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Postgraduate

MA Commercial Photography

Close up shot of moulded shapes in a variety of pastel colours
Image by Yiting Zhu, MA Graphic Media Design, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2023
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.

Open Evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be announced soon.

Course overview

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

You will be interested in working across areas of commercial practice, 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.

This course will support you to develop an advanced 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.

Independent learning is a key feature of the course, with a focus on the integration of contemporary technical and business skills underpinned by critical and research practices throughout.

What to expect 

  • You’ll take an enquiry-led approach to independent learning through discovery, interaction and response to change.
  • Throughout the course, you’ll create substantial self-initiated projects, synthesising your skills, knowledge and understanding, enabling you to create a substantial professional portfolio for your future career.
  • You’ll develop a strong foundation in technical, critical and research skills that will enable you to grow critical awareness in your personal practice while establishing a distinctive individual identity to your work.
  • Commercial photography practice is rooted in collaboration, which is strongly encouraged and foregrounded throughout the course. You’ll present and communicate projects to peers and partners, demonstrating critical awareness through interdisciplinary work.
  • For your Final Major Project, you’ll be supervised and supported to undertake a significant piece of work, including research planning and the application of models of commercial photographic practice.  

Industry experience and opportunities 

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

Through a practically-focused, career-orientated approach, you’ll produce work to industry standards and have a range of opportunities to learn from industry within professional environments. You’ll gain an invaluable understanding of the industry and business aspects of commercial photography, while being introduced to key contacts and helped to build relationships.

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.

Mode of Study 

MA Commercial Photography is in full-time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

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, providing you with robust theoretical and practical frameworks for the research and production of a short series of images on a chosen theme.

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. A series of non-assessed assignments throughout 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) 

This unit is designed to enable you to identify, form and develop collaborative working relationships with a range of potential partners. These could include other postgraduate students at LCC or UAL; postgraduate students at other higher education institutions; or external organisations such as cultural or community groups, NGOs, businesses or charities.

The nature of this collaboration will involve working on a project with outcomes agreed by your tutors, and will take the form of group work that can happen within the College or digitally/remotely.

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 photographer. 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

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Tutorials
  • Supervised practice
  • Digital and online learning activities
  • Reflections on practice
  • Self-directed learning
  • Presentations and pitches

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.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£12,700

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 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 nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£25,970

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 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.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

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. We also welcome 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.

English 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.

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 Postgraduate 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.

Apply now

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, and request your deferral by contacting us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

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

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

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 for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 for Round 2.

The round 1 deadline has been changed to 19 December to give you more time to make your application.

When you'll hear from us

If this course requires a digital portfolio as part of the application process, you will be invited to submit this through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad. We will request this separately after initial processing of your application is complete. Once we request your portfolio, you will have 7 days to submit it.

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, and request your deferral by contacting us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

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

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

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 for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 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. Unfortunately, we can’t provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you’ve had an interview.

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. If you would like to request feedback  please contact us through the UAL Portal using the Contact Us button in your My Application(s) tab.

Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.

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