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BA (Hons) Photography


What does the course involve?

On the BA (Hons) Photography programme, you will complete a variety of creative assignments to develop your knowledge of the industry and refine your practical photography skills.

Our tutors, who are all experienced photography professionals, will encourage you to experiment with your practical image-making in order to develop your individual style. You will also pursue the critical study of photographic history, theory, and contemporary practices.

By the end of the course, you will have compiled an impressive photography portfolio, which will be crucial in developing your future career.

All of our course materials are delivered online via our Study site and communication with your tutors and peers is asynchronous, allowing you the flexibility to study at times that suit you.

Subject to minimum student enrolment numbers, you can choose from full-time, part-time or accelerated study modes on all BA (Hons) programmes. You can find out more about the different modes of study.

Levels of Study

The course is broken down into three levels:

  • Level 4: Certificate of Higher Education
  • Level 5: Diploma of Higher Education
  • Level 6: BA (Hons)

Download the Programme Specification for detailed information about the course, browse the tabs to find out more about what is involved in each of the three levels of study, the module descriptions and more.

Levels and Modules

Level 4: Certificate of Higher Education

Throughout Level 4, you will explore a range of digital image processes including camera handling, lighting and exposure, manual creative techniques, colour management, the digital and analogue print technical theory, and using a darkroom.

You will also be introduced to the processes of digital photographic image manipulation using Adobe Photoshop and become familiar with common debates occurring in the field of photography concerning concepts of veracity, reality, and photographic truth.

On completing your studies at Level 4, you will have developed an emerging independent practice that relates to contemporary and professional practices in photography.

Photography Projects

This module aims to extend the breadth of your photography practice and requires you to produce an imaginative response to themes and concepts, while encouraging you to develop your research, selection and evaluation skills.

While engaging with the briefs and set activities, you will examine a range of practices and familiarise yourself with a variety of processes and media used to generate, manipulate and process the visual image.

The briefs for this module have an emphasis on experimental practice and require you to draw inspiration and an independent viewpoint from the work of professional photographers. Whether you decide to shoot using analogue or digital format in your typological and experimental approach, you must display elements of the research gathered and the analytical thinking used in reaching your conclusion.

Digital Environment

This module introduces you to processes of digital photographic image manipulation and management, together with debates about concepts of photographic truth and reality.

You will develop new technical and theoretical skills to complete set assignments, gaining understanding of the cultural resonances and legal obligations inherent in contemporary photographic practices. This module provides you with materials designed to develop your skills in digital manipulation using Adobe Photoshop, scanning, image analysis, and concept development.

These skills will allow you to complete the set brief, which will involve two projects:

Part one, ‘Street People’, provides you with the opportunity to use your surroundings as inspiration. While the brief is essentially open to interpretation, you will be required to display evidence of your research, analytical thinking and problem solving through the narrative of your composition.

Part two, ‘Digital and Analogue Landscape’, aims to develop your awareness and understanding of the theoretical and critical decisions that other practitioners, both past and present, have made in the production and selection of their photographs. You will then explore a personal response to landscape photography through a digital, or combined analogue and digital, photographic narrative series.

Photography Practices

This module introduces analogue photography, with both black and white and colour film, as a foundation for an understanding of the photographic medium and its creative possibilities.

Photography Practices presents concepts and processes of still, photographic, analogue imagery, together with associated research, selection and evaluation techniques that can support creative practice. Throughout this module, you will develop skills across a broad range of traditional photographic technologies.

You will be introduced to a variety of genres and practitioners of photography and will be encouraged to use this knowledge to optimise, edit, and select your own images.

This module will focus on the competent and professional use of photographic equipment, as well as the fundamentals of creative camera handling. The course materials will introduce you to a selection of key equipment, materials and techniques used in analogue photography. This will include using a 35mm analogue SLR film camera, working with a variety of film types, an introduction to darkroom work, exploring film processing and considering printing and presentation.

You will then be encouraged to use such equipment for a variety of technical and aesthetic purposes. Your briefs will be to create ‘one day’ visual diaries using both black and white, and colour images.

Critical and Cultural Studies

Critical and Cultural Studies at Level 4 will encourage you to reflect on the relation between photography and the wider contexts of art, design, media histories and cultures, and your own creative practice. Links to external sources and support materials will familiarise you with academic writing requirements and develop your skills in critical analysis. A series of activities will give you the opportunity to practise your skills in academic writing and receive feedback before you complete the final brief.

Level 5: Diploma of Higher Education

Level 5 will help you to begin to define who you are as a photographer. You will identify your professional goals and become familiar with professional factors such as markets, audiences, clients and users of the photography industry.

The aim of Level 5 study is to further develop your practical and theoretical approach to photography in order to cultivate an independent and creative working practice. You will also further explore the contemporary world of photography and how you work within these contexts.

Professional Development

Your professional development is an integral part of any success you will have in securing employment as a photographer.

In this module, you will be required to investigate the contemporary photography and photo media industries, giving you the opportunity to explore future career opportunities. You will produce a self-promotional portfolio of work based on a self-negotiated brief, and produce a report evaluating opportunities for your professional practice as a photographer.

You will learn about developing business strategies and marketing concepts that will prepare you for working as a high quality, professional photographer within a sector of the rapidly evolving contemporary photography and creative industries. This module will cover various business practice issues and self promotion for creative practitioners, as well as encourage you to identify an audience for your work while recognising relevant patterns of consumption.

Negotiated Photography Projects

In this module, you will consolidate your working approach to photography through the development of a self-generated body of negotiated project work. You will communicate a rationale for your own practice in the context of a broad range of relevant practical, professional, historical and critical discourses.

For the briefs for this module, you will be required to produce a proposal for an individual body of photographic work, outlining your methodology and creative process, from planning, visual research and development, to selection and resolved outcome. The final portfolio of work will show refinement and development of selected photography and media skills in implementation, realisation and presentation. You will also critically evaluate your own work, as well as that of other practitioners in relevant areas. You will be supported in developing your individual proposal and portfolio of project work in negotiation with your tutor, as well as through group forum discussion.

Photography Assignments

In this module, you will develop more advanced levels of technical, conceptual and creative skills in response to a series of set briefs, which may include photojournalism, portraiture, fashion, advertising photography, photo illustration projects or an editorial project. The module will also develop your abilities in creative problem solving, selection, editing, analysis and evaluation of your own photography in relation to the professional demands of a set creative brief.

You will be required to demonstrate an awareness of your own practice in the context of a broad range of relevant practical, professional, historical and critical discourses. Additionally, you will develop and demonstrate a critical awareness of a variety of factors concerning potential audiences and clients.

Critical and Cultural Studies

This module aims to develop your understanding of critical theories and research methodologies. You will be encouraged to see contextual studies as a vital tool to develop well-informed and innovative production practice in photography.

You will encounter a wide range of photographic practices and a selection of theories, debates and critical perspectives to examine them. The module will focus on developing your understanding of current debates around photographic concepts and you will learn to engage with your own practice, as well as that of others.

You will also have the opportunity to develop a repertoire of study skills including research and enquiry, visual and critical analysis, and communications skills. For the brief for this module, you will be required to write an essay of approximately 2,000 to 2,500 words on a topic of your choosing, after a period of negotiation with your tutor.

Level 6: BA (Hons)

Level 6 is the ‘portfolio level’. The emphasis is on building a portfolio of work in preparation for entering a sector of the photography industry or a related field.

You will develop your ability to approach your work critically and with a greater degree of independence. There is also an opportunity to negotiate a body of work that will help to further enhance your creative skills.

Concepts and Planning

This module offers you a period of creative enquiry to define an area of your personal interest in photography, in preparation for your final degree project. A body of visual research, experimental practice and study of practical feasibility culminates in the formal presentation of the ‘Individual Proposal’ document and a logbook.

During this module, you will be required to compile a formal ‘Individual Proposal’ document for your Degree Major Project. This document gives you the opportunity to reflect on your own interests, goals and directions in photography. Through support materials, your visual research and forum discussions, you will revisit some of the debates around contemporary photography aesthetics in order to underpin the development of an informed personal aesthetic. This is to support you in the critical analysis of your project proposal, its realisation and its integration of theory and creative practice. You are required to keep evidence of your practice-led research and idea development in a logbook that supports the integration of practice and theory.

Professional Portfolio

In this module, you will conduct targeted research into the best practice examples of professional portfolios within your chosen photography specialist areas. You will present and discuss these examples through forum participation, case histories and portfolio review with fellow students and tutors. You will also seek to create your own individual style of portfolio presentation and produce high quality samples of work that display your conceptual and technical skills in order to form a memorable and coherent body of work.

On completion of this module you will have produced a body of photographic work that demonstrates versatility and your ability to present your work effectively to professional audiences and prospective commissioners. This will be new work that compliments, but is distinct from, work undertaken for your Degree Major Project.

Your research and development will provide you with opportunities to explore a wide range of modes of exhibition, and distribution of contemporary and professional photography imagery. Portfolio imagery will be created with a range of distribution opportunities in mind, for example websites, online galleries and image banks, as well as hard copy display or exhibition pieces.

Enterprise and Employability

The creative industries employment sector has seen a huge growth in the number of graduates leaving university with the appropriate qualifications. Consequently, it is to be expected that employment may not happen instantly upon graduation. Therefore, a solid, realistic and progressive strategy underpinning an approach to employment is essential. This module addresses creative enterprise, entrepreneurship and its development, with an emphasis on preparing you for photography, photomedia freelance work and business practice within the creative industries.

You will consider a range of entrepreneurial business models, as well as approaches to setting up a photography business. In doing so, you will study the contribution made by business plans and creative enterprise advice agencies. To further prepare you for work in the creative industries, you will reflect on aspects of special relevance to contemporary photography freelance work, with respect to marketing, self promotion, networking, sales and collaborative working, as well as the broader social, economic and technological contexts.

Degree Major Project

This module is an opportunity to pursue a self-directed programme of media practice that demonstrates creative and expressive ambition, experiment and achievement. It represents the culmination of study for each student and requires independent management of practical, conceptual and professional issues.

The outcomes for this module will include your professionally focused photography practice (which normally forms the basis of the final year portfolio of work), detailed and critically engaged research, and a written evaluation of the relationship between your practice and identified professional contexts.

In this module, you have the opportunity to display your advanced knowledge and understanding of photography. You will engage in a period of sustained creative activity, offering a primary platform upon which to demonstrate your abilities and potential to a professional audience.

Critical and Cultural Studies

As an informed creative practitioner, you are encouraged to engage critically with your discipline, its history, ideas by which it is informed and how it is likely to evolve in the future. This module will enable you to conduct an in-depth study of an aspect of visual culture of your choice, with the emphasis on the analysis of appropriate social, cultural, economic, technical, historical and aesthetic issues relevant to your chosen topic and creative work.

In this module, you will be able to bring your own interests into your work. Your independent research will be supported through discussion with your tutor, your peers in the forums and course materials. You will also develop skills in research, organisation and planning, critical analysis and presentation. There will also be a focus on practising correct, conventional academic writing skills.

The assessed element of this module consists of a 6,000 word essay or technical report.

Start Dates

Most of our applicants are keen to start their studies as soon as possible, so we have intakes in February, June and October. Depending on the course you choose, you may be able to start in any intake, but there could be some restrictions. You can apply directly on our website at any time for any future intake and your Admissions Advisor will be able to confirm when the next start date for your chosen course will be.

Even if you are unsure about when you would like to start, or which course is best for you, contact us and a member of our Student Recruitment Team will be able to advise you.

Entry and Portfolio Requirements

We consider all applications on an individual basis and welcome applications from those with non-standard qualifications and from a variety of backgrounds.

Education, Skills and Work Experience

With all applicants, we like to see either some evidence of previous study within art and design or visual (skill) evidence of art and design experience.

UK Applicants

For UK applicants, we require either between 240 and 260 points from GCE A Levels (or equivalent), including art related subjects, and English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above, or a relevant level of equivalent skills and experience.

International Applicants

You will normally have completed either a pre-degree course in visual arts, which may be a Foundation or equivalent course leading to a BTEC National Diploma/Certificate or equivalent international qualification.

All applicants from non-majority English speaking countries need to provide proof of English language proficiency. One of the following qualifications (or equivalent) is required:

  • GSCE English Language grade A-C
  • IELTS 6.0 (with no less than 5.5 in any band)

Portfolio Guidelines

To be eligible to enrol on the programme, we are looking for work that shows an interest in, and aptitude for, visual communication. It is often sufficient to provide a few examples that demonstrate your graphic design skills, but you can also include examples of any work you have done in illustration, photography, painting, printmaking, digital media, text based pieces, and other art and design media.

Your portfolio should show evidence of the design cycle, from generating ideas, through development, to a completed outcome. Including examples from your sketchbook or journal is a good way to showcase this. Above all, we want to see evidence of your enthusiasm for creativity and your eagerness to learn more.

For more information see our Portfolio Guidelines page.

Reading and Materials Requirements

During your studies with IDI, you will need access to specific pieces of equipment, which will enable you to complete your coursework. Sourcing these will be your responsibility and any costs incurred are not included in your fees. For further information about the equipment requirements, please refer to the programme Reading and Materials List.

Fees and Discounts

Payment in Full Payment Plans


per level

  • There are three levels in a BA (Hons) degree programme
  • Fees are payable per level


per level

  • 4 instalments of £1,152
    (total payment of £4,608*)
  • 16 instalments of £288
    (total payment of £4,608*)

*Please note these figures include a small administration fee. If you choose to pay with a payment plan you need to pay your first instalment to secure your place. Your next payment is due approximately one month after your start date.

Employers and self-employed student discounts

We offer a discount to employers who are supporting their employees to study with IDI. Students who are self-employed can also benefit from this discount.

We can also arrange a group price for employers who want to support a number of employees.

For details of payment options and to find out how this could benefit you and your business please contact Danielle Gray on 0131 777 9321 or Freephone 0800 917 1118 or by e-mail:

Future Finance student loans

IDI is partnered with Future Finance to offer current and prospective students on the following courses the opportunity to apply for loans:

  • All MA courses
  • All BA (Hons) courses

To find out more about fees, funding and Future Finance student loans, please click here

Should our fees be subject to an increase at any time during your studies, your fees will be fixed at the level you paid at the start of your course, as long as you follow your original pattern of study.


This course will prepare you for a career as a photographer, as well as for a diverse range of photography-related roles within the creative industries.

Following on from your undergraduate studies, if you decide that you want to further specialise in photography, we also offer the MA Photography (Visual Communication) award.

You can find out more about our Postgraduate Programme in Art and Design here.

Whichever path you choose, you will have many opportunities to create a strong portfolio of photography projects that will be an invaluable advantage when seeking employment in this rewarding, vibrant and growing industry.

Potential Careers:

  • Freelance/Independent Photographer
  • Creative Director
  • Commercial Photographer
  • Digital Retoucher
  • Advertising
  • Portrait Artist
  • Production Artist
  • Fine Art Photographer
  • Fashion Photographer
  • Product Photographer
  • Wildlife Photographer
  • Event Photographer
  • Travel Photographer
  • Wedding Photographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Photography Teacher/Lecturer
  • Art Director
  • Forensic Photographer

Student Discounts and Offers

Through partnerships and initiatives, we are able to offer our students institutional discounts on various products and services to help you gain access to quality materials at an affordable fee.

Adobe Creative Cloud

As an IDI student, you would be eligible for a discount of up to 65% off Adobe Creative Cloud* on production of an approved ‘Proof of Student Status’ letter.

*Adobe Creative Cloud is only available in selected countries. Find out if you can gain access from where you live by clicking here.

Graphics Direct

IDI students can also receive additional discounts. Enter ‘IDI’ at the Graphics Direct checkout and you will receive an extra 10% off, even on discounted and sale items.

Course Duration

The BA (Hons) Photography programme is currently available for part-time study. Subject to minimum cohort numbers, the course can also run full-time. Please contact one of our Student Recruitment Advisors to register your interest in full-time study.

  • Part-time – Completed in six semesters (two years)
  • Full-time – Completed in three semesters (one year)
  • Accelerated full-time – Completed in six semesters (two years)

Expected minimum studying time commitment per study mode:

  • Part-time – 15 to 20 hours per week
  • Full-time – 30 hours per week

The hours per week indicate time spent on directed activities. However, you will also need to consider the additional time needed to read support materials and other resources, upload your work to the IDI-Study site, communicate with your tutors and interact with your peers within the forums.

If you begin studying and feel that the pace isn’t quite right for you, you can change your study mode within the first four weeks of study, or on completion of a level.

Advanced Entry

If you have a previous qualification in photography or a closely related field, or extensive industry experience (at least five years), you may be considered for advanced entry onto either Level 5 or 6 of the degree programme.

Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

Accredited Prior Learning (APL) is the process for accessing and recognising prior experiential learning or prior certificated learning for academic purposes. This recognition gives the learning a credit value and allows it to be counted towards the completion of a degree or other award.

Credit is the common currency of university programmes. Each course module has a credit value and these credits are accumulated towards the full award. For example, an honours degree requires 120 credits at each of Levels 4, 5 and 6.

The APL process is intended to stop learners repeating learning that they have already achieved.

There are two types of APL:

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL)

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) is learning that has been recognised previously by an education provider, evidenced by formal certification, and assessed and recognised for the award of credit.

If you have previously studied a course that has broadly the same learning outcomes as ones on an IDI programme, then you can apply to have these credited against your degree. However, if a qualification or credit is more than five years old, it could be considered out of date and may not be used towards a degree.

If you have international qualifications, we may ask you to provide an official document that states how your international qualification compares to UK qualifications. You are likely to have to pay for this service.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) is learning that has been achieved through experiences outside the formal education and training systems, normally associated with a working environment, which has been assessed and recognised for the award of credit by the University. It is different from formal learning, as it is often unstructured and can be more personal and individualised.

APEL applicants can develop skills, strengths and knowledge from a range of experiential learning. Please be aware that learning must be at an equivalent level to that on the modules offered on our programmes and you must be able to evidence it. This is typically done by means of a portfolio. It is usual for this to involve some sort of reflective writing about your learning, but it might involve many other forms of evidence too.

It is important to remember that it is the learning from experience rather than the learning itself that is assessed for credit and so you will need to be able to articulate this.

Making an Advanced Entry Application

When completing an application for advanced entry, you will be asked to provide evidence that you have confidently met the learning outcomes of the level(s) for which you are claiming credit. Your Admissions Advisor will help you with this

Completed applications will be submitted to our Admissions team and forwarded to the Academic Leader for review. After review, a recommended entry level will be given and you will receive feedback on your application. If your claim for Accredited Prior Learning (APL) is full or partly on Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL), you will be invited to attend a viva via Skype to support your claim.

In some rare cases we can offer credits for one or more modules in a level, but this is not common or advisable, as the modules have been developed for you to benefit from the complete learning journey. There are also no payment plans in place for this situation and in most cases you will be required to pay for the full level.

If you are successful in your claim for advanced entry, you will be sent a conditional offer. This condition is based on confirmation of your claim for credits from the University of Hertfordshire’s Board of Examiners who will approve the award of credit on your student record. At this stage you will be invited to confirm your place on the course by making payment

Student Stories

Degree Show - February 2017


All of our tutors are professionals with first class educational experience. We guarantee our students a consistently high standard of tuition, guidance and support across all of the online art and design courses that we deliver.

Click on the images below to find out more about their practice and experience:

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