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BA (Hons) Photography — Overview

Our distinctive BA (Hons) Photography programme focuses on a blend of creative and critical practice. It examines and encourages the many types of photographic image-making that emerge from photography as contemporary art.

As a student, you will develop technical, creative and analytical skills throughout the three years of the programme, to become an accomplished, innovative and critically informed image-maker.

Photography is a part of all of our daily lives, and the visual world as it is photographed is a crucial way for us to communicate our thoughts and our feelings – and to reflect on the world that we live in.

Sam Lyne's 'My Dearest Beatrice' series won him a LensCulture Emerging Talent award in 2016

Today, we take more photographs than ever before, and it could be argued that photographic image-making is the most relevant and important creative discipline in the 21st century.

Taking an enquiring and experimental approach, while developing your technical and communication skills, will open up a range of creative and professional possibilities for you as a photographic practitioner. 

You’ll use a variety of media, covering digital and film-based photography, stills and moving image in order to proficiently express your photographic vision. You will also learn to critically reflect on your own practice and creativity.

Richard Raybould 'Revelation of Letting the Mind Wonder'

You will be encouraged to develop your own ideas in relation to your practice and in doing so will try out a range of photographic methods, working with people and places, in urban locations, natural environments and in the studio. 

You’ll consider the photograph as document and object as well as in its virtual contexts, exploring self-expression and experimental processes. We will support you in discovering different ways of working and in finding a photographic language that works for you.

'Antithetical' by Remy Harman, 2018

In addition, you will examine photography as a contemporary art form, and in relation to other practices. You will also consider photography in relation to culture, society and the wider world. 

On top of developing your individual identity as a photographer, you will be encouraged to work collectively and develop networks that will support your creative and professional future.

Students access high quality resources – including a darkroom, photographic cove, studios, a digital darkroom, the Print Lab, and the range of industry-standard kit in the ERC, all free to hire.

Ultimately, our photography programme will help you build your creativity, confidence, knowledge and expertise. Within the creative environment of our photographic centre at Plymouth College of Art, you will learn from staff who are practising artists and have a range of internationally recognised experience across art, documentary, curatorial and participatory-based forms of practice. 

As a teaching team, they will help you build your own distinctive and innovative creative practice. They will support you in developing your networks and help you to find your place within the world of contemporary photography. Over the three years of studying with us, you will be publishing, exhibiting and presenting your work and your ideas.

Oliver Sutherland exhibiting in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art

What will I achieve?

Our graduates have all the skills and knowledge that they need to work in the creative industries and build their artistic reputation. Our professional practice modules, which begin in the first year, help you to understand how to develop a career in creative photographic practice. 

You will need to gain entrepreneurial skills, and will explore how to promote and support your work through exhibitions, publications and online formats. 

Rachael Jackson 'My World My Escape'

You will also learn how to develop supportive professional networks through genuine creative collaborations and how to fund your emerging practice through a variety of means such as sales, grants and competitions.

 

Recent visiting artists and lecturers have included: Peter Kennard, Sian Davey, Louis Porter, Mathew Broadhead, Aaron Schuman, Eileen Perrier, Richard Billingham, Nicholas White, Daniel Meadows, Tom Hunter and Sophy Rickett.


Each year there are national and international study trips and visits as well as online exchanges, arranged to enrich and support the student experience and introduce you to the global photographic community. During 2017 these activities have included trips to Paris Photo and Tate Modern in London and a virtual photo-exchange and online symposia with students in Varanasi, India.

Students exhibit their work both within the college, nationally and internationally exposing your work to a range of professionals and audiences within the wider creative economy. Our graduating students show their work annually at the prestigious Free Range Shows in London and have been consistently recognised for their innovative and groundbreaking work with numerous awards, prizes, exhibition opportunities and magazine features. 

Trans-continental, photographic collaboration at our BA Photography International Exchange Symposium with Banaras Hindu University.


BA (Hons) Photography — Highlights:

  • Develop creative, production and critical skills across a range of different lens and photographic-based media and consider the production, distribution and meaning of images, as well as examining the relationship between practice and theory.
  • Benefit from some of the best facilities and equipment resources in the country, providing access to a range of industry-standard photographic studios, traditional darkrooms, lighting and camera equipment.
  • Learn in the unique environment and study experience of a specialist art college, characterised by creativity, experimentation and imagination. You’ll be exposed to a broad range of influences and experiences, and benefit from opportunities to share ideas and work across disciplines.
  • Engage with opportunities to meet and interact with industry professionals, including photographic artists, picture editors, curators and writers, through our close links with the world of photography. Our curriculum includes a rich schedule of visits from lecturers and artists, many of whom also take an active role in the student experience, contributing to workshops, group critiques and seminar discussions, and providing portfolio review sessions.
  • Gain a wide range of skills and knowledge, enabling you to shape your future and make a positive impact in the creative industries. In addition to being technically proficient, visually sophisticated and professionally astute, our students graduate with a broad range of transferable skills that enable them to excel in the world of work.

Have a question for our team? Email: PHOTOGRAPHY@pca.ac.uk or check out our Instagram or Facebook page

If you want to develop your practice further, we also offer an MA Photography programme. 

BA (Hons) Photography — Modules

Year 1

Introduction to Contemporary Photographic Practice 1
With an exciting thematic brief, you will develop work that begins to expand your creative and technical potential and start to articulate your developing awareness of the photographic medium. This module introduces you to debates that have informed both historical and contemporary thinking about photographic practice and visual culture. You will explore a range of cameras; equipment and lighting set ups, and begin to demonstrate an understanding of technical control and skill.

Introduction to Contemporary Photographic Practice 2
This module introduces more complex ideas about image making in relation to culture, society, representation and the self, opening up a number of ways in which you can respond and shape your own photography. We consider photography’s specificity as a medium but also in relation to other art practices.  We also consider critical and creative approaches to photography and introduce a wider and more advanced range of photographic skills. 

Exploring Photographic Practices
This module introduces the idea of photography as an experimental and creative art form, incorporating both analogue and digital photographic technologies. You will explore experimental photographic processes both historical and contemporary and consider the image as object and ephemera. We introduce new, imaginative and surprising ways of thinking about, looking at and making photography as an art practice.

Professional Practice & PDP1
This module is designed to help you explore professional opportunities in the creative and photographic industries, both locally and globally. Alongside an ongoing programme of research and investigation, you will work together with other students to organise your own external exhibition. You will begin to engage with artists and institutions to understand the complexities of working as an independent creative practitioner and consider the possibilities surrounding collaborative and engaged research practice.

Contexts of Practice
Contexts of Practice 1 introduces key theories of photographic and other media practices through seminars, lectures and a range of activities exploring research and communication/articulation of ideas.  It will provide a range of critical approaches supporting the investigation, interpretation and analysis of contemporary photography and you will engage with a wide variety of contemporary practitioners.

The lecture series will explore a range of discourses that affect the way we perceive and value these practices, including, key social and cultural theories concerned with issues of representation, ideology and narrative. The module encourages you to explore the impact of production, consumption, distribution and dissemination of photography in its contemporary context. 

Interdisciplinary Studies
This module provides an opportunity to expand and develop skills and knowledge in fields beyond the immediate programme environment, in subject areas which are nonetheless relevant to your personal career aspirations, and which have the potential to develop new horizons and feedback into future modules. You will engage in an elective offered by a discipline outside of their own. Electives may include creative writing, filmmaking, web design, interactive media, drawing, costume accessories, live art, printmaking, curatorial practice, contemporary crafts, textiles, & fashion marketing and promotion.

Year 2

Photographic Narrative 1
This module introduces more advanced conceptual and technical skills in a process clearly allied to highly creative and imaginative thinking and practice. We will explore ideas around narrative, in considering how to communicate stories with precision, imagination and thematic complexity. Here you hone and improve your skills to a more advanced level individually and collaboratively, both inside the studio and beyond while beginning to develop your ideas through more independent and confident ways of working.

Photographic Narrative 2
In this module, we encourage you to find your own narrative as we consider the varied possibilities of photography and its broader cultural and social meanings. Why do you want to make work? What is your work about? How do you want to make it?  Here we encourage creative experimentation as it relates to personal concerns and interests.

This module also considers photography’s potential as an expanded medium and in terms of its own materiality at a more sophisticated level, considering, for example, appropriation and collage alongside time-based, sculptural and installation forms. It reconsiders the variety of approaches within photography as a contemporary art form and will help you make conceptually and contextually informed decisions in shaping either an appropriately eclectic or selective approach to their own practice.  

Professional Practice & PDP 2
In this module you will engage with both national and international professional contexts of art and cultural production around photography, working both collaboratively and individually. As a group, you will organise a series of events such as an international symposium and photographic book fair, exploring more advanced ideas and skills around project management and self-development. You will start to engage with the broader cultural industries as a viable economic sector and begin to discover the varied ways you can promote your work and create professional networks. 

Contexts of Practice
Students will attend core lectures and participate in a themed seminar series designed to deepen their understanding of contemporary photographic practice in its wider contexts. This themed approach encourages you to make considered and appropriate links between your area of practice and wider contextual and interdisciplinary discourses. You will continue to develop critical approaches to research and show an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Core lectures will cover essential research skills and extend students’ ability to research photography in its global contexts. Alongside the taught elements you will engage in independent, self-directed research into contemporary photography.

Year 3

Research and Development
In this module, you are encouraged to discover your own narrative as a photographic artist and immerse yourself in the ‘flow’ of your own ideas and passions. Here, you have the time to explore, practice and prepare. Here, you create your own project brief that you will take forward to your final exhibitions.

Through research, experimentation and practice, you will define and develop the overarching direction, conceptual underpinnings and technical considerations, which support a sustained independent project. You will practice and refine the skill sets needed to confidently develop a distinctive and innovative creative project and to construct appropriate support networks and opportunities to develop your practice both within and outside of the college. Through this process of research, thinking and making, you will start to discover your own unique practice as an emerging photographic artist.

Creative and Professional Development
In this module students, will synthesise their creative and conceptual development towards successful professional outcomes within the cultural industries and consider sustainable ways to develop as creative photographic practitioners.  Through various fundraising and exhibition projects, you will develop a more sophisticated understanding of appropriate professional practice within the creative sector and ways in which your own cultural initiatives may generate collaborative or individual opportunities. Through the development of online, exhibition and published outcomes, you will consider and explore various ways to disseminate your work. You will learn about a range of external funding, and networking models and opportunities that could potentially support you in making, producing and promoting your work. The module will enable you to position yourself at a professional level for progression to employment, self-employment or post-graduate study.

Contexts of Practice 3
This module supports the development of research skills and intellectual capabilities and is designed to demonstrate the students’ knowledge and depth of understanding of their subject. You will be supported and mentored in the research and writing of your final dissertation, a process which will help you develop sophisticated ideas around theory and practice in relation to your practice as you begin to undertake your creative practice conclusion.

Creative and Professional Conclusion
This module builds upon your previous achievements, to culminate in a final body of work for exhibition and as a platform for further advanced study or entry into the world of professional arts practice. As such this corpus of work will demonstrate the depth of understanding, creative innovation, aesthetic, conceptual and technical skills that will launch you as an exciting and emerging contemporary artist and independent creative practitioner. Your work will be exhibited both at degree shows within the college and at Freerange in London and supported and promoted by the college through online and publication formats.

As you successfully attain your Honours degree in Photography and exhibit with us, know that you join our very talented group of multi-award winning alumni here at Plymouth College of Art.

 

Module details listed above are indicative content only.

BA (Hons) Photography — Staff

Dr Mohini Chandra
Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader, MA Subject Tutor

Mohini Chandra’s work on the international flows of people and culture in our globalised world has exhibited in venues such as the Asia Society and Museum (New York), the Queens Museum (New York), the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne) as well as the First Johannesburg Biennale, Photo Kathmandu (Nepal) and in ‘Now! Now!’ at Chelsea College of Art (presented by Iniva and BAM).

Mohini has received awards from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Autograph ABP, the Arts Council England, the British Council, the Australia Council for the Artsand Asialink. Recent projects made in the Pacific region and in India have been exhibited at the Third Oceanic Performance Biennial (Auckland) and in the Biennial Focus Festival of Photography (Mumbai). She has recently been awarded an Australia Council funded Cite Residency in Paris to research the Asia-Pacific collections of the Musée du quai Branly and will exhibit at the next international Houston Foto Fest Biennale in 2018.

For Mohini, the combination of photography, found and archival material, moving image, sound and other installation media enables the visual expression of personal experience and a ‘mapping’ of alternate narratives within the complex conditions of globalisation. Her research encompasses both thinking and making around photography through a range of curatorial, writing and publishing projects. Her recent article Plane Views was published by Taylor and Francis in the Journal of Photography & Culture, while artist publications include the photobook ‘album pacifica’, published by Autograph (ABP).

Her work is held in international collections including the Arts Council Collection UK and included in major survey publications such as Phaidon’s Art and Photography by David Campany. With a PhD from the Royal College of Art, and with extensive undergraduate and postgraduate teaching experience both in the UK and abroad, Mohini has a depth of experience in successfully integrating research and professional experience into the academic and studio-based learning environment.

Jon Blyth
Lecturer

Jon Blyth is Creative Director at Fotonow CIC where the work is focused towards community photographic practice and the development of increasing photographic opportunities and experiences for a broad audience throughout the South West. Fotonow is based in Plymouth and has recently completed a number of innovative projects that include Cameras in the Community, City Through A Lens, Embark and The West End Project.

Recent attendance with Camper Obscura at Fringe Arts Bath, Royal Photographic Society Conference in Plymouth, Format International Photography Festival Derby, Photomonth East London and the Hereford Photography Festival also enables the cultural research to continue in contemporary British photographic circles. Jon also enjoys making images that he understands as intended narratives for himself. They are personal interpretations of his experience that mostly explores experiential and philosophical relationships between water and memory. 

Martina Rooney
Lecturer

Martina Rooney was raised in Ireland but has lived in the South West of the UK for thirty years. She has an MA in Photography and The Book attained from the University of Plymouth, and she is primarily interested in the role of the photographic book in contemporary visual culture.

She also achieved a first class (Hons) Degree in Photomedia and Design Communication from Plymouth College of Art. Martina has been teaching Photography and Contextual studies at Plymouth College of Art since 2004 whilst also maintaining her own freelance photographic business. Her photographic work is heavily influenced by her cultural background and attempts to examine concepts of culture and identity in a variety of ways.

Louise Fago-Ruskin
Lecturer

Louise Fago-Ruskin is a writer, photographic artist and lecturer living and working in the South West. She holds an MA in Photography from the University of Brighton, a BA from Plymouth University and a PGCE. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in group shows such as The Hyeres Festival of Fashion and Photography (Hyeres, France), Arles Photography Open Salon (Installation, Arles), and Parallax (La Galleria, London). She is currently represented by La Galerie Sakura in Paris.

Louise's works have also been nominated for a variety of awards including 'Foam What's Next: A Search into the Future of Photography'. Her work examines notions of the unconscious, utilising the camera as a contemporary confessional space. She aims to tackle such themes as ideological manipulation, familial notions of separation and reformation, and performance as reparative action.

Louise has written various introductions for both bookworks and exhibition catalogues and is currently writing her novella to accompany her latest photographic work entitled ‘Holmland’.

The staff listed on this programme are correct at the time of writing. Students will be notified if there are any changes to key staff (i.e. Programme Leaders and Lecturers).

BA (Hons) Photography — Student Work

Girl in Baptism Gown, Amy Dougan, 2018

Hoa Nguyen Thi, 2018

Josh Huxham

James Wray

Remy Harman

Maciej Kryminski, from series 'Seven Trees' 2017

Richard Raybould 'Revelation of Letting the Mind Wonder'

Rachael Jackson 'My World My Escape'

Josh Huxham

Jonathan Stanley

Humpty Dumpty in my Attic, Izzi Lundström, 2016

Nathan Kavanagh

Edyta Linnane, Sarajevo

Nicholas White

Lucy Pike

BA (Hons) Photography — Students Say

Maciej Krzyminski with fellow photography graduate Kinga Burakowska at Free Range Shows.

Maciej Krzyminski – BA (Hons) Photography

"Being immersed in this arts institution has been very beneficial. The focus on a diverse range of arts programmes means that the people you meet around the college understand visual language, so having a chat with a fellow student or technician can instigate a great exchange of knowledge.

"There is a comfortable atmosphere right from taking the first step into the building. Plymouth College of Art is a fantastic place for making and learning, it has shaped my vision as an artist and has allowed me to progress and continue producing more work."

 

Josh Huxham

Josh Huxham – BA (Hons) Photography

"From a young age, art has given me a sense of empowerment within my life. Growing up in school I always felt most connected within my creative studies. Art gave me a space to think, control and create whatever I wanted, when I wanted. This sense of control allowed me to use visual language as my own voice, when I felt I could not communicate verbally.

"The last four years have been key periods of my life and the medium of photography has allowed me to continue voicing my thoughts, emotions and research through visual media. 

"The final major project at the college was one that I used as a device to communicate with those closest within my family space. Exploring the processes of re-purposing family photographs from my own family heritage, I took influences from the work of John Stezaker and Amy Friend. Photography has become a way for me to share myself and my thoughts with the viewer, aiming not only to connect with those closest but also a wider audience who share the same connections with their family space. 

"Plymouth College of Art possesses something that is very important to me, and that is their constant support to their students. The college has provided me with a space to work in where I feel safe and inspired. I have always been encouraged to push my limits of exploration and work development. Studying has allowed me to mature not only within my work, but within my language and understanding of contemporary art."

 

Anna Whittall – BA (Hons) Photography

“My Dad bought a compact digital camera and that started my interest in photography. Over the past four years I’ve tried out all the different genres and on the BA I started researching people like Troy Paiva who photographed derelict buildings in coloured light. My project is called ‘Derelict Perspective’. I’d started to photograph derelict spaces around Plymouth but found it difficult to access these sometimes dangerous buildings, especially at night. So I decided to build sets and models and to leave them out to weather, even set fire to them! Martyn (Ellison) is always very helpful – I couldn’t do it without him. All the tutors are brilliant.

"The models have almost become more important than the photographs, and I’ve been thinking about going on to work towards sets for animation and the MA in Entrepreneurship.

"I went to school in Liskeard and did Extended Diploma in Photography here before starting the BA. My brother came here years ago and I always wanted to come here. I looked at other Uni’s but they didn’t have these facilities.”

 

Tim Pearse – BA (Hons) Photography 

“My project has been about getting in touch with skills in a world where nothing’s built to last. I’ve spent five months constructing a camera, (including making the glass plates in the glass department here), to be able to work with the wet collodion process, which in photography was the beginning of everything. I wanted to find out if the original skills are still viable and relevant – and to make portraits.

"The project is rooted in photographic history but the future for Tim lies in taking the camera on the road, taking portraits around England. ‘I’ve already taken it on to Plymouth to photograph market traders and set up a studio in a shop where people could have their portrait taken.

"I use ambient light and will have to have a darkroom with me. It makes you slow down and be more considered. I have to take the photos in complete darkness as there’s no shutter, just the open plate, and I use flash. The depth of field is very shallow, a matter of millimeters. I make up the collodion chemicals from scratch.”

BA (Hons) Photography — Careers & Alumni

Connecting you with industry

Throughout your studies, your practical production work will be underpinned and informed by a rich programme of contextual and theoretical study. Alongside this, professional practice modules will provide you with the grounding in business, legal and ethical considerations that you’ll need to pursue your own career in the creative industries.

Recent visiting artists and lecturers have included Tom Hunter, Richard Billingham, Peter Kennard, Sophy Rickett, Sian Davey, Louis Porter, Matthew Broadhead, Aaron Schuman and Eileen Perrier, while the college’s onsite gallery has hosted exhibitions from Martin Parr, Suki Dhanda and Corinne Day.

Our strong international connections also allow our students to take a semester of study with one of our partner institutions within Europe and North America, and in turn, we welcome overseas students from those institutions to join us in our studios, creating an exciting cultural exchange.

Graduates become:

  • Photographers
  • Artists
  • Curators
  • Art or Creative Directors
  • Creative Producers
  • Filmmakers
  • Writers
  • Academics, Lecturers and Teachers
  • Online Producers

Careers & Enterprise in the Curriculum’ at Plymouth College of Art 

Professional practice is embedded within all of our programmes.  Throughout your studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the key professional, transferable skills for employability in the creative industries and potentially work in partnership with other sectors locally, regionally, nationally or internationally.

From writing and making the most of your CV to gaining industry experience, the acquisition of professional skills has been written into the programmes of study by our staff teams, who have ‘real world’ experience. They are also supported by our Industry Liaison Groups, who help inform the development of the higher education curriculum.

BA (Hons) Photography — Entry Requirements

Minimum 5 GCSEs, grade C or above, from a general range of educational GCSE subjects, preferably including at least one from Art, Design, Textiles or Media.
200 UCAS Points

BTEC National Diploma - MMP grade
VDA: AGNVQ, AVCE, AVS
Access to HE Art and Design
Irish/Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
International Baccalaureate
Other International Qualifications

Applications welcome from candidates without formal qualifications who can provide evidence of their creativity.

BA (Hons) Photography — Resources

Supported by our expert technical staff, our equipment and resources are among the best in the country. You will have access to a wide range of camera and lighting equipment, industry-standard photographic studios, both digital and traditional darkrooms and high-specification digital imaging and printing facilities.

You’ll be encouraged to use all of the resources available to you – including the 6,000 pieces of kit that are free to hire from our Equipment Resource Centre. The resources at the college and the experience of our teaching team will help you explore your creative potential as an image-maker in the 21st century.

Through regular seasons of talks by artists, academics, curators, picture editors, photobook publishers and web-based professionals, we explore the collective and individual opportunities available to you within the world of contemporary image-making.

Throughout all of our year groups, there are national and international study trips and visits arranged to enrich and support the student experience, such as to Paris Photo and exhibitions in London.

Our Careers & Enterprise office provides support from a dedicated team who are focused on employability and developing creative opportunities for students. And this doesn’t stop once you graduate – we want to keep in contact with you through our growing alumni network.

 

Facilities at the college include:


Animation, Film and Photography Studios

Our students make full use of our industry-standard dedicated studio spaces – including our infinity cove, green screen, and specialist sound studio (with Foley pit and vocal recording booth) – plus our stop-motion suite, our darkrooms, and plenty of individual edit suites, all up-to-date with the latest industry-standard software.

Fab Lab

Our ‘fabrication laboratory’ is kitted-out with the latest in digital design technologies – from 3D printers to 3D scanners, a vinyl cutter, CNC milling machine, CNC router and laser cutter. It adds a whole new level of opportunity for students across all creative walks of life.

Our Fab Lab.

The Print Lab

The Print Lab offers affordable and quick print services for all our students who are looking for anything from large-format or solvent printing, to photo printing, scanning or vinyl cutting, and a wide range of finishing services.

Equipment Resource Centre

Our highly experienced Equipment Resource staff can advise you on which of our 6,000 pieces of industry-standard kit – from underwater cameras to traditional large format cameras and all free to hire – will best meet your needs.

Fashion Studios

This large professional studio offers a real-life fashion experience in a fabulous space with sea views. Specialist industrial and domestic sewing machines, a range of knitting machines and a wide stock of fabrics and knitting yarns sit alongside a media and marketing Mac suite, a fully operational CAD cutting facility, and a library of designer garments to inspire.

Photographic Dark Rooms.

Digital Darkroom.

BA (Hons) Photography — Interview

UCAS Code: W645 Full Time
Part Time

UNISTATS

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