UWTSD Home  -  Study With Us  -  Undergraduate Courses  -  Documentary Photography and Visual Activism (BA)

Documentary Photography and Visual Activism (BA)

Our Documentary Photography and Visual Activism degree course at Swansea College of Art UWTSD teaches students traditional, practical documentary and photojournalistic skills alongside contemporary strategies for becoming visual activists, who empower their subjects whilst engaging with communities and networks to raise awareness about inequality and injustice as a means for social change.

“The new course in Documentary Photography & Visual Activism at Swansea College of Art UWTSD rightly challenges documentary photography norms and embraces expanding its meaning, a perfect fit for this moment in time as documentary photography is being transformed by digital technology, social media and new means of distribution.”

Michelle Bogre, Professor Emerita, Parsons School of Design, NYC and author of the new book from Bloomsbury Press: Documentary Photography Reconsidered: Theory, History and Practice.

View the Swansea College of Art Summer Degree Show

View the Photography Degree show In Search of Ground


Documentary Photography and Visual Activism (BA)

Apply via UCAS

How to apply

All applications to study for a full-time undergraduate degree programme are made through UCAS — Swansea College of Art is part of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

All our courses come under the institution code T80. Visit the University's apply section to find out more.

Book an Open Day Book a Taster Day Request Information Apply Now
Tuition Fees 2021/22:
Home (Full-time): £9,000 per year
Overseas (Full-time): £13,500 per year

5 reasons to study this course

  1. An innovative approach to photojournalism and documentary
  2. Great links with industry specialists and practitioners
  3. Small and friendly class sizes, and easy access to up-to-date equipment
  4. Regular visiting lecturer programme
  5. Opportunities to work with local charities, community groups and other clients on live briefs

Take a look at our ratings and rankings page.

What you will learn

Course Overview

As visual activists, you will challenge the conventions of documentary photography and photojournalism, develop an awareness of whose story you are telling and how you are telling it, be fully engaged in investigating the subjects which inspire you, and become advocates for the causes that you are most passionate about.

This course embraces documentary photography in its broadest sense and encourages experimentation with multimedia, installation, exhibitions, workshops and participatory projects to develop your own unique style of visual storytelling.

As well as working with local community groups supporting refugees, asylum seekers and BAME youth groups, our students have worked with Women’s Aid, Race Council Cymru and LGBTQ+ charities to develop collaborative projects addressing contemporary social issues.

Aided by a wide range of practical workshops you will be encouraged to experiment with the medium of photography to develop your own unique style.

We have a regular programme of visiting lecturers and specialist workshops that provide our students with invaluable networking opportunities with professional organisations, such as Canon, Getty, The Sunday Times, and local galleries, museums and archives that equip our graduates with essential skills to progress in their careers.

As well as working as freelance photographers, our graduates go on to a wide range of successful careers, including jobs in documentary, editorial and commercial photography, picture editing and research, curating, publishing, journalism, and teaching.


Module Topics

Level 4 Modules (year 1)

  • Learning in the Digital Era
  • Contemporary Documentary Practice
  • Visual Studies 1
  • Ways of Thinking
  • Re-thinking Photojournalism
  • Contemporary Challenges: Making a Difference
  • Visual Studies 2
  • Ways of Perceiving

Level 5 Modules (Year 2)

  • Visual Activism: Location & Curation
  • Changemakers: Creativity and Value Creation
  • Visual Enquiry 1
  • Research in Context
  • Publication and Protest
  • Changemakers: Building your Personal Brand for Sustainable Employment
  • Visual Enquiry 2
  • Research in Practice

Level 6 Modules (Year 3)

  • Independent Project
  • Major Project
  • Advanced Creative Enquiry

Assessment varies according to the module and ranges from portfolios, exhibitions, written assignments and blogs to presentations.

Graduate Attributes Framework

This Framework aims to develop your professional skills and competence alongside your academic subject knowledge. You’ll study up to 40 credits per level throughout your programme from the Graduate Attributes Framework.

The Graduate Attribute modules are designed to enable you to develop, and evidence, a range of career-focused skills related to your subject area. These skills include digital competency, research and project management, as well as such personal competencies as communication, creativity, self-reflection, resilience and problem-solving. 

Our Facilities, Graduates and Industry Links

Student and Swansea Life

Key Information

Entry Criteria

The Documentary Photography and Visual Activism course is open to those with an interest in the media, politics and social change; some previous knowledge of photography is advantageous but not essential.

We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design, and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.

Our standard offer for a degree course is 120 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:

  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
  • Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
  • UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
  • UAL L3 Applied General Diploma and Extended Diploma in Art and Design.
  • UAL L3 Diploma and Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Art, Design and Communication.
  • UAL L3 Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology.
  • BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject
  • International Baccalaureate score of 32
  • Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis

Qualifications are important, however our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email artanddesign@uwtsd.ac.uk as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information.

Additional Costs

Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities.

However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing. 

Students are expected to bring their own personal art and design equipment with them when they commence the course.  We can advise on the correct equipment needed for your programme of studies and signpost appropriate suppliers if you wish to purchase essential items before or during your studies.  

A basic art and design kit will cost approximately one hundred pounds, but you may already have much of the equipment required: check with us first.  Also, although we have extensive dedicated digital design studios (PC and MAC) for you to use for your coursework, you may wish to bring your own digital devices. Again, please check with us first before making a purchase. 

Depending on distance and duration, optional study visits can vary in cost from approximately ten pounds to visit local galleries and exhibitions to over two hundred pounds for overseas visits — these costs cover things like transport, entry to venues and accommodation, and are normally at reduced rates for our students.

Bursary / Scholarship Information

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Scholarships and Bursaries section.

Study Abroad Opportunities

During your time with us, you will have the opportunity to study abroad with the Erasmus exchange programmes currently running with Universities in Norway, Barcelona and Sweden.

Study Abroad 
Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.


In addition to our University Accommodation at Llys Glas, Swansea also benefits from a number of private student halls, all within a short walk, including:

Map View