BA (Hons)


Image credit: © Stephanie D’Hubert

BA (Hons)


Image credit: © Stephanie D’Hubert
UCA logo

The Open College of the Arts is the distance learning college of the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist art and design universities.


The OCA BA (Hons) Photography degree programme is unique in that it assumes no prior knowledge beyond the basic operations of a camera. It is modular in concept and delivery and the student is free to choose from the available units at each level to suit their own interests and aspirations. Thus it is possible that, with tutorial guidance, each individual student can tailor their course to their apparent and developing talents, their creative and intellectual inclinations.

Degree overview

The BA (Hons) Photography degree will develop your technical, creative and analytical skills through a highly structured programme of study which is made sensitive to your needs as a student through a one-to-one tutor relationship. At Level 5, you will begin to develop your personal artistic voice as a photographer through an exploration of genre, and there will be an increased emphasis on theoretical and critical studies in parallel with your practical work. Level 6 consists primarily of a flexible negotiated programme.These three final modules can be linked and the college’s wide range of tutor specialisms helps in supporting you in your creation of fresh and challenging work that shows a maturity of outlook across the spectrum of photographic practice.

As its Distance Learning arm, all OCA degrees are validated by the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). UCA is the No.1 Specialist University for the Creative Industries in the Complete University Guide and ranked 21st in the UK by the Guardian University League Tables.

Image credit: © Michael Colvin
Image credit: © Silvia Ruiz Camara

Degree aims

  • To widen access to education in photography at undergraduate level through Open and Flexible Distance Learning.
  • To provide an intellectually stimulating programme based on high quality study material and tutor support.
  • To develop students’ creative capacities and their ability in the interpretation and application of imagery.
  • To develop students’ critical understanding of the theoretical and conceptual issues central to the practice of photography and the social, historical and cultural context in which it is practiced.
  • To provide an environment in which the student has the possibility of changing their view of the world and their interaction with it both visually and intellectually.
  • To foster high-level ethical and professional standards and an awareness of the possibilities offered by existing and new developments in photography to expand their application areas.

Degree prospectus

Full details of the Photography degree can be found in the Programme Specification below.

OCA BA (Hons) Photography Degree course units

The available course units for the BA (Hons) Photography degree can be viewed below.

Level 1 (HE4)

Level 2 (HE5)

Level 3 (HE6)

UCA Logo

The Open College of the Arts is the distance learning college of the University for the Creative Arts – one of the UK’s leading specialist art and design universities.

“Studying with the OCA has stretched my horizons. I now feel my work has a greater sense of my personal presence and I can communicate my ideas creatively.”


John Umney, Photography student

Our Tutors

Our team of photography tutors share a wealth of experience from across the photographic, creative and cultural sectors.

Our combined skills and experience reflect the range of possibilities and pathways the study of photography can offer. From exhibiting and published contemporary photographers, to those who curate and write on photography as well as those engaged in current research led inquiries, our tutors are able to offer 1:1 tutorial support and guidance throughout the degree programme.

To view more information on the team, please visit:

Photography Tutor Les Monaghan, interviewed as part of the Creative Conversations series.

Programme Leader for Photography

Gina Lundy

I started my photographic career as a photographer’s assistant to the commercial and advertising sector, working in studios in Bristol and London, however I soon realised that my passions lay with socially engaged projects of a documentary nature…

Creative careers

The creative sector employs 1.9 million people in the UK alone.

By studying the OCA BA (Hons) Photography degree, you can kick-start your career in the creative industries by working part-time or doing an internship whilst gaining your academic qualifications at the same time.

Photographers and digital artists typically work, often freelance, in publishing, journalism, public relations, advertising, design studios, teaching, media and broadcasting. Photography careers on offer range from commercial photography, through newspaper and magazine photojournalism to more specific areas such as scientific photography, medical photography and culinary photography. Whatever your aspiration, the OCA’s BA (Hons) Photography degree will prepare you for working in any one of these photography careers that are available to graduates.

More on careers
Image credit: ©Maurice_Timmermans
Image credit: ©Alan Fletcher
What Our Students Say

Alan Fletcher

“Assessment results are in and the dust is settling…I think I have been so wrapped up in chasing the idea of being right and thinking every I was doing was somehow wrong. I even named my learning log “What if I am Wrong” before I had started any of the work. I didn’t know if undertaking this degree was the right thing for me, I am not academic at all – I hated education. I didn’t know if the work I would produce would be right and what if this journey was all wrong. So I took the chance because what if it was right. 

It turns out there is no right or wrong there is just me, the score doesn’t confirm right or wrong, good or bad. The penny has dropped the score is a scale of me-ness and how well I have presented myself and the things that truly engage me via the photograph. Work first and look later, the work should be placed in front of the research, the research helps inform the work and the response. I have thought that maybe I have done things all wrong but I have always felt that if I could stand up and justify the work and approach that was the most important thing to me even if I had got it all wrong.

The feedback and the result has raised some big questions, I thought I needed to make huge changes and in fact the changes that may be needed are small and that small changes are probably much more effective. Much of my frustration I think has be caused by the desire to know everything, to do everything right and for everything to work, this is not possible. I thought I was doing the wrong thing by not reading books cover to cover or following the reading list or studying the listed photographers. Small and often is better.”

Alan Fletcher, Post assessment reflections, Level 1, Expressing Your Vision, 2018. 


Fees, funding and other costs

OCA degrees are paid for on a unit-by-unit basis and are around a third of the cost of a degree at a campus university. Unit costs depend on the level of the unit, and also whether you live in the UK or rest of the world:

Per Unit – Level 1 (HE4) Per Unit – Level 2 (HE5) Level 3 (HE6 – Entire Level)
Per course unit (3 x 40 credit units required) Per course unit (2 x 60 credit units required) For the whole level (composition varies depending upon the subject area being studied)
UK £1,315 £1,630 £3,260
Rest of World £1,460 £1,800 £3,600

If you started studying with OCA before 01 August 2017, please contact as different fees may apply.


If you are funding your course yourself you can either pay for units in full or you can spread the cost by taking advantage of our deposit and instalment facility for which a £50 fee is included in the deposit you pay.

All OCA courses are listed with Student Finance England, Wales, and Northern Ireland allowing eligible students to apply for a Student Loan to cover the cost of fees. You may also be able to apply for a maintenance loan and/or Disabled Students Allowance to assist you with the cost of study.

We’ve made this super-helpful guide to take you through the application process, making applying for Student Finance a piece of cake – Student Finance Guide

The OCA Learner Support Scheme can provide partial bursaries towards course fees for students who are not eligible for funding via Student Finance, based on financial hardship.

Other sources of funding may include employer contributions, Enhanced Learning Credits (for Armed Forces Serving Personnel and Service Leavers) and Prisoner Education Trust.

As a student with OCA, most reading materials can be accessed through the digital library services and eBooks, or sent to you in the post.

Other costs you may find on your degree include purchasing materials/books/texts to assist in your practice and research. Approximate additional materials/resources costs for Photography are £250 for Level 1, £500 for Level 2 and £400 for Level 3. Work is largely submitted to tutors and for assessment via email, however postal costs are expected to be around £40 per assessment for sending materials depending on quantity and weight of materials. Rates for overseas students will be higher.

Enquire now

Please fill in this form to enquire about the BA (Hons) Photography degree or one of OCA’s other undergraduate degree programmes. You are not committing to anything by filling in this form.