Photography Arts MA

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  • Course description
    Photography Arts MA.

    Course overview:

    The Photography Arts MA is a new revalidated course, which replaces the former Photographic Studies MA (1996-2016). The programme helps you develop your own distinct photographic practice and visual research, and is designed to enable you to advance and focus your photographic practice in making new work, supported by a positive educational environment where you can accumulate new knowledge and develop new critical thinking. Students are fully supported by our internationally renowned photography staff.

    In an open-minded educational environment you will be able to explore the dynamic range of your photographic practice, engage in innovative thinking and cultivate new independent creative strategies for your practice. Situated in the dynamic Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design, you will draw on extensive photographic facilities and a wealth of inter-disciplinary expertise in this world-famous centre for the practice and critical research of photography.

    The course has an open definition of photography as a medium and practice, recognising plural tendencies in its definition and identity. Different modes of practice may be developed and pursued on the course, which encompasses a wide range of methods and techniques: conceptualism, expanded documentary, video, archival, fine art, experimental, installation, fictional realism, and other performative modes of photographic practice. The course encourages open experimentation in the development of new ideas and work. You will advance your practical work choosing new or traditional techniques, digital or analogue forms, or a mixture of approaches. The course champions a long and proud tradition of new and challenging photography at the University.

    This is the right course if you are highly motivated, excited to develop and expand your independent practice alongside critical research. Working with our highly experienced staff you can find new approaches and forms of thinking about photography. Alumni from the course (under the former title Photographic Studies MA) now work all over the world in a range of careers as photographers, artists, picture editors, researchers and careers in the creative industries. Do you want to join them?

    Course content:

    The course aims to develop your practice, informed by research. The course sets out to stimulate thinking through practice as a way to generate new innovative work. Students make and actively present their visual work in exhibition, book and/or screen modes of presentation to explore ideas and experiments in new methods of practice and representation. Critical research modules help inform and elaborate the contemporary situation of photography as cultural practice, whether considered in the arts and/or media environment. Excellent facilities and technical workshops support the research and practice. Students write three short research essays during the course, each aimed at broadening knowledge of photography and its related histories and criticism. There is no dissertation on this course except as an option.

    The course enables students to become independent practitioners, generating new and informed work. You will be empowered with new visual, practical and critical skills that culminate in the Masters Project, which you will show at the end of the course in the degree show. The final degree show will be in central London.


    Core modules:

    Aesthetics and Photography

    The module explores the question of photography in relation to aesthetic issues. Questions of affect, the real, and modes of production of photographic meaning are explored in contemporary culture and the histories of photography. Critically informed by lectures and seminars, the module enables a broader knowledge and experience of the theory and practice of questioning cultural and aesthetic functions of the photographic image and process.

    Contemporary Debates

    The course invites a range of international guest speakers (e.g artists, photographers, critics, philosophers), to give dedicated talks about contemporary culture and image debates. The issues, visual work and themes explored in talks and the critical discussions afterwards are a means to inspire questions and debate. Students are then encouraged to develop their own paths of research and explore new topics of visual research.

    Masters Project

    The Masters Project is the major body of work developed on the course and forms the key work in your photography portfolio. You be able to direct your personal goals and advance them through your practice. The Masters Project is usually exhibited in the final degree show at Ambika P3, our fabulous exhibition venue near Baker Street in Marylebone, London. Students are supported with individual tutorials, group reviews of work, exhibition presentation and professional career support. The framework of the course and its research modules all help to inform this Masters project, which provides the future orientated career path of its producer.

    Photography Practice

    The Photography Practice module enables you to expand, develop and test photographic ideas and explore them in a longer photography project, lasting up to one year. Your photographic project work will help to develop a visual form of project work through exploring different methods and modes of working process. The module offers a supportive environment, providing an important context for advancing the photographic work. Photography staff help to stimulate new directions for the work, with individual tutorials, group discussions and practical workshops providing a clear curriculum.

    Research Methods

    In creative and critical play, students develop a research process to inform their Master’s project. Research Methods explores new methods, photographic techniques and visual strategies and provides the basis for research and development of this major project, its subject matter and contextual knowledge. Students acquire new critical tools and research paths alongside practical techniques and new intellectual ideas. ‘Doing and thinking’ is a key part of the development process for new work.

    Theories of the Image

    Photography theory, first developed at this University, helps to develop a critical understanding of photography as a plural practice, and to introduce current theoretical debates on photography. The various uses of photography in art and media environments offer a challenge in constructing a view of what photography is and does. Theory and practice are brought together in this module to show their mutual relations.

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