Undergraduate › Photography - BA (Hons)
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Two door frames on a set of train tracks
An underground tunnel for cars
A person broken into pieces as if they were made of glass
A close-up photograph of flowers on a white background
A grid of photographs of a person's face projected onto a concrete wall

Photography - BA (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2023/24 Entry. Switch to 2022/23 Entry

On our BA (Hons) Photography course will develop a creative, professional identity and signature style by combining technique, theory and ethical practice with experimentation. You will explore contemporary photographic practice, including documentary, moving image, landscape, portrait and fine art photography, gaining a rounded knowledge of these varied and exciting disciplines....

  • Level Undergraduate
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School School of Visual Communication
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

On our BA (Hons) Photography course will develop a creative, professional identity and signature style by combining technique, theory and ethical practice with experimentation.

You will explore contemporary photographic practice, including documentary, moving image, landscape, portrait and fine art photography, gaining a rounded knowledge of these varied and exciting disciplines.

Collaboration with other disciplines is encouraged, developing new ideas and connections with subjects such as graphic communication and film and animation. The course will show you how creative, documentary and arts-based photographers can become commercially successful in diverse careers from galleries and publishing to advertising campaigns.  

Professional Placement Year

This course offers a professional placement year. This allows you to spend a whole year with an employer, between the second and third years of your degree, and is a great way to find out more about your chosen career. Some students even return to the same employers after completing their studies.

The University will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. If you do not find a suitable placement, you will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.

Please note that fees are payable during your placement year, equivalent to 20% of the total full-time course fee for that year (£1,850 for UK students).

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will learn through practice, by developing confidence as a contemporary photographer. Your learning will be informed by developing a deeper understanding of current photographic practice, from commercial briefs, to publishing, exhibiting, editorial and photojournalism.  

You will learn from award-winning staff with international reputations and a wealth of industry experience, having worked for clients such as: the BBC, the Brit Awards, British Telecom, Channel 4, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Marie Claire, Condé Nast, Studio Wayne McGregor, Microsoft, Save the Children, Oxfam, The Red Cross, NHS, the Royal Society of Arts, Tate Britain, Lancôme, Chanel Beaute, London Fashion Week and the Royal Opera House.

There is also a dedicated technical support team and exceptional facilities situated within the City Centre Campus. These include industry-standard photographic studios, darkrooms, television studios, editing suites, a giant green screen studio and an extensive Hires and Loans department.

We will help you to collaborate both within the University (for example, with the Fashion, Conservatoire, Acting or Product Design courses) as well as externally, with live briefs for real clients. You will also have the opportunity to study abroad for part of the course, or to go on trips to destinations such as New York, Berlin and Paris.

We also have exceptional levels of external engagement, with visiting lectures given by nationally and internationally-recognised photographers, as well as having numerous links with industry, workshops, seminars, masterclasses, careers advice, portfolio reviews, mentorships and placements.

In an environment of imagination and experimentation, we will nurture your talent and help you to develop into an employable and creative photographer.

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, Photography BA (Hons) graduate

Why Choose Us?

  • You will have access to incredible industry standard facilities and equipment that will help you express your creativity.
  • You will be taught vital employability skills including developing your professional network while studying, as a springboard for your future career.
  • You will be taught by tutors with extensive industry experience and can help you to gain a foot hold in the profession.
  • Our course has produced numerous award-winning students, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • The School of Visual Communication prides itself on a long established national and international reputation for inter-disciplinary practice. 
  • We allow students to explore a range of related careers, such as filmmakers, creative directors, picture editors or continuing education (such as an MA or PhD). 

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. You'll be able to hear more about your chosen subject area in our course talks.

Next Open Days: Autumn 2022

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

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

Essential Requirements

112 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels.


In addition to qualification applicants will also need a good portfolio.

LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS
IELTS 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.
Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications
A Level and Advanced VCE
  • BBC / 112 UCAS points
  • A maximum of 4 subjects are considered. These can be other A/S Levels (as long in a different subject) A-Levels or Level 3 equivalents.
AS and AS VCE Considered with a maximum of 3 other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 112 pts
Access to HE Diploma
  • Pass with 60 credits overall. At least 45 credits at Level 3.
  • BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design & BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture - Construction, Planning, Built Environment and Art and Design subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • BA (Hons) Art and Design, BA (Hons) Fine Art, BA (Hons) Jewellery and Objects, BA (Hons) Horology - Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • BA (Hons) International Jewellery Business - Arts, Media and Business subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • BA (Hons) Graphic Communication, BA (Hons) Illustration, BA (Hons) Photography, & BA (Hons) Design for Performance - Arts, Media and Publishing subjects preferred but other subjects also considered.
  • Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma (2016 – present)
  • Pearson BTEC Extended Diploma (QCF) (2010 - 2016)
  • BTEC Level 3 National Diploma (2002 – 2010)
DMM
Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)
  • Distinction
  • Can be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications (AS Levels must be in different subject to A-Levels) to obtain 112 pts
IBO Certificate in Higher Level
  • Students who do not complete the IB Diploma will be considered on the basis of their IB Certificates if they obtain a total of 14 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
  • Considered with other acceptable level 3 qualifications to meet 112 UCAS Tariff Points
International Baccalaureate Diploma

Obtain a minimum of 28 points overall

Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers) Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 112 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects.
OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma DMM
Scottish Advanced Higher
  • Achieve a minimum of 112 tariff points achieved in either three Advanced Highers or from a combination of two Advanced Highers plus two Highers.
  • Where three Advanced Highers have been taken achieve a minimum of grades CCD
  • Where a combination of Highers and Advanced Highers have been taken you must achieve (grades of CD in two Advanced Highers plus grades of CC in two Highers).
T-Levels
  • Merit overall
  • Design, Surveying and Planning T Level considered for BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design & BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture courses
UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design Merit overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology Merit overall
UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts Merit overall
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.

Additional information for EU/International students
Essential

In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good digital portfolio.

Please see your country page for further details on the equivalent qualifications we accept.

In addition to the academic entry requirements listed above, international and EU students will also require the qualifications detailed in this table.

EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications Requirements
IELTS

6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.

If you do not meet the required IELTS score, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English courses. Please note that you must have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) to study on the pre-sessional English course. More information.

International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).

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).

Mature Applicants

Applications from mature students (21+) with alternative qualifications and/or considerable work experience will be considered on their merits.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: BA (Hons)

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 3 years
  • TBC
  • Full Time
  • 4 years (with Professional Placement)
  • TBC

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

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Project materials (mandatory)

This course includes project work that requires you to develop and produce a portfolio or collection. You'll be expected to provide the materials for use in your individual major projects; costs will vary depending on the materials selected.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities, including darkroom PPE.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

Personal equipment (optional)

Whilst not essential is it adviced you own a computer or laptop capable of design and video editing.

Gallery visits (optional)

It is advisable for all Creative Arts students to visit exhibitions, galleries and other creative and cultural institutions and events depending on your own individual area of interest. Travel and entry costs may be associated with this.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Guidance for UK students

UK 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

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

Guidance for International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them 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

You will be required to submit a portfolio to complete your application.

A digital portfolio can be submitted via your applicant portal, and we ask that this is submitted within four weeks of making your application. Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips on putting your portfolio together.

Applicants from selected locations in the West Midlands may also be offered an opportunity to present a portfolio in person. If this option is available to you, you will receive an email with further details once you have submitted your application.

Personal statement

UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*

The personal statement 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.

Worried about Personal Statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

First Year

In the first year of the course we will provide you with the foundations of photographic and moving image practice. This will include essential technical skills using our state-of-the-art facilities, an understanding of how to harness and develop your creativity, means of communicating a message through your work, and an appreciation of the ethical and social issues that all modern photographers should be aware of.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Second Year

In the second year, you will further develop your signature style, moving rapidly towards your chosen career goal. This will be achieved by developing your portfolio, your photographic intelligence and your conceptual knowledge. Furthermore, you will start to define the type of photographer that you want to become, becoming increasingly specialised in that area.

Creative briefs will help you to understand personal photographic direction and may include a collaborative module may allow you to work with Graphic Designers, Illustrators, Sound artists, Film makers, animators and galleries.

You will also be encouraged to collaborate with those outside of the school, building industry links that enhance your work and skills.

You will also gain essential business skills to prepare you for undertaking commissions and projects. Live briefs are a key part of the second year, so you that you experience what it is really like to work as a professional creative photographer.

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete at least 20 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

Third Year

In the final year you will, under expert tutor guidance, define your own projects, ensuring that your university work is tailored perfectly to you. You will work towards a final outcome, again chosen by you, such as a book, magazine, film, installation, exhibition and/or portfolio. As before, we will help you to develop your business profile and to become a practising  photographer before you have graduated, which only goes to strengthen your portfolio and your employability.

We will be there to support you both professionally and pastorally. As well as our own expert tuition, we have a wide range of world-class photographers and portfolio reviewers who will inspire you to take your work to the next level. You will have access to the huge network of contacts that the University has, both nationally and internationally, as well as our close links with other courses within the University.

You will also undertake a piece of critical writing that examines the business practices of your chosen career.This will equip you with the necessary knowledge to approach the commercial photographic market, preparing you for your future aspirations and increasing your level of employability, allowing you to flourish not just while studying, but for many years after.

Download course specification

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Course structure

During the 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 practice-based learning.

Studio contact sessions consist of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and group activities in numerous combinations. Additional to these scheduled hours you will be expected to undertake guided independent learning. You will use the facilities within the Faculty and beyond to further develop your individual projects.

The School offers a suite of optional technical workshops including printmaking, studio lighting and a wide range of software packages.

Trips and Visits

While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad which we offer both at subject level and School level, including destinations such as Venice, New York and Berlin. We also run an exchange with a Thai university, with additional ‘study abroad’ opportunities via the Turing Scheme. 

Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. Where possible, we visit other UK cities, such as London, Liverpool and Oxford. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.


Further Study

As graduating students you will naturally follow your own career path and that may mean going straight into industry.

However, many students look at the opportunities that we offer for postgraduate study at Birmingham City University. It is important to keep your options open and researching further into your area of study brings many rewards.

The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. Should you wish to, you will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.

Employability

Visual Communication photography employability

Enhancing employability skills

The BA (Hons) Photography course at Birmingham City University is designed to furnish you with both creative and employability skills, thoroughly preparing you for your future career.

The course contains numerous employability sessions, around topics such as self-promotion, designing your CV and approaching employers as well as the day-to-day knowledge required to be a creative practitioner.

We are fully supported by the Faculty’s Careers+ team, who have direct input into the course and offer a range of opportunities, workshops and advice to all students.

We have modules that allow you to undertake live briefs, work placements and collaborative projects, which can engage you with industry, build your professional network and develop key skills even before you graduate. Our guest speakers, portfolio reviews and workshops run by industry practitioners also ensure that you are receiving the latest advice as to what is required to be a successful imagemaker.

Crucially, you will learn to be a creative thinker. This opens up avenues into photography itself, and a range of other career opportunities within the wider creative industries and beyond.

Placements

This course supports fully self-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, Atlantis Modelling Agency, 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 organisations such as Birmingham Open Media, The Imaging Warehouse and The Impossible Project.

OpportUNIty

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.

Links to industry

Our links include: Canon, Panasonic, Capture One, GRAIN Photography Hub and Network, BOM (Birmingham Open Media), Flatpack Film Festival, Studio Wayne McGregor, Free Range, Central School of Make Up, Atlantis Modelling Agency and ARD Production. Take a look at how students have worked with industry here

We are in partnership with Grain, The Hub for Photography in the West Midlands. As part of this partnership, we hold portfolio review days and lectures. Research projects are embedded in the future plans for this initiative, bringing wider benefits to the university and the students on the course. 

International

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:

Further Information

Students come to study in the School of Visual Communication from all over the world but we have nurtured some long-standing relationships with Malaysia, Thailand, China and India.

If you are a student from these, or any other countries, you should consider studying with us as we offer a wide curriculum that has internationalization built into the modules. We actively encourage learning across creative disciplines, group projects and live briefs. We have also established relationships with numerous colleges and industry overseas.

A fine example of this is Lichao Meng who joined us from China. We helped to develop Lichao’s understanding of photography and develop his strengths, so that by the end of the course he had created a stunning portfolio and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree.

We take a pride in developing strong creative communities and these thrive on the injection of different cultural experiences. To develop a sense of sharing all experiences and ideas is fundamental to the philosophy of Visual Communication.

Facilities & Staff

Parkside - City Centre Campus

Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 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 the digital print centres an Artec Shapify full body scanner, for those wishing to explore 3D scanning and virtual & augmented reality. 

The Parkside Building also offers:
  • Professional standard photographic studios
  • Dark room
  • Film scanning
  • Film processing room
  • Large format printing
  • Extensive Hires & Loans Department
  • Exhibition spaces
  • Projection space

Our staff

Joe Miles

Course Leader BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging

Specialising in commercial and editorial photography for national and international clients, Joe currently leads the BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Fashion Imaging courses. Experienced in both film and digital photography he has worked with RED cameras, combining moving and still imagery. His extensive list of clients include:...

More about Joe

Ravi Deepres

Professor of Moving Image and Photography

Award winning artist, photographer and film maker with an international reputation for focusing on the intersection of the still and moving image. Influences of identity, psychology, social conditioning, historical archives, and scientific cosmological research constantly feed his practice. Expressed through conceptual documentary, choreographic...

More about Ravi

Dr John Hillman

Associate Professor in Photography

Dr John Hillman is an educator, image-maker, researcher and writer engaged in the interdisciplinary areas of photography, image and visual culture. His interests lie in philosophical approaches to contemporary culture and understanding how images and media technologies shape our experience. What unifies all his interests is the exploration of how...

More about John

George Hart

Deputy Head of Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts

George Hart was the first member of my family to go to University, which has given him an understanding of the challenges students face when going to Universities. After the completion of his degree George worked within the creative industries for seventeen years as a Freelance Illustrator/ Designer, mainly working in London, but also nationally....

More about George