MA Photography

Are you a photographer who wants to further develop and broaden your knowledge and skills? Our Photography Master’s degree focuses on contemporary photographic practices across a diverse range of genres. You’ll be given the opportunity to explore and deepen your understanding of photographic practice and culture.

MA Photography

Course details

Our popular MA Photography course has achieved success through the production of student work of the highest standard. Some of the most important photo festivals and exhibitions, both national and international, have included University of Bolton photography students’ work. Their work has also been acquired/collected by local and national galleries and other collections.

We’ll encourage and guide you to develop a critical understanding of the key issues in contemporary photographic culture. You’ll look at ethics, social responsibility, meaning and context in photographs, and see how they are influenced and informed by these issues through a series of research-informed practical assignments. You’ll also explore the work of contemporary practitioners and the relationship between their work and the photographic market.

Our highly skilled and experienced teaching team will encourage you to develop a systematic understanding and critical awareness of knowledge relevant to advanced photographic practice. We also offer opportunities to engage with external creative industry professionals across the full range of photographic cultures. Successful graduates have experienced career progression across a number of creative industry sub-sectors, as freelancers and curators, working for charities, and in broadcasting. Others have chosen to teach in higher and further education.

  • Start date: 21/09/2020
  • Location: The University of Bolton
  • Award: MA
  • Duration: 1 year

Course highlights:

  • Our custom-designed photography department offers outstanding facilities, including darkrooms, a dedicated computer suite with a high output printing facility and four studios with specialist lighting.
  • We have strong, well-established links with a number of important institutions and organisations, including national Galleries, The Royal Photographic Society, Chetham’s Library, and The Worktown Archive at Bolton Museum & Art Galleries.
  • Guest lecturers have included John Bulmer, Chris Coekin, Geoff Dyer, Francis Hodgson, Brian Griffin, Dewi Lewis, Ian McMillan, Simon Roberts, Pieter Van der Houwen and Tom Wood. Specialist masterclass workshops are run by invited practitioners.
  • You’ll have the opportunity to develop a large-scale project resulting in an exhibition (online or in a designated space) on a personally researched theme.

Key features:

  • The MA Photography programme is practice-based and industry-focused, offering you rich learning experiences and discipline-specific and transferrable employability skills.
  • As a successful postgraduate student you’ll be able to continue your studies to gain teaching qualifications or go on to study further for an MPhil/PhD.
  • You’ll have access to an exciting visiting speaker programme, providing insight into industry experts’ professional practice and up-to-the-minute developments in the sector. Our specialist tutors and technical support staff have professional experience and industry connections.
  • By the time you graduate, you’ll be practiced in the application of business management skills such as creating a business plan and writing proposal briefs for commission, exhibition and project work.
  • We make use of e-learning through the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE). All modules will be supported via the VLE helping you to keep up-to-date with the module delivery, even if there are occasions when you can’t attend classes.

Entry requirements

  • Start date: 21/09/2020
  • Location: The University of Bolton
  • Award: MA
  • Duration: 1 year

You should have one of the following: at least an Upper Second Class (2.1) Honours degree in Photography; at least an Upper Second Class (2.1) Honours degree in any subject and significant professional experience in the industry; or at least an Upper Second Class (2.1) Honours degree in a related subject with a major project in photography.

If you don’t have these qualifications but do have significant experience in the field of photography and are able to present a strong portfolio, then we’ll be happy to consider your application.

You’ll be required to attend an interview and present a portfolio of photography and examples of written work that demonstrate your suitability and aptitude for the course. You should bring: i) a physical or electronic folio of your work; ii) a copy of your final BA (Hons) dissertation, or other research, to your interview. We’re looking for you to demonstrate a clear style and commitment to the area of study. Please edit the folio down to around 20 pictures, including at least one picture story.

You’ll be required to show original copies of your highest qualification certificate before starting the course.

If English isn’t your first language you’ll also need IELTS 6.5 with normally no less than 6.0 in any band (or equivalent). We also accept a range of other English language qualifications – please visit our English Language Requirements web page for more details. Find out more

Career opportunities

For both aspiring and practicing photographers, our MA Photography will enable you to understand and interact with international image markets. The degree is specifically aimed at equipping you to work in different cultures and publish your work in a range of domestic and international galleries, and online.

The course is designed to be accessible to a wide constituency from graduates to working professionals. Studying this course will also help you to develop a number of career-enhancing skills in addition to your subject specific knowledge and understanding. These include interpersonal skills, research skills, oral and written communication, independent working, and time and project management skills.

What can I do with this qualification?

Many photography graduates choose to put their creative skills to good use in related areas such as marketing, advertising, web design and digital marketing. Other career prospects include travel photography, photojournalism, studio management, teaching, fashion and press photography, medical illustration, graphic design and visual media, camera operation, commercial/product photography, and teaching.

Typical employers include newspapers, film and television, social photography, health, the public sector, the travel industry, universities and media organisations such as advertising. A large number of photography graduates are self-employed and work on a freelance basis.

Our graduates find employment in a wide range of visual media. Former students have gone on to find careers, both employed and self-employed, in editorial, documentary and social photography, commercial and fashion studios, plus other arts-related sectors such as the media, galleries, museums and commercial environments.

Our Master’s degree is also a springboard for further research, either within academia or the private sector. You could also undertake further research and study for a PhD.

Alternative career options

  • Film, video and picture editing
  • Education and training
  • Visual merchandising
  • Museum curation
  • Art gallery management
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Art direction
  • Fashion
  • Weddings and social
  • Photographic laboratories
  • Conservation
  • Forensics

Professional recognition

Fees & funding

Home/EU fees

  Year of study Total
Entry year 2020/212021/22
2020/21 £5,400-£5,400
2021/22 -nullnull

International fees

  Year of study Total
Entry year 2020/212021/22
2020/21 £12,450-£12,450
2021/22 -nullnull

The fees for a student’s course of study will be set for the normal duration of that course subject only to inflationary increases – measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) recorded in March each year to take effect for subsequent start dates.

The University is currently awaiting Government guidelines as to EU fee charges for students commencing study in 2019/20.

UK undergraduate tuition fees are subject to UK government approval and are subject to the outcome of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

How to apply


You may apply directly to the University using the University's online application form. Please select your chosen start date from the list below:

You should have to hand:

  • Details of the educational establishments you attended and dates

  • Your certificates for the qualifications you are using to gain entry to the course – you will need to enter the completion date and upload copies

  • Details of any employment history including name, address, dates and role

  • Personal statement – this can be either input into the relevant field or uploaded separately

  • Details including e-mail addresses of two referees, at least one of which should be someone who can provide an academic reference

Please make sure any documents you wish to upload in support of your application are in pdf or jpeg format. Personal statements may be word documents.

Please ensure your data is correct at each stage of the application before you proceed to the next page. If you use the back button at any time during the application, you should check the validity of the data you have already input.

If you experience difficulties during the application process, contact the Admissions Team on 01204 903394 or


The University welcomes applications from international students from all over the world. We try to make the application process as simple and as fast as possible for our international applicants.

How you apply is determined by your current location and what you are choosing to study:

  1. Apply direct to the University. Links for the next available intakes of this course are shown below. Please click the link which will direct you to the online application form. Please read the user guidance before completing this.
  2. Apply via one of our approved in-country referral partners. A list of our partners may be found on the International pages of this website.
  3. Apply via UCAS for courses starting in September only – visit

Should you have any queries please contact the International Team on +44 (0) 1204 903110 or email

Teaching & assessment


Modules listed below are a mixture of compulsory and optional. You may not have the opportunity to study all the modules as part of the course.

  • Advanced Practice 1
  • Advanced Research and Study Skills
  • Advanced Practice 2
  • Critical Thinking in Practice
  • Advanced Practice 3
  • Critical Analysis and Reflection

Teaching, learning and assessment

We use a blended approach to teaching and learning which means you’ll have face-to-face sessions as well as take part in online learning. Studio, computer suite, location and lecture room activities are the main features of the programme and you can expect to spend your time in these specialist areas. Lectures, seminars, demonstrations and masterclass workshops will link specialisms across the traditional boundaries of photography and related theory, and will combine traditional and modern techniques. You’ll also engage in self-directed study with support from a range of staff; the contribution of technicians and library/learning resources staff in this context is an important feature.

Proposals of Work are developed early in the programme where they are introduced at the start of each stage (either set or self-initiated). They will provide the framework for your research and practical explorations. This is also an important aspect of your self-directed study activity and will be negotiated with your supervisor at the start of each semester, and then reviewed at intervals during the module. The one-to-one tutorial is a major feature of the programme, and is where you’ll receive formative feedback on your progress in the module.

Peer reviews are also a regular feature of the programme and take place at points throughout each module through the year. Each year, optional study visits will be offered to students on the programme.


The university will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver your course as described in its published material and the programme specification for the academic year in which you begin your course. Please be aware that our courses are subject to review on an ongoing basis. The content of course modules and mode of associated assessments may be updated on an annual basis. This is to ensure that all modules are up to date and responsive to employment and sector needs. The published course material and the programme specification contain indicative ‘optional modules’ that may be subject to change due to circumstances outside of our control. For this reason we cannot guarantee to run any specific optional module.

Assessment methods

Level Assessment method
Level One Coursework (100%)

Learning activities

Level Learning activity
Level One Guided independent study (80%), Scheduled learning and teaching activities (20%)

Contact The University

Key facts

  • Course type:
  • Start date:
  • Location:
    The University of Bolton
  • Award:
  • Duration:
    1 year

Contact us

Ian Glover
Programme Leader
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903364

Enquiry Team
University of Bolton
Telephone: +44 (0)1204 903903