BA (Hons) Photography

Photography embraces everything from commercial image making in areas such as fashion, editorial or advertising, through to exhibition-based art practice. This variety is reflected in our programme of study, which is one of the most highly regarded in the UK. We offer this exciting and innovative course in contemporary photography, through which you can develop your own photographic voice and approach.

This photography degree, based at our Cardiff campus, takes a broad approach to photography. This allows you to nurture your creativity and work towards a specialist area. You’ll gain skills in digital photography and traditional analogue techniques, as well as in other related media such as moving image and sound. This mainly practical photography degree is underpinned by the history of photography and visual culture, as well as contextual elements. Studying these will encourage you to think critically about photography and its impact on culture and society.

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UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
PW36 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
PW36 Full-time 3 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

The first year of the photography degree introduces and explores key concepts that are relevant to contemporary photographic practice through challenging practical projects. All practical modules, whether based in fashion, advertising or fine-art photography, will develop your technical skills and provide stimulating assignments to develop your creativity.

As you move through the photography course, you will reinforce your emerging photographic practice through a sound knowledge of the history of photography and an awareness of contemporary developments in the medium. The contextual elements of the course will encourage you to think critically about photography and its impact on culture and society.

Year One - Photography degree

  • Photography and the Real
  • Photography and Illusion
  • Photography as Narrative
  • Photography and Responsibility
  • Critical Practice: Histories
  • Critical Practice: Languages

Year Two - Photography degree

  • Defining Practice
  • Negotiated Project
  • Critical Practice: Paradigms
  • Critical Practice: Research

Year Three - Photography degree

  • Refining Practice
  • Professional Resolution
  • Critical Paper
  • Professional Practice

Modules are subject to change.


The emphasis of this photography degree is practice, but it also contains theoretical elements that provide context. The practical teaching is delivered through a combination of workshops, lectures and tutorials, with screenings, gallery visits, field trips and other events. You will usually develop your practical work individually, but will occasionally work in groups.

You will have guidance on assignments but will also be expected to work in a self-directed way, especially in your final year Major Project that concludes with a public exhibition. Most theory modules have seminar sessions as well as lectures.


Assessment is through regular coursework submissions, in addition to examinations in some areas.


We take pride in our links with industry, and provide numerous opportunities for our students to work with creative professionals through live projects.


The BA (Hons) Photography course is taught by a dedicated team of tutors – many of who are accomplished photographers, writers or curators who will help you develop your vision to the best possible outcome. We also invite people from the photographic industry to come to talk to you as part of a lively visiting lecture programme.

The entry criteria below shows the qualification range within which the University will make offers. Most offers we make are at the top of the range, but we take all aspects of an application into consideration and applicants receive a personalised offer. Combinations of qualifications are acceptable and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable.


An interview and portfolio are required for this photography course. The portfolio should provide evidence of your ability in the field. You may also be asked to provide examples of ‘behind the scenes’ work, such as research material or a workbook, to show how your creative ideas were researched and developed. During the interview you will be asked to discuss the images in your portfolio, and to talk about your interest in the subject. These items can be uploaded electronically to a photo sharing website such as Flickr or a file sharing website such as Dropbox which supports large images. Alternatively, you can provide us with a link to your own website if you have one.

Typical A-Level Offer

BCC - CDD to include a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level with a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 104-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass in a relevant subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points).

Typical IB Offer

Pass the International Baccalaureate Diploma with higher grades of between 655-445 to include a relevant higher subject (this is equivalent to 112-80 UCAS tariff points)

Typical Access to HE Offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits overall – the credits should equate to between 106-80 UCAS tariff points (examples below)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 15 Distinctions, 24 Merits and 6 Passes in a relevant subject (106 UCAS Tariff Points)

45 Level 3 credits equating to 12 Distinctions, 6 Merits and 27 Passes in a relevant subject (80 UCAS Tariff Points)

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

This course is eligible under the Enhanced Learning Credits scheme for Ex-Armed Forces personnel.

August 2018 - July 2019 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £9000 
  • Full-time International:  £12300 

August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC
  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit (Uniform and Equipment) * £250 - £1000
Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera with interchangeable lens option - this to start the academic year and to be used as main camera for production
Field Trips * £0 - £100
Year 1 Trip to West Wales or similar, 3 days (partly covered by University funding)
Field Trips £250 - £400
Year 02/03 International Trip, 4 days/3 nights e.g. Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona - students can attend this trip in both years 2 and 3
Materials * £1000 - £1500
Cost of printing papers/film etc. over a three year period.
Other: £400 - £1500
Mac or PC computer capable of image and video editing and storage/processing of images
Other: * £300 - £800
Costs of producing final year publication and fabrication of graduate show work - cost is dependent on nature of work and aims of student regarding next step in career/employability

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Admissions statement

The diversity of course content on the Photography degree, in practical and theoretical modules, ensures that you graduate with an all-round critical understanding of photography and its relationship to a range of other media forms.

Graduates have gone on to a range of career paths with many successfully entering the photographic industries. These include commercial fields such as advertising and fashion, as well as art contexts such as work for the gallery, museum and other cultural sectors. Graduates from the Photography degree often go on to study photography at postgraduate level leading to a range of enhanced opportunities in the field of photography.

Recent alumni include Matt Damsell, Senior Digital Designer at River Island; Lucy Gold, freelance interior stylist and photographer; Lisa-Jane Meates, freelance commercial photographer; and Michelle James, Photographic Manager at Kurt Geiger.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.