MArts Photojournalism & Documentary Photography
94% of UWTSD students at the School of Fine Art & Photography agreed that staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching - NSS 2016.
Studying Photojournalism & Documentary photography at Swansea gives you the opportunity to be part of a vibrant, innovative course with a passion for photography at its core.
Photography can change the way we look at and perceive the world. Using image and text, exhibitions, moving image/multimedia, and applying journalistic principles to assigned briefs and self-initiated ideas, you will develop the ability to interpret and understand the role images play in defining society and our relationships with each other.
As well as photojournalism, our graduates go on to a wide range of successful careers, including editorial and commercial photography, picture editing and research, curating, publishing, journalism and teaching.
Photojournalism & Documentary at Swansea is part of a broad and exciting practice that adapts to our rapidly changing media environment. On the course you will develop a greater understanding of the power of photography and the socio-political consequences of its various forms and uses.
The importance of the image in our everyday lives has never been greater, nor has the demand, and this presents many professional opportunities. Our aim is to produce innovative graduates who can engage with clients and audiences across many areas of photography.
Based in our city centre campus, you will benefit from small class sizes that allow considerable individual input from tutors where students can test and develop their skills led by their own interests and projects.
Aided by appropriate workshops (studio and location lighting, film and digital formats, digital workflow, desktop publishing, research methodologies, multimedia and gallery display) our students are encouraged to experiment with the medium in order to develop their own unique visual style, resulting in an extensive and sustained practice.
Level 4 Modules
- Photography Production
- Documentary Practice Visual Studies 1
- Ways of Thinking
- Photojournalism in Context
- Individual Practice
- Visual Studies 2
- Ways of Perceiving
An initial series of both assigned and self-initiated, projects introduce you to the department, the learning environment of lectures, critiques and seminars, and diagnose and improve key techniques in darkroom processes, printing and digital file management. You will have an opportunity to engage with contemporary debates related to your subject, including the role of documentary photography and photojournalism, legal and ethical issues, and contexts and markets for your work. Projects will also aid the development of important practical and interpersonal skills such as time management, research and negotiation.
In the second semester, further assignments specific to photojournalism introduce the techniques of the photo essay, the use of image and text and the creation of visual narratives with moving image and multimedia. You will also produce a semester-long self-initiated practical project in the Individual Practice module.
Level 5 Modules
- Developing a Unique Voice
- Collaborative Photographic Practice
- Visual Enquiry 1
- Creative Research
- Contemporary Narratives
- Professional Photographic Practice
- Visual Enquiry 2
- Research Practices
You start the year with a Group Project. The ability to research, negotiate - both with fellow group members and external agents - and create work in appropriate yet often experimental contexts leads to a further maturing of your work. A self-initiated project, Developing a Unique Voice, reinforces this process leading to the production of a portfolio in the first semester and an exhibition and book in the second. In the second semester, Professional Photographic Practice introduces you to vocational outcomes for your work in preparation for projects with external clients in the third year. You will also work on a magazine project supported by workshops in current desktop publishing production. Contextual Studies continues, preparing you for the dissertation in Level 6.
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 graduates’ careers. The year culminates with exhibitions in both Swansea and London.
Level 7 Modules
- The Thought Experiment
- Advanced Critical Thinking Advanced Professional Practice (option A)
- Advanced Professional Practice (option B)
- Principal Project
The fourth year is designed to further develop and enhance individual practice and to facilitate the creation of creative enterprises and/or collaborative working within the photojournalism and documentary photography industry.
We are small and friendly with just over a thousand students in the Art and Design Faculty. Tutors are approachable and available to help, support and challenge you. The department provides ample studio space and access to up-to-date equipment and facilities.
Because we have smaller class sizes than many universities, there is considerable contact time with staff, and plenty of individual and small-group tutorials.
We have all the latest industry-standard facilities from a new large-scale, state-of-the-art lighting studio 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, audio equipment and location lighting.
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 ongoing 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 South West'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 Glynn Vivian Gallery have developed excellent link-in programmes with the department enabling a wide range of international photographers and lens-based artists to discuss their practice with the students at both the site of installation, 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 few 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 120 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
- 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 areas, including editorial/documentary, portraiture, commercial, and gallery contexts. More specifically, in recent years we have had graduates working in areas such as medical photography, food photography, as researchers and editors with picture agencies such as Camera Press and Time Magazine, where a current graduate is working as an associate picture editor for online photojournalism content.
Students will regularly interact with professional contacts through the exciting series of visiting lectures, where artists, photographers, curators, editors, writers and agents present their work and talk about their professional experiences. Recent examples include: Stuart Freedman; Abel Morrell; Simon Roberts; Dominic Hawgood; Esther Teichman; Peter Dench; Julie Graham; Dean Chalkley; Emma Critchley; Mark Power; Colin Gray; Julian Germain; Rosie Martin; Martin Parr; Sian Bonnell; Aliki Braine; Gayel Chong Kwan; and, 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 while receiving supported tuition from academic staff on subjects such as contracts and costing, 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 (freelance curator and writer); Helen James (National Portrait Gallery); and, Karen McQuaid (The Photographers’ Gallery).
Mikko Takkunen graduated in June 2009. He was runner-up in the Photographer category of the 2009 Guardian Student Media Awards, nominated to the Joop Swart Masterclass in 2010 and named ‘Young Photographer of the Year, 2010’ by the Society of Finnish Press Photographers. Selected clients include Helsingen Sanomat (Finland), Finnish Refugee Council, International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times and New York Times. He runs the blog, Photojournalismlinks.com: a site highlighting photojournalism activity on the web. Mikko has also written articles for the British Journal of Photography and his work was showcased by Getty Images’ Reportage – Emerging Talent. In 2013 he accepted a position as an Associate Picture editor with Time Magazine, the World’s most widely read news resource and has now moved to New York to work from Time Magazine’s headquarters.
"The course was one of the most formative, interesting and exciting experiences I have had to date. The tutoring is second to none, there is plenty of contact time with educational staff and the environment is very conducive to growing yourself within the world of the photography. The educational resources are great with plenty of material in the library and access to a wide range of specialist photographic equipment and facilities. One has plenty of time to experiment and grow ideas in an intellectually challenging, interesting and vibrant environment."
Kieran Hosking (Graduated 2014)
“Swansea Met (Swansea College of Art) has terrific facilities with the traditional black and white dark rooms, state-of-the-art digital darkrooms, and a camera store, from where students can take out film, digital, and lighting equipment. The Dynevor campus library has a large collection of photography books which are great assets for any photography students both in terms of research and inspiration.”
Mikko Takkunen (2009)
Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities. However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing.
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.
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