Photography BA Welcome Pack

Welcome to Photography BA 2022.

Our Photography BA (Hons) degree takes a practical approach to exploring the photograph within a range of contemporary practices and contexts. This will extend to a critical understanding of photography subjects and allows the scope for you to develop your creativity and professionalism.

During your undergraduate photography course, we will challenge you to consider traditional silver processes and digital technologies, evaluating photographic production and studying the still image in relation to both the moving image and newer interactive technologies.

To prepare for your study, we ask you to read some of the recommended books highlighted in this welcome pack. In particular, it would be great if you could familiarise yourself with the history and theory of photography. You are also required to do some preparatory work over the summer, details of which will be sent separately to you.

On this page, you will also find other relevant information about the course and the University that will allow you to familiarize yourself to the new processes and ways of working at here.

We hope that you enjoy your experience here at the University of Northampton. You will have supportive tutors, great technical resources and a superb Library resource available through the Learning Hub.

Engaging fully with what is on offer both from the Photography Department and the wider University opportunities will enhance your experience and reap rewards.

Indicative Timetable for BA Photography 2022-23

Indicative Timetable BA Photography Year One (Level 4 Stage 1) 2022-23

During your first year of study, it is hoped that you will successfully complete 6 x 20 credit modules.

In order to do this, you will be expected to attend for sessions in Semester 1 (Sep-Jan) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays (Wednesday PM is for Personal Tutor and SU activities/clubs/team sports) and Thursdays each week.
And in Semester 2 (Feb-May) on Mondays, Wednesdays (Wednesday PM is for Personal Tutor and SU activities/clubs/team sports) and Thursdays each week.

Your first session will be slightly outside this – you will start, for an in person meet and greet with myself and your Personal Tutors, on Monday 26 September in CH322 (Room 322 of the Creative Hub) at 9.30am.

We look forward to you studying with us.

Programme Leader

Richard Whitehead, Programme Leader for Photography

Richard Whitehead (BA, MA, PGTL & HE, ABIPP, FHEA)

Senior Lecturer/Programme Leader Photography



Welcome and Induction session

To welcome you to Photography BA course, please attend our online welcome and induction session to clarify any issues you may have prior to starting:


List of suggested equipment and starter books for BA Photography

We realise that a photography course makes a number of financial demands upon you. With that in mind we have put together a list of some of the things we would see as essential items.

We have asked some of our current Level 4 (Stage 1) students to indicate the costs involved in buying materials and prints for project submission. It is hoped that this will give you a clearer idea how much you should expected to spend to complete your work. The amount is on average between £150-£200 – you may spend more or less on materials, but this covers film, photographic paper, prints (digital and conventional) and mounting.

Essential Items
  • Paper – writing (lined and plain)
  • Pens, pencils, highlighter pens
  • Memory Sticks
  • SD cards-  from Amazon/Camera shoos
  • Hard Drive
  • A smart phone that can record sound and video (networks and cost is personal, but you can find good deals for cheap for unlimited calls and texts per month so shop around)
  • Enthusiasm!

There is an Art Shop – where you will be able to purchase all the usual items.

Although you are welcome to do so, you will NOT need to purchase your own cameras immediately. It would be more sensible to explore the range of cameras available and see if they are appropriate to your needs. Someone who is interested in sports photography may need a camera that can store information quickly, whereas someone who is interested in studio work may prefer larger files sizes to attain better detail. Please be aware that our stocks of digital cameras are primarily Nikon and we have a range of lenses that will fit this make. We do have some Canon lenses that can be used on Canon cameras. There is also a stock of tripods, lighting equipment and other items that will be available on loan from the equipment store.  There is no cost for hire kit.

The following is a short list of recommended equipment you will need within your first year on the course:

Portable external hard drive for backing up all work

Suggested makes include Iomega, Freecom, LaCie, Hitachi, Western Digital.  Suggested size 1TB/2TB, ensure Mac compatible – as the computers within the department are Macs. Some suggested suppliers:

  • PCWorld,
  • Amazon.
Your own SD cards

We suggest 3-4 which have at least 32GB of memory. These are essential if you are borrowing our DSLRs and video equipment.  Suggested makes include SanDisk & Lexar:

  • Amazon
Archival/Portfolio Photographic Boxes

For presentation and storage of photographic prints.  (These are recommended, but you can discuss this with a tutor and acquire these after you start.  Consider getting together as a group and you may save money through a bulk order). Suggested retailers include:

  • Portfolio Store
  • Nomad Plc
  • Silverprint
  • Seawhite
  • Tiny Box Company.
Memory sticks/USB Flash drives

16/32GB – for transferring files and storing lecture slide presentations. Amazon are very cheap for these.

Negative Folder for black and white and colour negative storage (Wex, etc.)

Paper sleeves are supplied by the University.

Please remember it is often cheaper to buy online – watch for deals.

Some ‘Useful Tips’ from our current students:

  • Developing/buying colour film, go to  Skears. It’s not cheap but it is better quality!
  • If you want cheap colour film, go to Poundland.
  • If you need any colour or BW darkroom film, look for deals on Ebay and Amazon, it’s much cheaper.
  • If you want your own film camera, buy from Ebay. I got one (plus a 50mm lens) for £50.
  • If you need sketchbooks, go to the Works. Cheap sketchbooks and portfolio boxes.

Indicative Reading List

You are not required to read or purchase all of these books by the time you arrive in September, but you are advised to source at least one text dealing with photographic history and theory (choose any one from the first three on the list),  and one text covering technical and practical aspects of photography (next three on the list below),  You can begin to explore these texts and develop a sense of what may be covered in your first year at the University of Northampton:

Photographic History and Theory
  • Bate, D. (2016) Photography: The Key Concepts. 2nd Edition. Oxford: Berg.
  • Bull, S. (2010) Photography. London: Routledge.
  • Wells, L. (2015) Photography: A Critical Introduction. 5th Edition. Oxford: Routledge.
  • Farrell, I. (2017) A Complete Guide to Digital Photography. London: Quercus.
  • Freeman, M. (2017) The Photographer’s Handbook: Equipment, Technique, Style. London: ILEX.
  • Langford, M. (eds. Fox, A.  and Sawdon-Smith, R. )  (2015)  Langfords Basic Photography: The Guide for Serious Photography, Focal Press, New York and London.

Enhancing skills, building networks and engaging in the wider University community

Summer Project

In September 2022, you will engage with the Photography team in the first weeks of teaching in order to help you to settle into your exciting new environment. To facilitate this process and to create opportunities for you to get to know your peers, you are required to do some preparatory work over the summer.

Practical Project: Private Revelations

Summertime implies a return to home, or familiar places shared with close family and friends.

Part A:

For this project, you are required to identify a senior family member, relative or friend (belonging to an earlier generation) and photograph your subject in locations linked to their childhood memories and experiences. This process of locating and re-visiting particular places of interest (online through Google maps as required) would entail conversations with the chosen subject regarding personal significance. You are required to produce between 4-6 images for this aspect of the project sized to a maximum of A4. This portfolio of images will be displayed digitally, during Welcome Week, alongside the work of students from levels 5 and 6.

Part B:

Furthermore, either re-photograph (make sure the results are technically good) or scan/photograph/screen shot up to 8 existing/old images belonging to the subject (i.e. the senior family member or friend etc.) that relate to their significant memories of their past, or indeed, their relationship to you. Submit these files digitally (labelled with your name) of the shots you’ve taken for the first aspect of the project above (subject on location) during the Welcome Week gathering using our NILE system, to which you will then have had an introduction and access.

Part C:

It is also necessary for you to offer contextual information through words. Consider annotating your own prints with text offering some indication of the narrative (this could take the form of a direct, factual record, OR a poetic message). Alternatively, instead of writing in the meta-data of the digital images, hand-write/type on a file/image/word document and present this beside it, offering information about your chosen subject i.e. who they are to you; what their significant memories are; why have they chosen particular locations and why are they significant? Also offer some reflective and evaluative information as to how your subjects responded through your conversations with them, and how perhaps this process has made you think about photography and your close relationships differently?

For this work, research collaborative projects as well as other photographers who work with text and images. See for example, Jim Goldberg’s ‘Open See’ project, or Duane Michal’s photo-narratives, or Sophie Calle’s ‘Suite Venitienne’; Graham MacIndoe’s diary of a heroin addict. Also look at the following video links and a book (not too expensive second hand, but do not feel the need to purchase if you cannot afford it – we do have a copy in our library) to help you consider the power of photography to re-ignite or connect familial histories, and as a tool for therapy:

A Gallery Visit

An important part of your learning process involves an on-going awareness of current exhibitions and contemporary themes around photographic practice. You are therefore encouraged to try to visit at least one gallery during the summer, whether in London, a city closer to you or indeed something internationally further afield that you can find. Read about current online and in-person exhibitions first to determine which show appeals to you, and you can also choose to develop your knowledge further through researching suitable links on websites and sourcing relevant books and articles. Document your virtual visit and write a short evaluative review (approximately 300 words). You should make good use of additional texts about the artists/photographers featured in the exhibition and use Harvard referencing when citing or quoting from these texts. If you are not sure how to use Harvard when referencing information, follow the University of Northampton’s Skills Hub guide.

There are a number of sites that offer information about the exhibitions currently on show in the UK, Europe and further afield. Some are listed below:

Our Campus