Photography BA(Hons)

Photography BA(Hons)

Christine Hurst studied on the photography degree course at University of BrightonImage: Christine Hurst
  • The photography degree courses at the University of Brighton are a vibrant, exciting and challenging way to develop your practical, analytical and theoretical skills as a photographer. They guides you through to the development of innovative and highly professional photographic practices.
  • You will enjoy an experimental, creative and critical environment in which to practice and think about photography, learning from acknowledged experts in the field, and developing your understanding of the place of photography in contemporary culture - the way it moulds identities and the subtle ways it documents and alters our perception of reality.
  • The photography course at Brighton introduces a wide range of contemporary practices, allowing you to understand their relationship to theoretical debates around the interpretation of the photographic image. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own position within contemporary photographic practice and debates, supporting your professional development as a practitioner who can formulate new visual languages that effectively represent the world today.
  • Throughout the course your understanding of photography in the world today will develop with your own practice as a photographer. In the final year you will create a major project for public display, enabling you to take an independent critical and experiential approach towards your chosen subject matter.
  • In recent years undergraduate and postgraduate photography alumni have been successful in many of the most prestigious photography awards including the Jerwood Photography Awards, Guardian Student Media Awards, Independent Photographers Terry O’Neill Awards. Some alumni have had their work published as monographs, are represented by prestigious galleries and are working at the vanguard of current photographic practice in a wide variety of fields.
Kristina Salgvik studied on the photography degree course at the University of BrightonImage: Kristina Salgvik

The degree courses in photography at the University of Brighton encourage the development of innovative practices. Our photography students can expect an experimental, creative and critical environment in which to practice and think about photography.

At the forefront of an ever-expanding visual culture, photography occupies diverse spaces in in contemporary culture, from the walls of major museums and galleries to cutting-edge commercial applications. Photography is a highly complex and subtle form of visual representation that underpins ideas about identity, history, memory, desire and place, informing how we see and why we look.

The BA(Hons)/MFA Photography course at Brighton embodies a culture fully committed to exploring and questioning the medium, so as to develop a conception of what photography is and how it might be used and interpreted in the future. The photography course ultimately encourages learners to reflect on their own position within contemporary photographic practice and debates, supporting their professional development as practitioners who can formulate new visual languages that effectively represent the world today.

It is important to respect the distinctiveness of the discipline of photography. However, we acknowledge that photography is influenced by and continues to influence other creative disciplines. Our ‘post-medium condition’ described by Rosalind Krauss, places photography at the core of multidisciplinary practice. In addition, Daniel Birnbaum’s advice in Artforum on contemporary art education is instructive: “Wonderful things can happen between disciplines, but you don’t need to tear down the walls. There are doors (Just leave them unlocked).” The photography courses at the University of Brighton therefore promote the exploration of the social and cultural manifestations of photography through approaches connected to the fine arts and to disciplines such as social anthropology, cultural geography, literature and philosophy.

The achievements of our photography staff contribute to a culture of ambitious individual research and professional practice, creating a stimulating learning environment for students. In recent years staff have produced ten monographs, participated in over one hundred major national and international solo and group exhibitions, including those at Centre Pompidou Paris and Tate Britain, with work appearing in numerous exhibition catalogues and magazines, as well as featuring in many significant public and private art collections. During this time photography staff have been successful in achieving awards for research funding, winning top international prizes and continue to be represented by high-level photographic agencies including Magnum Photos. 

The aims of all the courses in photography at Brighton are:

  • to provide a broad-based curriculum aimed at encouraging the creative and intellectualdevelopment of the student
  • engage students in the contemporary, historic and professional debates of art and designand in particular photographic practices, histories and theories
  • develop independent learners equipped with a range of creative and intellectual powers through the integration of practice and theory
  • develop professional confidence and transferable skills in creativity, research andlearning in preparation for possible career and educational development 


Image by Guna Saulite, student on the photography degree course at the University of BrightonImage: Guna Saulite

As a photography student at the University of Brighton you will develop a range of skills essential for the best practice as a photographer: tenacity, analytical thinking, diplomacy and creativity. Encouraging creative development and awareness of professional practice, Brighton's photography courses offer both practical and theoretical elements across a range of themes and option modules. These build a foundation knowledge of photographic practices, allowing integration of these with histories and theories of photography, the development of professional confidence, transferable skills in creativity, research and learning in preparation for careers in the world of photography and beyond.

There is a unique culture of photography in Brighton. The internationally renowned Brighton Photo Biennial and the Brighton Photo Fringe provide many opportunities for our students. Some of our students act as interns at Photoworks, the independent arts organisation based in Brighton that commissions new photography, produces exhibitions, publications, a bi-annual magazine and initiates education and research programmes. Photoworks and the postgraduate photography courses at University of Brighton present a series of public talks and discussions by artists, writers and curators working with contemporary photography.

First year photography

In your first year modules are offered on the themes of photography and identity, photography and place, the photograph as allegory and the photograph as document or fiction, showing an understanding and awareness of contemporary photographic practice. These are in parallel with modules on the origins and histories of photography

Students examine photography and the creation of identity, looking at issues around photography as identity introduced through practice and theory, offering a range of practical frameworks in order to enable, for example, an understanding of what the photograph as ‘portrait’ has been and what it might become. Other modules in the first year photography course at Brighton look at the importance of location, the workplace or community in relation to identity, looking at how ‘landscapes’ are constructed visually, and understanding and awareness of contemporary photographic practice

The module on photograph as allegory introduces a range of practical frameworks for photographic practices in which the image is explicitly directed, staged, performed and manipulated, while we also look at the photograph as document, recognising that the rhetoric of realism that may divide fact and fiction, commerce and art, the private and the public, has become less certain. This challenges our students to explore the full potential of the image as a document that attempts to make visual sense of the social world.

Second year photography

Second year modules introduce a range of practical frameworks for photography as an independent artform and aim to expand upon the genre-based projects of the first year. Students are able to choose from a range of project themes designed to reflect a number of concerns that are central to thinking about photography. For example, a theme may deal with the concept of place, however, this might not necessarily be seen in conventional terms as a ‘landscape’ project.

It is important that in tackling a variety of themes in the practice units, students will remain open to different ways of working, including work alongside colleagues on the courses across the subjects area of Photography, Moving Image and Sound.

Other second year modules introduce a range of contemporary practices and demonstrate their relationship to the many theoretical debates around the interpretation of the photographic image that have emerged since the nineteen-sixties: the relationship between modernism and postmodernism, the politics of representation, the influence of psychoanalysis and post-structuralist theory, the phenomenology of the image, memory and history.

Our second year photography students at Brighton take on an independent project, and you will need to demonstrate an ability to take on personally directed work at an advanced level, employing ideas, skills and techniques developed from earlier parts of the photography course. Your project will allow you to take personal responsibility for content, form and delivery with careful records of your research and working methods.

Third year photography

As a third year photographer you will develop your confidence towards becoming a professional practitioner in photography or continuing photography in postgraduate study, for example the MA Photography at Brighton.

Two projects allow the production of a major body of photographic work. The photographic project work is developed alongside further historical and critical studies and professional practice modules.

In Professional Practice you will gain a broad understanding of professional structures and career options within the field of photography. The course comprises a lecture series by professional artists and a seminar series that introduces a toolkit for self-management, including copyright and financial issues. This toolkit enables you to prepare a CV, to research funding bodies and sources of potential funding, to analyse outlets for work and produce written and visual project proposals. This will allow you to make informed choices for the initiation and development of career strategies related to your own practice.

In the final year you will develop a coherent, sustained photographic, project informed by and building on knowledge gained in earlier years. The aim is to enable you, the student, to take a critical and experiential approach towards chosen subject matter, demonstrating an individual approach to photographic practice with a high level of aesthetic, conceptual and technical competence, contextualising your project in relation to historical and contemporary developments in practical and theoretical photographic discourse. 

In the project you will demonstrate understanding of photographic practice, history, and theory as they relate to and inform each other, from concept to final presentation stage, culminating in the public exhibition of work, which may be printed and presented for the gallery wall, in book-form, or portfolio format. Reflecting the diversity of practices and interests, some students choose to create an installation and the year group also take responsibility for a collective publication of their work in book form and/or online.

Fourth year photography (MFA)

The fourth year of photography at Brighton leads to the award of a Master of Fine Art, or MFA in Photography. At this level of study you will be supported as an independent learner towards an advanced understanding of professional photographic art practice and research.

Hannah Laycock studied on the photography degree course at University of BrightonImage: Hannah Laycock

Photography at the University of Brighton enjoys a significant national and international reputation. This stimulating environment enables graduates to develop careers in photography and related industries including freelance photographic practice, curating, picture research, and editing.

In recent years, graduates have won many prestigious photographic awards. These include first and second place in the Guardian Student Media Awards, two Jerwood Photography Awards, two winners and a runner up of the Independent Photographers Terry O'Neill Awards, a NESTA Innovation Award, a photobook publication by Steidl Verlag, World Press Photo Contest and Student of the Year by the Association of Photographers. See more in the Photography Moving Image and Sound news from Brighton.

Alumni work in a variety of careers associated with photography including: independently exhibiting and publishing photography both nationally and internationally; undertaking journalistic and commercial assignments as photographers; working as photographic educators and teachers within schools, colleges, universities and with diverse communities; publishing and editing photographic magazines, books and websites; working in picture libraries as editors and researchers; undertaking artist commissions and residencies; curating photographic educational events and photography exhibitions; working in photographic agencies, in photographic gallery administration and management; and pursuing postgraduate study.


Photography BA(Hons)

Photography BA(Hons) at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities

Meet the staff

Meet the staff teaching and researching in Photography at the University of Brighton College of Arts and Humanities

Photography BA(Hons)/ MFA

photography-ba-mfa.pdf at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities [pdf 122.0 KB]

Student projects in Photography BA

Student projects in Photography BA at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities

Meet our students

Meet our students at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities

Graduate Show 2014 profiles

Graduate Show 2014 profiles at University of Brighton, College of Arts and Humanities