skip to main content
an image

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies

College
CSM
Start date
September 2019

Course summary

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies is a 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 the 21st century.

This course is part of the Art Programme.

Great 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 Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies 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 Daniel Rubinstein on the ethos of the course and its approach to contemporary photography.

Ben Lansky - Orbit

Degree Show catalogue 2018

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies news

Yajing-Hu—1
Yajing-Hu—1

Show One: Yajing Hu

With Degree Show One: Art now at a close, we take an in depth look back at our students’ final projects. MA Photography student Yajing Hu’s part-performance, part-film work Heartbeat, […]

Show One Theme: The Domestic

As Degree Show One: Art draws to a close today, we take a look the themes which have emerged from the diverse range of works on view this year. There […]

Video: Niloofar Taatizadeh

With Degree Show One: Art now open, we take a closer look at some of our students’ final projects. For her Degree Show piece Deterritorialise the refrain, MA Photography student Niloofar […]

Take Five: Diana Lloyd

As our Art students prepare for the opening of Show One: Art on 23 May, we take a closer look at their work and the inspirations behind it. Through installation, […]

NOVA-logo
NOVA-logo

Show One: NOVA Award Nominees Announcement

Today MullenLowe Group has announced the first wave of nominees for this year’s NOVA Awards. With Degree Show season right around the corner and our students about to unveil their […]

Facilities

A room filled with red lighting

Photography

Find out more about photography facilities.

A room with people working at computers

Digital Media

Find out more about our digital media facility at King's Cross.

Print Workshop

Printmaking

Find out more about the printmaking facility.

A large wooden construction on display in a workshop at Central Saint Martins

3D Large: Wood

Find out more about our wood workshops.

People working inside the digital print workshop at Central Saint Martins

Digital Access Print

Find out more about our digital print facilities at King's Cross

People using tools and machinery inside a large workshop at Central Saint Martins

Wood

Find out more about the Wood facility at Archway.

Course details

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies is a ground-breaking course that explores the possibilities of photography driven by artistic practice and practice-led research. Based in the world famous King's Cross campus in central London, the course is making full use of the state-of-the-art facilities to redefine photography as central to 21st century art and culture. You will nurture your practice by working across a number of disciplines combining photography with performance, installation, new media, smart technology, fashion and site-specific work. In creating work that is visually exciting and intellectually compelling, you will develop as an international art practitioner ready for work in the cultural sector.

About the course

  • MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies is a two year (60 weeks) course structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each. Course attendance is three days in year one, and two days in year two. 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, you're expected to commit an average of 30 hours per week.
  • MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises two units: Unit one (60 credits) and Unit two (120 credits).
  • Students successfully achieving Unit one may exit at this point with the award of Postgraduate Certificate.
  • Both units must be passed in order to achieve the MA, but the classification of the award of MA derives from the mark for Unit two only.

Course rationale

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies understands photography as plural, trans disciplinary and multimedial global language that is situated at the core of contemporary visual art practice. The deep integration of theory and practice offers supportive environment in which to explore photography as form of expression that interlaces fine art, technology, aesthetics, politics and new media. Opportunities to research photography as a central component of discursive practices within the arts, the sciences and the construction of personal identities, provide students with tools to work in fields related to artistic production and the extended creative industries.

Unlike many other photography courses, this course is not committed to one notion of what photography is or to one form of media specific practice. Instead of working from a predefined notion of photography, the course aims to provide students with the tools to locate their own practice within a broad range of contemporary visual forms.

Course units

The course is trans-disciplinary by design with emphasis on ‘learning by doing’ and developing individual but engaged practice that spans the fields of fine art, visual media, contemporary philosophy and online and offline techniques. Through an extensive program of mentoring by contemporary artists, curators and philosophers, students are continuously challenged to examine their work in light of the current developments in the medium and to bring it close to the real world uses of photography.

Members of the technical team are working alongside lecturers and tutors in delivering a rich program of study that does not separate technical and theoretical areas but emphasises the interdependence of production with conceptual study. Students are given opportunities to explore practice as a fusion of technical and philosophical concerns in workshops which follow up on issues raised in seminars.

Philosophy of the visual image and the understanding of photography as a melting pot of political, aesthetic and social concepts are embedded throughout the course.

In the first year the students attend a core weekly install and crit of their practical work, and a weekly critical seminar where contemporary philosophy is discussed in relation to their own practice. The seminar program feeds into practice and the final dissertation that is integral to practice and jointly taught. Specific emphasis is placed on exploring New Media and post-internet as the language of contemporary art practice through focused theory seminars and workshops in physical computing, metadata, augmented reality and social/networked media.

Exhibiting forms one of the core pedagogical tools. Experimental forms of exhibition are taking place throughout the course on a number of levels, including exhibiting on handheld devices, TV screens, site-specific installations, publication and performances.

Unit One: What is practice? (in photography)

We inhabit an age in which “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” – in the words of William Butler Yeats – but at the same ‘things’ also come back together to form new, previously unimagined configurations that are both the stuff of fantasy and of nightmares. It is an age in which dizzying advances in artificial intelligence and computer technologies are intertwined with cultural and economic extremes. The complex and challenging landscape of contemporary photography in all its aspects: post-internet, digital, networked, mediated, visual, performative, public, political is inextricably linked with this. Indeed, photography – in all its hybridised forms – is often found at the core of our understanding of ‘who we are’ in this challenging and mutable world: what we are made of; our relationship to other human and non-human entities; how we fight, play, find pleasure, take sides, make things ‘change’, make things ‘work’, make things heal or bleed, take on colour, find the beat.

This unit provides a detailed engagement with your practice through experimentation, questioning, play and dialogue.

It is organised around several key components that focus on different aspects of your developing practice. The main aim of these components is to provide you, the postgraduate student, with the tools necessary to exercise your curiosity and imagination about visual imaging. These tools will guide you in the task of finding your voice and your signature style in order to get to grips with the world of art, new media and technology, or in a word: photography.

Unit Two: Research and practice

Research and Practice is the second and final unit of the course. In this unit you will have an opportunity to demonstrate your own mastery of photography through developing an independent project as a fusion of your analytical study and practice.

The first 15 weeks focus on your developing practice according to questions raised in your project proposal and the aims of your research paper. Weekly seminars will help you to clarify your research interests and to formulate the key questions for the Research Paper. Experimental installs and crits will provide a space for re-negotiation of practice and for developing a proposal for the final exhibition.

During year two you’re supported in the production of a body of work for exhibition, and in the completion of your agreed written work. Support takes the form of tutorials, technical advice and bookable workshops.

By the end of Unit two your exhibited and written work reflects a synthesis of reflexive, conceptual, practical and professional abilities. Your mark for Unit two determines the classification of your MA award.

Staff

Daniel  Rubinstein

Daniel Rubinstein

Course Leader, MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies

Pat  Naldi

Pat Naldi

Tutor, MA Contemporary Photography

Anke  Hennig

Anke Hennig

Tutor, MA Contemporary Photography

Suky  Best

Suky Best

Tutor, MA Contemporary Photography

Visiting Lecturer: Jon Rafman – Canadian artist and filmmaker known for exhibiting found images from Google Street View. 
Visiting Lecturer: Dave Lewis – Photographic artist and curator.
Visiting Lecturer: Jo Longurst – Photographic artist and writer. Winner of the Grange Prize 2012.
Visiting Lecturer: Alexa Wright – Photographic artist working with digital and mixed media.

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

*          An honours degree OR

*          An equivalent EU / international qualification.

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. 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.

English Language Requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English Language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

The application, indicative project proposal and the portfolio 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.

What we are looking for

We are seeking imaginative, resourceful individuals who are committed to exploring and developing a strong individual visual language.

Making your application

For EU applicants concerned about Brexit, please see our dedicated page: Brexit Information for Students.

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Start your application now

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should give us information about yourself and why you want to join the course (between 300-500 words) and should include:

  • What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally, personally?
  • Why do you wish to study on this course?
  • What is your relevant experience?
  • Do you have any relevant skills?
  • Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for acceptance?

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal between 800 and 1,000 words. 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.

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies 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.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all of the information above.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by the end of May to avoid disappointment.   We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.

There are two ways international students can apply:

  • One of our official representatives in your country
  • A direct application.

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

Start your application now

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should give us information about yourself and why you want to join the course (between 300-500 words) and should include:

  • What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally, personally?
  • Why do you wish to study on this course?
  • What is your relevant experience?
  • Do you have any relevant skills?
  • Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for acceptance?

Indicative Project Proposal

To apply for this course we require that you write an initial project proposal between 800 and 1,000 words. 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.

MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies 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.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all of the information above.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by the end of May to avoid disappointment.   We reserve the right to close applications earlier than the deadline above subject to spaces available.


After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents or book an audition, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to submit a portfolio through your UAL Portal.

Portfolio

The full portfolio should be no more than 20 pages comprising your work and/or relevant documentary material, and evidence your current creative practice.  Following the review of the portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an interview.

Interview

The interview will take place either in person or by skype.  It will be approximately 30 minutes long and 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.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees & Funding

Home/EU fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £5,000 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.

ELQ

Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the 'ELQ' fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. If you have a query regarding the ELQ fee, please use our register your interest form.

International fee

Tuition fees for 2018/19: £12,430 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.

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

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

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 Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies explores photography as a visual language feeding into a wide range of professional arenas and related disciplines. MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies 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.

View college guides

Contact

Address

Follow us