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MA Photojournalism & Documentary Photography

University of the Arts London

Masters Degree , Journalism

Course Description

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is a vibrant Masters course with an international reputation, which brings together research and practice for photojournalists and documentary photographers who want to take their practice to the next level.

Photojournalists have explored and recorded the human experience since the inception of the medium, recording significant moments in history, documenting unfolding news and creating enduring images that can change people’s understanding of the world.

The documentary approach is a slower, more reflective form of practice, which adds deep research to synthesise the complex global conditions you wish to address.

Whether you want to situate your work in a newspaper, art gallery, book or a public space, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography offers you the opportunity to develop your existing skills and expand your creative practice in order to do so.

With an emphasis on contemporary political and social issues, the course will engage you with the ethics of photographic practice as well as the aesthetics.

What can you expect?

The course aims to equip students with a thorough grounding in the discipline, through lectures, seminars, workshops, and crits. 

In the first term, you will follow a rigorous programme of photographic assignments, leading to initiating and developing your own projects and areas of special interest as the course progresses. 

All this takes place within the framework of the history and development of the medium, together with critical, ethical and theoretical contexts. You will be writing as well as photographing for every submission, and learning how to speak about your work in a professional context.

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is a vibrant Masters course with an international reputation, which brings together research and practice for photojournalists and documentary photographers who want to take their practice to the next level. Photojournalists have explored and recorded the human experience since the inception of the medium, recording significant moments...

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Course Content

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is Full Time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves five units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term 1

Photojournalism and Documentary Practice (40 credits)
History of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (20 credits)

In Photojournalism and Documentary Practice, you will examine the theoretical, methodological and practical frameworks necessary for the research and production of successful photo essays.

This unit explores the technical, aesthetic and journalistic aspects of the photo essay, including the generation of ideas, research, shooting, picture editing and caption writing. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing a news sense of what 'makes a story’ and on the application of multimedia techniques in narrative storytelling.

The unit History of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography traces and analyses the development and historical context of photojournalism and documentary photography, identifying the major practitioners and movements, with an emphasis on their methodologies.

Spring, Term 2

Collaborative Unit (20 credits)
Documentary Practice with Research Methods (40 credits)

The Collaborative Unit offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with external organisations and practitioners. Working to real-time briefs, this unit equips you with new methods of working, which will be invaluable post-graduation.

Documentary Practice with Research Methods further develops your knowledge of the methodology of documentary and photojournalistic production, culminating in the production of larger scale photo essays, series or installations. This is underpinned by an emphasis on research principles, strategies and methods.

Summer, Term 3

Documentary Practice with Research Methods (continued)
Major Project (60 credits)

In this term, as well as completing the Documentary Practice unit, you will start to plan your major project, assisted by a variety of workshops by experienced practitioners in hostile environments, bookmaking and design, multimedia practice. You will create a rigorous, research-based critical framework for your project.

Autumn, Term 4

Major Project (continued)

This final phase of the course aims to consolidate your learning experience during the previous units through the completion of a Major Project. This will involve both the production of a major body of documentary/photojournalistic work and a related 5000-word critical report.

The majority of students produce the work for the Major Project during the summer period, meaning you work independently during this time, so you must be self-reliant and well prepared in advance for this part of the project.

The final form of the work is flexible. Previous students have presented their work in the form of a book dummy or an exhibition, immersive website, a portfolio of images as prints, multimedia presentation or as a film. Your related report must reflect academic rigour and a critical approach.

The hallmark of our graduates is their ability to combine the personal with the political, in order that their stories touch their intended audience. You will work to refine a sensitive, ethically-minded, inclusive, passionate and intellectually rigorous body of work that demands to be seen.

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is Full Time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study. Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves five units, totalling 180 credits. Autumn, Term...

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Entry Requirements

The course team welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, from all over the world. MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography attracts students who apply direct from an Honours degree course, or a professional or academic qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree, or those with other, equivalent qualifications.

Graduates of all disciplines may apply, although most students have a background in Arts and Humanities. You must be socially aware, inquisitive, self-motivated and passionate about a career in photojournalism or documentary photography. Relevant professional experience or work experience in the industry is increasingly important.

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree (named above);
  • Possession of equivalent qualifications;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning)

Applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered in exceptional cases. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • OR a combination of these factors

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

Language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required, with a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

The course team welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, from all over the world. MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography attracts students who apply direct from an Honours degree course, or a professional or academic qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree, or those with other, equivalent qualifications. Graduates of all disciplines may...

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Assessment Methods

  • Portfolio
  • Essay
  • Critical reports
  • Research papers
  • Documentary and photojournalistic projects

  • Portfolio
  • Essay
  • Critical reports
  • Research papers
  • Documentary and photojournalistic projects

Additional Information

Course dates

Autumn, Term 1

28 September 2020 - 4 December 2020

Spring, Term 2

4 January 2021 - 12 March 2021

Summer, Term 3

12 April 2021 - 23 July 2021

Autumn, Term 4

4 October 2021 - 10 December 2021

Course dates

Autumn, Term 1

28 September 2020 - 4 December 2020

Spring, Term 2

4 January 2021 - 12 March 2021

Summer, Term 3

12 April 2021 - 23 July 2021

Autumn, Term 4

4 October 2021 - 10 December 2021