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BA (Hons) Commercial Photography

The commercial world relies on powerful imagery to give news stories and brand messages impact.

We’re looking for people who want to push creative boundaries, challenge perceptions and set the agenda for commercial photography.

Commercial Photography course information

This course gives you the opportunity to develop a specialist career, working within fashion/beauty, advertising, documentary/editorial and portrait photography. Through the combination of creative and technical skill, our students aspire to challenge perceptions, and push boundaries, through making imagery that's at the forefront of contemporary photographic practice.

This course gives you the opportunity to develop a specialist career, working within fashion/beauty, advertising, documentary/editorial and portrait photography. Through the combination of creativity and technical skill, our students aspire to challenge perceptions, and push boundaries, through making imagery that’s at the forefront of contemporary photographic practice.

Graduates from this course have gone on to create images for clients including Louis Vuitton, Stella McCartney, Chanel, The Times Fashion Supplement, Love Magazine, Dazed and Confused, Huck, Kit Magazine, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Vogue (UK, India and Italy), Nike, Adidas, Lacoste, Wall Street Journal and the BBC.

If you want the opportunity to set the future agenda for commercial photography, and have the commitment and drive to make the most of every opportunity the course can give you, then we would love you to join.

We’ll help you to gain a broad understanding of photographic practice and theory, so that you graduate confidently with the creative and critical visual language needed to work in the industry as an individual and within a creative team. As part of this course, at all levels, you’ll attend guest lectures by visiting photographers and industry professionals.

Employment prospects are good, even before you graduate. In recent years, many students have been commissioned and published while still on the course and have had success through prestigious competitions.

Career options are varied too. As well as setting up freelance businesses, many graduates go on to work in a variety of roles within studio management, retouching, assisting, styling, and advertising.

Over the three years of study, you can choose to focus your specialism within one of the three award titles:

  • BA (Hons) Commercial Photography (Advertising)
  • BA (Hons) Commercial Photography (Fashion)
  • BA (Hons) Commercial Photography (Documentary/Editorial)

Course duration

3-years (full-time)

UCAS course code


UCAS institution code


Level 4 (first year)

In your first year, you’ll learn the creative, practical and theoretical skills that you’ll build upon during your degree. We’ll introduce you to a variety of traditional and digital photographic techniques and processes, giving you a strong technical foundation in location and studio lighting, analogue and digital capture, as well as moving image and digital postproduction techniques. This year also covers key historical and theoretical themes through written assignments, used to reinforce learning and development.

Level 5 (second year)

During second year, you’ll continue to develop your creative skills through enhanced ability within moving image, digital skills and promotional awareness, building upon your first-year experience and developing your genre-specific interests, during two practical units.

Your industry understanding will be consolidated by undertaking a work placement, allowing you to gain hands-on experience, working alongside industry professionals, whilst also building your own professional profile.

Our ‘Critical Analyses’ unit explores some of the themes and approaches used in the exploration of photographic meaning and semiotics, developing research and written communication skills, providing you with the academic ability to better understand your practice in broader socio/ political contexts, while preparing you for the third year major written assignment.

Level 6 (third year)

Your third year allows you to build on your platform of skills and knowledge, with an extremely focused approach to your career ambitions, working in genre-specific study groups.

Two major practical units provide the opportunity to create the work that will become your professional portfolio, and the unit ‘Research Paper’ will allow you to engage with a critically informed analysis of a subject-related topic.

Graduating from the course you’ll have the opportunity to produce an accomplished commercial portfolio and the critical skills with which to enter the creative industries. It also provides a platform for potential postgraduate study.

All students are registered for the award of BA (Hons); however, exit awards are available if you leave the course early, having successfully completed one or two levels. If you successfully complete a level of the course, you will automatically be entitled to progress to the next level.

For the award of a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the first year of your course.

For the award of a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 240 credits of which a minimum of 120 must be at Level 5. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the second year of your course.

For the award of a BA (Hons) you must have achieved a minimum of 360 credits of which a minimum of 240 must be at Level 5 or above, of which a minimum of 120 credits must be at Level 6. This qualification will be awarded upon successful completion of your course.

A BA without Honours may be awarded if you have achieved 300 credits, at least 180 of which are at Level 5 or above, and at least 60 of which are at Level 6.

Course team

Our lecturers and technicians are specialists in their fields. You can read more about their experience by browsing their staff profiles below.

Dr Laurie Taylor Senior Lecturer - Photography (History and Theory)


Lucy Veale Photography Technician Demonstrator

MA Fine Art

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Watch our course videos

Course leader Conrad Tracy talks about what to expect from studying BA (Hons) Commercial Photography here at AUB. He also unpacks what makes a great photographer.

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Application process

Once you've found the perfect Undergraduate course, you can apply to study via UCAS, including direct entry applications to second and third year.

When applying through UCAS, use the institution code A66 for courses taught at Arts University Bournemouth . For courses based at Bournemouth and poole College, use code B49. We'll then use your completed UCAS form to make decisions about your application. You can find out more on entry requirements in our apply section.

When you apply to one of our courses, it's important that you help us get a good picture of both you and your work – so you'll need a great personal statement. We want to know more about why you're interested in the course, your key influences, and what you hope to do after your studies.

If you're invited for an interview, many of our courses will ask to see a portfolio of your work so we can get more insight into your ideas and abilities. To help you, we've created guidelines outlining what we expect from your portfolio for each course.

The fee that you pay the Arts University Bournemouth provides the necessary equipment and training for you to complete your course.

You may also choose to buy some items of personal equipment such as a laptop or tablet computer, but this is not required; desktop and laptop computers are available for you to use in common study areas, including a loan system in the Library.

For the majority of our courses, we'll ask you to digitally submit a portfolio as part of the application process.

Portfolios should show examples of your work – both finished and work in progress – that demonstrate your interests and skills. We expect to see around 20 slides/images in your portfolio that shows your identity as an artist

If we ask for a digital portfolio then we'll give you 30 days to submit it. Sometimes we'll need a portfolio submitted quickly if there's a UCAS set deadline approaching, but if you need more time, just let us know and we'll try to help.

We've created specific portfolio guidelines for each of our courses, you can take a look at these below.

If you've applied to study an online postgraduate (MA) degree, please refer to the AUB Online portfolio guidelines.

There are only a few courses where you'll be asked to attend an interview or audition.

The courses currently requiring interviews are BA (Hons) Make-up for Media and Performance and BA (Hons) Textiles. BA (Hons) Acting and BA (Hons) Dance require auditions. If you're invited to one you'll have at least 10 days notice.

Studios and Resources

The photography facilities at AUB recently underwent a multi-million-pound development and refurbishment, which saw the creation of brand-new digital suites, a collaborative specialist photography hub and brand-new colour printing facilities.

You’ll have access to seven dedicated photographic studios and specialist photographic equipment.

Lighting equipment in a Photography studio

Photography Studios

Photography and Commercial Photography students will have access to our seven dedicated photographic studios.

Photography camera equipment on a shelf

Digital SLRS

Digital SLRs are available to book out on location and to use within studios, including full-frame Nikon and Canon systems.

Four banks of desks in a computer suite with monitors on them.

Digital Suites

Our Digital Suites offer a dedicated digital post-production facility and digital teaching space.

Dark Room

Print Bureaux

Print Bureaux allows students to print work to commercial, and exhibition standards, through the support of a dedicated technical team.

Teaching and learning

The course outcomes will be met by deploying a wide variety of teaching and learning methods including workshop projects, studio projects, lectures, seminars, group critiques, guided reading and tutorials.

The integration of theory and practice is promoted and reinforced through a team-teaching approach. Lectures, seminars and tutorials may be delivered by team members, as appropriate, in the creative environment of the studio.

The methods employed will, wherever possible, induct students in the disciplines required of a creative practitioner in commercial photography along with transferable skills (managing self, professional skills and team working), and value and credit any relevant previous experience. A key method will be the promotion of work-related learning, including work placements, visits to the workshops or studios of relevant practitioners or organisations, guest lectures or workshops led by visiting practitioners and ‘live’ or simulated project briefs. Learning and career planning will be consolidated through the encouragement of skills in personal planning, reflection and development.

Teaching is directed at supporting individual engagement in learning, although there will be opportunities for students to work in teams to enable them to learn the value of peer cooperation. Also, it's anticipated that due to the vocational and professional orientation of the course, and to enable students to benefit from the range of resources and disciplines within the University, opportunities will exist for students to collaborate in teams with peers in, for example, Make-up, Textiles, Fashion or Modelmaking. It is also envisaged that live project work may benefit from the collaboration of students from all levels of the course.

The study time allocated to each unit in the course incorporates a balance of teaching support and learning. The progressive promotion of student-centred learning reflects the anticipated maturity of students and allows them to direct their learning towards individual goals. For example, the teaching in Level 4 is directed at providing students with the knowledge, concepts and skills necessary to take increasing responsibility for the management of their own learning as they progress through to Level 5. Level 6 of the course allows the student to confirm their particular creative concerns and to extend the scope and depth of their enquiry, taking the major responsibility for their study. Teaching support reflects these expectations, as mature learners, through tutorial support that complements the autonomous nature of their study.

Negotiated Learning Agreements are the principle means of defining learning goals and monitoring progress and achievements, providing the opportunity for student to extend their interests and abilities, and demonstrate their capacity for sustained independent and professional work.

Guidance and counselling to help students in realising their learning potential will be provided continuously throughout each academic year.

The methods employed will, whenever possible, lead you, ‘the student’, into the disciplines required of a creative practitioner and promote the transferable skills of self-management and self-reliance.

The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for autonomous learning.

The progressive promotion of student-centred learning reflects your developing maturity, as a student, and supports your individual learning towards your aims and goals.

Contact hours include all scheduled teaching sessions, but also supervised time in the workshop or studio. In line with national guidance, we include in our calculation of contact hours all the time which is scheduled in the studio for independent study which is also supported by staff (either academic staff, or technicians).

The information provided below gives the proportion of your study time which constitutes contact hours. Where there are optional routes through the course, we've used the figures for the most popular option.

Year 1 (% time) Year 2 (% time) Year 3 (% time)




Assessment and feedback

Each unit is assessed separately, and the assessment forms part of the unit. Assessment both provides a measure of your achievement, and also gives you regular feedback on how your learning is developing.

For every unit of your course, we'll inform you of what you are expected to learn, what you have to submit, how your work will be assessed, and the deadline for presenting your work for assessment. This is made available through Unit Information, which is on your course blog.

You'll receive a final mark for each unit in the form of a percentage, which will be recorded on your formal record of achievement (transcript). Each component of assessment is graded using a notched marking scale, whereby only certain marks are used within each grade. The only marks available within any ten-point band are *2, *5 and *8 (e.g. 62, 65, 68). These marks correspond to a low, mid, and high level of achievement within each grade band.

All learning outcomes must be passed to successfully complete the unit.

On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you'll be awarded a degree classification based on your unit marks. The final classification is determined using all unit marks at Levels 5 and 6 using two different algorithms, which are detailed in the HE Student Regulations. If the two algorithms produce different results, you will be awarded the higher class of degree.

If you've joined Level 6 through either the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route or having completed a Foundation Degree (FdA), the final classification is determined using only your unit marks at Level 6.

For further information on assessment, progression, awards and classifications, please visit


Our photography facilities recently underwent a multi-million pound development, which saw the creation of brand-new digital suites, a collaborative specialist photography hub and brand-new colour printing facilities.

Studying on this course, you’ll benefit from these state-of-the-art facilities and industry-standard equipment, designed to support all photography practices from analogue through to high-end digital production.

You’ll be able to make use of the following professional-standard facilities:

  • Photographic studios
  • Automated film processing
  • Colour darkrooms
  • 30-inch AUTOPAN RA4 paper processor
  • Black and white darkrooms, processing area and deep tank room
  • Digital darkroom with colour managed workflow
  • Professional print bureau
  • Epson SC-P9000 A0 large format printer and proofer
  • Chromira 30-inch RA4 Digital Printer
  • Frame-making equipment and workshop area for producing high-quality bespoke exhibition-ready work

Equipment store

We provide an extensive range of professional analogue and digital cameras and ancillary equipment that you can access for use in the studio or out on location, including:

  • Film cameras 35 mm, medium format, large format field/monorail cameras up to 10x8
  • Pinhole cameras, 35 mm, medium format and large format
  • Full frame DSLR cameras
  • Digital medium format cameras, including Hasselblad and Phase One
  • Location lighting equipment
  • Broncolor Parabolic
  • Specialist video, sound, image stabilisation and continuous lighting equipment for moving image
  • Wind machine, reflectors, gels, clamps, portable backdrops, data projectors, developing tanks, Wacom tablets, and more…

What our graduates are doing

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high profile awards.

Graduates from this course have gone on to create images for clients including The Times Fashion Supplement, Kit Magazine, Huck, Vogue, The Telegraph, The Guardian, and the BBC. Other roles include:

  • Wessex Photographic – Branch Manager
  • Double Exposure Photographic – Retoucher
  • Burton Menswear – Photoshoot Coordinator
  • Momento Studio’s and Promotions – Bookings Coordinator
  • Harvey Nichols – Photographer
  • Magine TV – Marketing Consultant
  • Popcorn Learning Media – Digital Learning Designer
  • The Economist – Picture Editor
  • Salvatore Ferragamo, Pitti Uomo/Bimbo, New York Fashion Week, Guess by Marciano – Photographer
  • NOW TV – Design Creative
  • – Senior Retoucher
  • Closer Magazine – Junior Picture Researcher
  • Hut Group – Junior Food Photographer

Our students go on to create images for international magazines and newspapers, picture desks, ad agencies, fashion houses, and more.

James Stopforth

I do a lot of work assisting British fashion photographer, Nick Knight...

Amy Maidment

I have been a big football fan since my dad took me to my first game when I was five...

Many of our students are commissioned and published while still on the course and win prestigious and high profile awards, such as:

  • EIZO award for fashion film 2017
  • British Journal of Photography, three students chosen as the Ones to Watch Graduates 2017
  • Hunger Magazine, 2017 graduate nominated for the feature Five Emerging Fashion Photographers to Watch Right Now
  • Association of Photographers Student of the Year’ 2005 (shortlisted from 2002-19)
  • Association of Photographers ‘runner-up’ 2007
  • Association of Photographers 3 judges choice awards including fashion series 2011
  • Association of Photographers Student of the Year (Best of Show) 2019
  • The Photographers Gallery ‘New Talent’ Award/Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed: 8 most exciting new photographers 2008, 2011 & 2019
  • Portrait of Britain Awards 2019
  • Yatzer - A Shade of Pale: Ten Evocative Narratives Exhibition 2018
  • Fresh Meet Award 2020
  • Eizo Awards 2020

Trips and visits

As part of your course you may also get the opportunity to take part in course trips. Previous trips have included:

  • New York
  • Berlin
  • London
  • Paris
  • Brighton

*These trips are optional and some may incur additional costs

See more of our student work

The commercial world relies on powerful imagery to give news stories and brand messages impact.