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Postgraduate

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

A person lying on a bed and looking straight to camera.
Yangkun Shi, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2024
Course length
1 year 3 months full-time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

Uniting rigorous research with an expansive photographic practice, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography will help you extend your photographic vision to create powerful stories that resonate with your audience and transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Re-approval

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

Applying for more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3. Find out more in the Apply Now section.

Why choose this course at London College of Communication

  • You will develop your photographic practice on a four-step journey: a series of weekly assignments to refine your image-making; engaging in collaborative practice and working to briefs; rethinking your creative practice; and finding your personal vision via in-depth research for your major project.
  • Benefit from our extensive visiting lecture programme by leading photographers, artists and curators.
  • Learn from a team of committed academic staff, all working in the industry as photographers, writers, curators.
  • Have access to a range of facilities such as darkrooms, studios, printing - guided by our expert technicians.
  • Join a supportive and inclusive cohort of students from different backgrounds, as well as benefiting from the experience of our award-winning graduates.

Open Evening

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

Course overview

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is a vibrant Masters course with an international reputation, which brings together research and practice for photojournalists and documentary photographers who want to take their practice to the next level.

Photojournalists have explored and recorded the human experience since the inception of the medium, recording significant moments in history, documenting unfolding news and creating enduring images that can change people’s understanding of the world.

The documentary approach is a slower, more reflective form of practice, which adds deep research to synthesise the complex global conditions you wish to address.

Whether you want to situate your work in a newspaper, art gallery, book or a public space, MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography offers you the opportunity to develop your existing skills and expand your creative practice in order to do so.

With an emphasis on contemporary political and social issues, the course will engage you with the ethics of photographic practice as well as the aesthetics.

What can you expect?

The course aims to equip students with a thorough grounding in the discipline, through lectures, seminars, workshops, and crits. 

In the first term, you will follow a rigorous programme of photographic assignments, leading to initiating and developing your own projects and areas of special interest as the course progresses. 

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 writing as well as photographing for every submission, and learning how to speak about your work in a professional context.

Work experience and opportunities

During the second term, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with external organisations, working to real-time briefs, which will help you understand different contexts and potential uses for your work. 

Previous collaborative partners include human rights NGO Reprieve, environment litigators Plan B, and LCC’s innovative platform the Refugee Journalism Project.

At the same time, you will be encouraged to find creative freedom by exploring and rethinking your practice, perhaps by experimenting with photographic processes to expand your vision. Your practice will become more research-focused.

Before your major project, you will benefit from hostile environments training, as well as an introduction to multimedia and bookmaking practices. We will help you shape a specific critical and theoretical context for your project, to help you think, write and speak with confidence and clarity about your work. 

In the final term, you will be editing your major project and working towards the Postgraduate Shows, regularly attended by leading industry practitioners. Your final portfolios will be reviewed by renowned experts in the field of documentary photography: picture editors, curators, photographers and critics.

Mode of study 

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is 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

We are committed to ensuring that your skills are set within an ethical framework and are embedding UAL’s Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice into this course.

MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography is Full Time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

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

Autumn, Term 1

Photojournalism and Documentary Practice (40 credits)
Histories and Theories of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (20 credits)

In Photojournalism and Documentary Practice, you will examine the theoretical, methodological and practical frameworks necessary for the research and production of successful photo essays.

This unit explores 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, with an emphasis on their methodologies.

Spring, Term 2

Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

The Collaborative Unit offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with external organisations and practitioners. Working to real-time briefs, this unit equips you with new methods of working, which will be invaluable post-graduation.

Rethink (20 credits)

Rethink further develops your knowledge of the methodology of documentary and photojournalistic production, culminating in the production of larger scale photo essays, series or installations. This is underpinned by an emphasis on research principles, strategies and methods.

Summer, Term 3

Research Project (20 credits) 
Major Project (60 credits) 

The Major Project unit begins at the start of your summer term. Through a series of workshops, and interactive sessions, you will be able to hone your idea for your Major Project, prior to photographing over the summer. You will also complete the Research Project, which will consolidate your ideas for the Major Project in terms of your ethical approach, your theoretical and contextual framework and your visual strategy. You will have feedback before the summer, so you are well-placed to create the work.

Autumn, Term 4

Major Project (continued)

This final phase of the course 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 critical report.

The majority of students produce the work for the Major Project during the summer period, meaning you work independently during this time, so you must be self-reliant and well prepared in advance for this part of the project.

The final form of the work is flexible. Previous students have presented their work in the form of a book dummy or an exhibition, immersive website, a portfolio of images as prints, multimedia presentation or as a film. Your related report must reflect academic rigour and a critical approach.

The hallmark of our graduates is their ability to combine the personal with the political, in order that their stories touch their intended audience. You will work to refine a sensitive, ethically-minded, inclusive, passionate and intellectually rigorous body of work that demands to be seen.

Learning and teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Group work

Online Open Day

(Recorded March 2023)

Course Leader Aletheia Casey and Senior Lecturer Edmund Clark give an overview of studying MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (full-time and part-time/online) at London College of Communication,

UAL Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

  • Masquerade
    Masquerade, Benjimen Green, 2023 MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Queer in the Country
    Queer in the Country, Felix Pilgrim, 2023 MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • In Two Minds: A Lifelong Tale of Disputed Memories
    In Two Minds: A Lifelong Tale of Disputed Memories, Jess Law, 2023 MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • timeless3-yunya-yin.jpg
    Timeless 3 by Yunya Yin
  • yangkun-shi1.jpg
    Work by Yangkun Shi
  • andy-barmer.jpeg
    Work by Andy Barmer
  • Betty-Zapata.jpg
    Work by Betty Zapata, Joanna Demarco. Photo © Lewis Bush
  • BettyZapata-3.jpeg
    Work by Betty Zapata
  • Francesco-Ragazzi.jpg
    Work by Francesco Ragazzi

Student voices

Berenice Guzzo

Student voices

Berenice's final project, Immota Manet, is about reconstruction and restoration after the earthquake which struck the city of L’Aquila in 2009.

Lukas David Beck

Student voices

Lukas speaks about the film he made about his Grandma for the final year show.

Ana Blumenkron

Student voices

Ana talks us Play Date, her feminist rom-com made for the Postgraduate Showcase.

Aline Aronsky

Student voices

Aline tells us about True Wonderful, her work exploring rave culture in Los Angeles.

Paola Paredes

Student voices

Paola talks us through her work in the LCC Postgraduate Shows.

Course stories

410 Gone

410 Gone


openresty

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.

Staff

Associate Lecturers

Antonio Olmos

Fees and funding

Home fee

£13,330

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 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.

International fee

£28,570

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 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

The course team welcomes applicants from a broad range of backgrounds, from all over the world. MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography attracts students who apply direct from an Honours degree course, or a professional or academic qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree, or those with other, equivalent qualifications.

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.

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree (named above);
  • 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 a minimum of 5.5 in each of the four skills.
  • 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:

  • Evidence of prior knowledge and/or experience of Photography that would indicate potential to successfully complete the programme of study
  • 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)

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request

Round 2:

7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request
7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request

Round 2:

7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request
7 days after digital portfolio and/or video task request
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply to UAL

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Find your representative

How to apply

Follow this step-by-step guide to apply for this course

Step 1: Initial application

You will need to submit an initial application including your personal statement, CV and study proposal.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 500 words and include:

  • your reasons for choosing the course
  • your current creative practice and how this course will help you achieve your future plans
  • any relevant education and experience, especially if you do not have any formal academic qualifications.

Visit our personal statement page for more advice.

CV advice

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If you have any web projects or other media that you would like to share, please include links in your CV. If English is not your first language, please also include your most recent English language test score.

Study proposal

Please provide a summary of your study proposal (500 words).

It should:

  • outline of your project ideas
  • describe of your area of interest, field of study and particular focus for your intended research project
  • explain how you intend to produce your project and your proposed methodology.

Please note, your proposal serves to inform your application and we understand that your ideas will develop and change throughout your studies.

Step 2: Video task and digital portfolio

We will review your initial application. If you have met the standard entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a video task and digital portfolio.

You’ll need to submit these via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool. Please submit your video task on the first page followed by your portfolio.

Video task advice

We would like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you. When recording your task, please face the camera and speak in English.

What to include in your video task

  • Tell us about your Master’s project proposal, introducing key topics and themes
  • Explain why you have chosen this proposal in relation to MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication.

Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept.

Digital portfolio advice

Your portfolio should consist of recent work that reflects your creative strengths.

It should:

  • include 25-30 documentary or journalistic style photography from a maximum of 6 projects
  • include clear annotations and labels to explain your work
  • demonstrate your ability to develop and progress long-term projects.

For more support, see our Portfolio advice and PebblePad advice.

Step 3: Interview

You may be invited to an interview following our review of your application. All interviews are held online and last 15 to 20 minutes.

For top tips, see our Interview advice.

You also need to know

Communicating with you

Once you have submitted your initial application, we will email you with your login details for our Applicant portal.

Requests for supplementary documents like qualifications and English language tests will be made through the applicant portal. You can also use it to ask questions regarding your application. Visit our After you apply page for more information.

Applying to more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3 courses. You need to tailor your application, supporting documents and portfolio to each course, so applying for many different courses could risk the overall quality of your application. If you receive offers for multiple courses, you'll only be able to accept 1 offer. UAL doesn't accept repeat applications to the same course in the same academic year.

Visas and immigration history check

All non-UK nationals must complete an immigration history check. Your application may be considered by our course teams before this check takes place. This means that we may request your portfolio and/or video task before we identify any issues arising from your immigration history check. Sometimes your history may mean that we are not able to continue considering your application. Visit our Immigration and visas advice page for more information.

External student transfer policy

UAL accepts transfers from other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Read our Student transfer policy for more information.

Alternative offers

If your application is really strong, but we believe your strengths and skillset are better suited to a different course, we may make you an alternative offer. This means you will be offered a place on a different course or at a different UAL College.

Deferring your place

We do not accept any deferral requests for our postgraduate courses. This means that you must apply in the year that you plan to start your course and you will not be able to defer your place to start at a later date.

Application deadlines

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 equal consideration deadlines to ensure fairness for all our applicants. If you apply ahead of either of these deadlines, your application will be considered on an equal basis with all other applications in that round. If there are places available after the second deadline, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Careers

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.