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Undergraduate

BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography

Crowd throwing oranges.
The Battle of the Oranges (crop), Andrea Capello.
College
London College of Communication
UCAS code
P503
Start date
September 2024
Course length
3 years

Develop your unique identity as a visual storyteller, learning skills from across this rapidly-changing and dynamic industry from news photography and current events to conceptual documentary, editorial and multimedia.

Why choose this course at London College of Communication

  • We have a broad and inclusive approach to photojournalism and documentary photography, constantly questioning the genre boundaries and looking to the future of the industry.
  • Our practice tutors are professionals from across the industry: highly experienced photojournalists, documentary photographers and picture editors at the forefront of their fields.
  • You’ll have access to an unparalleled range of leading guest speakers and tutors, who come and work with the course on a regular basis.
  • The critical and theoretical elements of the course are delivered by internationally published scholars and recognised leaders in the field.
  • Everything we do is guided by a commitment to research, professional ethics and critical reflection.
  • Our analogue and digital technology teams are resourced with cutting-edge equipment and dedicated, course-specific expertise
  • Industry links within our department and across the college provide our students with a range of collaborative opportunities and professional experience
  • Our students have gone on to be well-known and award-winning photographers, and to a range of other photography-related careers including picture editing, picture research, NGO and human rights work, publishing, journalism and further academic study.

Open Days

The next Open Day for this course will be on Monday 20 May. Book your place.

Explore life at LCC with our interactive Virtual Open Day.

Course overview

BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography engages with real- world issues to form a new generation of practitioners who can critically reflect on the role of photography and moving image in promoting social change. The course is deeply committed to diversity, inclusivity, and ethical storytelling: understanding how we as documentary image makers relate to, impact, and influence the people whose stories we tell.  

We see documentary photography as an umbrella term under which photojournalism, documentary, and other related forms of storytelling, including moving image, exist.

These genre boundaries continue to develop and shift within the contemporary media landscape, and this course will equip you to explore and work within this area in a self-defined, flexible and creative way.

By supporting you to develop an understanding of the cultural, social, theoretical, ethical, and historical contexts within which photojournalists and documentary practitioners work, we will explore and challenge the various ways that ‘subjects’ have been documented and reframed, and how historical legacies impact upon our actions today as contemporary image- makers. Project outcomes on the course might include photojournalistic or documentary photo stories, editorial photoshoots, photobooks or ‘zines, data or research- driven projects, documentary films and moving image projects and installations.  

What to expect

BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography allows you to follow an innovative and exciting curriculum rooted in the methodologies of photojournalism and documentary photography as they are practised professionally today.    

As well as gaining an academically rigorous degree, the course will enable you to acquire the essential skills to become a working photographer, equipping you to produce work for a range of outlets including newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, galleries, festivals, books, and picture agencies. It is not uncommon for our students to be working to a professional standard by their third year.   

The practical elements of the course emphasise learning by doing: you will begin by learning to photograph newsworthy subjects and create topical documentary stories, and then go on to develop your own self-directed photojournalism or documentary practice, culminating in a final Major Project and a substantial research project.  

Students are encouraged to become involved with the lively photographic community at LCC and in London; a process which is enhanced by an exciting range of visiting speakers from the photographic and related industries. The course team is committed to diversity in representation of gender, ethnicity, and disability in its programme of visiting speakers and tutors.  

Complementing the practical and career-focused aspects of this degree course are contextual studies in the history of photojournalism and documentary photography, delivered by academics who are internationally published scholars in the field. At the heart of the course is our belief in the importance of critical engagement not only as photographers but as viewers and active, socially engaged participants in a globalised visual culture.  

Industry experience and opportunities

We are committed to enhancing your employability, individuality and entrepreneurship. Success within the arts and media is about the integration of practice, skills and mindset that enable you to develop and sustain a rewarding working life. Our curriculum is designed to expand the possibilities of your own creativity by developing your unique subjectivity, career aspirations and professional awareness, whether for the creative and cultural sector or beyond.

In Year 2, you will have the opportunity to study abroad with one of our global partners at The Royal Academy of Art in the Hague (KABK) and the Danish School of Media and Journalism Copenhagen (DMJX). 

Between Years 2 and 3 of the course, you’ll also have the opportunity to undertake the following additional UAL qualification: 

UAL Diploma in Creative Computing (Optional): An optional, year-long opportunity which allows you to develop the computational skills that are shaping the future of the digital creative industries. After successfully completing the Diploma and the final year of your undergraduate degree, you’ll graduate with an enhanced degree title: for example, BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (with Creative Computing). 

Mode of study

BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography runs for 93 weeks in full-time mode. It is divided into 3 stages over 3 academic years. Each stage lasts 31 weeks. 

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.

In common with all courses at the University of the Arts London, this course is credit rated. The course is 3 years, levels 4-6. Each year requires you to achieve 120 credits. To be awarded the BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography qualification, you need to accumulate a total of 360 credits.

Year 1

During the first year, through a series of specially designed theory and practice sessions, you will learn about historical and contemporary photography practices and the key theoretical frameworks used to situate them.

You’ll be introduced to specialist photographic skills and creative methodologies in a supportive environment, to develop your curiosity and creativity. Throughout the course, there will be guest lectures from industry professionals, including professional photographers, artists, filmmakers, picture editors, curators, commissioners and more, giving insight into a range of photographic practices and providing a space to meet other photography students from across the programme at BA and MA levels.

Introduction to Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (20 credits)

This unit acts as an introduction to the course and to your subject specialism. Topics covered include effective learning and studentship at undergraduate level as well as introducing basic technical skills. 

Professional Editorial Practice (20 credits)

This unit will introduce you to the skills and knowledge required to identify, research, shoot and edit a series of photographic images within the genre of editorial image making.

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

This unit introduces you to the key historical and social issues surrounding photojournalism and documentary photography from their earliest stages to the present day.

Collaborative Publication (20 credits)

This unit helps to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to produce a documentary storytelling project. It will examine contemporary ways of using images for storytelling and help you develop an understanding of visual and narrative structure.

Moving Image (20 credits)

This unit will train you in the skills of basic moving image/filmmaking within a photojournalism and documentary photography context. You will be supported by experienced tutors to develop the technical skills needed to produce a short film.  

Media Ethics and Media Law (20 credits)

This unit will introduce media theories that underpin and help us to understand the role of communication systems, modes of representation and systems of meaning. You will learn about the main media laws that affect the work of photojournalists and documentary photographers.

Year 2

As you move into Year 2, you will expand on your skills and start to develop your voice within your practice. Year 2 builds on the foundations established in Year 1, creating space for you to begin contextualising your own practice by working on more open and self-directed assignments via both practice and theory/written work. Towards the end of the year, you will be supported to create a Research Project proposal.  

Contemporary Documentary 1 (40 credits)

This unit will help you to develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to produce a documentary project and associated theoretical research. You will be encouraged to go beyond traditional narrative documentary approaches and to look at ways in which to disrupt expectations about storytelling and start to embrace experimental narratives and structures.

Elective Unit (20 credits)

The Elective unit provides a choice of stimulating conceptual and practical projects that will complement the core units of your course.

Contemporary Documentary 2 (40 credits)

In this unit you will further develop the knowledge and skills necessary to produce an in-depth documentary project and associated research. The unit is designed to encourage you to think holistically about the theoretical, philosophical and subjective aspects of documentary photography in relationship to the development of your own practice.

Reading and Writing Practice (20 credits)

This unit explores the practices of reading and writing within, around and about photojournalism and documentary photography. The unit culminates in the submission of a Research Project proposal, and you will also create an analytical reading journal that records and articulates your engagement with literature and other sources in a personal way. 

Year 3

Year 3, the final stage, consolidates and develops your ability to direct and plan your own work by producing two substantial self-directed assignments – your Major Project, and your Research Project. You will also complete a Creative Futures unit, designed to prepare you in very practical ways for life after graduation. 

All four Year 3 units are designed to enable you to sustain your practice in an individual way and take the next steps towards your career. 

Major Project 1 (20 credits)

In this unit you will begin the exploratory process of researching and making visual work towards your final Major Project. You will begin to develop a written proposal, complete a risk assessment, and begin to make work that will be further developed in the Major Project 2 unit.

Research Project (40 credits)   

Alongside your Major Project 1 unit, you will also research, produce, and present a substantial research project and further develop connections between practice and theory. This might consist of an extended written research project, an audio-visual essay with a written component, or a research-practice project with a written component: all of which you will work on with the support of specialist supervisors. 

Major Project 2 (40 credits)

This unit requires the consolidation of your Major Project and its presentation in an appropriate form which will be negotiated with tutors and can encompass, for example, a portfolio of photographic prints, a documentary film, a multimedia piece, or a photographic book or ‘zine.

Creative Futures (20 credits)

This unit asks you to consider your future goals and how to best prepare yourself for your career after university. You’ll undertake extensive research into your chosen career field and, produce a creative identity package that supports your future goals. 

Optional Diploma between Years 2 and 3 

Between Years 2 and 3 of your course, you’ll also have the opportunity to undertake the following qualification:   

UAL Diploma in Creative Computing (Optional)  

Between years 2 and 3, you can undertake the year-long Diploma in Creative Computing. This will develop your skills in creative computing alongside your degree. After successfully completing the diploma and your undergraduate course, you’ll graduate with an enhanced degree: BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (with Creative Computing). 

Learning and teaching methods

  • Interactive lectures
  • Seminars
  • Guest talks
  • Group project work
  • Individual projects
  • Workshops
  • Individual tutorials
  • Group tutorials
  • Study visits
  • Written and verbal feedback on work in progress

Virtual Open Event

(Recorded November 2023)

Course Leader, Vicki Thornton, gives an overview of studying BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography.

Course Showreel | 2023

Explore work by our graduating students on this year's Graduate Showcase.

Course Showreel | 2022

Explore work by students who graduated in 2022.

UAL Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

  • I'll Be There Tomorrow
    I'll Be There Tomorrow, Luke Adekoya Campbell, 2023 BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • We Have Guests
    We Have Guests, Wilfred Carter, 2023 BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Take My Word For It
    Take My Word For It, Cassia Clarke, 2023 BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • The Guest Book
    The Guest Book, Aku Ratsula, 2023 BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Richmond Court
    Richmond Court, Cleo Amissah, 2023 BA (Hons) Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL

Student voices

Akar Suleiman

Akar’s project, ‘The Giving Hand: Hands of Faith and Promise’, is a series of candid black-and-white photographs aiming to humanise immigrants’ stories of hard work and sacrifice.

Taha Izzi

Taha's Final Project is a handmade photobook about his Mother and her experience of being Kurdish and moving to Canada.

Course stories

410 Gone

410 Gone


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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

Fees and funding

Home fee

£9,250 per year

This fee is correct for entry in autumn 2024 and is subject to change for entry in autumn 2025.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students.

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

£28,570 per year

This fee is correct for entry in autumn 2024 and is subject to change for entry in autumn 2025.

Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.

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. The course attracts students who apply direct from A-level (or equivalent) or from Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, or other art or design courses, as well as mature students who may have previously worked in industry.

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

104 UCAS tariff points which can be made up of one or a combination of the following accepted full level 3 qualifications:

  • Three A Levels at BCC or above (preferred subjects include: English; History; Media; Business; Art and Design, or other subjects within Social Sciences).
  • Distinction at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4).
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma (preferred subjects: Art and Design, IT & Computing, Media, Music and Performing Arts).
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma.
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferred subject: Digital and Creative Media, Film and Production) – 104 tariff points.
  • OR equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma at 24 points minimum 

And 3 GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C).

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

If you do not meet these entry requirements but your application demonstrates additional strengths and alternative relevant experience, you may still be considered. This could include:

  • Related academic or work experience;
  • The quality of the personal statement;
  • A strong academic or other professional reference;
  • A combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit. We cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

  • IELTS level 6.0 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

All classes are taught in English. If English isn’t your first language, you will need to show evidence of your English language ability when you enrol. For further guidance, please check our English language requirements.

Selection criteria

The portfolio, along with the details on your UCAS application (including the academic reference and your personal statement) will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Demonstration of an appreciation of photojournalism and documentary photography as a specialised discipline
  • Technical skills and experimentation with visual creativity, demonstrated in your own photographic work
  • Evidence of research and development of ideas through practice to achieve specific outcomes
  • Quality of ideas and thought processes in the production of your work

Apply now

Application deadline

31 January 2024 at 18:00 (UK time)

If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Apply to UAL

Home students can apply to this course through UCAS with the following codes:

University code:

U65

UCAS code:

P503

Start your application

Apply now

Application deadline

31 January 2024 at 18:00 (UK time)

If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Apply to UAL

International students can apply to this course through UCAS with the following codes:

University code:

U65

UCAS code:

P503

Start your application
or

Apply with a UAL Representative

Based across the world, our local UAL representatives can support you with your application from your home country. Check to see if there is a representative available in your country currently.

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.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 4,000 characters and cover the following:

  • Why have you chosen this course? What excites you about the subject?
  • How does your previous or current study relate to the course?
  • Have you got any work experience that might help you?
  • Have any life experiences influenced your decision to apply for this course?
  • What skills do you have that make you perfect for this course?
  • What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?

Visit the UCAS advice page and our personal statement advice page for more support.

Step 2: Digital portfolio

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

You’ll need to submit these via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool.

Digital portfolio advice

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

It should:

  • be maximum 20 pages of your own original photographic work
  • include work in progress as well as the best examples of your completed projects
  • demonstrate your image-making skills and ability to develop your ideas from concept through to final outcome
  • include original research notes, sketch books, process development, contact sheets etc.
  • be presented clearly and organised into a suitable narrative.

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.

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

You must apply in the year that you intend to start your course. If you are made an offer and your circumstances change, you can submit a deferral request to defer your place by 1 academic year. You must have met your conditions by 31 August 2024. If you need an English language test in order to meet the entry requirements, the test must be valid on the deferred start date of your course. If not, you will need to reapply. Requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contextual Admissions

This course is part of the Contextual Admissions scheme.

This scheme helps us better understand your personal circumstances so that we can assess your application fairly and in context. This ensures that your individual merit and creative potential can shine through, no matter what opportunities and experiences you have received.

Careers

Most of our graduates progress onto careers in photojournalism, documentary photography or related fields.