Photography MA

Why choose this course?

The Photography MA at Kingston School of Art is a highly bespoke course designed to support you as an artist working with the photographic as an expanded and interdisciplinary practice through practice-led research.

With an emphasis on critical thinking and socially engaged practices it offers transferable skills in the production and post-production of images through the communication and development of ideas

You will develop a major body of practical work for exhibition and publication over the 17-month course in a supportive and dynamic environment culminating in a final show at Kingston School of Art.

The course encourages a rich interdisciplinary approach that crosses the boundaries between different forms, disciplines and subject matters that engage with the expanded definition of the photographic medium (analogue and digital, new media and technology, still and moving image, installation; performance and the archive).

Our modules are designed to help you become an independent practitioner who speaks across a wide range of practices and theories reflecting on the technological, political, environmental and social role of the photographic.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 17 months 3–5 days per week September 2022
Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston

  • The course ethos is to offer highly tailored and bespoke support to build your self -confidence and evolving practice, and enable you to take on ambitious projects and ownership of your ideas.
  • Facilities include analogue and digital suites, a wet darkroom, professional photo studios, a finishing and demonstration area and camera store. You will have access to film and animation suites, bookmaking, printmaking and 3D workshops.
  • There are visits to galleries, photography festivals and other cultural spaces, as well as study tours (visits are optional and incur an extra cost).
  • Studies culminate in a show at Kingston School of Art, where you can exhibit your work. Recent MA exhibitions have been at the Stanley Picker Gallery.

The Art School Experience

As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.

Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines – enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.

The Art School Experience

What you will study

This research-led course engages with the photographic in its widest sense (analogue and digital, new media and technology, still and moving image, installation, performance and engagements with the archive).

You will have access to all Kingston School of Art's workshops and be encouraged to experiment with the photographic in new and innovative ways as an artist.

 

Modules

The key emphasis of this course is on supporting and developing the direction of your practice led-research through tutorials, presentations, and regular seminar discussions where you will be taught how to research and conceptualise your work.

The range of critical theory extends across dialogical aesthetics, ethnography, post-colonial theory, globalisation, environmentalism, social justice issues, queer theory and gender-based debates, privacy and surveillance, politics of the internet and technological aspects of the photographic medium.

You'll take three modules, worth a total of 180 credits.

Core modules

Critical Theory in Photography and Visual Culture

30 credits

This module enables students to develop an independent and critical approach to the expanded boundaries and definitions of photography and their own practice taking into account different critical theories and contexts. Culminating in a 5,000 word illustrated essay students consider the convergence of theory and practice, covering different theoretical approaches to photography and its inter-related media as well as engaging with a diverse range of approaches to producing, thinking and viewing photography and its relation to the visual arts.

Students are encouraged to engage with practices and concepts in contemporary photographic discourse that are relevant to their own interests by identifying their field of context and setting their own research objectives and particular trajectory. The outcome essay will tend to be a detailed analysis of photographers/artists relevant to the students practice.

Photography Practices

60 credits

This module introduces and develop students' individual photographic practice through self-initiated research supported by tutorials, group seminars, critiques and informal presentations that deepen students understanding of how their work can be situated within contemporary and historical frameworks, and expanded definitions of photography. Students establish working methodologies relative to a number of contributing modes of study: one-to one tutorials, seminars/discussion, research processes, the sharing and reviewing of work in progress, discourse and lectures by visiting professionals/theorists/practitioners, field visits and group critique.

The module culminates in the presentation of a body of work (and research seminar) at an assessment point where students evidence the development, planning, production and presentation of a body of work supported by the submission of blog and sketchbooks that evidences critical reflection; a 1000-1500 word critical reflective statement.

Advanced Photography Practices

90 credits

This final module enables students to advance their practice by building on their research enquiries that were developed in the previous modules. This enables students to build a strong and sustainable artistic practice and body of work that is coherent, innovative, conceptually resolved and technically well executed-for exhibition and publication. This module culminates in the presentation of a body of work for final exhibition in January (TB1 in YR 2) with an emphasis on research, production and process and the ability of the student to position their work within the wider context of photography and contemporary art.

In addition, students are also required to submit a publication, a 1000-1500 word critical reflective statement, and an artist's statement 150-300 words, which serve as an introduction to the body of work for audiences.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

The course is aimed at a range of photography practitioners. Students are admitted through formal university application and interview (with a portfolio of work). You will also be required to submit a personal statement and an indicative project proposal about how you intend to use the 17-month course to develop a significant body of photographic work. We would also like you to include a short video of yourself.

Please note that we can only consider your application once you upload all four items together (portfolio, personal statement, indicative project proposal and video). You will receive email instructions how to upload these items once you have submitted your application form for the course.

The minimum entry qualifications for the field are:

  • a 2:2 or above honours degree (or its equivalent) in a related or appropriate subject. However, each application is considered on its own merits and therefore previous experience and qualifications may be taken into account.

International and mature students with relevant experiences, interest, motivation and commitment are welcomed.

Portfolio guidelines

Please provide a maximum of 20 pages of your practical work.

Your portfolio should include:

  • a selection of your work
  • a selection of your professional work (if relevant)
  • this can include examples of preparatory creative work (for example, images from your sketchbooks)

Please carefully select and edit your work to produce an exciting, creative and representative portfolio which informs us about your skills, interests and ambitions.

Each page may include more than one image.

Personal statement

In your personal statement please provide information about yourself and why you want to join the course. The statement should be 300–500 words and should include:

  1. What you are doing at the moment educationally, professionally and personally.
  2. Why you wish to study on this course.
  3. Your relevant experience.
  4. Your relevant skills.
  5. Reasons why you think you are a suitable candidate for acceptance onto the course.

Indicative project proposal

Your project proposal (300–500 words) should include details about how you intend to use the course to develop a significant body of photographic work.

Briefly outline and describe your specific project/area of research that you are interested in undertaking and developing.

This should include aims, objectives and rationale and include:

  1. Personal relevance to the project proposed.
  2. Your proposed approach and methods you may use.
  3. Relevant theoretical texts/literature.
  4. Reference to artists and photographers relevant to the project proposal.
  5. Any interdisciplinary aspects to the project if appropriate.

Video of yourself

We would like you to include a short video of yourself talking about your work and ideas, answering the following questions.

Please do not read your answers from a script, we would like to see you speak spontaneously to camera.

Upload the video clip to a site (i.e. Vimeo, YouTube, etc) that does not require a user name or password for us to access and view your video.

Once you have done so, please copy and paste the weblink to your video onto a Word document and upload that document to your OSIS account as per the instructions below.

Please include in your video:

  1. What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally, personally?
  2. What kind of images do you want to make and why?
  3. What artists are you influenced by?
  4. Why did you choose our MA Photography to apply to, what are you looking to gain from the course?

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

You'll be assessed through photographic practice, research portfolios, blogs, essays and oral presentations.

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy documents and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your workload

Year 1-2: 20% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of learning and teaching

Type of learning and teaching
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 360 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1440 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprise of a written dissertation and practical work with presentations/exhibitions, blogs, portfolios and critical reflective statements. The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 93%
  • Practical: 7%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 10–18 students.

Most taught sessions are 10–18 students. However some lectures are shared with other MA students or BA Photography students; these can total 30–80 students.

Who teaches this course?

The teaching team fosters a strong year group ethos. Many shared and group activities create a rich and supportive learning and working environment. The staff team consists of internationally-recognised, research-active academics and visiting speakers and lecturers.

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MA full time £10,900

International 2023/24

  • MA full time £18,700

2022/23 fees for this course

Home 2022/23

  • MA full time £10,260

International 2022/23

  • MA full time £18,200

Tuition fee information for future course years

If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.

If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free Wi-Fi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Materials

You will have access to a range of facilities and resources, however you will need to purchase art materials which will cost you between £100-£1,000* depending on your project.

You will receive advice from tutors on sourcing any specialist equipment. Please note that these are approximate costs which vary each year and with every student.

*Academic performance is not determined by how much is spent on a final project.

Field trips

There may be optional study visits and field trips. These range from £25 for local trips to various costs for international trips.

External shows and exhibitions

There may be costs for participating at external shows and exhibitions. You could incur travel costs which will vary according to the location.

Facilities

There is a wide range of facilities at our Knights Park campus, where this course is based. Kingston School of Art has recently completed an ambitious programme of investment, making significant improvements to our workshops and other resources, to ensure that students are exposed to as many creative pathways as possible. The workshops and studios at Knights Park are open for creative exploration and allow opportunities for students and staff to collaborate on projects and share ideas, whether they are studying or researching. There are many adaptable studio and workshop spaces, active breakout spaces and stronger vertical and horizontal connections. Our ground-breaking facilities include the following:

  • 3D workshop, with ceramics, concrete, resin-casting, plastics, metalwork, woodwork and a bronze-casting foundry, as well as a Big Build space for Architecture, set design and large scale model making
  • Animation and post production studios
  • Digital Media workshop
  • Fashion (knitting and sewing workshops), with digital and analogue facilities, plus a working dress archive which includes pieces from 1750 to the present day
  • HackSpace (for collaborative, creative, solutions-focussed projects)
  • Letterpress and printmaking workshop, with digital and analogue facilities, to experiment creatively
  • Moving Image workshop, with studios, editing suite, and industry-standard equipment
  • Photography workshop, including studios, colour, and black and white darkrooms, processing facilities.  This professional-standard suite includes two new digital imaging areas, darkroom areas, two double height photography studios and a general preparation, finishing and demonstration area. There is also an extensive range of equipment for loan and students are able to purchase photography materials. The colour and black and white darkrooms provide extensive facilities for film processing.

All our facilities are open access, meaning you can use them whenever you want, whatever degree you're studying.

The University also has its own on-site galleries, including:

  • Dorich House - the former studio home of the sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Now Grade II listed, the building was completed in 1936, to Gordine's design, and is an exceptional example of a modern studio house created by and for a female artist.
  • Stanley Picker Gallery - one of the leading examples of a university gallery in the UK. Its public activities are dedicated to the research, commissioning and presentation of innovative new practice across the fields of art, design and architecture for general, academic and specialist audiences.
  • Project spaces at Knights Park campus, which you can book for the exhibition of large-scale work. 

What our graduates say

Kingston School of Art is a special learning environment. The course itself was transformative and life changing. The course leader had a knack for 'seeing' the unexpected in our work. She supported each of us to work from our authentic and genuine concerns and interests through group and one-to-one tutorials. The course is student-centred and has agency. I think that many of us arrived with narrow and restrictive views of what photography is – the visiting programme and Q&A's offered us ample opportunities to stretch our imaginations and to develop and test out our visual ideas. The course is longer than average and so the initial stages of the course gave each of us the space to participate in extra-mural forums, seminars, lectures and activities. The visits to galleries and talks with the galleries and curators, Ken McMullen's lectures and the various opportunities to deepen our understanding of aesthetics are unique opportunities to understand the role and place of photography within the ever-widening art world. I was engaged with social and environmental concerns and learned how to communicate through visual language and aesthetics.

The interim show in the Platform Gallery and then the graduation show at the Stanley Picker Gallery were crucial processes that we went through enabling us to understand our responsibilities to our audience and to each other within a group exhibition context. Publications are an important aspect of photography and we were encouraged to work in close proximity with the printing and book making department. Kingston has a huge amount of resources that includes a wide range of photography journals, magazines and photo books. The photography public presentation programme benefits immensely from the editorial expertise of both the academic and the technical team.

Jacqueline Ennis Cole

Since graduating I've worked for high fashion brands like Trussardi, Ray Ban, Armani, Levi's and Guess. I do worldwide campaigns almost every month and I have also started to work as a photoreporter, collaborating with the National Geographic here in Italy. The years at Kingston were some of my favorite moments in my whole life; not only with practicing photography but in terms of relationships and artistic dialogues.

A month ago, one of my campaigns was on a monitor right in Times Square in NY, and it was shot with the technique that I was shown in the photography studio at Kingston; the composition was inspired by one of my other classmates' final exhibitions. You and Kingston School of Art are in every shot I take, in every one of the 25 countries I visited this past year, and in the eyes of every top model I photograph!

Franscesco Rocchi

Being part of the MA Fine Art Photography course at Kingston University offered me a whole new approach to the field of photography. Before I started at Kingston, I'd been working in the industry for several years, mainly in the commercial and industrial sector. Although I had a lot of experience in the medium of photography, I never actually gave a lot of attention to the arts aspect of it.

Being tutored by the course leaders, I got a completely new view of what photography is and what it can do: how versatile this medium is and how it helps one to address certain topics, to raise issues and awareness or how to express an outlook on specific topics.

The course showed me that it was not only important what is being communicated, but also how the message is communicated. There is always more to a photograph than the bare photograph itself. Being a student at Kingston was - to me - not just a great introduction into the art industries, but also a huge asset for my own professional practice.

Doris Himmelbauer

I think the MA was the greatest experience I've had with photography until now. I learned so much and I think it was at that point (although I was working as a professional photographer already) that I really became a professional.

It was pretty intense, perhaps especially for me, because I took it very seriously; sometimes it was tough, but I could acquire a knowledge of how a project should be done, pay attention to the details, to communicate what you want to say with your photography and, specially, to have something to communicate with it. I think the facilities were amazing – I miss using the dark room, the big studio and even the woodwork space. It was a distinguishing experience.

Luisa Riekes

Student work

Film and photography research at Kingston School of Art

Based in the Department of Film & Photography, the Visible Institute research group develops practice-based research, discursive frameworks and a culture of innovation. Film and photography are intermediate and medium-specific - connecting with - yet remaining distinct from other media. Visible Institute answers a need for concentrated lens-based research spanning the potential of both practices. 

The name Visible Institute (VI) transmits the magic of film and photography, alludes to the latent image and suggests emerging and unexpected encounters. 

VI is situated within KSA (Kingston School of Art), Kingston University, London.

Visible Institute explores still and moving image, relative to a number of identified research thematics. These categories are indicative points of intersection, framing the work of our researchers and practitioners. The Visible Institute engages with the importance of the genesis of film and photography, looks to expand genre definitions and promotes engagement with film and photography's special relationship with the document and the archive.

Our aim is to ensure informed - specialist and interdisciplinary - projects and challenging practice-based media emerge from within an institute that provides breadth and inclusivity, working across disciplines and set within a number of registers, through which film, photography and the moving image operate.

Visual Institute themes:

  • haptics: touch, sense and contact;
  • archive and the junction between documentary & fiction;
  • transfiguration, mythology, ethnography;
  • political, social, ethnicity, poetic, participatory;
  • ecology, landscape, life-worlds;
  • species discourses and film ethics;
  • philosophy, psychoanalysis, hauntology and the image;
  • the animated cusp of still and moving image;
  • science and lens-based media; and
  • pioneers: the genesis of film & photography

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