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Postgraduate

MA Commercial Photography

A grid made up of photographs held in a cluster.
Image by Yiting Zhu, MA Graphic Media Design, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2022
Course length
1 year 3 months full-time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

MA Commercial Photography focuses on technical excellence, and can support your ambitions towards becoming a high-end freelance photographer. Whether you’re interested in working across areas such as advertising, fashion, sport, lifestyle and editorial, you’ll be supported to develop a high level of competence in responding to key and changing developments across contemporary commercial photography.

Subject to validation

Please note this course is subject to validation. This is the process by which we ensure the course provides a high-quality academic experience. During validation there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about the course.

Open Evenings

The next online Open Day for this course will be on Tuesday 14 December at 5.30pm.

Facilities

  • A vintage camera enclosed in a transparent box atop a plinth.
    Image © Lewis Bush
    Media Photography

    Photography students benefit from access to resources held in the Media Photography areas.

  • Red light indicating recording is taking place.
    Image © Vladimir Molico
    Lens-Based and Audio-Visual

    Find out about the workspaces and studios that support Lens-Based and Audio-Visual practice.

  • Student reading a book in between two bookshelves in the Library
    Students in the Digital Space. London College of Communication, UAL. Photograph: Alys Tomlinson
    The Digital Space

    The Digital Space is an open-plan, creative hub with computers set up with specialist software.

Course overview

MA Commercial Photography focuses on technical excellence, and can support your ambitions towards becoming a high-end freelance photographer.

You may be interested in working across areas such as advertising, fashion, sport, lifestyle and editorial. Alternatively, you may wish to develop other career pathways – for example, as a digital visual specialist or picture editor. 

You’ll be supported to develop a high level of competence in responding to key and changing developments across contemporary commercial photography.

Within this, you’ll consider the impact of global and ethical issues and accelerating technologies which demand responsive practices, adaptive visual approaches and distinctive concept development. 

What to expect 

MA Commercial Photography has been designed with a mix of independent learning and blended delivery where relevant.

With a focus on integrating contemporary technical and business skills underpinned by critical and research practices, you’ll gain an invaluable understanding of the photography industry and the business aspect of commercial photography.

Developing the practical skills needed to define yourself as a leading practitioner, you’ll be encouraged to develop strong conceptual approaches to your practice, and to achieve a defined identity within your work. 

Work experience and opportunities 

Working on set and self-initiated projects which promote learning through discovery, interaction and response, you’ll work towards developing a high-quality portfolio suitable for presentation when approaching clients for future commissions or industry roles.

You'll also have opportunity to collaborate with external organisations, working to real-time/live briefs designed to enable you to understand the potential uses for your work and future practices. 

Mode of Study 

MA Commercial Photography is in full-time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 4 terms of study. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

Contact us

For queries relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, read our Coronavirus guidance for prospective students.

To register your interest and receive information and updates about studying at UAL, please complete this form.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for or to ask a question, please contact us.

Course units

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

Commercial Photography in Practice (40 Credits) 

This unit will hone your image-making skills and develop your style as a commercial photographer. It will provide you with robust theoretical and practical frameworks for the research and production of a short series of images on a chosen theme. You’ll cover idea generation, research, the role of text, and picture-editing for different iterations of commercial practice. 

There’s an industry-focus within this unit, including industry visits and guest speakers, and it’s designed to equip you to work to commission in a variety of contexts. There are a series of non-assessed assignments throughout which will enable you to receive formative feedback, culminating in an assessed assignment.

Histories and Theories of Commercial Photographic Practices (20 Credits) 

This unit positions contemporary commercial practices within various historical contexts through analysis of significant photographers, movements, and agencies.

Grounded in photographic research methodologies and theories, you’ll consider concurrent practices, with particular attention paid to the work of present and previous generations of global practitioners which relate, shape, and intersect with ethical, social, political, and economic contexts.

Collaborative Unit (20 Credits) 

Commercial photography practice is underpinned by collaboration. This is strongly encouraged and foregrounded throughout the course and amplified further in this unit which is dedicated entirely to collaborative practices.

You will take part in activities including developing presentations and communicating realised projects to peers and partners, demonstrating self-reflection on interdisciplinary work.

This unit is designed to enable you to identify, form and develop collaborative working relationships with a range of potential partners.

Professional Identities and Portfolio Developments (40 Credits) 

The unit explores and develops your working knowledge of contemporary business practice with an emphasis on operating as a freelance practitioner. You’ll examine contemporary practices, trends and media convergence within commercial photography.

Through research development and practice, you’ll develop solutions to photographic challenges and execute them in a professional context. This unit brings together your developing skills, knowledge and understanding, enabling you to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates an adaptive yet distinct personal style within the context of commercial production. 

Final Major Project (60 Credits) 

The Final Major Project provides an opportunity for you to create a substantial self- initiated project, synthesising your skills, knowledge and understanding while supporting you to develop a substantial professional portfolio to demonstrate your practice as you develop your future career.

Supervised and supported as you undertake this major piece of work, this unit will include research planning and methodologies, along with the application of models to commercial photographic practice and the presentation of your findings.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Workshops
  • Group seminars
  • Group and individual presentations/pitches
  • Critical peer review on work-in-progress
  • Industry visiting speaker series, providing opportunity for in-year portfolio reviews
  • Networking and mentoring
  • Online lectures and individual tutorials
  • Recorded technical workshops and demonstrations

Assessment methods

  • Practical project work and digital based activities
  • Prepared writing
  • Responses to case studies
  • Oral presentation (group)
  • Individual presentations of prepared work
  • Simulations and role plays
  • Workshop based activities
  • Written research
  • Portfolio realisation

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

MA Commercial Photography is a practice-centred course underpinned by critical theory and research that enables the development of informed, critical and creative practitioners.

The course team welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, from all over the world. 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.

The course team also welcomes students with relevant experience or those who may have previously worked in industry.

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree in photography or a photographic/visual/lens-based related area;
  • 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 5.5 in speaking, listening, reading, writing.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

UAL Language Development

We offer English Language Development for Overseas students. See how we can help you with your studies on the langauge development page.

Selection criteria

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

  • Earlier experience of photographic practice and/or project-based visual inquiry.
  • A capacity for independent study at PG level.
  • A strong personal statement indicating the applicant is ready to undertake the course.
  • Knowledge of conceptual and technical approaches to photography in a contemporary context.
  • An understanding of the need for a critical and analytical approach to own area of practice.

Making your application

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:

  • Firstly they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results).
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement, portfolio and study/project proposal.
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.

Required information for postgraduate course applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio
  • VIdeo task

Start your application now

The online application 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 press submit.

Apply now

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

CV

Please provide a CV detailing your education, 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.

Personal statement advice

You’ll be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Commercial Photography.

Your personal statement should describe what you specialised in during your undergraduate course, why you now want to study on MA Commercial Photography at LCC, and what you are hoping to do after the course. In doing so indicate what your future career intentions are and where you would ideally like to see yourself positioned in five years’ time.

The majority of our students have studied either BA Photography or other lens-based subjects before applying to our course. If you didn’t previously undertake a BA Photography course, please explain why you feel that you meet the academic criteria needed for further study in this subject area.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

Once you’ve sent in your application, this will be sent through to our course teams for review. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

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:

  • Firstly they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results).
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement, portfolio and study/project proposal.
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.

Required information for postgraduate course applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Please note: we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas). Read our immigration and visa information to find out if you need a visa to study at UAL.

You can only apply to the same course once per year. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn. Read the UAL international application advice for further information on how to apply.

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio
  • Video task

Start your application now

There are two ways international students can apply:

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.

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

CV

Please provide a CV detailing your education, 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.

Personal statement advice

You’ll be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Commercial Photography.

Your personal statement should describe what you specialised in during your undergraduate course, why you now want to study on MA Commercial Photography at LCC, and what you are hoping to do after the course. In doing so indicate what your future career intentions are and where you would ideally like to see yourself positioned in five years’ time.

The majority of our students have studied either BA Photography or other lens-based subjects before applying to our course. If you didn’t previously undertake a BA Photography course, please explain why you feel that you meet the academic criteria needed for further study in this subject area.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

Once you’ve sent in your application, this will be sent through to our course teams for review. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal.

Please add @arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.

Please log into the portal, as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, and you can contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

What happens next

Portfolio

MA Commercial Photography focuses on the development of  technical excellence and leads towards a professional-quality portfolio and a suite of skills to support career progression in commercial photographic practices.

Your application should give us a sense of how you locate yourself in the practice of your particular photographic area, and how the course will further your understanding of commercial photography. You will be asked to upload an electronic portfolio which should demonstrate your understanding of project-based photographic practice.

Your portfolio should consist of approximately 20 images (across no more than three bodies of work which indicate the area of photography that you want to specialise in.

This should also include a short contextualising statement of 50-70 words. You should only include self-authored works rather than research materials, visual inspiration or process documentation.

Video task

We’d like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you.

  • Please speak clearly in English and face the camera.
  • Your video task is submitted along with your portfolio via PebblePad.
  • Read our guidance for more information about how to submit your video task and the file types we accept.

As part of your video task, please respond to the following direction:

  • We would like you to identify one project from your portfolio which challenged you and your understanding of commercial photography. Explain how this experience has inspired you to apply to MA Commercial Photography at London College of Communication.

Interview

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will be held online, and details will be sent via the UAL Portal.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Requesting feedback

This course receives a high number of applications, and we can’t provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you’ve had an interview.

If you would like to request feedback – please email lcc.ukeu@arts.ac.uk if you are a Home or EU applicant, or lcc.international@arts.ac.uk if International. We are only able to provide feedback to you directly, or to someone you have told us in writing can receive it on your behalf.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£11,220 per course

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£22,920 per course

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

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