Photography, Video and Digital Imaging BA (Hons)

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If you are applying for the part-time course or from outside the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 17 September 2018Apply now

If you are applying for the full-time course from within the UK/EU, click apply now.

Course starts: 17 September 2018Apply now

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Mix academic rigour with creative skills. Build a Photography portfolio that demonstrates your ever-improving artistry. Open up opportunities for a creative and rewarding career.

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You 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 will encourage you to explore creative ideas and develop your own approach.

In addition, our team of technicians will help you make the most of the University’s extensive facilities, which include darkrooms, photography studios, cameras and digital suites. We encourage you to keep your camera 'at the ready' and constantly look for subjects and images that tell a story.


Video credit: Nat Wilkins – Graduate

Why us?

  • Our Photography department has been awarded a CATE (Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence) by the Higher Education Academy (2016)
  • You will have the opportunity to take up a CV-enhancing work placement, University-led industry initiative, or professional and business development boot camp
  • 100% of our Photography, Video and Digital Imaging students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2015/16 (based on UK students)
  • The University runs the North East Photography Network (NEPN) 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
  • This course mixes academic rigour with practical skills in photography, video and digital imaging
  • Sunderland's Film Production & Photography courses are 6th in the UK according to The Guardian University league tables 2019

Course structure

You will be taught by professional photographers who have exhibited and published their photography work nationally and internationally. You will learn new skills, developing your creativity through practical work, supported by lectures, seminars, workshops and independent working. You will have opportunities to present your ideas to your peers, reflecting on your practice. You will be able to exhibit your own work and test out ideas with different audiences culminating in your degree show in your final year.

View our student galleries.

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.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Genres of Photography (20 credits)

Get an introduction to the way of working in the photography department and the study skills you will need for your practical and written work.

  • Realist Photography (20 credits)

Explore realist approaches to photography, from social documentary to architectural photography and learn to make black and white photographs using film cameras and working in a chemical darkroom.

  • Studio Photography (20 credits)

Examine studio lighting and the use of medium and large format cameras. Extend your technical, aesthetic and practical skills in relation to the constructed and/or non-constructed image debate and learn to make high quality black and white prints in our extensive darkrooms.

  • History of Photographic Genres (20 credits)

Take a look at the historical development of different genres within photography by looking at portraiture, landscape, still life, advertising, fashion, documentary, architecture, photo-montage and art.

  • The Digital Image: Moving and Still (20 credits)

Explore video art, from early practitioners in the 1970s to the impact of YouTube, and look at the impact of digital techniques on the photographic image. Gain experience of working with both moving and still digital image in technical workshops.

  • The Alternative Print (20 credits)

Think differently about the photographic print in a module divided into two sections. Consider the digital print and how to make a high-quality digital photographic print, and get an introduction to a range of alternative print processes.


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Colour Photography (20 credits)

Gain a practical and intellectual understanding of how colour photographic images are seen and used as a medium of personal expression.

  • The Image (40 credits)

Explore the issues of how the photograph communicates meaning to the viewing public.

  • Photography and Critical Theory (20 credits)

Get an introduction to the main critical ideas and theoretical concepts which have informed photographic practice since the 1960s.

  • Photography and Narrative (20 credits)

Explore narrative as a way of developing a photographic body of work. Use a social documentary approach, or engage with other genres within photography to evidence a clear decision-making process that shows an understanding of creating a narrative, and how that differs from simply sequencing images.

  • Self-Negotiated Project A (20 credits)

Initiate individual projects and programmes of independent study. Develop of your working practice and the establishment of a 'professional' attitude in terms of motivation, research, production skills and editing.

Final Year (national level 6):

  • Research Project (20 credits)

Explore an interdisciplinary approach to the theory, history and practice of the photographic image as a form of representational expression.

  • The Commission (20 credits)

Look at professional photographic practice and commissioning.

  • Self-Negotiated Project B (40 credits)

Build on the experience already encountered at Stage 2. Initiate a project of independent study and visual practice, reviewed at regular group and individual tutorials.

  • Exhibition/Presentation (40 credits)

Develop a self-negotiated project. Submit the work as your final degree level presentation.

The Northern Centre of Photography,
City Campus,
Chester Road,

54.904364, -1.390275

  • You’ll have access to top-of-the-range camera and studio facilities, including:

    • Cameras include: Pentax 35mm Nikon 35mm, Mamiya RB6x7, Hasselblad, Fuji 6x7, Fuji 6x9, Toyo 5x4, and Sinar 5x4. We provide Digital Nikon D80, D90, D700 D800 and D810 cameras for high-end digital studio work as well as HD video cameras
    • Accessories: Wide range of camera lenses and backs
    • Studios: 4 extensive photography studios equipped with Tungsten and Bowens Esprit studio lighting
    • Lighting: Wide range of portable lighting kits and flash guns
    • Macs: Digital suites with open-access Apple Macs for editing video and digital images
    Cameras and studios
  • You'll be using chemical and digital photography facilities, which include:

    • 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
    • Digital darkroom: A dedicated digital darkroom with Epson V750 flatbed scanners covering all formats from 35mm to 10x8 and Flextite scanners for extremely high resolution scans from transparency or negative film – 35mm to 5”x 4”
  • FabLab Sunderland offers a diverse range of specialist digital design and fabrication equipment. Based at the Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland city centre, it is a creative space where anyone can make (almost) anything. Our students gain free access to FabLab's machines which include:

    • Epilog laser cutter
    • ShopBot CNC router
    • The Roland Modela MDX-20 milling machine
    • Roland Vinyl cutter GS-24
    • Dimension 1200es Series 3D Printer – ABS plastic (large capacity 3D printer)
    • Ultimaker 2 (small scale 3D printer)
    • Ulitmaker 2 Extended (medium scale 3D printer)
  • The University Library subscribes to a comprehensive range of academic journals and databases so you can access reliable and up-to-date information.

    Our experienced Library team provide a high-quality service and are sensitive to the requirements and working methods of our students. A dedicated Academic Liaison Librarian supports students and staff in the arts, design and performing arts disciplines.

    Students are encouraged to develop their research skills, working with lecturers and library staff to cultivate their knowledge of contemporary and historical perspectives of art and design, as well as the wider contexts of their subject.

    The key resources for your course include:

    Discover: The Library’s multi-disciplinary search tool

    Art Full Text: A major resource for media and arts information

    JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’): Giving access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences

    Lexis: A major resource on full-text newspaper articles and legal information

    Library Services - arts and design


The University provides excellent facilities and industry-standard software so it's easy to make a seamless transition from your studies to the workplace. Photography courses are situated at the Northern Centre of Photography at St Mary's building on City Campus. Take a look via our virtual tour.

Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • GPA 3.0 or above from High School Diploma along with one of the following at the required grade - SAT I and SAT II, ACT or Advanced Placement

If your qualification is not listed above, please contact the Student Administration team at for further advice.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

If English is not your first language we will require an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall score of 6.0 and at least 5.5 or higher in each component: reading, writing, listening and speaking. An alternative approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) can also be considered if the applicant's element scores are equivalent to those required for IELTS.


If the above criteria is met you will be asked to attend an interview. For this interview please prepare a portfolio of work, which should be simply mounted and accompanied by preparatory work. Sketchbooks are an important feature of your preparatory work and should be included. Where possible, 3D and large 2D work should be photographed. 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:

‡ Drawing: examples of observed drawing and exploratory drawing

‡ Projects: evidence of project work together with your sketchbooks and development work

‡ Self-initiated work: that you have done out of personal interest

‡ Research: examples of various forms of investigation undertaken for projects

‡ Writing: examples of reports, essays or journals

Fees and finance

The annual tuition fee is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 if you are from outside the UK / EU

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time students are £5,000 per 120 credits. Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

Student in the Sunderland Futures department


Photography graduates can work in a range of areas with our graduates 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 using their creative and management skills and established their own small businesses operating throughout the country.

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.

All students studying on-campus undergraduate Photography, Video and Digital Editing courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp. By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis.

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.


  • I enjoyed the freedom of self-expression and the help given by the lecturers at Sunderland.
    Esme Fletcher, Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

    Esme Fletcher

  • Sunderland is an excellent place to develop as an artist and photographer.
    Helen McGhie, Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

    Helen McGhie

  • I wanted to do something that spoke about mythology, culture and our heritage.
    Ignotas Kuprys

    Ignotas Kuprys

  • The University of Sunderland was my route to the best job in the world.
    Luke Newman, Photography, Video and Digital Imaging

    Luke Newman

Meet our academics

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