Documentary Photography and Film degree – Bath Spa University

Documentary Photography and Film

BA (Hons)

Undergraduate degree - single honours

  • UCAS codes: Institution B20, Course DPF1 or DPF2 (with professional placement year)

Key facts

Award
BA (Hons) Documentary Photography and Film
School/s
Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Campus or location
Locksbrook Campus and Newton Park
Course length
Three years full time, or four years full time with professional placement year. Part time available.
UCAS codes
Institution Code: B20
Course Code: DPF1 or DPF2 (with professional placement year)
Campus Code: A,BSU

Entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed under 'Typical offers' in the main column below. For combined courses, please check both subjects. If your qualification is not listed, please email admissions@bathspa.ac.uk with your specific details.

Are you an aspiring real-life storyteller? Develop your unique narrative voice and combine this with practical skills on our Documentary Photography and Film degree.

  • Learn the fundamentals of documentary practice through real-world briefs and live projects.
  • Access our excellent photography facilities at the University’s state-of-the-art Locksbrook Campus.
  • Be guided by industry professionals with years of experience in photojournalism and documentary photography.

This Documentary Photography and Film degree will give you the ability to tell stories in your unique narrative voice, and the technical skills to showcase these stories in various forms.

By looking at still and moving images, studying the theories behind storytelling and exploring the ethical considerations surrounding documentary making, you'll develop into a rounded and creative documentarian.

You'll have access to experienced industry professionals from day one, who will guide and support you through real-life briefs, self-directed projects and hands-on experiences.

You'll also collaborate with Bath Spa students from other disciplines to produce your final project and build a professional portfolio to take into the world of work.


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What you'll learn

Overview

People are at the centre of documentary practice; their lived experiences form our understanding of stories and help us contextualise the world. This Documentary Photography and Film degree teaches you the fundamental principles and building blocks of documentary practice and prepares you for a career in industry. You’ll develop your own creative voice across a diverse range of photographic and moving image contexts within the creative industries.

Working alongside committed and experienced staff, you’ll explore the historical and contemporary theory and the critical and ethical landscape of documentary practice in a local and global context. You’ll develop expertise as an agile, creative documentarian with a firm understanding of narrative and the ethics involved in producing a documentary piece.

With close ties to industry, you’ll be taught by practising documentarians on a diverse and exciting course that will build your skills and experience of working professionally. Our emphasis on professional development will equip you with knowledge of marketing and promotion, as well as advanced skills required in pitching for employment and commission.

Course structure

Year one
Understand the foundations of documentary practice by studying the principles of engagement, expression and narrative voice. Throughout the year you'll look at current documentary practice in the UK and beyond. We emphasise diversity, inclusivity and ethics when exploring contexts and audience for documentary practice.

You’ll explore the ways in which photography and film can be edited to produce different outcomes and communicate different stories. Through a series of workshops in which you “explore territory”, work with archival footage and respond to themes, you’ll develop your practice by producing a short photographic project and film that articulates your personal perspective on the world.

Throughout your seminars and lectures, you'll further explore the documentary genre and be introduced to theoretical and critical understandings of ethics as you explore your surroundings in your own projects.

Year two
In your second year you'll learn to challenge conventions and question the relationships between fact and fiction. In order to expand your narrative horizons, you’ll explore different methods employed by documentary makers to represent stories – such as tableaux, collaboration, use of archival footage, photography, film, reconstruction and interviews.

Using the knowledge and skills already gained, you’ll prepare for your final year project by expanding your technical skills in photography, filmmaking and storytelling. You’ll get real-world experience by engaging with professionals, agencies, artists’ studios, galleries and industry events.

This year, you’ll focus on theory, ethics and representation of subject and story in seminars and tutorials, as well as taking part in advanced workshops to develop your storytelling through real-life, self-directed projects to build your portfolio.

Year three
This year focuses on building your professional portfolio through practical work and the exploration of professional environments. You'll work on briefs set by staff and industry figures and develop and extend a range of skills that reflect your interests, abilities and future direction as a practitioner. Exploration, ambition, tenacity and freedom will form the basis of your final year portfolio.

You’ll also be encouraged to work collaboratively with your peers to develop your final outcome. You may choose to work and respond in whatever way you see appropriate using any method of documentary narrative.

Your in-depth final project draws on your experiences and knowledge to showcase your technical and practical skills and produce innovative and complex documentaries. This project will form the basis of your final portfolio exhibition at the end of the year.

How will I be taught?

Teaching takes place through critiques, hands-on technical and theoretical workshops, tutorials, presentations, lectures, self-directed learning and peer review.

Throughout the course you’ll develop your craft and individual interests through practical project work. You’ll explore the contextual framework of documentary practice through Historical and Critical Studies modules and gain industry awareness through Professional Practice modules.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is by coursework. You’ll produce a number of self-directed projects over your time at Bath Spa that will make up your professional portfolio.

Opportunities

Work placements, industry links and internships

We introduce you to the industry as it is today. Our course team has plenty of experience working in the documentary industry across still and moving image. Their expertise and knowledge, as well as industry connections, will give you the opportunity to work on real-life professional projects from the outset.

Careers

The hands-on nature of this course will open career opportunities in roles such as:

  • Documentary filmmaker
  • Photographer
  • Photographic assistant
  • Curator
  • Archivist
  • Film/videographer
  • Film/video editor
  • Picture editor
  • Art director
  • Camera operator
  • Journalism
  • Researcher
  • Teaching.

2022/23 Academic Year

We’ve made some changes to how we deliver our courses in response to the ongoing COVID situation. This is to enable students to get the most out of their studies and university experience and to facilitate an engaging, participative and interactive learning environment, all while keeping our community safe.

We keep our programmes under constant review, and we’ll make sure to let applicants know if there are significant changes to your programme. You can find out more about how the University has adapted its approach on our COVID advice pages, where you’ll also find support and signposting to useful services.

Facilities and resources

Where the subject is taught

As a BA Documentary Photography and Filmmaking student you’ll benefit from access to comprehensive digital workshops and specialist art and design facilities, including:

  • Our student service point at Locksbrook Campus where you can purchase subsidised art and design materials, hire out equipment for free and collect Library resources
  • Our well-stocked Library at Newton Park
  • Specialist technical workshops across all of art and design
  • Access to studio space where you can work on projects and refine your practice.

Resources

Our Locksbrook Campus offers exceptional industry-level facilities. These include PC and Mac computer suites, extensive analogue photographic dark and developing rooms, lighting studios, a digital image manipulation workshop and extensive printing facility.

Locksbrook campus

Locksbrook Campus is a Grade II listed building designed by Nicholas Grimshaw in 1976. It has now been transformed into an innovative, open plan space, redesigned to meet 21st century environmental standards, with technical workshops surrounded by flexible studio spaces and large social areas.

Locksbrook has received both a RIBA South West Award 2021 and RIBA National Award 2021, recognising and celebrating what an amazingly inspirational space it is to come together to design, make, do, create and learn in.

Fees

Our UK undergraduate fees for 2023/24 entry are £9,250. International tuition fees aren't yet available. See current undergraduate tuition fees for international students for reference. For some courses, additional costs may apply. We'll update this page as soon as we have more detailed information.

Interested in applying?

What we look for in potential students

We’re looking for highly motivated individuals who have a deep sense of curiosity and willingness to learn. You should be organised, self-motivated and disciplined.

Typical offers

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry to our undergraduate programmes. The main ones are listed below:

  • A Level - grades BCC-CCC preferred including a grade C in Photography or related subject.
  • BTEC - Extended Diploma grades from Distinction, Merit, Merit (DMM) to Merit, Merit, Merit (MMM) in a related subject, or evidence of experience in Art or Photography.
  • T Levels – grade Merit-Pass (C+) preferred in a relevant subject.
  • International Baccalaureate - a minimum of 27 points are required in addition to a HL Photography/Art subject at grade 6.
  • Access to HE courses - typical offers for applicants with Access to HE will be the Access to HE Diploma or Access to HE Certificate (60 credits, 45 of which must be Level 3, including 30 at merit or higher) together with evidence of experience in Photography.

English Language Requirements for International and EU Applicants

IELTS 6.0 - for visa nationals, with a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 in each element.

Course enquiries

For further information about the programme or entry requirements, please email us at admissions@bathspa.ac.uk.

How do I apply?

Interested in applying? Please send any queries to admissions@bathspa.ac.uk.

Need more guidance? Head to our how to apply pages.

Interview and portfolio guidance

As an applicant you'll be invited by email to interview and will be required to bring a high quality portfolio in support of your application. Portfolios should demonstrate your passion and motivation. We recommend that you present an edited selection of your most successful photographic work at interview. Print presentation is recommended and should be accompanied by evidence of your research and working methods, for example, process journals and research folders.

International students are required to submit a digital portfolio of recent work to accompany your online application. Digital portfolios will be reviewed by our academic team and in most cases we will ask you to attend an interview over the telephone or via the internet within a few weeks of submitting your application. Digital portfolios should demonstrate your passion and motivation. We recommend that you present an edited selection of your most successful photographic work at interview. Evidence of your research and working methods, for example, images taken from your journals/sketchbook and research folders, are recommended in your digital submission.

Course enquiries: James Allen
Email: j.allen@bathspa.ac.uk

Locksbrook Campus image credits: Chris Wakefield, Crescent Photography

Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk