Documentary Photography and Visual Activism (BA)
This course (the only one of its kind in the UK) embraces documentary photography in its broadest sense, focussing on experimentation with multimedia, installation, exhibitions, workshops and participatory projects to develop your own unique style of visual storytelling.
Visual activism is photojournalism for the 21st century. Our students embrace contemporary strategies to develop a socially engaged lens-based practice, often challenging fake news, inherent bias in our media platforms and power structures.
Students are encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest; previous successful projects have included explorations of identity, family relationships, documenting local football teams and the climate crisis. As well as working with community groups supporting refugees, asylum seekers and under-represented youth groups, our students have also worked with Women’s Aid, Race Council Cymru and LGBTQ+ charities to develop collaborative projects addressing contemporary social issues.
We have a regular programme of visiting lecturers and specialist workshops that provide our students with invaluable networking opportunities with professional organisations, such as Canon, Getty, Sunday Times and galleries, museums and archives that equip our graduates with essential skills to progress in their careers.
As well as working as freelance photographers, our graduates go on to a wide range of successful careers, including jobs in documentary, editorial and commercial photography, picture editing and research, curating, publishing, journalism, community work and teaching. You can find more about our successful alumni here.
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PATHWAY OPTIONS AND HOW TO APPLY
Documentary Photography and Visual Activism (BA)
UCAS Code: DPV1
Apply via UCAS
How to apply
All applications to study for a full-time undergraduate degree programme are made through UCAS — Swansea College of Art is part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
All our courses come under the institution code T80. Visit the University's apply section to find out more.
Tuition Fees 2021/22:
Home (Full-time): £9,000 per year
Overseas (Full-time): £13,500 per year
5 reasons to study this course
- An innovative approach to photojournalism and documentary
- Great links with industry specialists and practitioners
- Small and friendly class sizes, and easy access to up-to-date equipment
- Regular visiting lecturer programme
- Opportunities to work with charities, community groups and other clients on live briefs
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What you will learn
In your first year the focus is on developing your practical and technical skills to provide a foundation to investigate subjects of personal interest. Areas covered include:
- Traditional darkroom techniques
- How to use Adobe software packages
- Professional studio and location lighting techniques
- How to respond to set briefs
- How to combine both analogue and digital skills to create innovative outcomes
- The history of photography and visual culture theory
Building on the skills developed in your first year, the second year is a time for further experimentation and collaborative working:
- Working in small groups to design and curate your own public exhibition
- Conceptualise and produce a photobook
- Have opportunities to undertake funded internships
- Become increasingly focused on developing a professional platform for your work (incl:website/social media/exhibition strategies)
- Experiment with alternative darkroom processes
- Have the option to study a semester abroad
- Apply your research and critical analysis skills to a major project proposal
Your third year is about developing your professional portfolio and equipping yourself for a professional career in the creative industries after graduation:
- Develop a self-directed major project / body of work
- Produce work for collective exhibition in Swansea and London
- Have opportunities to present your work to industry professionals
- Have developed technical and creative skills to industry level
Level 4 Modules (year 1)
- Learning in the Digital Era
- Contemporary Documentary Practice
- Visual Studies 1
- Ways of Thinking
- Re-thinking Photojournalism
- Contemporary Challenges: Making a Difference
- Visual Studies 2
- Ways of Perceiving
Level 5 Modules (Year 2)
- Visual Activism: Location & Curation
- Changemakers: Creativity and Value Creation
- Visual Enquiry 1
- Research in Context
- Publication and Protest
- Changemakers: Building your Personal Brand for Sustainable Employment
- Visual Enquiry 2
- Research in Practice
Level 6 Modules (Year 3)
- Independent Project
- Major Project
- Advanced Creative Enquiry
Assessment varies according to the module and ranges from portfolios, exhibitions, written assignments and blogs to presentations.
Graduate Attributes Framework
This Framework aims to develop your professional skills and competence alongside your academic subject knowledge. You’ll study up to 40 credits per level throughout your programme from the Graduate Attributes Framework.
The Graduate Attribute modules are designed to enable you to develop, and evidence, a range of career-focused skills related to your subject area. These skills include digital competency, research and project management, as well as such personal competencies as communication, creativity, self-reflection, resilience and problem-solving.
Our Facilities, Graduates and Industry Links
Student and Swansea Life
The Documentary Photography and Visual Activism course is open to those with an interest in the media, politics and social change; some previous knowledge of photography is advantageous but not essential.
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
- UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
- UAL L3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
- UAL L3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication.
- UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology.
- BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject
- 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.
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.
Students are expected to bring their own personal art and design equipment with them when they commence the course. We can advise on the correct equipment needed for your programme of studies and signpost appropriate suppliers if you wish to purchase essential items before or during your studies.
A basic art and design kit will cost approximately one hundred pounds, but you may already have much of the equipment required: check with us first. Also, although we have extensive dedicated digital design studios (PC and MAC) for you to use for your coursework, you may wish to bring your own digital devices. Again, please check with us first before making a purchase.
Depending on distance and duration, optional study visits can vary in cost from approximately ten pounds to visit local galleries and exhibitions to over two hundred pounds for overseas visits — these costs cover things like transport, entry to venues and accommodation, and are normally at reduced rates for our students.
Bursary / Scholarship Information
You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section.
Study Abroad Opportunities
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.