Flextight scanners and large format printing. There is also a store facility that gives you access to medium and large-format film cameras, professional digital SLR, medium format Hasselblad digital cameras and location lighting equipment.
We believe that it is essential for your work to have a professional finish and to this end practical projects are supported by workshops. Having access to additional practical knowledge ensures that you can use the university’s excellent facilities with confidence, make informed choices about method and equipment, and ultimately produce work to a professional standard. Workshops cover processing and printing including historical print methods, fibre-based black & white; the use of various camera formats from medium format roll-film and 5 X 4 film, to digital (including medium format); digital workflow and printing; HD video (shooting and editing); studio and location lighting.
The bedrock of the photography programmes is excellent student/staff interaction and communication. We recognise that the most effective way to develop your personal practice is to enter into a discourse of ideas and images with your lecturers and contemporaries. This on-going dialogue takes place in the form of regular critiques, seminars and tutorials (and inevitably continues in the coffee bar). Tutorials - whether scheduled or impromptu, in groups or individual - are an essential component of all programmes and are regularly available.
Swansea was one of the UK's first industrial cities and has since reinvented itself as a dynamic cultural and maritime centre. As the gateway to the sprawling beaches of the Gower peninsula, Swansea is also surf city and a serious rival to the Southwest's surf scene. The photography courses at Swansea take full advantage of the city’s new dynamism through direct links with both emerging artists’ networks and the two premier galleries. Mission Gallery and the Glyn Vivian Gallery have developed excellent link-in programmes with the department enabling a wide range of international photographers lens-based artists to discuss their practice with the students at both the site of installation and in formal lectures and informal tutorials.
We also make full use of the city's location by organising a first-year field trip to the Brecon Beacons in the first two weeks of the course. The Dynevor campus is located in the heart of the cultural quarter of the city.
Assessment is carried out through coursework, both written and practical. There are no exams on this course. Students are formatively assessed throughout a module, summative assessment takes place at the end of a module. A variety of teaching and learning methods are used throughout the course which include:
Usually at the start of a scheduled contact period, lectures will generally consist of a formal presentation giving information relevant to the module, accompanied by visuals, and followed by a screening or group tutorial/activity.
Depending on the cohort size, module content and individual lecturer preferences, these are usually in groups of no more than six students at a time and delivered over a set period.
Most often scheduled for level 5, level 6 & level 7 students, individual tutorials offer a more focused and in-depth opportunity for student feedback and development of ideas. Most often arranged in relation to individual practice modules such as Student Led Projects.
Group critiques are scheduled regularly for all year groups. For level 4 these often form part of the assessment at the end of short projects, for levels 5, 6 & 7 they are scheduled for the purpose of interim reviews and work-in-progress feedback, involving student participation and peer criticism.
Delivered to teach specific skills to students, group size will depend on subject and room size, can include project work. These are not usually formally marked, but can be subject to group criticism, and informal feedback will be given.
Formal presentations by students to peers and staff are used for research and development through to finished work. Students usually begin doing presentations at level 4 in small groups to build confidence in the process. There are then assessed research presentations to peers at level 5 and Major Project Presentations to staff and other year groups in level 6 & 7. The presentation is an ideal vehicle for developing individual confidence and transferable skills.
We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.
Our standard offer for a degree course is 300 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:
- Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
- Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
- BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject, with minimum grades of Merit
- International Baccalaureate score of 32
- 300 points from the Welsh Baccalaureate to include CC at A Level from any subject
- Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis
Qualifications are important, however our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email firstname.lastname@example.org as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.
See our Interview Guide for more information.
The department has excellent connections with the photographic industry, from the gallery network through to documentary and advertising agencies. This ensures opportunities for employment and a growing international market for student work. Graduates are employed in a wide range of photographic and fine art activities, including fashion, portraiture, editorial/documentary, and gallery contexts.
Students will regularly interact with professional contacts through the exciting series of visiting lecturers, where artists, photographers, curators, editors, writers and agents present their work and talk about their professional experiences. Recent examples include: Abel Morrell, Simon Roberts, Dominic Hawgood, Esther Teichman, Julie Graham, Dean Chalkley, Emma Critchley, Mark Power, Colin Gray, Julian Germain, Rosie Martin, Sian Bonnell, Aliki Braine, Gayel Chong Kwan, Tom Hunter.
In a more formal way students are also encouraged to contend with the industry standards of their chosen area of practice within the External Project in level 6, where they work on live projects with clients. This allows them to start their professional career whilst receiving supported tuition from academic staff on subjects such as contracts and costings, as well as technical and creative issues. Previous project examples include: NHS, Atkins Rail, National Trust, Sunday Times, Penguin Books, Corus, Channel 4, The Royal Ballet and Dazed and Confused.
The level 6 marketing and promotion module continues this dialogue with the professional industry when a photographic agent and curator are brought in to advise the students on their personal practice before returning to assist with interview style assessments. Recent collaborators include: Jason Shenai (Millennium Images), Pippa Oldfield (Impressions Gallery), Susan Bright (free-lance curator and writer), Helen James (National Portrait Gallery) and Karen McQuaid (The Photographers Gallery).
During your time with us you will have the opportunity to study abroad with the Erasmus exchange programmes currently running with Universities in Norway, Barcelona and Sweden.
Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.
For more information please click here.