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Photography 1: Context & Narrative

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 12 months at 8hrs/week


Photography is a visual language. Like any form of communication it is important to understand the structure and vocabulary in order to express oneself and communicate effectively. As with learning any language when degree of fluency increases the more playful and experimental one can be in expressing oneself creatively. This Open course aims to help you to create meaningful imagery by looking at photography applied in context. You will spend time looking at how practitioners are utilising ideas surrounding contemporary photographic practice. You will be encouraged to adopt an experimental and personal approach to your image making, taking your lead from the inspiration of others. You will think about how visual narratives are formed. The use of image and text, sequencing and editing in constructing stories will form part of this module. Considering basic photographic myths such as whether photographs are ‘real’, thinking about fact and fiction and the difference between taking and making a photograph will all be discussed in this module. You will be encouraged to critically reflect upon these issues in your practice and research. Semiotics will be expanded upon as a key principle within the creation and consumption of photography. This Open course aims to help you explore the many facets of producing personal photography within a contemporary and historical context.


The course aims to:

  • A1 Develop technical skills that demonstrate a critical engagement with your subject.
  • A2 Progress your practical work to demonstrate skills of conceptual engagement and personal expression.
  • A3 Expand upon your critical analysis and self-appraisal of performance.
  • A4 Develop your contextual understanding of historical and contemporary photography and begin to consider theoretical approaches to photography.


On successful completion of the course you will:

  • LO1 Create images that demonstrate a practical and conceptual understanding of the appropriate use of techniques.
  • LO2 Demonstrate an emerging critical awareness and ability to translate ideas into imagery.
  • LO3 Conduct research, development and production in response to the themes raised in this course.
  • LO4 Show a critical understanding of contemporary imagery in relation to historical practice and theory.

Course content

  • Fact or Fiction: Documentary and truth – using straight photography to question what is real.
  • Constructed Realities – using the fabricated image to suggest truths.
  • Narrative – using visual story telling techniques
  • Semiotics – implementing the use of semiotics and writing a deconstruction of an image of your choice.
  • Fictional Autobiography – putting yourself in the story.

Unit Leader

Wendy McMurdo

Unit Leader for Photography 1: Context and Narrative

“I have worked with photography, digital techniques and film since graduating with an MA from Goldsmiths College, London in the mid 1990s. As an undergraduate student, I studied painting but quickly began to work with the photography as a means by which to explore ideas and views on the digital world that might otherwise be difficult to put into words…”

Read the rest of Wendy’s profile here