Cardiff School of Art & Design>Courses>Photography - BA (Hons) Degree

Photography - BA (Hons) Degree

Entry Year

Photography is a powerful language. It enables us to communicate complex ideas and emotions. It tells us what is considered important, and helps us to understand and question the past and the present.

Your unique vision can help to redefine the way we see the world around us. As a critical and creative photographer, you can contribute to creating the visual landscapes of the future.

The BA Photography degree at Cardiff Met will develop your understanding of technical, creative and conceptual approaches to photography, drawing inspiration from artistic and editorial approaches to image-making and experimental lens-based practices. You will acquire professional digital and film photography skills alongside a knowledge of photographic history and practice.

The BA Photography degree at Cardiff Met will develop your understanding of technical and conceptual approaches to photography, drawing inspiration from commercial, artistic and experimental lens-based mediums. You will acquire professional digital and film photography skills.

You will learn to critically evaluate your creative approaches to contemporary photographic practices, positioning these within wider visual culture. We will encourage you to pursue your own photographic interests, nurturing a unique way of seeing, and creating a dynamic portfolio of work.

You will develop a distinctive visual identity and an understanding of the ways in which your personal style might be applied to a range of contexts from fashion and fine arts to advertising and editorial.

This BA in Photography is based at our Cardiff School of Art & Design. The school has a longstanding partnership with Ffotogallery, the National Photography Agency for Wales, focused around short courses and workshops, paid internships and opportunities for students to exhibit and volunteer during their biennial Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography.

Course Content

This course will develop skills and expertise in the following:

  • Analogue and digital image making skills
  • Studio & location lighting techniques
  • Photographic genres
  • Editing and sequencing
  • The language of photography
  • Digital workflow and post production
  • Portfolio development
  • Ethical protocols
  • Professional contexts (including budgeting, pricing, copyright, agencies, and market awareness)


Year One

Photography Fundamentals - 40 credits

This module aims to introduce students to the basic fundamental skills, ideas, and technical processes relating to the field of photography and encourage them to apply appropriate production techniques to realise their ideas.

It will facilitate the planning of a response to a creative brief whilst developing students’ understanding of visual languages nurturing their ability to communicate ideas, emotions, and information via the photographic image.

The module will introduce students to the work of practitioners working in the field of photography, both contemporary and historical, and the critical ideas behind their work with the aim of developing students’ own ability to produce images actively and with purpose.

The focus is on manual camera handling, working in the photo studio, traditional darkroom techniques and digital imaging processes.

Photographic Perspectives - 20 credits

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop more advanced photographic skills and techniques whilst introducing them to a range of genres and contexts with regard to photographic and lens-based practices.

The focus is on working with professional formats and exploring key photographic genres and preparing images for display.

Students will develop creative image manipulation techniques and explore the differences between conceptual, functional and aesthetic approaches to photography.

It will develop students’ ability to reflect upon, and evaluate their own skills in order to identify the most appropriate approaches to the production of images in specific contexts.

The module will encourage students to consider the expectations, perceptions, and responses of their audience and reflect upon the historical, societal, and cultural dimensions of their own practice.

Research Basics - 20 credits*

This module aims to develop students' core academic research skills including locating sources, evaluating credibility, and analysing information. It will provide the foundations from which students will cultivate their confidence to engage in theoretical discourse and idea-driven dialogues which will be required throughout their undergraduate studies.

Interdisciplinary Understanding - 40 credits

This module aims to introduce you to the principles of Interdisciplinary working: collaborative working, critical thinking and reflection. Projects within the module will challenge you to work with another discipline to explore a societal and cultural theme or challenge.

Year Two

Creative Photographic Practice - 40 credits

This module will build on students’ foundational knowledge and will focus on their individual creative expertise within the context of contemporary cultural, ethical and professional photographic practices. It will support students’ development through independent enquiry, personal innovation, and risk taking, encouraging them to explore, experiment with, and gain an understanding of different forms of contemporary photographic practices.

The focus is on Experiment, Narrative and Context.

The module aims to extend students’ professional, technical, and intellectual skills and develop their confidence in order that they can identify where their individual creative practice is located within the broad spectrum of photographic and lens-based practices. The module will require students to explore alternative and diverse avenues of expression, production and presentation to further develop their skills whilst developing a cohesive portfolio of work.

21st Century Challenges - 40 credits

The 21st Century Challenges module builds upon the introduction to Interdisciplinary problem-solving developed at level 4 to continue to refine, and begin to apply, your skillsets through real-world projects and live briefs. Projects will tackle 21st Century Challenges to develop your leadership, collaboration, future literacy/critical thinking skillsets.

Real-World Contexts - 20 credits

The Real-World Contexts module challenges you to apply the situated awareness and future-thinking skills to deploy your own practice in the creation or promotion of value for a variety of external stakeholders and communities.

Research Proposal - 20 credits*

The Research Proposal offers you an opportunity to strengthen your research skills, consolidate your research experience and orientate your level 6 contribution around an enquiry of your choosing that is inspired by your learning across all modules at level 4 and 5. This research proposal will be used to continue your personal and professional development at level 6 where you will identify a route for your own enquiry.

Year Three

Professional Photographic Practice - 60 credits

This module aims to develop students’ understanding of strategic planning, negotiating workloads, and developing a professional portfolio. It will nurture students’ advanced professional intellectual and technical skills and develop the aesthetic judgement required from them at this level.

The focus is on photographic projects made for publication and planning a career in Photography.

Students will be able to deploy knowledge of general and specialist discipline areas through the engagement with an individually developed project that will demonstrate intellectual depth and rigour, synthesising ideas from a breath of a theoretical and practice based contexts. Creative thinking techniques will be evident through experimentation and innovation that clearly demonstrates an understanding of the specificity of audience.

This module will extend practical skills through the production and presentation of independent, high quality photographic work that has the appropriate intellectual underpinning.

Positioning in Practice - 20 credits

The module aims to support your readiness in developing your unique professional career. It will embed attributes reflective of the requirements of real-world practice aligned to your specialist discipline. You will have the opportunity to reflect upon how your experiences over the last 3 years have allowed you to position yourself as a professional in preparation for graduate level work, continued study, research, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Contribution - 40 credits*

Your practice is underpinned by your knowledge. Demonstrate your research and analysis skills in your final research submission, where you explore ideas in both written and practical forms​.

Learning & Teaching

Learning, teaching and assessment strategies seek to promote effective learning styles to create an environment of student participation and engagement in each subject; to encourage independent and life-long learning capability and to realise the full potential of each student.

The programme seeks to develop a teaching and learning culture that cultivates the inquisitive and creative mind whilst recognising the need to respond to the demands of professional photographic practice.

Acquisition of core knowledge and understanding is achieved mainly through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars, studio and practical workshops. More ‘advanced knowledge’ and understanding is obtained by the former as well as through independent study and specific group teamwork.

Within studio practice, the major teaching and learning strategy is the Project. Projects are of relatively long duration and are intended to broaden the student's intellectual and creative abilities. They seek to promote an attitude of critical analysis which challenges prior assumptions and aims for genuine innovation. They have prescribed limits and objectives but they do not necessarily have prescribed outcomes.

Project objectives are established at the outset and form part of the brief.

The assessment methods are also identified at this stage. Several types of project are used:


  • Mandatory Projects: staff-set with prescribed objectives and outcomes
  • Student-led Projects: determined by individual students in consultation with staff
  • 'Live' Projects: set by outside or Institute-based clients in consultation with staff.


All project work demands problem analysis, research, creativity, decision-making, practical and technical skills, communication and justification. Project outcomes are generally studio-based but may also be research-based.

Within a project a number of other learning and teaching strategies are utilised. These include:

  • Briefing sessions: used to clarify project objectives and limitations.
  • Project critiques: used to give students the opportunity to present and justify their work to their year group and to staff
  • Workshops: offering a range of practical and theoretical skills
  • Exercises: used to define and clarify specific aspects of the design process
  • Demonstrations: to promote 'learning through example'
  • Presentations: intended to encourage creativity, clarity and confidence in the oral and visual presentation of group or individual work.



Lectures deliver a coherent programme of study and general inspiration. They are supported by visual material and/or textual material. The content can be historical, theoretical, contextual or practical. Where appropriate, lectures are structured to involve students in discussion.

Modular Subject Tutorials

Tutorials are meetings of a student or group of students with a lecturer or lecturers and are used in two ways within the programme:

  • Expanding upon material covered in lectures through an enquiry-driven problem solving approach
  • Remedial work to overcome any deficiencies in a student’s background knowledge.
  • Workshops: offering a range of practical and theoretical skills



Seminars take three forms: those guided by staff where texts or artefacts are provided for students to present an analysis to their group; those where students select texts/artefacts for discussion within the group; and those where students present their own work or research findings.

Seminars are designed to encourage articulate and analytical presentation and, through group discussions, to develop an understanding of the subject and its context.

This is a central teaching & learning method particularly when relating the learning gained from the field and constellation and contextualising it and relating it back into the subject of photography.

Seminars may involve a student or students presenting previously prepared work to peers and a lecturer. This strategy is used to extend specific theoretical or practical concepts as well as introducing problem solving exercises.

Seminars provide students with valuable experience in presentational skills, blogs, wikis or podcasts, as well as providing staff with a method or assessing student-centred learning.

Practical Workshops

Practical workshops enable students to practice and refine their skills in a supportive environment where they can get feedback from a member of academic staff.

Practical workshops represent a valuable transition between theory and practice. Practical studio sessions, emphasising the application of fundamental principles of photography, focus on problem solving and development of creative and technical solutions to photographic projects.

Simulations, exercises and live projects involving external client provide a stimulating challenge for students working both independently and in groups to experience real world problems.

Students are encouraged to articulate their proposals in an objective and critical manner and to develop interpersonal communication skills that are vital to a professional photographer.


The Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE) is extensively used on the programme to enhance the student learning experience.

Apart from its widespread use as a repository for learning material and resources, the VLE is used to engage students in their own learning using wikis, blogs and discussion groups.

In addition, the VLE is used in formative assessment with the use of quizzes and self-diagnostic tests. It is also valuable as a means of communicating with students and a ‘home’ module for photography has been created to provide a focal point for communicating and posting information of a more general nature.

Electronic feedback is used through the VLE via use of the Grade Center.


Critiques are held at each assessment stage (interim or final) of an assignment or project in the studio-based modules where students present their work to the year group and tutor for feedback and debate.

This event is a cornerstone of the learning process. Assignments are designed to ensure that students tackle a wide range of case studies or precedent that illustrates a variety of situations or solutions.

The critique process ensures students learn from work being done by others as well as through their own efforts.


Throughout the duration of your studies, you will be evaluated on three main criteria, which underpin all of the disciplines being taught at CSAD: 

The practical, technical and conceptual skills you acquire during your course.

Your understanding and knowledge of broader intellectual context within which your discipline and work is located. This includes historical, environmental and ethical issues and will often be explored in your 'Theory and Context' modules.

Your understanding of intellectual and creative ideas from within and beyond your discipline; plus your ability to acquire new concepts and form new ideas. Ideas will be explored in your written work, as well as being evident in your practical progress. Each of these criteria is given equal weighting during the assessment process. That is to say that they are seen as equally important and critical to your development; an emphasis which is designed, for example, to enable a more well-rounded skill set from a student who may be skilled technically, but weak in generating ideas, or a student with much creative flair who may struggle to hone a broad concept into a strong, individual design. 

We provide a number of ways for you to track your progress en route to submitting your work for marking. Understanding that the emphases will revolve around the core areas of skills, context and ideas, you will also become familiar with the structured assessment form used by your tutors and learn to relate to your work back to the intended learning outcomes of each brief. 

The main types of formative assessment are; academic (feedback from your tutors); peer (from your course-mates or project partners); and self-assessment (which is your own critique, in light of other forms of feedback). You won't just be receiving feedback at the end of a brief, however – your tutors will often assess your progress as your work develops, providing formative feedback at crucial moments where it is hoped to encourage you to take risks, maintain your motivation or shape-up your ideas ahead of deadline.


Employability & Careers​

Graduates from the programme are well placed to work as independent photographers, join media and design companies or advertising agencies, or to be employed in the wider creative art and design industries.

​​During the course you'll forge connections, secure coveted placements and work alongside industry professionals through enlightening talks and mentoring sessions. We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Ffotogallery, the revered National Photography Agency for Wales, which opens the doors to paid internships and the chance to showcase your talents during their biennial Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography.​

Some graduates become teachers by taking a PGCE. Some graduates elect to take their studies further by studying at CSAD for a master's level qualification and there are opportunities to take this further still, into research with a PhD or a Professional Doctorate in Art or Design.

Entry Requirements​ & How to Apply

Typical Offers

  • Tariff points: 96-120
  • Contextual offer: See our contextual offers page.
  • GCSE: Preferably five GCSEs at Grade C / 4 or above to include English Language / Welsh First Language, Mathematics / Mathematics – Numeracy.
  • English Language Requirement: Academic IELTS 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in all elements, or equivalent.
  • A level: Minimum three A levels. No specific subjects required. Welsh Baccalaureate – Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate considered as a third subject.
  • BTEC National / Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma: MMM-DDM
  • T Level: No specific subjects required.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma: No specific subjects required.
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma: 24 points. No specific subjects required.
  • Irish Leaving Certificate: No specific subjects required. Higher level subjects only considered with a minimum grade H4.
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: No specific subjects required.
  • Other requirements: Successful interview and portfolio review. Applicants will be required to submit a digital portfolio.

Combinations of the above qualifications are accepted if they meet our minimum requirements. If your qualifications aren’t listed, please contact Admissions or refer to the UCAS Course Search.

Further information on Overseas qualifications can be found here.

If you are a mature applicant, have relevant experience or RPL that you would like us to consider, please contact Admissions.

How to Apply

Further information on how to apply can be found here.

Tuition Fees, Student Finance & Additional Costs

For up to date information on tuition fees and the financial support that may be available whilst at university, please refer to

Undergraduate costs of study in CSAD 


CSAD provides a variety of basic materials. These enable students to develop their competence in a range of skills and demonstrate their technical ability. Materials needed in unusual quantities, or those that are specialised, expensive or unusual are at the student’s expense. Advice will be given about how ‘unusual’ is defined, which materials are deemed to be ‘expensive’, and examples given of what is viewed to be ‘unusual’. CSAD students often elect to spend on materials they prefer to work with, including sketchbooks and pens, as well as specialist equipment of their own choosing. 

In the main, no charges are made for the use of equipment, with the exception of some specialist high end equipment such as the Mimaki and 3D printers. Access to Cardiff FabLab is subject to student membership; it offers reduced fees for student use. 

For further information about additional course costs, including fees, equipment requirements and other charges for each undergraduate programme, please visit

Field trips and visits 

Field trips that are part of core learning will be paid for by the School. Additional visits are occasionally arranged which are optional and where the students may be asked to share the costs. The costs of study abroad, including exchanges, placements and projects are the responsibility of the individual student.

Contact Us

For general enquiries please contact the Admissions Team on 029 2041 6044 or email

For course specific enquiries, please contact BA (Hons) Photography Admissions Tutor, Dr Duncan Cook:


We endeavour to deliver courses as described and will not normally make changes to courses, such as course title, content, delivery, and teaching provision. However, it may be necessary for the university to make changes in the course provision before or after enrolment. It reserves the right to make variations to content or delivery methods, including discontinuation or merging courses if such action is considered necessary. Please read our Terms and Conditions for the full information.

Key Course Information

UCAS Code:
W640 - 3 year degree

Place of Study: 
Cardiff School of Art and Design, Llandaff Campus

Cardiff School of Art & Design

Course Length:
Three years full-time. Four years full-time if undertaking year-long sandwich placement.

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