Documentary Photography BA (Hons)

Since it was established by Magnum photographer David Hurn in 1973, BA (Hons) Documentary Photography has established itself internationally as one of the premier courses at which to study documentary photography. USW has a history of 100 years of photography, and over 40 years of teaching Documentary Photography behind us.

Our definition of 'documentary' is broad. It blends the traditions of documentary storytelling with the most exciting innovations in contemporary photography. On this Documentary Photography degree, you'll learn how to think critically and independently, and you'll gain the technical skills to communicate your ideas in the most effective way.

Our Documentary Photography students regularly win the industry's most prestigious awards. This year these included Lua Ribeira and Sam Laughlin, who were joint winners in the 2017 Jerwood/Photoworks Award. Lua Ribeira was also runner up in the prestigious 2016 Bar Tur Photobook Award. Daragh Soden made the Irish Times '50 People To Watch In 2017' list. Last year, winners included Sam Ivin, (Student Work Category of PDN's Photo Annual 2015); Yasmin Balai, (2nd in IAFOR Documentary Photography Award) 2015 and Mira Andres (winner of the ESPY Award 2015).

See more of our students' recent work here. You can also follow Documentary Photography on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

What you will study

This world renowned Documentary Photography course blends the traditions of documentary and photojournalism with the most exciting innovations in contemporary photography.

In your first year you will learn to photograph confidently around subjects that really interest you and develop the research skills to complete picture essays on a wide range of contemporary subjects. There is also an opportunity to engage with emerging technologies in digital moving image.

As you progress into the second year you will initiate projects developed from your own interests and research, while reappraising documentary practice in all its contemporary contexts. Practical workshops continue throughout the year and explore printing for exhibition, large format photography, digital output for print, and book publication. Live projects include collaboration with renowned photo-book designers and internationally active visiting photographers.

The final year is seen as a professional year in which you will produce a sustained and ambitious body of work. You are also asked to respond to a live professional brief. Your projects are drawn from your own inspirations and ambitions and you will be encouraged to make work that will prepare you for engagement with the photographic industry.

Year 1

  • What is Documentary?
  • Photographer as Observer
  • Photography Subject 1
  • The Narrative
  • Multi-Vocal Documentaries
  • Photography Subject 2

Year 2

  • Research for Practice and Dissertation
  • Documentary Strategies
  • Photography Subject 3
  • Documentary and the Publication

Year 3

  • Negotiated Practices
  • Preparation for Industry
  • Project Portfolio Development
  • Critical Paper


Throughout the Documentary Photography course you will be assessed on practice-based modules, supplemented by self-reflective and context-based analysis. You will receive clear and detailed feedback that will help you reflect on, and develop your strengths.

This is supported by individual tutorials, seminars and workshops around business practice and professional skills.

Course details


The comprehensive photographic facilities include:

  • Professional standard analogue black and white and colour darkrooms
  • Colour negative film processing service
  • Dedicated digital photography suites equipped with Apple Mac workstations and impressive high end film scanning facilities
  • Large format digital printing facilities (up to 60
BA (Hons) Award
September Start
Full-time Study Mode
3 years Duration
7G84 UCAS Code

Entry Requirements For This Course

Entry requirements

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 supported by a (physical printed) portfolio are required for the Documentary Photography course. The portfolio should evidence your interests in documentary photography or photojournalism and demonstrate your desire to study Documentary Photography. You are required to write a brief interview task (Max 500 words ) about an aspect of documentary photography/ photojournalism or a photographer that interests you.


Typical A-Level Offer

BCC - CDD to include a relevant art and design 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 art and design 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.

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