Media and Communication (Media Photography) - BA (Hons)

UCAS Code:
Full Time (3 years)
September 2016
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Our BA (Hons) Media Photography course encourages experimentation with digital photography, and is ideal for students wanting a career either as a photographer or in the digital imaging industry.

Students are able to study on a practice-led, creative photography course with excellent facilities. We develop your creative vision so that you graduate as a highly employable multi-skilled image maker with the skills to succeed in a wide range of design and production roles.

Our graduates have gone on to work for big names such as the BBC, Maverick Television, BSkyB, Malmaison and Elle Magazine.

Last chance to apply

The 2016/17 academic year will see the final intake of new students for this course, so get in quick if you want to apply.

Want to study in 2017/18?

You may want to check out these similar courses which will be available to start in 2017/18:

What's covered in the course?

Our course covers the key skills in digital photography, and explores how to produce photographs for editorial and commercial publication use, as well as develop visual literacy and skills in related imaging software.

The course will develop skills in camera technique, studio and location lighting and post-processing in Photoshop and Lightroom. You will explore the working practices in specific photographic fields, such as documentary, portraiture, fashion, music, sport, travel and product photography.

You have the chance to work on live creative briefs with real-world industry clients. You will produce photographs whilst exploring appropriate skills and knowledge that mirror industry practice in a number of varied photographic sectors.

In your first year these skills are put into practice in the live Media Festival, where Media Photography students collaborate with other media students to produce and exhibit multi-disciplinary projects surrounding a particular theme.

For your Final Production Project, you are encouraged to freelance with external live clients, demonstrating your ability to be a highly skilled photographer and also highly skilled entrepreneurial and freelance operator – these are essential in finding new clients and job opportunities.

You'll be based in the £62 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus, which offers you exclusive access to industry-standard photography studios and a full range of on-site cutting-edge digital media facilities. You'll receive the support of expert staff, whose credentials include shooting with fashion designers from around the globe.

“Learning what you need to pass your degree is one thing, but finding the right university that gives context and practical application for your knowledge in a fun and exciting environment is what, for me, makes Birmingham City University the number one for Media and Communication.”Chris Williams

Why Choose Us?

  • Placements play a crucial role (compulsory industry placements – are equivalent to 70 hours in your first year and 105 hours in your second); recent students have gained invaluable experience at BSkyB, the BBC, Maverick Television and Endemol.
  • We provide specialised and sophisticated equipment for every area including six radio studios, four TV studios, the largest free-standing green screen in Europe, editing suites, music production studios, a new media suite, a newsroom, and photography studios (including a half and a full infinity cove).
  • Our huge range of guest speaker masterclasses has previously included newsreader Huw Edwards; Web Development Editor at The Times, Jo Geary; UB40's Brian Travers; Vogue fashion photographer Eliot Siegel and BSkyB's Head of Production Services, Dave Rooke.
  • Mixing media production skills with an academic study of the industry, the course encourages you to take creative risks and be a 'thinking' media worker, able to adapt to a fast-moving industry and confidently lead change.
Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 19 November 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 19 November 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

Birmingham School of Media

Discover the Birmingham School of Media

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Lonana Zamfir
  • Packshot Factory Ltd

And in jobs such as:

  • Photographer
  • Retoucher
  • Junior Retoucher

Sir Lenny Henry, Chancellor

Actor, writer, comedian and charitable campaigner Sir Lenny Henry is our new Chancellor.

Find out more

This course is accredited by:

Creative Skillset Tick

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students

Applicants will also need a good portfolio to bring to interview at an Applicant Visit Day. See Portfolio Guidance on the 'How to apply' tab.

At the point of application, you must have GCSE at Grade C or above in English Language. Equivalent qualifications will be considered.

280 UCAS tariff points from A Level

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2016/17
GCE A Level/ AS Level BBC at A-Level excluding General Studies and Critical Thinking (280 UCAS points) - does not accept points from A/S Levels
Access to Higher Education Diploma Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2, including merit or higher in 18 credits at Level 3
BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years) D*D* or can be combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years) DMM (280 UCAS points)
BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years) Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 140 UCAS points
International Baccalaureate Diploma 28 points overall
Irish Leaving Certificate 280 points, including 4 higher level passes
Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher 280 points, including 3 higher level passes
Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options) 120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
EU/International students
EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements 2016/17
IELTS 6.5 overall with 5.5 minimum in all bands
International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses). 28 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.


International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

From A Level, not including A/S Levels

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £9,000 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2016 FT 3 years £12,000 per year

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Guidance for UK/EU students


UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.

Applying through UCAS
 Register with UCAS
 Login to UCAS
 Complete your details
 Select your course
 Write a personal statement
 Get a reference
 Pay your application fee
 Send UCAS your application

Non-EU (International) students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

2) Through a country representative

Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.

3) Through UCAS

If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.

Portfolio Guidance

We would like you to bring along some of your work which demonstrates your abilities and interest in the media. This will provide valuable support for your application and enable tutors to make a prompt decision. However, do not worry if the work you bring is not media-related as we are also looking for potential, creativity and enthusiasm.

We require you to bring the following:

An example of written work

(e.g. an academic essay or report. This does not have to be media-related) 

An example of your interest in the media

(e.g. details of any work experience you have undertaken in the media industry or a media-related hobby)

An example of any practical media work

(e.g. a video, website, article, some design work, radio work, photography or scripts you have produced)

Please ensure that any work you bring along is clearly labelled with your name and UCAS number.

Please note:

  • You may bring your portfolio on a memory stick providing the memory stick itself is well marked with your name AND the work on the memory stick is organised into a folder labelled ‘Applicant Day’.
  • Photographs MUST NOT be submitted on memory stick; all photographs must be printed and brought in to the Applicant Day as part of your portfolio.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Year one

Our first year introduces you to basic production skills in photography for the media and will cover all subject areas: Visual literacy and the construction of the photographic text; compositional technique; digital SLR cameras; understanding the exposure triangle – shutter, aperture and ISO; understanding light and lighting skills; introduction to and effective use of on-camera flash; digital post-processing technique, print and online output; approaches to documentary photography; the photo essay and the environmental portrait.

You will develop transferable skills of communication, self-directed study, critical reflective practice and self-development, and will be encouraged to engage in creative and imaginative photographic production.

At the end of the first year, these skills are put into practice in the live Media Festival, where Media Photography students collaborate with other media students to produce and exhibit multi-disciplinary projects aimed at a particular theme.

Modules explained:
Media Photography Skills

This module introduces you to photography for the media, engaging you intellectually with the context, uses and construction of photography as visual communication. We equip you with a range of appropriate camera and post processing skills as a foundation to other specialist studies, and you are encouraged to engage in creative and imaginative photographic production.

Year two

In years two and year three, students continue to produce photographs to creative live briefs, whilst exploring appropriate skills and knowledge that mirror industry practice in a number of varied photographic sectors. You are introduced to professional practice and begin to identify a specialist area of study by pursuing your creative ideas through a process of research and experimentation. Guest lecturers from creative industries bring the reality of commercial practice to life.

The modules will continue to develop creative skills in, and application of, DSLR cameras, lens technology, post processing technique and lighting in both studio and on location.

Students initiate an awareness of a variety of photographic genres, visual techniques and creative approaches in both form and content. You will explore and evaluate the range of styles, approaches and contexts of influential photographers, in order to inform your own image-making.

You'll design and produce illustrative layouts incorporating your own photographs to a realistic publishable outcome, and recognise and evaluate the principles of image-use in contemporary design. You will learn how images interact with text, in form and content, and how they are manipulated to communicate concept, mood or narrative.

You will explore the professional practices and varied uses of photography in editorial and commercial fields, focusing on developing a personal style within defined professional contexts. You'll begin to explore professional approaches to portraiture, fashion, music, sport, travel, architecture and product photography and extend your network of industry contacts, working with teams of external professionals.

Modules explained:
Image Makers

This module explores a wide range of image makers in the photographic field. You will recognise and evaluate developments, continuations and evolving conventions of the photographic image, as well as the impact of technological and cultural developments on photography. You will be required to examine how key photographers have utilized or broken conventions in both form and content and use this as inspiration for your own image making.

Photography in Design

During this module you will explore a variety of contexts and applications of the photographic image in print and online publishing, as well as designing and producing illustrative layouts incorporating your own photographs. You will explore how images interact with text, in form and content, and how they are manipulated to communicate concept, mood or narrative.

Editorial and Commercial Photography

This module explores the professional practices and a variety of uses of freelance photography in editorial and commercial publication. You will produce a portfolio of photographs to a realistic publishable outcome within the constraints of a professional brief. You will recognise and evaluate the photographic specifies of style, technique and professional practice in the fields of portraiture, music, events, product shots, architecture, sport and travel photography.

Fashion Photography

This module encourages you to apply creative solutions to professionally focused outcomes and to engage in photographic production specific to the working fields of fashion and beauty photography. Whilst collaborating with industry professionals you will explore the working practices and constraints of professional fashion and beauty photographers with due consideration to markets, client needs and current and future developments that inform production.

Year three

In the third year you create your own portfolio of unique work and demonstrate your expertise through developing a recognisable style as a media photographer. The Creative Camera in Practice module will allow you to explore and engage with a variety of creative approaches and research current and future trends of creative practice in commercial and editorial photography.

Media Photography graduate Garazi Gardner started making contacts with fashion designers whilst undertaking her third year project. Since graduating, she has continued to build a successful freelance fashion and beauty photography career that has seen her published globally in magazines such as Sunday Times Style, Kerrang, FaceON, Bahrain Confidential, Elle China and DIVA.

You will continue to build your photographic portfolio to a professional standard, and you are encouraged to freelance with external live clients.

You will explore methods of 'creative seeing' by challenging traditional creative thought processes and working practices to motivate alternative stylistic approaches to photography.

Modules explained:
Creative Camera in Practice

This module provides the opportunity to develop a unique and creative personal style as a media photographer by challenging the creative thought process and exploring innovative photographic practice. You will explore and engage with a variety of creative approaches and research current and future trends of creative practice in commercial and editorial photography, continuing to build your photographic portfolio to a professional standard.

Individual projects and group work prepare you for a demanding career in the creative industries. Teaching takes place in environments such as photography studios, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, social learning spaces and online. We develop your creative vision and abilities through a series of skills-based workshops, production days and directed study.

Teaching breakdown

38 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
57 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
5 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

3 Written exams DarkOrange
33 Coursework FireBrick
64 Practical exams #fece5a

This course is accredited by the following organisation:

Creative Skillset Tick
Creative Skillset Tick

The Creative Skillset Tick is the quality mark for excellence in training courses and education in the Creative Industries. It identifies the UK’s most industry-focused courses and apprenticeships enabling universities, colleges and employers to recruit the brightest talent.

Our Creative Skillset accreditation shows that we will provide you with industry-relevant skills and good links with companies and potential employers.

The accreditation also assures employers that students graduating from our course have the levels of knowledge and skills they need.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further Study

By 2022 it is estimated that one in seven jobs will require postgraduate qualifications (UK Commission for Employment and Skills 2014).

As a school, we invest significantly in our postgraduate provision as we recognise that more specialist and professional courses are required across the media industry.

You have the opportunity to further develop your specialism through our postgraduate courses that are currently offered:

Enhancing your employability skills

When you study with us, you will benefit from the best teaching staff, who are not only academic experts but also experienced business leaders or industry-acclaimed professionals. All our lecturers are abreast of the latest knowledge, with industry contacts that bring a three-dimensional perspective to your learning experience.

We have an innovative approach to employability, providing you with an equal balance of academic and theoretical study of the media and the specialist and transferable skills needed to perform as professionals within the industry. It is part of our vision to make sure you leave us as a highly employable graduate with the knowledge, attributes and practice skills to successfully progress in your career.

Media Photography graduate Stefan Klenke said: “Very often I realise how many useful things I've learned from the Photography degree. I've taken part in BBC Training courses where many of the things that were taught I already knew from the degree, which underlines how useful the course can be to prepare you for the “real” media world.”

Studying a Media and Communications degree with us gives you access to the latest, industry-standard equipment, allowing you to work on live briefs set by external clients.

We specialise in preparing you for professional careers both upon graduation and throughout life. Our track record for graduate employment is excellent, with the majority of graduates going into a media-related role. A high number of graduates have gone into producer/director roles, journalism, public relations, web development and freelance/own business.

Exhibit This

Our third year students showcase their final year work at our Exhibit This event at the end of each academic year. It offers a springboard for our graduates and a chance for industry to spot emerging talent.


Placements provide an opportunity to work alongside industry experts and develop further skills and knowledge within the industry. They give you invaluable insight and a chance to network and build some great contacts for the future. You will be required to secure a placement in your first and second year of study, such as assisting or shadowing a professional photographer in a studio.

Finding and securing a placement is your responsibility but Professional Studies is a key aspect of your course and aims to provide you with support and guidance to help you with the search, and also to make the most of your placement once you are there.

We have very strong links with employers and the media industry. There's a real demand for graduate skills in our city, and many former students have launched their careers here – often as a result of the experience they gained through placements.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate jobs

Our graduates from The School of Media work in a number of areas in the creative industries, including radio, television, journalism, photography, PR, events, marketing, arts administration, sales and distribution in occupations such as assistant producers, post-production editors, designers and project managers. Employers include the BBC and Sky, while some graduates work as freelancers or have started their own businesses.

Media Photography graduate Lou Macrae has been working as a freelance photographer since graduating in 2004, with a strong client list which includes Malmaison, Vice Magazine and the BBC.

Lou said: “My job has allowed me to shoot in some very odd places, and also some very beautiful places. I love photography as there's never a dull moment and no day is the same.”

Garazi Gardner, who graduated in 2005, now offers a wide variety of professional photographic services. She began making contacts with fashion designers whilst undertaking her third year project. Since graduating, she has continued to build a successful freelance fashion and beauty photography career that has seen her published globally in magazines such as Sunday Times Style, Kerrang, FaceON, Bahrain Confidential, Elle China and DIVA. Her client list includes Simon & Schuster, Be-Yu, Gingerlily Cosmetics and Lime Crime.

Using industry software

Our course covers the key skills in digital photography, and explores how to produce photographs for editorial and commercial publication use, as well as develop visual literacy and skills in related imaging software.

The course will develop skills in camera technique, studio and location lighting and post-processing in Photoshop and Lightroom.

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Our international students

Our BA (Hons) Media and Communication courses are particularly popular with students from China.

Our International Office won the prize for Outstanding International Strategy at the 2011 Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards.

We are committed to providing you with academic and support services in an environment that encourages you to achieve excellence in your studies.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £260 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

Birmingham School of Media is recognised as a key centre of excellence in interactive media training, television production and education by Creative SkillSet, the UK Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries.

State-of-the-art facilities

You will learn in our state-of-the-art facilities - including the £62m fully-digital Media Centre - located on the City Centre Campus. You will enjoy access to extensive studio and workshop space including four TV studios, six radio studios and broadcast-standard edit suites, as well as cutting-edge equipment and software.

Facilities include the largest TV floor of any university in the UK, a ‘green screen’ and the MILO motion control camera - we are one of just two universities in Europe to offer MILO technology.

Our four broadcast-standard edit suites are based on the industry-standard Avid editing system, used in almost all films and the majority of UK television. Two of the suites are specialised for Audio Finishing and Colour Grading. Our six digital radio studios are all linked an equipped with the best news and production software.

You will have access to our full broadcast-standard dubbing suites, which are based on a multi-layered ProTools desk and can dub both film and TV with up to 120 simultaneous sound sources. We also have an ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) booth and the ability to record Foley (additional live sound).

The Parkside Building

The Parkside Building has been designed to maximise light and encourage collaboration between artists and students. It is the perfect setting for the workshops and teaching spaces of our design courses, as well as the state-of-the-art media centre for the advanced teaching facilities of Birmingham School of Media.

All this ensures that The Parkside Building offers a first class learning environment and a true central location for students in Birmingham City Centre.

Meet our staff

All staff at the School are established media professionals who bring with them a range of expertise. They provide students with practical and relevant insight with real-life experience of business and industry, and are able to recognise and respond to the rapidly changing demands of the media.

Julian Kilsby

Award Leader and Senior Lecturer

Julian Kilsby is Degree Leader in Media Photography and Award Leader for MA Freelance Photography at the School of Media. He joined the University 16 years ago and has a background in a variety of photographic fields including social documentary, travel photography and product photography. His expertise lies in fashion photography, and he is currently shooting promotional images for clothing designers from around the globe.

A number of Julian’s students have gone on to forge successful careers as freelance photographers in areas as diverse as social photography, music photography, product photography, fashion and beauty photography.

The photography industry is continually changing and Julian Kilsby maintains a keen interest in these developing technologies, the evolution of working practices as well as the delivery and consumption of the photographic image.

"The courses I teach are deeply rooted in an understanding of the requirements necessary to succeed in today's very competitive photography industry. It's about understanding the creative conceptual process and managing client expectations. It's about relevant camera, lighting and post-processing skills for particular markets. It's about developing a focussed portfolio that defines you as a working photographer. And it's about a deeper theoretical understanding of the way we communicate visually; of image meaning, creation and consumption."

"Interestingly, the professional photography press has recently criticised the tradition of photographic education for being out-of-touch with today's industry requirements. This certainly can't be said of the courses at the School of Media where students are continually offered insights, skills and knowledge into how the industry operates."

At Birmingham City University, Julian has developed an MA in Freelance Photography to address the rapidly changing world of the industry. Students on this course study professional practice, engage in a photographic skills audit and develop a defined visual identity whilst exploring, and reflecting on, their creative and entrepreneurial potential within a defined market context.

The course, which started in 2009, is unique amongst photography courses offered in the country. It is another example of how Birmingham City University is providing courses that are relevant to today's changing society.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295