MA Photography

MA Photography is an international fine art photography course that explores the possibilities of both visual and conceptual expression, merging research deeply with practice. The course is rooted in the idea that photography has no self-limiting identity or essence. In creating work that is visually exciting and intellectually compelling you’ll develop as an artist with photography at the core of your practice, defining, or redefining photography as the art form of 21st Century. The course is led by Daniel Rubinstein, recipient of a 2015 UAL Teaching Award. 2014 award nominations: Sina Michalskaja, Nova Award winner and finalist for the Celeste Prize; Daniel Silva shortlisted for Saatchi 2014 Sensations Prize.

This course is part of the Art Programme.

Scholarships, Awards and Funding available:

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships:
Home/EU | International
Jane Rapley Scholarships

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

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Reasons to Apply

  • The opportunity to explore photography as an interlacing of fine art, technology, aesthetics and new media
  • Extensive visiting lecturer programme by leading artists, philosophers and curators
  • State of the art scanning, large format digital colour and chemical B/W printing
  • Open environment encouraging collaborations across other post-graduate programmes (MA Fine Art, MA Art and Science)
  • Emphasis on research as practice and on practice as research
  • Links with Arts and Humanities Research Council photography network and the journal Philosophy of Photography.
  • MA Photography enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time. 


Course Leader

Dr Daniel Rubinstein

Course Location

King’s Cross and Archway, London

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course LengthPG Cert: full time 15 weeks Masters: full time 2 years (60 weeks)
Home/EU Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £4,500 per year. Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £11,510 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Start DateSeptember 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 25 September 2017 – Friday 8 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January 2018 – Friday 16 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 16 April 2018 – Friday 22 June 2018
Application Route

Direct application

Content and structure

MA Photography is a course for those who want to explore photography as fine art and to benefit from studying in an environment driven by curiosity, experimentation and play underpinned by practices and methodologies of fine art research. Our understanding of photography is not bound to either photojournalism or media studies, instead we believe that the recent transformation of photography's technical and cultural form is deeply significant not only for those who want to understand the present and to anticipate the future but also for those who want to explore photography's pre-digital past.

Students are encouraged to find out for themselves what photography means as an art practice. Taking on board such broad and diverse notions as digital aesthetics, practice as research, screen cultures, the document, still and moving image, philosophy, performance, sound, writing and electronic arts this course offers the ideal environment within which to explore photography as visual art in the 21st century.

About the course

  • MA Photography lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each (i.e. two academic years) in its 'extended full-time mode.'
  • MA Photography is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises 3 units. Unit 1 (40 credits) and Unit 2 (20 credits) run concurrently and last 15 weeks. Unit 3 (120 credits) follows after the completion of Units 1 and 2 and runs for 45 weeks.
  • Students successfully achieving Units 1 and 2 may exit at this point with the award of Postgraduate Certificate.
  • In year one we expect you to commit an average of 40 hours per week. In year two your study is predominantly self-managed but we expect you to commit an average of 20 hours per week. Across the two years, therefore, you're expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week.

Course rationale

Photography as a cultural activity is expanding exponentially in terms of popularity and application. Historically we are at an important juncture. The medium sits on a complex axis of differing activities, including fine art, documentary practice, the archive and the visual communication industries. These contexts all offer exciting arenas within which to explore the medium. At the same time, new ways of using photography have become as wide ranging as photography itself. Digital media and the internet are rapidly creating new avenues for exploring photographic practice.

There has never been a more exciting time to consider how to make photography, how photography functions and in what social and cultural contexts it should operate. MA Photography recognises the need to review these areas, placing your experience within the critically challenging environment of our Postgraduate Art Programme.

In delivering a broadly based experiential and contextual education, MA Photography offers graduates vocational options beyond practice as a photographer. Graduates prepare for work in the gallery system, fine art, publishing, and the media, and some students may progress academically to PhD study) or teaching. MA Photography builds industry awareness and cultural knowledge, enabling you to initiate projects and to practise with confidence in art markets and in business.

Course outline

This MA course asserts photography's identity in close, critical and dynamic relation to the disciplinary and professional arenas of contemporary fine art and visual communication. It views photographic practice as both independent from, and interrelated, with other media.

MA Photography encourages you to become a critically reflective practitioner with wide knowledge of contemporary practices and issues. It supports the development of relevant skills together with a consideration of the social, cultural and economic contexts of photographic production and dissemination.

MA Photography encourages you to realise creative intentions through research, analysis, critical debate, writing and the development of individual ways of seeing and making work. It promotes challenging and provocative outcomes across traditional and new technologies within photography, print media, moving image and communication or networking media, capitalising on the close links between these facilities that are a feature of college life at King's Cross.

From the outset, an essential programme of study develops your research skills and knowledge of research modes in art-related fields. Your learning extends across our Postgraduate Art Programme, offering invaluable opportunities for peer association and familiarisation with the college's research community. Research underpins the critical exploration of your work, its structuring, context and communication, and drives insight into contemporary cultural debates.

MA Photography supports the development of your thinking and practice through a 'project proposal', introduced, evaluated and developed during the first 15 weeks. The proposal helps you manage your work successfully and articulate concerns as they arise or develop. Your practice is supported through lectures and seminars exploring key theories and critical issues with a range of specialist staff and visiting speakers.

Your project proposal, considered alongside work in progress, leads to an agreed 'independent project' during Unit 3. The independent project reflects your specialist interests and learning objectives, addressing ideas, research methods and intended formats, as well as theoretical and projected professional contexts for your work.

Unit 1 - Practice and Context

This unit offers a choice of directed project briefs and a lecture/seminar programme designed to explore elements and genres of photography in an experimental way. Directed projects arise from themes including the archive, the photographic gaze, the staged image, representation and colonialism, spectacle, identity and gender, self-representation, the photographic image in digital culture, contexts and audience.

These directed projects, which aim to establish group discourse and challenging new starting points, are supported by critiques, seminars, workshops and tutorials.

A core element of lectures focusing on theoretical ideas, discourses and critical positions within contemporary art offers you important engagement across our Postgraduate Art Programme. In exploring the interface between practice and theory, lectures and seminars develop your ability to evaluate and progress your practice in relation to external bodies of knowledge while building articulacy in critical discussion and writing. Lectures and seminars draw on the research expertise and interests of staff across our art programmes as well as external guest speakers.

Project work interpretations inform your final major project proposal for Unit 3. The proposal incorporates an outline of research methods (supported by studies in the parallel Unit 1), and addresses issues of relevance, validity and feasibility. Written guidance on contents of the proposal document is provided.

Unit 1 is assessed through a selection of project work and your final major project proposal document. Feedback at this point confirms your Unit 3 project proposal or advises on revisions as appropriate.

Unit 2 - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies 1)

This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.

Unit 2 introduces the fundamental research skills that enable you to make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.

Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.

Unit 3 - Independent Project

This unit has two parts. You'll undertake the first in the second half of year one and the second (more independently) in year two.

The unit's 45 weeks represent a substantial opportunity to realise your independent project successfully. The project takes the form of an in-depth investigation according to an agreed programme of study leading to practical and written outcomes. Written elements are negotiated in direct relation to your project and may take a portfolio approach or forms such as a research paper or dissertation.

During the first part of the unit you develop the practical aspects of your work and identify and establish access to relevant resources. Although we provide a range of contacts, we also encourage you to develop links with organisations and institutions that will support and inform your particular research and project development. You'll have a supervisor or mentor (i.e. personal tutor) who'll guide the progress of your independent project. Progress is supported through ongoing tutorials, critiques with professionals in relevant specialist fields, and student-directed group discussions.

If not fully resolved at Unit 2 assessment point, your independent project proposal is reconsidered at the work review (weeks 28-30). This review involves presentations, debate and feedback on work to date. All project agreements include a commitment to forms of submission and to appropriate mentoring or supervision arrangements.

In the unit's second part (i.e. year 2) you're supported in independent engagement with the development and realisation of your project. Support takes the form of tutorials, technical advice, and bookable studio or workshop facilities.

A spring term exhibition or symposium bringing together staff and peers from across the Postgraduate Art Programme, as well as professional practitioners and critics, challenges you to debate key questions arising from your work. Student directed, this initiative offers useful experience of the skills required to organise a professional event and to present and discuss your work.

A professional practice lecture series across our art programmes offers insights into publishing practices, intellectual property, funding sources and other areas.

Unit 3 is assessed through your independent project work (forms of submission as agreed) and a report documenting and evaluating changes and progress. Your mark for Unit 3 determines the classification of your MA award.


Course Leader:Dr Daniel Rubinstein

Tutor: Suky Best
Research Paper Tutor: Dr Anke Hennig
Tutor:Dr Pat Naldi 


Our Postgraduate Art Programme offers valuable opportunities to build transferable professional knowledge and skills. The exchange of perspectives with others through shared units, reading groups and debates helps establish stimulating and productive networks.

The focus on proposing and developing a major independent programme of study is supported by a shared professional practice lecture series featuring guest speakers plus opportunities to attend symposia and critique work in progress across subject areas. The Postgraduate Art Programme has wide-ranging links with professional organisations, collections and galleries, and includes opportunities for interaction and networking according to your personal career direction.

MA Photography explores photography as a visual language feeding into a wide range of professional arenas and related disciplines. MA Photography graduates are equipped to work in the gallery world, fine art publishing, book publishing and advertising, in London and beyond. They may also progress academically to research (PhD study) and teaching. Equipped with industry and cultural knowledge, you'll leave us knowing your worth in the art and business worlds, at home in international gallery or commercial contexts and able to initiate substantial cultural projects.

Recent postgraduate photography alumni activities and achievements range widely. Clarisse d'Arcimoles, Emer Gillespie and Ozant Kamaci were selected for freshfacedandwildeyed 2010 at the Photographers Gallery, London. Kristina Kostadinova won the non-pro architecture category at the International Photography Awards 2010 and was a finalist in the Discovery of the Year at the Lucie Awards. Ozant Kamaci won the AOP Student Photographer Award 2009 and was shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Awards 2010. Justina Burnett became the digital assistant to Alessandra Sanguinetti at Magnumphotos workshop NYC, 2010. Katherine Green was commissioned by 'The Road to 2012' project to work with community groups within London's five Olympic boroughs. Chloe Jafe was appointed Advertising and Corporate Assistant at Magnumphotos. Hester Jones is part of the Westminster Arts 'Resonate' programme using photography to work with people with mental health problems.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Entry requirements

Selection to MA Photography is determined by the quality of your application (including a written indicative project proposal and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course.

Minimum entry requirements

We consider applicants who have already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by:

  • Having a relevant Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required

English language requirement

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the External English Tests page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

What we look for

We're seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring photography.

Student selection criteria

Your application, indicative project proposal and supporting material will be assessed for:

  • The quality of the applicant's practice
  • The appropriateness of the applicant's skills, experience and practice to the area of interest identified for development in the course
  • Effective communication of intentions, purposes and issues
  • The level of contextual awareness and expression of perspective
  • The potential for realisation of the stated objectives within the timeframe of the course and envisaged resources
  • Evidence that the applicant has the confidence and ability to benefit from and contribute to the learning environment at postgraduate level.

The interview (for applicants selected following submission of the application form, indicative project proposal and supporting work) is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates:

  • A thoughtful and responsible approach to practice
  • The capacity for independent research
  • Appropriate critical and reflective abilities
  • An awareness of the cultural and social context within which they practice
  • Appropriate communication skills
  • A preparedness to participate collaboratively in debate, practice and presentation

Portfolio and interview advice

References and interviews help determine whether your personal and professional aspirations are compatible with the aims and outcomes of the course. The interview also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate an objective, critical and reflective relationship to your work. If possible, it's a good idea to bring examples of current work (e.g. since application).

MA Photography welcomes discussion with potential applicants about the appropriateness of their initial proposals. We encourage applicants to use every opportunity to make contact with us before applying.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form.

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • Referee details (this course requires two, one of which should be an academic or professional reference).

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Indicative project proposal

To apply for this MA we require that you write an initial project proposal. This proposal should demonstrate your understanding of contemporary art practice and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course. Please write between 800 and 1,000 words.


You’ll need to submit a digital portfolio containing up to 20 images of your work and/or relevant documentary material. Please label your work carefully with your name, plus titles if appropriate. Your portfolio should evidence your current creative practice.

Please note, you can submit text and as many website links as you need to, but the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files.

Start your application now

Applications should be submitted from 1 January to 30 June. Places are limited, however, so we advise you to submit your application as early as possible to avoid disappointment. 

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

Deferred entry

Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

What happens next?

We read and consider all application forms and personal references. Please note we give particular attention to your project proposal and references.

Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your project proposal and documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview. For candidates applying for external funding, interviews will be scheduled prior to funding body deadlines.

Can't attend the interview

If you're a home/EU or international applicant unable to attend for interview, the MA Photography Course Leader would hope to discuss your application by telephone.

In the case of applicants unable to attend for interview and unable to discuss their application by telephone, a decision regarding the offer of a place on the course will be made on the basis of a review of the application materials. We keep notes about decisions made following the initial application review and the interview process.

Selection is by two members of staff (normally the Course Leader and one other), and offers of places are made on the basis of our selection criteria. Applicants are informed of the decision via either the School Office or the International Office.

Open days

Open days are a great opportunity to meet staff and students and to find out at first hand about courses, teaching and student life. Visit the open day section for dates to book your session. Bookings can only be made online, not by phone or email.

Visiting lecturers

Jon Rafman – Canadian artist and filmmaker known for exhibiting found images from Google Street View. 

Dave Lewis – Photographic artist and curator.

Jo Longurst – Photographic artist and writer. Winner of the Grange Prize 2012.

Alexa Wright – Photographic artist working with digital and mixed media.

Katrina Sluis – Curator of the Digital Wall at the Photographers’ Gallery, London.

Miko Elo – Philosopher of photography and the curator of the Finish Pavilion at Venice Biennale.

Katherine Nolan – Video and performance artist.

Anne Hardy – An artist who works with large scale photographic works and video instalations.

Industry collaborations

Working with paying clients on live briefs will give you valuable commercial experience which may mean your work being taken forward for production or, if so desired, in the purchase of your intellectual property. All paid projects are conducted within a carefully developed legal framework, which includes student agreements to protect your work and help you realise its commercial value. 

Recent client projects in the Art programme include: Red Mansion Foundation. Find out more about the Dr Martens client project.

Once you’ve graduated, you may be picked as part of a small team to work on a live creative brief, organised by our Business and Innovation department, under the supervision of an experienced tutor. This can be a valuable first step in working professionally in a chosen discipline and has resulted in graduates being hired by clients.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

Make an enquiry