The MA Commercial Photography course offers you the opportunity to enhance your practice with the aim of becoming a photographer at the forefront of the industry.
This course is founded on the assertion that commercial photography is a powerful form of mass communication that can connect with an audience of millions.
What defines it as commercial is that it is conceived and created with a specific audience in mind, conscious of how meaning is affected by sociopolitical criteria. It can be utilised in a variety of ways: to stimulate commerce; promote new trends; deliver complex narratives; and inform and express opinions. In the process, opportunities arise for creative practitioners working in commercial contexts to produce innovative work.
The course is structured in such a way that learning develops systematically and with an emphasis on the independent learning abilities required for continuing professional development and the advancement of your career.
The course allows you to undertake advanced study in a wide range of areas including advertising, documentary, editorial, fashion and portrait photography. Through originality in the application of contemporary academic research and professional practices to the production of new complex work, you will challenge the accepted conventions of the genres.
By a combined approach of practice, theory and professionalism, the course will provide a challenging and stimulating environment in which you are able to develop your full potential, with the aim of becoming a practitioner at the forefront of the discipline.You will expand your commercial potential by applying genre practices across contexts; for example, the aesthetics of documentary can be applied to advertising, editorial, and fashion outcomes.
The course enables you to develop an in-depth and critically informed understanding of the commercial photography industry.You will engage with key themes in emerging and established critical analyses that underpin each professional genre. This will equip you with the theoretical understanding to progress your practice and effectively articulate your concepts through the production of advanced outcomes to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
You are encouraged to make industrial links across a broad range of organisations relevant to your chosen professional specialism. Using these links you will learn to manage and exceed client expectations through the application of your new academic understanding to the production of inventive commercial work.
The course is designed for ambitious photography graduates, or experienced photographers who wish to develop their knowledge and expertise in order to reach the very top of their field. We look for students with a passion for the subject and who are willing to take risks, and in doing so push themselves to new heights.
Whether you want to develop a strong commercial portfolio or test the boundaries of your creative practice, our photography postgraduate course offers a unique opportunity for talented practitioners to work with highly experienced award winning staff and to use state of the art facilities.
You can see examples of our student work on the course gallery page.
At the Belfast School of Art we strive to develop unique photographic voices, which sit firmly at the cutting-edge of a contemporary international context, while also mining the specifics of our unique geographical and cultural position.
We have been profiled by the British Journal of Photography as one of the most significant photography schools in Europe. Our graduates work internationally between the book, gallery, web and magazine, continually challenging photography’s place within contemporary society and the way we photograph now.
The teaching team is comprised of contemporary practising photographers, writers and thinkers who exhibit and publish internationally. These are Professor Paul Seawright, Ailbhe Greaney, Dr KayLynn Deveney, Ken Grant, Peter Neill and Clare Gallagher as well as two members of the prestigious Magnum agency, Martin Parr and Donovan Wylie. We have a progamme of Guest Lecturers, recently including Hannah Starkey, Liz Wells, and Louise Clements. Throughout the programme students develop an awareness of photography as it exists in a culture of evolving technologies. They are challenged to rethink their practice both visually, theoretically and contextually. Our close links with photographic galleries and photography festivals helps students to build networks and professional practice. The programme is complemented by a series of master classes and advanced skill workshops; an annual field trip to Paris and regular site visits to a variety of cultural institutions such as museums and galleries in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
The MFA Photography has an international reputation and is available for study on campus in Belfast (Thursday delivery) and fully online (eLearning) for students living and working outside Ireland. A Master of Fine Arts degree is a creative degree, which centers around practice in a particular field, in this case Photography. The qualification provides students with a high level of specialisation and allows graduates to teach at University level.
The MFA Photography degree exposes students to key critical debates in photography and offers a dynamic environment in which to develop a major body of photographic work for exhibition and publication. Staff are leaders in the field of photography. Internationally recognised photographers, artists and researchers regularly review student projects, give lectures and critique photographic work.
Guest Lecturers include: Hannah Starkey, Brian Griffin, Mark Power, Anna Fox, Wendy McMurdo, Doug DuBois, Simon Roberts, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Léonie Hampton, Gareth McConnell, Raphaël Dallaporta, WassinkLundgren, Rob Hornstra, Raimond Wouda, Lotte Sprengers, Corinne Noordenbos, Stephen Bull, Gerry Badger, Louise Clements, Pete James, Tim Clark, Adam Murray and Liz Wells.
The course looks to recruit photographers that are serious about challenging their working methods and extending their visual vocabulary. The course has excellent links with galleries and museums and draws on an exemplary network of artists to create a study environment that is stimulating and encourages experimentation.
The programme is delivered through a range of learning methods, including seminars, presentations, tutorials and group critiques, to enable students to acquire the cognitive skills of a self-reflexive independent learner. There are optional exit points for students to exit with a PGDip or MA.
Optional Exit Award - PGDip (120 credit points)
Optional Exit Award - MA (180 credit points)
Final Award MFA (240 credit points)
Full-time 4 Semesters - Belfast Campus or Online: September - January; January - June; September - January; January - June;
All the core teaching takes place on Thursdays and you should expect to be on campus from 10am - 7pm. During this time you will engage in one-to-one tutorials, a lecture programme delivered by staff and visiting guest speakers, group seminars, group critiques and technical workshops. The rest of the week is spent attending optional tutorials/workshops and engaging in independent study.
The primary assessment method is the evaluation of photographic work in progress. Students work over the duration of the course on a major body of work that is subjected to regular and rigorous critique by staff and internationally renowned visiting photographers. Other assessment methods are visual presentations, seminar presentations, essays and a final year dissertation. There is an interim exhibition which is assessed at the end of the first year, usually in a public gallery.
The programme is complemented by a series of master classes and advanced skill workshops; an annual field trip to Paris and regular site visits to a variety of cultural institutions such as museums and galleries in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
Graduates are prepared for advanced careers in the field of photography. Graduates work as photographers in the fine art and commercial sector, as well as industry professionals. An MFA develops the ability to perform research related to the photographic arts, while also building communication skills and introducing students to new aesthetics and new technology. Such key skills enable graduates to work as photographic curators, editors and critics, within museums, galleries and in publishing. MFA graduates may also pursue a career in education.
Study is practice-based and students are encouraged to develop a deep understanding of appropriate professional and commercial contexts for their work. NUA has gained a strong reputation in the field of advertising, fashion and editorial photography and is strongly linked to industry and professional bodies including the Association of Photographers.
Taught components will consider a range of contextual and theoretical aspects of photography including collaboration, aesthetic/anti aesthetic, technological determinism and the impact of emerging technologies. A series of seminars and workshops will encourage you to explore the complex relationship between individual approaches to practice and client-led work.
With access to outstanding studios and digital darkrooms, you will be encouraged to develop a strong individual voice within your visual practice, and to explore the possibilities for moving image within the context of contemporary photography. In addition, you will have further opportunity to engage with industry professionals through a professional mentoring scheme.
Creative thinking and innovation are at the core of the MA philosophy and you will engage with students from across the postgraduate community to share opportunities and debate contemporary issues.
We encourage our students to engage in critical discourse through course specific seminars, lectures and critiques; larger NUA symposia such as Dialogues (Fine Art) and Cowbird (Design); and attendance at national and international exhibitions and conferences.
24 workstations. Software includes Aperture, Capture One and Adobe Creative Suites. Data projection is installed for reviewing and critiquing work. High quality flat bed transparency/reflective scanners are installed, as well as a photographic quality Inkjet printer.
Equipped with a range of professional studio equipment from tabletop still life work to full-length model photography. The studios include a full blackout studio with flexible options for configuring the layout to suit the varied requirement of individual and taught study. Professional camera kits with specialist lenses; medium format digital camera kits and a full range of professional studio lighting, camera supports and accessories are provided for use in the studio or on location.
General Technical Sessions
Optional software inductions available to all students introduce you to a wide range of creative possibilities and output options.
Media Resource Centre
For digital cameras, tripods, 35mm DSLRs, 35mm film cameras and lighting equipment.
The largest specialist are, design and media collection in the East of England including 32,000 books, 1,300 journal subscriptions and 3,000 DVDs.
The offer of entry onto a Masters Degree (MA) is based on an expectation that you have the potential to fulfil the aims of the course of study and achieve the standard required to successfully complete the award. Entrants should normally have achieved a BA (Hons)/BSc Degree of 2:1 or above (or its equivalent), in a subject related to your proposed course of study.
Applicants who hold a Degree from another discipline may also be considered for entry, subject to the submission of a satisfactory portfolio of art, design or media-related work in support of their application.
The majority of applicants to courses at NUA will be invited to attend an interview. This provides an invaluable chance to meet face-to-face and is the major factor in determining the success of your submission. The interview is an opportunity to assess your work and the suitability of your application and also provides you with a chance to assess NUA’s staff, campus and facilities and ask questions. The key focus of your application process is on your portfolio. Some courses may require additional entry requirements or passes in specific subjects.
For further information on this course, please visit our website - MA Photography.
This MA gives practitioners and theorists the opportunity to research and develop the new boundaries of image-making made possible by technological change within the context of post-industrial culture.
This programme joins theory and practice, equipping you to develop and achieve highly effectively in the new image media culture. Practice uses both digital and analogue technology, still and durational as well as the study and production of interactivity.
The programme allows for specialisation in photography and/or electronic arts – which, in addition to still photography, can include interactive, durational and internet work – but encompasses a broader interpretation of practice.
You'll look at the meaning, production and distribution of images, and the relationship between theory and practice in the context of debates about post-modernism and beyond.
You also participate in enabling sessions in photography:
and/or in electronic arts:
There is an MRes which follows the MA into a second year, in order to develop your work/voice. This will count as the first year of a PhD. Find out more about the MRes.
This programme uniquely joins theory and practice in a way that will equip you with the tools and the vision to develop and achieve highly effectively in the new image media culture. Practice uses both digital and analogue technology, still and durational as well as the study and production of interactivity.
You will study
The programme draws on a broad range of cultural references and technical practices. It offers the opportunity to take stock of evolving practices and developments in image media culture, and is structured to develop the intellectual imagination within each individual student. This is achieved through a combined study of practice and theory, with extensive instruction through ‘enabling sessions’ which engage technical familiarity; core tutorials; secondary tutorials; Issues in Media and Culture and additional theory course options.
Recognising the rapidly changing definitions and context of these practice areas,and the value/positioning of traditional practices, these categories may also be understood through a variety of practices which involve image construction and presentation both still and durational, including: film/video, animation, interactivity, installations, motion graphics, and hyperspace constructs, as well as evolving new exploratory categories.
The programme provides an opportunity to develop and/or research aspects of visual style, and draw on a broad range of cultural references as well as aesthetic and technical approaches engaged through ‘Practice Theory Sessions’, visiting lectures and the Issues in Media and Culture course. Fundamental to the programme is the space that it creates to make it possible for you to explore, question, change and consolidate your work and your ideas.
Original portfolio submission; coursework and essays.
This course is interested in the development of the individual voice. To this end, there are two types of tutorial:
You'll develop specific practice skills to a high level, and the articulation/understanding of the pleasures of media consumption.
Graduates from the programme are extremely successful, with finalists working commercially, developing as artists or continuing to enlarge their academic knowledge. During the course particular attention is given to the development of the individual voice. This, plus students' exposure to a range of technologies, means that our graduates can step into the arena of their choice, or sometimes of their making.
Here are just some examples of the sorts of careers graduates have gone onto:
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
This MA is made up of three modules focusing on Advertising and Editorial, Documentary and Reportage, and Fashion and Lifestyle. The students must present a final project along with a written dossier.
The main objectives of this Master program are:
• To offer students a view of current tendencies in applied and commercial photography.
• To implement the tools and knowledge used in the photography industry.
• To familiarise students with contemporary working methods in the field of production, studio management, post-production, publishing and stock.
• To show the cultural value of photography, forms of collaboration and creative funding models,
• To analyse the challenges and limitations of the market in times of strong media convergence and downsizing,
• To get to know about the history of photography in the context of design.
Professional Opportunities: This Master programme offers students the chance to access the field of professional photography, which has a high demand in many fields: Many artbuyers and photoeditors worked as photographers themselves or graduated in photography. Therefore they know the challenges and needs of photographic artists and can also communicate with them at eye level. This course could initialize an entry into professional life of creative industry regarding art buying, photo editing, agent, etc.