Photography MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

Through the MA Photography, you will develop a professional base for your future career. The course is tailored to your individual interests and we invite you to share your aspirations with us at interview.

During the course, we support the development of student-initiated projects in which individuals can implement, research and extend their practical and intellectual skills across the spectrum of photography, digital imaging and video.

By the end of the course, you will have prepared a substantial portfolio of creative and written work and participated in a public exhibition and a publication.

At Masters level, the specialisms of tutors are an important factor. Sunderland’s academic team includes staff with world-class reputations whose research interests fall within the areas of landscape, documentary and diaristic photography, experimental and alternative photographic methods, and span a variety of themes, from representations of femininity, subcultures, curating and exhibiting art photography with a specialism in new photographic technologies and the networked image.

North East Photography Network image‌In addition, we operate the North East Photography Network (NEPN) which develops and promotes photography in the North East of England. We also have close links with major arts organisations such as the Arts Council, the Laing Art Gallery and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Graduates from Sunderland have gone on to work throughout the creative industries and education. A Masters qualification not only opens doors in the workplace but also helps you progress more rapidly once your career is underway.

MA Photography Open Days

We are holding two Photography Open Days in 2017. Meet the staff and look around our facilities:

5 April 2017, 15:00 - 17:00 at Northern Centre of Photography

14 June 2017, 15:00 - 17:00 at Northern Centre of Photography

Staff and students talk about the experience and facilities designed for students from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Photography 1 - Certificate (60 Credits)

  • Self-negotiated Research Project (40 Credits) - the focus is on developing your critical and analytical approach to photography
  • Revisiting Photography Theory (20 Credits) - the focus is on critical theory

Photography 2 – Postgraduate Diploma (60 Credits)

  • Self-negotiated Portfolio Project (40 Credits) - this module builds on knowledge gained at stage 1 and allows you to develop your portfolio of work
  • Issues in Contemporary Photographic Practice (20 Credits) - this module extends your theory knowledge and critical skills by exploring contemporary issues within photography

Photography 3 – Masters Degree (60 Credits)

  • Exhibition (40 Credits) -the practical work you have developed throughout the course will be showcased at a public exhibition and publication
  • Research Project (20 Credits) - this is a self-directed written project

Teaching and assessment

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters programme requires a higher level of independent working.

We use a wide variety of teaching and learning methods ranging from technical workshops, research seminars, theory lectures, practical demonstrations, peer critiques, and group discussions. These are supported by a range of guest speakers from diverse academic and industry backgrounds. You will also have high levels of contact with tutors who give regular feedback and support.

You will have the opportunity to meet established photographers and hear about their work and careers. Past speakers have included Simon Norfolk, Liz Wells, Julian Stallabrass, Peter Kennard, Bas Vroege, Michele Sank. Portfolio review days allow you to discuss your portfolio with leading national and international artists, and photographic professionals, publishers, gallery and museum curators.

Assessment methods include project reports, research files, essays, your portfolio of work and the final exhibition. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website. 

The MA Teaching Team:

Dr Alexandra Moschovi (Programme Leader)

Mr Craig Ames

Dr Carol McKay

Ms Marjolaine Ryley

Other members of staff from the Arts Team including Professor Arabella Plouviez, Mr Dave Harvey, Professor Beryl Graham and Dr Tim Brennan also contribute to the course while specialist sessions and portfolio surgeries are regularly held by a number of visiting lecturers and professors, including Mr Pete Fryer (photographer), Professor Julian Germain, Emeritus Professor John Kippin, Mr Alistair Robinson (Curator) and Mr Alexander Supartono (Curator) among others.

Facilities & location

The University has invested in modern facilities in the recently refurbished Northern Centre of Photography that include:

  • Chemical darkrooms for colour and black and white printing. You can print from 35mm to 5x4 with a large horizontal enlarger to create extra large prints
  • Separate chemical darkroom for alternative printing methods
  • Digital darkrooms with state-of-the-art scanners and digital production and printing
  • Photography studios equipped with tungsten and flash lighting equipment
  • Cameras ranging from 35mm to 5x4 Pentax, Nikon, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Fuji 6x7, Toyo, Sinar and Linhof. We provide Digital Nikons and Leaf backs for high-end digital studio work as well as HD video cameras
  • Digital suites with open-access Apple Macs for editing video and digital images
  • Digital studio with video, sound editing and screening facilities
  • Project spaces
  • Large wall screen with HD projection for film and video screenings
  • Art gallery

Arts and Design Library

Our Arts and Design Library has a specialist collection of over 120,000 books, CD-ROMs, videos, slides and one of the largest electronic information networks in the sector.

Journals and research

We subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date articles. Some of the most important sources for your course include:

  • Art Full Text + Art Abstracts, which is a major resource for media and arts information
  • British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), which provides resources for the production, study and use of film and related media


The Northern Centre of Photography

Chester Road, Sunderland, SR1 3SD

Entry requirements

We usually require applicants to hold a good honours degree (2:1 or above) in a related discipline. We will consider applicants with professional and vocational experience.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

Postgraduates are highly employable and, on average, earn more than individuals whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree. On completing this course, you will be equipped for a range of positions within the creative  sector which include professional photography and arts practice, curatorial, editorial and design work as well as education.

Recent Sunderland graduates are now working in art institutions, museums, community arts organisations, Further Education Colleges and the wider media industry.

A Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn)

Our Careers & Employability Service (CES) advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study. It also advertises volunteer positions that enable you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer to future employers.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You will meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and software.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"There are excellent darkroom facilities for both black and white and colour photography and there is a large range of studio and camera equipment, modern digital facilities and helpful technicians."

Juliet Chenery-Robson MA Photography graduate

Juliet Chenery-Robson

MA Photography graduate, now PhD photography student

“I trained originally as a photojournalist and I have worked for newspapers and magazines including the Northamptonshire Evening Chronicle and Sunderland Echo. I decided to develop my photography practice further by applying for MA Photography at Sunderland as it has an excellent reputation.

“I enjoyed everything about the course even though I found it hard, at first, to get to grips with the academic language and different ways of approaching my writing and photography. It pushed my boundaries and made me think much more about what I wanted to achieve and how to go about it.

“There are excellent darkroom facilities for both black and white and colour photography (one of the few remaining in the country) and there is a large range of studio and camera equipment, modern digital facilities and helpful technicians.

“I also enjoyed the city. Sunderland has a beautiful coastline with amazing golden beaches and is only a short train ride to many other places of interest. The National Glass Centre, Museum and Winter Gardens and the Stadium of Light are right on the doorstep.

“All the staff are extremely supportive and encourage you to explore new ways of seeing, both theoretically and practically. I was always able to approach them for help or even just a friendly chat. There were also lots of interesting and informative visiting speakers such as well known photographers, curators and artists.

“I really enjoyed the final module, which included preparing a body of work to show at the MA exhibition at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art. It was exciting and challenging to be able to present my work for exhibition and also because I was able, in a small way, to realise my intentions of visualising certain aspects of the illness M.E. and make more people aware of the limitations it imposes on sufferers and their families.

“I am now in my final year of a PhD Photography at Sunderland where I have continued to focus on the visual representation of M.E. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience, despite all the hard work! But, I could not have got this far without the support and belief of some amazing staff at the University, so I would encourage anyone thinking about studying photography here to apply as they will not be disappointed.”

"The calibre of the staff allows the students to access their varied experiences, interests and skills."

Yvonne Davies MA Photography

Yvonne Davies

MA Photography graduate and professional rural life photographer

Yvonne Davies is originally from Hexham, Northumberland, and graduated from the University of Sunderland with an MA in Photography in 2012.

"The calibre of the staff allows the students to access their varied experiences, interests and skills", said Yvonne, and she also praised the course for being "artistically and intellectually stimulating."

"Sunderland has something for everyone and everyone can find their own comfortable niche. I think there are advantages in Sunderland being a smaller city, it is friendly and unpretentious.

"The MA course encourages the student into thinking in a much different way about the work they produce - giving a deeper intellectual and theoretical substance for the work based on a sound knowledge of photographic theory.

"This, coupled with the prospect of developing a bigger network of contacts and associates is the perfect medium for motivated students to develop their practice after graduation."

And her advice for prospective students at the University of Sunderland was to "take full advantage of easy access to fantastic facilities including the huge library and inter-library loans."

She urged students to "exploit the resources of experienced staff whose skills are varied and who educate in a way that develops in the student a new, more productive, confident way of thinking allowing individual artistic and academic skills to grow."

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Alexandra Moschovi

Read more about some of the staff that would teach you on the MA Photography course:

For more general information, contact:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Programme Starts  
Monday 16th October 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Photography
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 16 October 2017
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

Good honours degree (2:1 or above) in photography, other lens-based media, and related subject areas

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