MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Develop a wider vision. Designed with photojournalists and documentary photographers in mind, the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course can help you expand your practice and challenge the potential of the medium. Learn through a series of assignments as part of this internationally renowned programme and join the graduates who've gone on to win the World Press Photo Daily Life Singles category and the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.

A handmade book by Monica Alcazar-Duarte, graduate of MAPJD online, has been acquired for international collections.
Image © Monica Alcazar-Duarte
LCC staff and students take shows to Format Festival in Derby.
Work by Lewis Bush

Highlights from MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography Final Show 2014. 

BBC News in Pictures: MA Students Document Global Issues
The Price of Paper, Indonesia by Adhytia Putra
Essexland, Lucy Sparks
Lucy Sparks

FILM: Course graduation show 2013/14: 31 Degrees

The Forgotten Soldiers by Jason Jia, 2012

The Forgotten Soldiers by Jason Jia, 2012

Funding opportunities

Find out about the range of funding options available for postgraduate study.

Use UAL's 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.

Facts

Course Leader

Paul Lowe and Max Houghton

Course Location

London College of Communication
Elephant and Castle
Find Us

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
Home/EU Fee

£8,250 (2016/17 fees).

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL. 

International Fee

£17,230 (2016/17 fees)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Start DateSeptember 2016
Application Route

Direct to the College. See the How to Apply tab for details.

Application DeadlineApplications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Content and Structure

Content

A practical, cutting-edge Masters course with an international reputation, designed for aspiring photojournalists and documentary photographers.

Photojournalists and documentary photographers explore and record human experience. Beginning with Henri Cartier-Bresson (regarded as the father of modern photojournalism), they have recorded significant moments in history, documented unfolding news and created images that have gained iconic status. Central to their work is the telling of a story through images.

This internationally recognised course is aimed at people who want to pursue a career in photojournalism or documentary photography. The aim is to equip students with a thorough grounding in the discipline, whether through film or digitally-based photography.

You will follow a rigorous programme of photographic assignments, as well as initiating and developing your own projects and areas of special interest. 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 encouraged to develop a wider vision of the practice and potential of the medium through exploration of the uses of documentary and reportage photography in magazines, portfolios, exhibitions, books, television, digital and other media.

This course is taught within the School of Media.

Structure

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

Autumn, Term 1

Units Summary:

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

In the first week, there will be an induction programme in which you will:

  • become familiar with the course structure
  • meet the teaching staff and your fellow students
  • meet representatives from student and academic bodies including representatives of the Student Union, Student Services and Learning Resources
  • become familiar with the geography and structure of the College with tours of the library and resources

In Photojournalism Practice, you will examine the theoretical, methodological and practical frameworks necessary for the research and production of successful photo essays. The unit will explore 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 and paying particular attention to their methodologies. The production, distribution and reception of contemporary photojournalism will be contextualised within an historical framework that takes account of social, political, cultural and economic factors.

Spring, Term 2

Units Summary:

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

The unit Documentary Practice further develops your knowledge of the methodology of documentary and photojournalistic production, culminating in the production of larger scale photo essays. This is underpinned by an emphasis on research principles, strategies and methods and their application to a photojournalism/documentary context.

You will undertake a self-directed research project as part of a larger group research collaboration on a theme relevant to the concerns of the course.

Summer, Term 3

 Units Summary:

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

Autumn, Term 4

Units Summary:

  • Final Major Project (continued) 

This final phase of the MA 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 self-reflective, critical and evaluative report. Your major project will be accompanied by a detailed proposal that will explain the rationale behind the project and its intended audience, as well as a detailed budget and timescale. Full captions and supporting text will also be necessary. The final form of the work is flexible, although many students will present a portfolio of images as prints, some may use a multimedia presentation, and others may present the work in the form of a book dummy or exhibition. Your related report must reflect academic rigour and a critical and scholarly approach.

During the Major Project you will also be expected to engage in a process of self-evaluation and peer review in order to deepen your understanding of the role of documentary photography in relation to a wider social context. You will be expected to participate in peer-review sessions to facilitate your learning process and the learning process of others. Although these sessions are not assessed, it is anticipated that they will play a developmental role in the learning process towards your final submission.

The majority of students produce the work for the Major Project during the summer period, meaning they work independently from the tutors during much of this time, so they must be self-reliant and well prepared in advance for this part of the project. The final term serves mainly to edit and produce the final body of work for submission.

During this phase there will also be an ongoing series of lectures and workshops that will prepare you for entry into the marketplace. These will be given by visiting speakers from the industry, and covers topics such as business planning and costing, media law, self-promotion, book publishing and exhibitions, digital photography, editorial design and layout and other related topics.

The intention of the Major Project is that it should reflect your own interests and support your career development. For the duration of the project, you will be assigned a supervisor/mentor who will support you in the planning, organising, implementation, editing, presentation and writing up of this substantial and focused work.

Staff

You will be taught by a team of highly experienced professionals that includes visiting tutors who are successful practitioners at the forefront of the profession.

The Course Leader, Paul Lowe, is an internationally respected photojournalist and documentary photographer, who has worked for many of the world's most prestigious magazines in a 20-year career. During this time he has covered news and current affairs stories all over the world, notably the fall of the Berlin Wall, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and famines in Africa.

Patrick Sutherland is well known for his extensive long-term documentation of social issues, especially his unique exploration of the Tibetan community of Spiti, in which he has combined photographs and sound recordings of traditional music practices.

Careers

The track record for this course is excellent. For many years, graduates have had considerable success at the UK student documentary photography prizes. Alumni of the course are working around the world for leading photographic agencies, freelancing for the world's leading editorial publications and exhibiting internationally. 

Student Jobs and Careers at UAL

We know what it takes to be successful in your chosen field. Your tutors are professionals in their own right and understand what you need to help you establish your career. 

Careers and Employability is dedicated to helping students build up work-relevant skills, knowledge, experience and networks throughout your time here. 

Creative Opportunities is the UAL job and work placement website for students and graduates, advertising hundreds of creative opportunities each month. This includes ArtsTemps in-house recruitment agency, placing students and graduates in paid temping roles within the University.

UAL houses a number of organisations which promote aspects of career development in the arts and media, and which hold regular workshops and careers fairs. These include:

  • Own-It (intellectual property issues)
  • ArtQuest (career development resource for artists and designers)

Entry Requirements

Recruitment and admissions

An Honours degree in a relevant subject, or a professional or academic qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree. If you do not have the required qualifications, but do have professional experience, you may be eligible to gain credit for previous learning and experience through the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL) i.e. professional experience or a combination of courses and work experience.

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.

Candidates without a first degree can be accepted onto the course if they can demonstrate past experience equivalent to a first degree, such as professional experience. This is assessed as a learning process and tutors will evaluate that experience for currency, validity, quality and sufficiency.

Language requirements (International/EU)

  • International and EU students: In the case of applicants whose first language is not English, then IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required.
  • If your first language is not English you should check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English. Further information is available on our Support for International Students page.
  • International Applicants, please visit our International Applications page for further details regarding International Admissions.

Portfolio advice

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio, on CD, memory stick, or via a website, along with their application form, with all work clearly annotated and labelled. Your portfolio should include a maximum of six projects and supporting material, consisting of 25 - 30 photographs of a documentary or journalistic nature on a related theme. This should demonstrate evidence of an ability to work on a project over a sustained period of time and in an intimate and involved way.

Interview

Should you be invited to interview subsequent to your application, you will need to present two story proposals/ideas, one for a small local project and one for a larger, more in-depth one. We would be interested in how you think and research ideas and your commitment to following an in-depth approach.

Important

All candidates will be expected to outline their major project ideas in the application. This should describe the area of interest - the field of study and the particular focus of their intended work across the year. This should include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project - the methodology.

It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across the year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.

Funding

Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Any questions? Please email funding@arts.ac.uk or visit Postgraduate Funding page.

How to Apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. 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).

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.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will need to contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

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:

Personal statement

Please say why you are applying for this course.

Project proposal

All applicants will be expected to submit an outline their major project ideas. This should describe the area of interest - the field of study and the particular focus of their intended work across the year. This should include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project - the methodology.

It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across the year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.

Portfolio

All applicants will be expected to submit a digital portfolio, with all work clearly annotated and labelled. Your portfolio should include a maximum of six projects and supporting material, consisting of 25 - 30 photographs of a documentary or journalistic nature on a related theme. This should demonstrate evidence of an ability to work on a project over a sustained period of time and in an intimate and involved way.

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.

Should you be invited to interview subsequent to your application, you will need to present two story proposals/ideas, one for a small local project and one for a larger, more in-depth one. We would be interested in how you think and research ideas and your commitment to following an in-depth approach.

Start your application now

Applications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Apply now

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.

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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.

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