Dr Carol McKay

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Senior Lecturer in Photography

With a background in art history (PhD, University of Cambridge), I am a photography historian, writer and curator. I combine my academic activity with my role as programme manager of North East Photogrpahy Network (NEPN), a research and development centre for photography based in the Northern Centre of Photography and supported by Arts Council England.

Teaching and supervision

As senior lecturer in history and theory of photography, I teach on both BA (Hons) Photography, Video and Digital Imaging and MA Photography

I led the photography team submission that was awarded the HEA Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (2017) for work with students and NEPN

I supervise PhD students working with photography, including practice-based research and research by existing publication and I have regularly examined PhDs in photography and visual arts practice. 

Research interests for potential research students

Past PhD Students

Dr Michele Allen (2012) While reason sleeps: a practical investigation into the multiple narratives of place, explored through a process of expanded, ‘self reflexive’ documentary practice incorporating photographic and audio work AHRC Collaborative Studentship (Director of studies).

Dr Matthew Hearn (2012) Performing the Archive: the Locus+ Archive, a curatorial case study AHRC Collaborative Studentship (Director of studies).

Dr Charlie Meecham (2015) The Oldham Road Rephotography Project (Director of studies).

Dr Harry Hall (2015) The manifestation of change: a photographically based investigation that visualises the processes of urbanisation within the Kharnack Nomad Communities (Director of studies).

Dr Liza Dracup (2017) Photographic Strategies for visualising the landscapes and natural histories of Northern England (Director of studies).


In the past decade, my research has been collaborative and has focussed on two areas:

1. practices of commissioning and exhibiting photography in the public realm, including the role of the ‘networked image’ in photographic and curatorial practice.
2. innovation in photographic pedagogies (students as partners)

Practices of Commissioning and Exhibiting Photography in the Public Realm.

With Amanda Ritson, I am programme manager of the photography research and development centre NEPN. NEPN is an outward facing organisation that develops research opportunities for staff and students, working with partner organisations regionally, nationally and internationally. In 2013, NEPN produced the first international festival of photography in the North East of England, The Social: encountering photography http://www.thesocialnepn.co.uk.

Currently, NEPN is developing partnership projects for the Great Exhibition of the North (2018) and with Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society. NEPN also works closely with Sunderland 2021 and the photography it has commissioned and supported has been identified as a key art-form specialism for the City.

With Arabella Plouviez, I have also written about the relationship between photography commissioning and user-generated photographic participation.

Innovation in Photographic Pedagogies.

I led the photography team submission that was awarded the HEA Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (2017) for work with students and NEPN. My ongoing research, funded by HEA is to develop new contexts for working with students as partners nationally and to evaluate the impact of such real world experience on student learning.





Areas of expertise

My areas of expertise include:

  • History and Theory of Photography
  • Commissioning and exhibiting contemporary photography
  • 20th Century Art History and Visual Culture
  • Photographic Pedagogies

Last updated 17 July 2018