Photography, Video and Digital Imaging BA (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This course mixes academic rigour with practical skills in photography, video and digital imaging. Throughout the course you will build up a portfolio that demonstrates your ever-improving artistry and opens up opportunities for a creative and rewarding career. We encourage you to keep your camera 'at the ready' and constantly look for subjects and images that tell a story.

Photography roundelYou will receive excellent support from tutors who have well-established reputations, both as professional photographers and as academic researchers into the theory and history of photography. They give regular feedback on your work, encouraging you to explore creative ideas and to develop your own approach to the subject.

In addition our team of technicians will help you make the most of the University’s extensive facilities, which include darkrooms (chemical and digital), photography studios, cameras and digital suites with open-access Apple Macs loaded with the latest software.

You can gain work experience through projects and commissions that are managed by our Photography Department. In the past students have covered sports events such as The Great North Run and created images for a ‘Breast is Best’ campaign for new mothers. 

The University runs the North East Photography Network which links professional photographers working in the North East. We encourage our students to participate in the Network’s events and make contacts for potential placements and work experience.

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Year 1 (national level 4)

  • Genres of Photography (20 Credits)
  • Photography and Studio Construction (20 Credits)
  • Photography and Realism (20 Credits)
  • History of the Genres of Photography (20 Credits)

Optional modules:

  • Video Art (20 Credits)
  • Digital Darkroom 1 (20 Credits)
  • Introduction to Video Production (20 Credits)

Year 2 (national level 5)

  • Colour Photography (20 Credits)
  • The Image (40 Credits)
  • Critical Theory (20 Credits)

Optional modules:

  • Digital Darkroom 2 (20 Credits)
  • Documentary Photography (20 Credits)
  • Self-Negotiated Project 1 (20 Credits)
  • Video Production 1 (20 Credits)

Final Year (national level 6)

  • Research Project (20 Credits)
  • The Commission (20 Credits)
  • Exhibition/Presentation (40 Credits)

Optional modules:

  • Self-Negotiated Project 2 (40 Credits)
  • Self-Negotiated Project 3 (20 Credits)
  • Video Production 2 (20 Credits)

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day time and you will be studying alongside full-time students. 

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include feedback on practical work, supported by lectures, seminars, workshops and independent learning. You will have continuing access to facilities outside of teaching time, which facilitates reflection on work and peer evaluation. 

You will be taught by experienced professionals whose exhibitions and work includes the following: 

  • John Kippin has exhibited at the V&A in London 
  • Craig Aimes has exhibited at the Bradford Photography Festival
  • Arabella Plouviez has exhibited at St John’s College, Oxford
  • Marjolaine Ryley has exhibited in Glasgow and on a national tour
  • Carol McKay and Alexandra Moschovi regularly present academic papers, for example at the Association of Art Historians’ Conference

Assessment methods vary between modules. They include exhibitions, reports, presentations and essays.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about course regulations and documentation can be found on the Academic Services website.

 

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

Photography courses are situated at the Northern Centre of Photography at St Mary's, which opened in September 2012.


You'll be using state-of-the-art chemical and digital photography facilities, which include:

Darkrooms

Chemical darkrooms span the whole of the ground floor:

Black and white chemical darkrooms: darkrooms for black and white printing with 22 enlargers, covering all formats from 35mm to 5x4

Colour chemical darkrooms: 11 individual purpose-built darkroom booths for colour printing, covering all formats from 35mm to 5x4

Large-print chemical darkroom: A darkroom for larger formats, with a range of enlargers covering all formats from 35mm to 10x8

Wheelchair-accessible chemical darkroom: A darkroom with wheelchair-accessible facilities and a Devere 10x8 enlarger

Digital darkroom: A dedicated digital darkroom with Epson V750 flatbed scanners and Flextite scanners, Nikon Coolscan 9000 and Flextite scanners, covering all formats from 35mm to 10x8

Cameras and studios

Cameras: Cameras ranging from 35mm to 5x4 Pentax, Nikon, Mamiya, Hasselblad, Fuji 6x7, Toyo, Sinar and Linhoff. We provide Digital Nikons and Leaf backs for high-end digital studio work as well as HD video cameras

Accessories: Wide range of camera lenses and backs

Lighting: Wide range of portable lighting kits and flash guns

Studios: 3 extensive photography studios equipped with Tungsten and Bowens Esprit studio lighting

Macs: Digital suites with open-access Apple Macs for editing video and digital images

Editing: Digital studio with video, sound editing and screening facilities

All students also have their own project spaces and display their work in a student 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. According to the National Student Survey, 98% of photography students are positive about our library resources.

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
  • Screen Online (BFI), which is an online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive

Entry requirements

Our typical offer will be in the region of 220 points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award).

We accept a maximum of 20 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language; or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

To find out more about modules, credits, and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about course regulations and documentation can be found on the Academic Services website.

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

If you are studying a HND or Foundation Degree you may be able to enter onto the final year of our degree courses. For more information, please contact admenquiry@sunderland.ac.uk.

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 220 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 220 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 220 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

If you are a mature applicant (aged 21+) please call the Student Helpline for advice on entry requirements and qualifications: 0191 515 3000. We will offer an interview to all non-standard mature applicants.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

Portfolio requirements

We ask applicants to prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work. Please include relevant preparatory work. Digital and screen-based work should be saved on a CD or memory stick.

If you are an international applicant, please supply your portfolio on a CD.

Suitable items for a portfolio include:

  • Projects: evidence of project work in the area of photography or video and/or digital imaging, including your development work
  • Self-initiated work: that you have done out of personal interest
  • Research: examples of various forms of investigation undertaken for projects

We will ask you to come in for an interview to allow us to get to know each other. We are interested in your approach to your work, your awareness and your understanding of photography, video and digital imaging, what you’re passionate about, interests, influences, and experiences. We will also ask you about your plans for the future and the research you have done to find a suitable course. Your interview should last around 20 minutes.

Fees & finance

Please note that due to the nature of this course you should expect to spend about £500 per year on materials.

Full-time fees

The annual tuition fee is:

  • £8,500 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £9,500 if you are from outside the UK / EU

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

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £667 per 20 Credits.

Please note that there is no international fee for this course as part-time courses are not available to international students.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

Career destinations

Photography graduates can look to work in the music press, forensic and medical photography, art practice, freelance photography and teaching at different levels. In addition, our students have taken up internships at the Sunderland Echo, at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art in Sunderland, and with wedding photographers and portrait photographers.

Placements and visits

You will have opportunities to apply for internships, placements and live projects where you will work alongside industry professionals. You can also participate in visits to exhibitions with other students.

Guest speakers

Our Photography Department operates the North East Photography Network. We arrange for established photographers to come and give talks about their careers. All students have access to these events. Past speakers have included: Simon Norfolk, Helen Sear, Rosy Martin, John Davies, Peter Fryer, Paul Seawright, Liz Wells, Jem Southam, Tomoko Yoneda, Melanie Friend, Julian Germain, Paul Wombell, Dinu Li, Paul Hermann, Nicola Dove and Julian Stallabrass.

Study Abroad

It is possible to switch your studies to another country for one or two semesters during the second year. You can choose from over 150 universities in 20 countries, either English-speaking (such as Australia, Canada and the USA) or non English-speaking (such as Argentina, Brazil and Japan). This gives you an opportunity to get exposure to an even wider spread of influences and inspirations. 

University Language Scheme 

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme, which will earn credits towards your degree. The language module can be taken on top of or as part of the 120 credits needed to complete a year.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Enterprise and entrepreneurship

The University's Enterprise Team helps our students turn business ideas into reality. We have set up Creativitiworks specifically to support new businesses in the creative industries. As a business incubator, it brings together affordable office space, mentor support, equipment hire and excellent networking opportunities.  

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

Our Careers & Employability Service advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study. 

Volunteering positions in local organisations, charities and community groups can help you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer. Past opportunities have included working with children and the elderly, conservation work and sporting activities.

CES also advertises details of paid part-time and vacation work in areas from call centre and retail work through to telesales and marketing and promotion and more.

Opportunities to work with companies on flexible, paid, part-time projects in areas such as IT, design, law, media, HR and event management, to name a few, are available too. These projects are a great chance to gain valuable work experience.

Experience 

The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience. For more information visit: www.sunderland.ac.uk/experience

Support

Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time with our experienced tutors, many of whom are well-regarded professionals in their own right. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be working on your own and developing independent ideas. If you have queries or difficulties, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance. 

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the 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 facilities and equipment.

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 and 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 & guidance.

"When I visited Sunderland I was really impressed with the staff and their ability to engage with the students on the course."

Avril Mc Govern Photography, Video and Digital Imagin

Avril Mc Govern

BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging, Graduated 2006

Avril Mc Govern graduated from the University of Sunderland in 2006 with a BA (Hons) in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging. Originally from Celbridge in County Kildare, Ireland, she is now a teacher and will be taking up a position of Head of Photography at a school in September.

“When I visited Sunderland I was really impressed with the staff and their ability to engage with the students on the course, I felt very welcome and was encouraged by the quality of the work that their current students were producing at the time,” she explained. 

“The ability to share ideas and learn from my peers was an invaluable element of the course for me; it enabled me to develop lifelong friendships and created an atmosphere of collaboration that is so important in the creative field.” 

On her time in Sunderland, Avril said: “The city has a very large student population so there was always something interesting happening. It was also great for me to live in halls of residence in my first year as I had moved over from Ireland on my own. That was a very useful way of quickly finding a friend base.

“Since leaving Sunderland I have been continuously employed within the photography industry although I have a few different roles in that time.” 

She had this advice for prospective students: “Try and produce as much work as possible and get it shown in as many different contexts as you can.

“I encourage my students to attend as many exhibitions as possible and get involved in the wider photographic community in their area.” 

"I was particularly impressed that the photography department had made the decision to keep a traditional colour darkroom, as I understand that many UK universities are now totally digital."

Helen McGhie Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

Helen McGhie

BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging, Graduated 2009

The creative environment of studying at Sunderland provided the catalyst Helen McGhie needed to go on to study an MA at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art.

She said: “Sunderland is an excellent place to develop as an artist and photographer. The University has extensive facilities to enable you to visually explore ideas as well as a supportive teaching environment to help you create a critical framework for your projects.

“I was particularly impressed that the photography department had made the decision to keep a traditional colour darkroom, as I understand that many UK universities are now totally digital.

“I come from Greater Manchester and found Sunderland’s BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging degree on the UCAS course search. The course was attractive to me as it provided an important balance between traditional film-based photography, digital photography and the moving image.

“Once at Sunderland, I enjoyed experimenting with the range of different photographic techniques that the University had available – the colour darkroom and moving image facilities were particularly exciting to use.

“The wide range of facilities allowed me to explore different image making techniques from digital and film cameras and printing to studio lighting, alternative print and video. The darkroom and studio facilities were large and accessible, which was really important during my studies.

“All the lecturers and technicians were brilliant and very supportive and helpful on a personal level. Without the encouragement in individual and group tutorials over my three years at Sunderland, I feel that I wouldn’t have the confidence in creating the photography that I do today.

“I felt encouraged to explore the different themes I was interested in at the time and this undoubtedly built the foundations for the artwork that I am producing today.

“The course set me up with the technical and critical skills I needed to continue my artistic practice after graduation and go on to study an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London.

“These skills were also crucial in helping me to explore new projects, apply for exhibitions and seek out other artistic opportunities with confidence.

“Sunderland has a lively student community, with a diverse range of students from different backgrounds and many exciting students’ union activities to get involved with to meet new people.

“It is also a city with a vibrant history and amazing coastline. The locally based Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art is also a great space to view contemporary work.

“Since leaving Sunderland, I have exhibited my photographic artwork in various exhibitions and have received a great deal of post-graduation support from the photography tutors, which has helped drive my desire to work as a professional artist.

“I intend to continue working towards my goal of becoming a professional artist and I am also keen to work as a part-time photography lecturer in higher education in the future.”

"I was given free rein to develop as an artist and my ideas were always listened to and encouraged."

Esme Fletcher case study photo

Esme Fletcher

Owner of an independent photography company

“Without my time on the course I would not have developed the confidence and ability to go on to launch my own business.

“I now enjoy running my own photography business and in the long-term would love to build this and employ a few like-minded people.

“I started my studies at Newcastle College but was interested in a more film-based conceptual course which Sunderland provided. From the start I enjoyed the freedom of self-expression and the help given by the lecturers at Sunderland, as well as meeting like-minded people.

“The course was really different – most universities offer only digital studies, but Sunderland offered many different types of creative processes, from film to cyanotypes and playing with liquid light.

“The environment is also really homely and the staff very approachable, which helps if you need to talk through any problems or ideas you may want to develop.

“I was given free rein to develop as an artist and my ideas were always listened to and encouraged, with a healthy dose of constructive criticism if it was needed.

“The range of facilities is fantastic with access to darkrooms, computer labs and large scale printers. We also got to mix with a range of students on different courses such as fashion, which is great as it helps to develop and influence your own personal work.

“I’m from Sunderland and I think the city has a lot to offer. Not only are the people great here, but the nightlife is always fun and eventful. It’s always bustling with activity and there’s great transport links to travel further afield for something a bit different or a change of scenery.

“When I left university I went straight into a job running a photographic studio for a small fashion company. Without my degree and skills learned at Sunderland University I couldn’t have done this. I loved the course and if I could do it all again I would."

"Working on projects often involved talking to professionals outside of the University."

Helen Dixon case study image

Helen Dixon

Clinical Photographer at Darlington Memorial Hospital

“The degree course at Sunderland came highly recommended and was perfect for me as it was fine art based rather than commercial and concentrated a lot on film photography.

“I enjoyed studying all the basics of photography and this heavily influenced me and enabled me to grow both as a photographer and as an individual.

“All the staff – from lecturers and technicians to the librarians – were fantastic and made the degree course really interesting. I also enjoyed the freedom to be able to undertake any type of photography I wanted, as well as the opportunity to study other subjects within digital imaging other than photography.

“I’m now working as a Clinical Photographer at Darlington Memorial Hospital and studying a postgraduate certificate in Clinical Photography. Without my degree course I never would have been able to get this job and progress to study
a postgraduate certificate.

“Unlike many photography courses, Sunderland has excellent film photography facilities and they also have an extensive range of film cameras which I was very impressed with. The lecturers motivated me to go that extra mile and try genres that I would never have thought of doing before.

“Working on self-motivated projects as part of the course really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and I gained so much confidence because of that. Working on projects often involved talking to professionals outside of the University which was something I had never done before and it really helped me to develop and grow.

“I loved having the freedom to do what I wanted to do and also the safety net of the lecturers’ expertise and knowledge to call on whenever I needed help with a particular piece of work.

“As well as enjoying the degree course, studying at Sunderland gave me the opportunity to meet new people. I loved my independence and enjoyed being a Student Ambassador.

“Sunderland is also great as a city – the nightlife is good and it’s a great place to live and study. My time at Sunderland has left me with many happy memories and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the course.”

"The facilities at Sunderland were just far ahead of anything that I saw elsewhere."

Luke Newman -  Graduate

Luke Newman - Graduate

Fashion Photographer

"The University of Sunderland was my route to the best job in the world.

"I grew up in London but when it came to universities I found that the facilities at Sunderland were just far ahead of anything that I saw elsewhere.

"I was struck by the genuine enthusiasm that tutors had for their subjects. They were passionate and really knew what they were talking about.

"I couldn't believe it when my tutor took my semi-automatic camera off me and literally taped down the autofocus so that I couldn't use it. There was not a shadow of doubt that we were there to learn the real craft of photography. It was full on.

"I was encouraged to carry my camera with me at all times. I shot loads of film and stored it in my fridge, which really annoyed my flatmates!

"One of my tutors put me in touch with a fashion photographer in London and I arranged to assist for her. Through her I was introduced to other photographers and, because it's a relatively small industry, I started to get known.

"After several years of assisting, I established myself as a freelance fashion photographer. My images have appeared regularly in different glossy fashion magazines. As far as I'm concerned, this is just the best job in the world.

"The University of Sunderland taught me the skills to make a living as a photographer and the tutors gave me a way into the industry. My course crystallised my ambition and changed my life."

Student work

Edition logo image


Edition
is a fine art photography magazine created by our first year BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging students. The magazine acts as a platform for our students to get their work out to a wider audience. This issue showcases a range of student work from across all three years working in a variety of different mediums, ranging from traditional and digital through to alternative processes.


All the photographs in these two galleries are from Photography students on this course.

photography student work


 

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Part-time study: if you want to study this course on a part-time basis, you need to apply directly to the University of Sunderland. part-time application form (.pdf).

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Order a prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

  • Next open day:
  • Date: Saturday 6th June 2015
  • Time: 9:30am-4:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: To be confirmed

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Programme Leader for specific questions about the course:

Arabella Plouviez arabella.plouviez@sunderland.ac.uk 0191 515 3041

Find out more information about the staff who teach on this course and the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.

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: Facebook.com/sunderlanduniversityFADM and Twitter: @UniOfSunADM

Contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media for general questions about studying at the University of Sunderland: admenquiry@sunderland.ac.uk / 0191 515 3593

The details

Course Name Photography, Video and Digital Imaging
UCAS Code
W651
Classification BA (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 Years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 15 September 2014
UK/EU Fee £8,500
Intl Fee £9,500

Entry requirements

Typical accepting offer: 220 points

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