What do photography students make work about?

Tue 26 Apr 2022

This post is by Jesse Alexander, Course Leader for Falmouth Flexible's MA Photography and BA Top-Up courses.

Practical work is the backbone of any formal photography course. 

Some undergraduate and master’s programmes will have a specialist focus, such as fashion, commercial or natural history photography, but on broad photography courses, such as the online MA Photography and BA(Hons) Photography (Top-Up) programmes, the range of subjects, styles, genres and concepts that our students explore is vast.

Something that sets a higher education course apart from a more technical, skills-oriented training course is an appreciation of photography, not just as means to create representative images, but as a medium for critical enquiry.

Or, to put it another way; learning how to use pictures to explore ideas, address concerns, and ask questions about society and the world around us. Developing students as independent-thinking, creative practitioners is a core principle of degree courses of all denominations and persuasions.

At Falmouth we tend to see a student’s ‘practice’ as the combination of technique (the application of specific methods and materials) and theory (ideas and intentions that underpin and motivate the creative work itself).

Practices can be highly diverse and are shaped by an individual’s background, life experiences and interests, personality and aesthetic sensibilities, and are often highly influenced by their immediate circumstances or environment.

The MA in Photography is designed to enhance the creative, critical, and professional skills of practitioners regardless of where they are in their careers. You’ll learn how to navigate professional relationships and forge valuable connections both locally and internationally.

Find out more about the programme:

Explore the MA in Photography >

Practice, particularly in the context of higher education, is also substantively informed and generated through contextual research. This leads to projects and bodies of work that display a deep and sophisticated understanding of the themes and subjects that the photographs represent.

Subjective, creative responses to project briefs are usually the basis for practical work on degree and master’s programmes. Although at the later stages of a degree programme, and at master’s level, project briefs tend to be self-directed; that is, partially or entirely defined by individual students.

On the online MA Photography programme students work on a research project throughout the entirety of the course. This project is negotiated and navigated with the support of teachers and peers, but the impetus comes from students and there is complete freedom from the outset in terms of subject and practical approach.

Some students, such as Nick Hodgson, come on to the programme with a strong idea of the project they wish to pursue during the course, but it isn’t always the case, and in all instances, projects evolve and develop in unexpected directions such as Tim Stubbs Hughes's and Phill Hill’s work. Have a look also at Elias Tsigounis’s work made on the BA(Hons) Photography Top Up.

If you don’t know if you’re fully equipped to make the most of our rigorous masters-level study, joining our BA(Hons) Photography (Top-Up) course prior to progressing to the MA might be more suited to you:

Explore the BA Photography (Top-Up) >

Before committing to any course of study, we’d recommend taking a close look at the work of graduates. If you can, try and see any final degree shows or work in progress exhibitions.

In these short videos, students present their final module work from the BA(Hons) Photography Top-Up and MA Photography programmes:

MA Photography Final Major Project

Read the transcript for this video.


MA Photography Final Major Project


Read the transcript for this video.

To see more students present their work, get in touch with our Course Adviser team via the form below to request access to the full video. You can also take a look at Source Graduate Photography Online to see the work of recent graduates.

Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander is a photographer and writer and Course Leader for BA(Hons) Photography (Top-Up) and MA Photography.

Learn more about Jesse >

Photography, BA Photo

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