• CollegeLCC
  • Start dateSeptember 2018
  • Course length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Applications closed
Applications for 2017/18 entry to this course are now closed and will re-open in Autumn 2017 for 2018/19 entry.

Develop a wider vision. Designed with photojournalists and documentary photographers in mind, the MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course will help you to expand your practice and challenge the potential of the medium.

About this course

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is taught in both full-time and part-time/online modes.

You will learn through a series of photographic assignments, as well as developing your own projects and areas of special interest that build towards your major project. This takes place within the framework of the history and development of the medium, together with critical, ethical and theoretical contexts.

Graduates of this course have won numerous awards, including the World Press Photo (Daily Life, singles category) and the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. 

Student films and profiles

Student Voices: Stephanie Rose Wood – MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Student Voices: Paola Paredes – MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Postgraduate Shows 2016: Media School

Highlights 2014 Postgraduate Shows

Content and structure

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

Photojournalists and documentary photographers explore and record the 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.

Course units

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 a 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

Course Director

Dr. Paul Lowe

Course Leader

Max Houghton

Senior Lecturer 

Edmund Clark

Associate Lecturers

Lewis Bush, Antonio Olmos, Peter Fraser

How to apply

2017/18 entry
Please note, this course has places available for UK and EU applicants only for 2017/18 entry.

2018/19 entry
Applications for 2018/19 entry will open in Autumn 2017.

You can begin your application 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 course Entry Requirements section to learn about the application process, including detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process. 

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

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 online application form, we will send you a confirmation email.

From January 2017 you will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

  • Personal statement
  • CV
  • Portfolio
  • Project Proposal

The course leader will then review your work, may invite you to interview, and will then make a decision on your application, from January 2017.

The admissions team will be in touch after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps. 

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.

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.

English language requirements

Please provide a CV detailing your education and qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) with a minimum of 5.5 in each skills is required on this course
  • 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 Language Requirements page

International Applicants, please visit our International Applications page for further details regarding International Admissions.

Selection criteria

All applications will be considered by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:

  1. Firstly they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  2. Then they will scrutinise your personal statement, project proposal, portfolio, story ideas, and any previous work experience

Academic or professional reference are not required for this course.

Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Sufficient prior knowledge of and / or potential in photography to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and/ or have an academic or professional background in a relevant subject
  • Social awareness, inquisitiveness and passion about a career in photojournalism or documentary photography
  • An ability to work on one or more projects over a sustained period of time and in an intimate and involved way (Portfolio)             
  • A journalistic and documentary awareness and an understanding of research and practice methodologies and a realistic idea of what makes a strong project (Project ideas) Note: project ideas are indicative only at the application stage

Personal statement

In the application form you will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject, and a well-articulated rationale for joining the course.

CV

Please provide a CV detailing your education and qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

Portfolio advice (25-30 images)

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic 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.

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.

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.

Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone.

Fees and funding

Home / EU fee

£8,500 (Full-time)

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

International fee

£17,920 (Full-time)

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

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. Please read the information on our additional costs page.

Accommodation

Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

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

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.

Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Scholarships search

Career paths

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.

UAL Jobs and Careers

UAL has a number of services and networks that hold regular workshops and careers fairs developed to help you establish and promote your career in the arts, design, or media. These include:

Careers and Employability are the University's dedicated careers and professional practice service. We help UAL students and graduates embark on their professional futures in the creative industries, find jobs, set up a business, and sell their work. We run events throughout the year on all aspects of the career journey.

Creative Opportunities jobs board helps graduates and students find job and internship opportunities and connect with organisations and companies in the creative sector. We post jobs and paid internships, part-time work, freelance contracts and full-time opportunities.