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BA (Hons) Photography

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    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

If life through a lens is a vocation you could really get behind then you should definitely consider our Photography course, delivered at Wiltshire College Salisbury. It offers a balance between technical mastery, personal experimentation and creative development, intended to give you the best possible basis for a successful career.

Backed by over half a century's worth of experience in educating photographers, we've maintained a tradition of being highly practical while offering a well-considered blend of assignments and academic study. On this creative and captivating course, you'll undertake a wide range of projects, including professionally-guided assignments, research into the industry, as well as the production of a professional-style portfolio.

What's more, we have plenty of fully-equipped studios including traditional darkrooms for you to explore, as well as professional cameras, lighting equipment and digital imaging software, which you'll get to use alongside more traditional techniques for post-production work.

Always ready for our talented students to hit the headlines, we'll also give you regular opportunities to enter national competitions such as those organised by The Association of Photographers and the British Institute of Professional Photography to which the course is affiliated.

BU graduates who studied in this subject area were typically earning £27,600 after five years, this is 38% higher than all graduates who studied this subject. Open Days for this course are held at Wiltshire College, Salisbury where this course is delivered. Visit their website to book onto an Open Day. 

Statistics shown are taken from Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO 2017).

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Wiltshire College, Salisbury


3 years with a 2-week placement or 4 years with a 30-week placement


The British Institute of Professional Photography and the Association of Photographers

Entry requirements:

For 2018 entry: 96 -104 tariff points from 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma: MMM. For more information check out our 2018 entry requirements page.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component or equivalent. For more information check out our International entry requirements page

Course details

Year 1

  • Media concepts & contexts: You'll learn how to carry out independent study and research as well as critically reflecting upon your own beliefs and understandings within a media context.
  • Professional development plan: You will research a particular area of industry practice, with a view to developing your own individual career path.
  • Introduction to production skills: You will learn the fundamentals of imaging making using traditional silver based technology as well as the latest digital equipment and software. Work will be both in the studio and on location.
  • Applied production skills 1: You will develop key skills in underlying concepts and principles associated with images, narratives and audiences in photography.
  • Collaborative project: You will work collaboratively within a team to produce a professional body of work.

Year 2

  • Media theory: During this unit you'll focus in on one key media theory and reflect upon the implications of the theory in your practice.
  • Professional studies: In this unit you will gain an understanding of the photographic commissioning and production processes, plus discover an understanding of what business requirements are needed for different applications of photography. You will also undertake an Industry Case Study, looking at an organisation who may be a future employer or buyer of your photography.
  • Applied production skills 2: Here you will develop a critical and creative voice. You will undertake two self-negotiated assignments through which you will be expected to develop flair and style. What's more you will be assessed on your photographic portfolio as well as a written reflective piece.
  • Research methods: Discover key skills in media research, and draw upon various research methods to carry out your own piece of independent research. This will be invaluable when you start working on your dissertation in your final year.
  • Photography project: You will learn how to plan, develop and execute a body of work to a specified professional brief. Traditionally this has been a flagship project developing skills in set building and lighting.

Year 3

This course contains a two week period of professional placement, usually completed between year 2 and 3. Alternatively, the course can be taken as a 4-year sandwich when your third year will be spent on professional industrial placement. The placement is an integral part of the course and will give you the opportunity to relate theory to practice and to develop a real understanding of the profession you will enter upon graduating.

Year 3/4

  • Dissertation: A dissertation allows you to develop and demonstrate your critical, analytical and research skills by producing a major piece of academic work. It gives you the chance to really hone in on an area of expertise.
  • Concept development: This unit underpins your Graduate project and includes the development of a production folder, critical statement of practice and exhibition.
  • Graduate project: In this unit you will get the chance to plan, produce and author a portfolio of photography.

Programme Specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

View the programme specification for BA (Hons) Photography.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

We recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career; therefore we now offer every new student the opportunity to undertake a work placement as part of their course.

We will provide a great deal of support to help you find the most appropriate work placement for the subject you’re studying and the career you’re interested in, which means you could be based anywhere in the UK, or even overseas.

A placement should be a highly rewarding experience for you and the employing company and we do our best to ensure that everyone involved feels that they have got the most that they can from the experience.

The benefits to you as a placement student are many. You will have the chance to:

  • Put the theory learnt throughout the course into professional practice
  • Enhance your study and help you decide on subject options (where appropriate)
  • Learn a wide range of skills such as time management, problem solving and team work (all of these are important to succeed in any career)
  • Make contacts, as it is not uncommon for our students to be offered permanent positions to return to after graduating
  • Gain a real insight into how the industry operates in roles that would be almost impossible to achieve for an outsider
  • Many of our students, during their placement, are given responsibilities normally associated with graduate trainees.

How long is my placement?

You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study and can choose to complete 2 weeks or a minimum 30 week placement.

Find out more about placements and our student experiences here.

Your application

Background and experience

For this course we are looking for applicants who:

  • Demonstrate both intellectual and creative abilities
  • Show experience of Photography
  • Have an appreciation of the academic underpinnings of photography
  • Possess a strong awareness of the visual communications industry
  • Demonstrate good technical and communication skills.

Students on this course will typically have a background in photography and the academic ability to undertake a degree. Students will also be media aware and have a proven ability to work creatively, in groups and individually.

We look for creative and innovative thinkers who are familiar with current Photographic practice and want to apply it. We would encourage applicants who are passionate about photography, work well in groups and express themselves well in writing.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their UCAS applications and may ask you to attend an interview. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

If you are asked to attend an interview, you will need to bring a portfolio of your work with you. This should include approximately 20 photographs or example of creative materials.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme

Applicants who are predicted to achieve strong academic results will be eligible for BU’s Unconditional Offer Scheme in recognition of their academic performance and potential to succeed at university. If you are selected for the scheme and commit to us as your firm choice of university, then we will match this commitment by making your offer unconditional, which will guarantee your place at BU.

You will receive a standard conditional offer based on the entry requirements for your course via UCAS Track and your offer letter – it will advise that you are eligible for the unconditional offer scheme. We will then update your offer to unconditional should you choose BU as your firm choice on UCAS Track. We believe that unconditional offers reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible, and we will reward you with an Academic Excellence scholarship of £1,000 in your first year if you achieve AAA or above at A-level or equivalent.

2018 entry requirements

We use the UCAS Tariff to show our entry requirements and will accept a combination of grades from your qualifications. You can use the UCAS calculator to see how your qualifications equate to tariff points.

The entry requirements for this course are 96 -104 tariff points from a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifcations. BTEC Extended Diploma: MMM.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies.

GCSEs: This course requires GCSE English and Maths grade C (or grade 4 in the reformed GCSE grading) or equivalent qualifications.

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.

Other qualifications: We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service – it may be that we can still consider it.

Access courses: 96 - 102 tariff points with any combination of Distinction, Merit, Pass grades.

Students may also submit for the Professional Qualifying Examination (PQE) of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP).

The course is supported by an impressive network of alumni, many of whom have risen to the top of their field. They frequently assist with professional placements and visit the college as guest speakers.

BTEC qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit (96 tariff points)
  • Diploma: 96 tariff points (Grade DD)
  • BTEC National Foundation Diploma/90-credit Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
  • BTEC National Extended Certificate/Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied an A-level or equivalent.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: 96-104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Principal Subjects.

Cambridge Technical qualifications:

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Merit, Merit, Merit (96 tariff points)
  • Diploma: 96 tariff points (Grade DD)
  • Subsidiary Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent
  • Introductory Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): 26 - 29 overall including grade H5 from 2 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Advanced Higher: 96 - 104 tariff points including a minimum of 2 Advanced Highers.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by an A-level or equivalent.

Extended Project Qualification: Accepted as part of the overall tariff but it must be accompanied by 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

International entry requirements

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.

We offer a number of preparatory programmes through the Bournemouth University International College. These courses offer you progression from High School in your home country to a Bachelor’s degree at BU.


There is always demand for talented photographers and this degree will prepare you for work in this varied and exciting industry. Once you graduate, you can apply for roles with established studios, with large organisations that require staff photographers, with photo libraries or agencies, or can forge your own career as a freelancer.

Among the roles that our graduates have moved into are:

  • Staff photographer
  • Freelance photographer
  • Photographer's assistant
  • Picture editor
  • Publisher.

Industries worked in

  • Photography
  • Creative
  • Publishing
  • Media.

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

Course changes

The table below indicates the latest changes to this course.


Changes to this course

Where the change was made

Previous text


After an annual review of the placement year tuition fee,  a price increase in line with current inflation, equating to 3% has been introduced.

Fees £790
25/10/2017 The entry requirements for 2018 have changed to 96 -104 tariff points from a minimum of 2 A-levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma: MMM.

Key information and 2018 entry requirements.

2017 entry requirements: The entry requirements for this course are 96 -104 tariff points from 3 A levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM.

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