The Photography pathway is designed to help you to develop academically and conceptually as a creative individual. You will be presented with many of the problems you will encounter in the constantly evolving creative arena of photography, and our continuing engagement with industry future-proofs your knowledge.
Research underpins our practice, challenging students to engage on a world stage by responding through imagination and experimentation, to contemporary issues, ideas, and ethics within a twenty-first century photographic practice.
If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year’s course will also have a new name: Photography. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.
No creative journeys are the same but you will all start from the same place, and with our guidance and your endeavour you can be the best – like many of our graduates.
The Visual Communication (Photography) undergraduate degree works in partnership with other key subjects within the School of Visual communication, providing you with interdisciplinary practice across the subject of visual communication.
You will receive an introduction to all four Visual Communication routes – graphic communication, illustration, film and animation and photography – before studying the photography pathway in more detail.
This course is designed to keep up with the rapid pace of creative change, developing not only your skills and knowledge, but giving you room to specialise in what interests you. With a mixture of creative collaboration, external projects and live briefs, the course will push you to go beyond the world of photographic practice, but into the associated areas of employment.
The course is delivered at our Parkside building, at our City Centre Campus, where open teaching studio space enables you to immerse yourself in a creative, collaborative environment.
You will learn through collaborative study, group crits, portfolio production, and project work, and will undertake live projects to ensure you regularly engage with industry.
Throughout the course you will have the chance to submit work to photographic competitions and will have the opportunity to join professional bodies such as The Royal Photographic Society.
Your modules are designed to make you think, respond and produce dynamic creative work. You will develop an in-depth conceptual and technical knowledge of photography.
Through theoretical exploration, such as art history, projects and portfolio production you will advance your awareness and understanding of photography.
Practitioner staff encourage your creative development and originality, helping you develop your own direction and understanding of photography and visual communication.
My time at the School was a great training ground to learn and develop the necessary skills to transfer into a creative career. The lecturers have the ability to help mould creative ideas into academic projects, and provide research direction along the way, which produces creative fuel and inspires self-initiated learning. Nathan Spencer
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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information about how we're transforming the futures of creative practitioners.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio. Applicants will be invited to attend an interview.
280 UCAS tariff points or equivalent, see typical offers below.
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2016/17|
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A Level or 280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or 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)||D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||28 points overall|
|Irish Leaving Certificate||280 UCAS points - Higher Levels|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||280 UCAS points|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|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/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements 2016/17|
|IELTS||6.0 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).
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.
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for 2016/17, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.
To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:
280 points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBC or above)
predicted DMM at BTEC level
You will also be required to attend an interview.
Be the first to hear about our Clearing 2016 places and access a range of advice from experts on how to forget a bad exam and survive the summer. We’ve got your back.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£9,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||FT||3 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||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.
Your portfolio might be viewed when you are not present, therefore make sure it is easy to use. Think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back!
Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?
Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.
Include three to four final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include 3D models rather than photographs.
Include sketchbooks. This will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing. (If the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).
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.
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.
There are three ways to apply:
You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.
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.
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.
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:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
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.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
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.
During your first year you will study modules which are part of the shared visual communication learning experience. You will cover an introduction to Visual communication with students studying other Visual Communication degree pathways.
You will start to develop your knowledge and understanding of key visual and intellectual principles of visual communication. This first year is heavily workshop and lecture based. These are the essential building blocks of your career.
Your modules will cover the processes of production within photography, exploring meaning, making, and defining practice. You will develop entrepreneurial and collaborative skills through the 'Introduction to Visual Communication module.' You will be expected to crowd source funding to publish your own magazine designs.
2015 Student Showreel
You will further develop your collaborative talents through modules such as 'Practice in Action' - where you will be expected to organise, fund, publicise your group exhibition. This first year prepares you for your second year of study.
Introduction to Visual Communication
You will study an introduction to the four Visual Communication routes – graphic communication, illustration, film and animation and photography, before studying the photography pathway as your specialism.
You will have the opportunity to undertake collaborative creative work, studying with students across all disciplines of visual communication, to ensure you study the underlying principles of the field of visual communication.
Examples of student work - magazines
In this module you will define your own unique place within the field of photography working alongside staff and your peers , to prepare you to respond to creative challenges within the creative industries. You will be able to seek advice from your peers, learning new skills and techniques.
Practice in Action
The Practice in Action module is designed to make you think and perform as a creative practitioner. Applying interpersonal, enterprise and presentation skills you will be encouraged to think creatively, produce innovative ideas and imaginative solutions that are essential to professional practice. As part of this module, you will be expected to organise, fund and publicise your group exhibition.
Exploring Meaning through Narrative
You will explore the appropriate theories and philosophies which explain, discuss, and challenge our ideas about creative practice. You will gain a better insight into meaningful production. You will produce work that responds to a brief, creating content for a mini project that explores narrative.
In your second year of study you will develop your practice, producing successful forms of commercial work, including published, internships and gallery exhibitions. Your studies will focus on contextualising specific aspects of contemporary photographic practice.
Live projects, industry links and competitions form a key part of the curriculum at this stage in your course. We will encourage you to reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses, and build upon achievements in order to improve your performance. Active participation through workshops and master classes are embedded throughout your second year.
You will begin to focus on a more discreet area of specialism, preparing you for your final year of study. You will work within smaller groups, alongside a tutor with expert knowledge in your chosen specialist area. You will also identify and research an area of your profession, developing numerous and varied life skills that will enhance your abilities and aspirations beyond graduation. This aspect of the programme will be supported by seminars and lectures from industry experts and practitioners.
You will explore areas such as: networking, freelance practice, entrepreneurship, self-promotion and introductory media. During this year you will have portfolio reviews from industry professionals, although these are optional, it is strongly advised that students engage with this.
Examples of second year student projects
This is the module that will push your limits of collaboration. Industry is not about the individual, but about collaborative outcomes. By learning how to work with a designer, understanding elements of design, digital retouching and layout, you will enhance your employability skills. This is one of a number of modules designed to push you to your limits.
You will successfully produce creative work that is shaped by collaborative practice. You will engage in collaborative creative work which emulates that of authentic industry practice, and encouraged to engage and contribute to a community of reflective practice. This module develops team working, working with students within other visual communication pathways.
Subject in Context
Within this module you will be expected to consider Visual Communication practice in relation to audiences, clients and markets. You will develop a range of working strategies, methods and materials, applying these to underlying concepts and established principles within the discipline of photography. A requirement of this module is that you WILL engage with external competitions that are within your area of expertise.
Investigating Contemporary Practice
You will conduct research into an area of employment which is specific to your area of interest. This research will be supported by seminars and lectures from industry experts and practitioners.
You will explore areas such as networking, freelance practice, entrepreneurship, self-promotion and introductory media. A great deal of this module is LIVE brief and COMPETITION driven. You will be expected to enter at least THREE competitions, national and international.
Identifying Personal Direction
By this stage in your education/career, and through the experience and skills that you have developed, you will now know your career choices. Here is when you make these choices including what you want to do, how to get there and your plan to achieve your goals.
This module is designed to help you develop unique, individual expression within your work. You will produce work that focuses on a particular area of specialism with the photography field of visual communication. You will undertake research that explores your discipline, producing meaningful work that responds to the needs and demands of your area.
Your final year of study will be delivered through project work, which demands autonomous and independent study.
You will develop sustained and original work, supported by research and understanding, which will be stimulated and contextualised by a dissertation. You will define and develop your practice through active and practical engagement, informed and underpinned by universal principles and theories of visual communication. During this year you will have portfolio reviews from industry professionals.
Your final year focuses on your professional future, embedding your goals into your project work. You will have the opportunity to showcase your final year project work at our Visual Communication Graduate Show.
Student Showreel - moving image
You will also have the opportunity to be nominated for a prestigious Visual Communication Graduate Award. In the past we have had award sponsors such as illustrator Dave McKean, photographer Brian Griffin and Creative Director Trevor Beattie.
Examples of student work
In your final year, the big question is – “What do I want to use my final year at University for?”
Exploring your own creative direction you will conduct a study which will allow you to demonstrate an in-depth working understanding of universal principles of visual communication. You will be expected to draw upon a range of analogue and digital skills and competencies.
Defining Individual Practice
This final year module is designed to allow you to coherently define your area of individual practice.
You will develop your skills to source, synthesis and apply research, allowing you to work independently and articulate ideas that are central to your professional practice.
This module is your showcase. You’ll have the chance to take part in live projects, national and international competitions, produce self-driven portfolios and engage fully with industry.
You will develop a final major project portfolio, demonstrating your skills and knowledge which will be showcased at our Graduate Shows. You will exhibit a professional creative portfolio, showcasing your communication, information and problem-solving skills. You will develop your negotiation and planning skills, and will produce industry-standard, meaningful creative work.
During the Visual Communication (Photography) course you will develop yourself as a creative practitioner, developing hands-on experience, producing high quality, dynamic work. Creative thinking is encouraged throughout and you will experience a high level of industry engagement through creative practice-based learning.
You'll learn by taking part in practical workshops in our state-of-the-art studios.
This video gives you a flavour of the sorts of activities you'll be getting involved with in your first year on the course.
|27||Time in lectures, seminars and similar||MidnightBlue|
|73||Time in independent study||RoyalBlue|
Mark graduated in 2002. Since then he has gone on to start his own business and photograph the likes of Damien Rice and Johnny Vegas.
After graduating, Mark worked for the police as a Photographic Printer and Photographer, enabling him to experience a professional environment and further develop his skills. After a year, he went part-time in order to set up his own freelance photography business.
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.
Erasmus is a scheme that exists to allow you to undertake part of your study abroad. The scheme enables higher education students in 31 European countries to strengthen your foreign language skills, enhance your CV, experience new cultures and make new contacts.
As an undergraduate student you will need to be in the second year or above of your studies to be eligible. If you are interested you will be able to contact your school co-ordinator once you have started your course.
Our Visual Communication undergraduate degree is popular with students wishing to take part in Erasmus. Students and staff benefit from active participation with the Erasmus scheme. In recent years we have welcomed students from countries such as Rome, Paris and Rotterdam.
In addition to this we have supported our home-based students who wish to study overseas through the Erasmus programme, such as Charlotte Harrison. Charlotte studied at Frederick University in Cyprus, working on a photographic documentary, chronicling the lives of local people in the capital city of Nicosia.
Ultimately, this enhances the vibrancy and cultures of the student community here with the School of Visual Communication, and exposes you to new experiences.
We offer a research-based MA in Visual Communication. Upon successful completion of the BA (Hons) Visual Communication (Photography) you will be eligible to apply for postgraduate study here within the University. Postgraduate opportunities in visual communication are available on our MA Visual Communication programme.
Martin graduated in 2003 and was named as an Alumni of the Year in 2015.
Martin's work has been exhibited and published internationally and he has been awarded the prestigious Philip Leverhulme Prize in Visual Art.
The new Library of Birmingham is a strategic partner for the university. Viscom staff and students have nurtured this partnership which has resulted in many benefits for all concerned. The largest commission for photography in the region documented and made reference to the building of the new library. The “Reference Works” publication and exhibition, included internships for students and graduates.
We are in partnership with Grain, The Hub for Photography in the West Midlands. And as part of this partnership, we hold symposiums, portfolio review days and lectures. Research projects are embedded in the future plans for this initiative, bringing wider benefits to the university.
Visual Communication (Photography) is designed to enhance your skills and aptitude, preparing you for a career in a landscape that is continuously changing. Within Visual Communication, specifically photography, there are a variety of career opportunities you may wish to explore. As a creative practitioner you will be able to generate a range of potential ideas and visual developments. You will have the skills that demonstrate sound judgements in accordance to the theories and concepts of visual communication subjects, responding to the demands of industry.
You will develop an in-depth understanding of the relationship between theory and practice through research, this will not only allow you to undertake further study, it will allow you to produce meaningful, well-informed work.
You will gain an understanding of the underlying concepts and established principles that govern creative practice. Alongside this you will develop a range of working strategies, methods and materials, learning how to apply these to production.
You will also discover, and respond to, the influence of audiences, clients, markets and other participants in relation to Visual Communication practice.
You will benefit from hearing the expertise and having the chance to network with our high-profile guest speakers. Our students have recently had the opportunity to meet portrait photographer Harry Borden, fine art photographer and director Tom Merillion and international photographer Perou. We also host guest workshops from industry practitioners including The Impossible Project.
This BA (Hons) course supports fully directed study and the development of individual practice. There are opportunities for field trips and study abroad that will add value to the degree course.
Throughout your course you will be encouraged to take on placements, and network with industry. Our students have taken on numerous exciting and challenging placements with organisations such as Tatler magazine, Free Radio, and Birmingham City Council. Birmingham has illustrious and vibrant creative industries and as a school we have many industry connections. We will encourage you to actively seek work, helping you to develop your professional skills. In the past our students have worked with companies such as Birmingham Open Media, The Imaging Warehouse and The Impossible Project.
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.
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.
Graduates of this course have left us and immediately jumped into jobs, whether that’s freelance or working for a company. Many of our graduates have gone on to become successful commercial, fashion, editorial, automotive, portrait and architectural photographers, working in various destinations across the world, such as Norway, Singapore and Australia.
Our Visual Communication (Photography) graduates are highly imaginative inter-disciplinary creative practitioners. You will develop transferable skills that open up a wider range of employment opportunities beyond the traditional scope of the creative industries.
We believe that as a training creative practitioner it is vital that you engage with industry as much as possible. Throughout your course you will have opportunities to network, through guest speakers from all areas of the creative industries, such as the photographer Lara Jade.
Embedded within the programme there is a local trip for photography students, where you will be given the chance to develop your Landscape photography skills. Recent trips have included North Wales, The Lake District, Berlin and New York.
As a School we have several industry partnerships, and there will be chances for you to network. The new Library of Birmingham is a strategic partner for the University. Our staff and students have nurtured this partnership which has resulted in many benefits for all concerned. We also work in partnership with Grain, the hub for photography in the West Midlands, and as part of this partnership we hold symposiums, portfolio review days, and lectures. Research projects are embedded in the future plans for this initiative, bringing wider benefits to the University.
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:
Photography has had, and will continue to have collaborative photography projects with our Hong Kong partners, and be involved with our partners at ICAT in India.
The course attracts many students from overseas, complementing our students from across Europe, UK and the West Midlands region. Photography is an active participant in the Erasmus programme.
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.
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £57 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.
We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.
You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.
We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.
German-born photographer Timm has lived and worked in Birmingham since 2000. Graduating from Birmingham City University with a First Class degree in Photography, Timm then went on to become a freelance photo journalist. Timm has worked for the University since 2010 teaching photography and continues to work freelance in the industry.