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Documentary Photography and Photojournalism (MA)

Course Description

This course provides a unique combination of professional practice and critical understanding for documentary photographers and photojournalists working in the field of editorial and contemporary media practice. The course builds on the international stature of the photographic and journalism departments of the University. It is designed to equip you with a sound command of the working methods that will sustain a career grounded in photographic practice – whether as an editorial, commercial or art photographer, picture editor, curator or writer.

The course is especially useful for photographers, media professionals and graduates who wish to broaden their skills and knowledge in the field of editorial and documentary photography.

Course content

The emphasis of the course is on contemporary approaches to Documentary and editorial photography (including photo essays and single images for publication), picture editing, critical academic and journalistic writing,the production and design of a magazine, and the major project, as a substantial project, allowing the student to develop their own research and practice. The primary course resources are those in the Margaret Harker Photographic Centre and J block video facilities, which are equipped to the highest professional standards for both analogue and digital production.

Core modules, semester one

- Photography for Publication
You will focus on how to produce successful single images for publication, with an emphasis on editorial portraiture The module will cover pre-production research, intent of outcome, editing and post-production and digital workflows, metadata and markets, for editorial, books and galleries.

- Documentary Storytelling - the Picture Story
This module will concentrate on the structure, form and content of storytelling. You will work towards producing a professional-industry standard photo story by the end of the module, along with a written critical assessment of your images and practice.

- History and Theory of the Published Page
Through intense study you will gain an understanding of the historical, critical and sociological contexts that informs the practice, theory and usage of documentary photography and photojournalism, from a historical and current perspective.

- Writing Photography
You will cover the essential components of print journalism and critical writing examining the vital relationship of text to image. The module will look at writing introductions, critical reviews, headlines and captions. You will be encouraged and guided to think critically about your written and photographic work.

Core modules, semester two

- Publication design –Magazine/Production
During this module you will work in groups with fellow your cohorts, to produce a finished, professionally produced magazine, from conception to a finished publication. Each group will devise an image led magazine, considering concept, engaging in debate and contemporary issues. Particular emphasis is placed on innovative design and the use of type and an understanding of production and working with printers and finishers, through to the print stage. Specialist design tuition and weekly editorial meetings throughout the module will monitor progress of the publication. The resulting magazine will be an important part of your final portfolio.

- Editorial – Critical theory – Writing Photography
You will cover the essential components of print journalism and critical writing examining the vital relationship of text to image. The module will look at writing introductions, critical reviews, headlines and captions. and you will be Encouraging you to think critically about your written and photographic work.

Semester three

- Major Project or Dissertation
The Major Project or Dissertation is the culmination of the year’s work and is expected to be a substantial body of work which draws on the experience gained across all the modules, therefore demonstrating your ability to communicate your ideas though photography. It is a unique opportunity to experiment and play to realise your personal vision within photographic documentary practice. You will have the opportunity to engage with expert advise from professional visiting practitioners as well as group and individual tutorials with the course tutors The major project can be conceived as a book, exhibition AV as well as a ‘work in progress’ photographic portfolio on a major theme of a book, dummy (blad), or website.

You will discuss your project with your tutors, taking into account your expected career path. The work produced on this module should be used as a significant career asset when you enter the world of professional photography, as well as an invaluable piece of academic research.

Associated careers

The course gives you a number of key skills that will make you highly employable in the media and publishing industries, whatever area you choose as your speciality, be it photography, book or magazine publishing or web-based publications. You will create work of high standard to enhance your professional portfolio.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism (MA) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Student Profiles

Entry Requirements

You should possess, or be expecting, a good undergraduate degree or, exceptionally, previous relevant experience. Your previous undergraduate degree does not need to be in film or media. You will need fluent written and spoken English to study at postgraduate level. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.

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