Creative Research Methods
Socially Engaged Photography
Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology
In a nutshell
Photography has become the most pervasive medium through which individuals share their lives on a daily basis. This new programme explores the power of photography when working with real communities to co-author meaningful culture.
This course will be delivered through a partnership between the University of Salford and Open Eye Gallery. You will work with active practitioners, community groups and academics to rethink the role of photography in society today, to develop your creative practice and your professional profile.
The course will give students support in producing creative projects with both arts and non-arts commissioners in mind, exploring how to create socially engaged art that is meaningful to both audiences and participants. Students will develop and deliver live projects with partners working in health, youth, community and justice, all embedded within a critically engaged and ethical framework.
We will provide professional practice surgeries, from understanding legal, ethical and safeguarding frameworks, to developing your professional profile and will have some joint teaching sessions with the Socially Engaged Practice students.
You will have opportunities to engage directly with national debates and Open Eye Gallery’s national network for socially engaged photographic practice.
Want to know more about our Socially Engaged Arts and Photography programmes? Come along to an Open Day or contact our programme leader, Liz Wewiora on E.Wewiora@salford.ac.uk
International applicants: Please check the international intakes page for the latest information and application dates.
- Develop career-enhancing theoretical and practical knowledge and skills.
- Undertake a profile-raising practice-based research residency and showcase with Open Eye Gallery
- Validate your artistic practice within a bespoke national network
This is for you if...
You’ve already demonstrated a commitment to pursuing a professional career as a photographer.
You’d like to learn how to apply your craft to social and community projects, and want to learn through live briefs and industry placements.
You’re passionate about community and social issues and want to use your talents to help tell peoples' stories.
All about the course
One of the first courses of its kind worldwide, this postgraduate photography course is delivered in conjunction with the Open Eye Gallery and focuses on the social applications of photography and how it can be used to help communities and causes to share their message.
Across three trimesters, you’ll develop your technical skills by working on social photography projects, while looking at the socio-political history of photography, its position in today’s digital society, as well as delving into art theory. For several modules, you’ll work collaboratively with students on other art and design courses, as well as undertake an industry placement to gain the first-hand experience of relationship building and working with a community or organisation.
Your first trimester will equip you with many of the fundamental tool to consider creative and ethical research methods to develop as a socially engaged photographer, including the ability to reflect on your work to guide and improve it. Your second trimester will take you through the role of photography alongside the written word in today’s world, and how people share their stories through visual content on social media. You will also have the opportunity to shadow and/ or take part in live socially engaged photography commissions and consider how this experience informs your own practice.
Finally, your third trimester will require you to complete a major project that incorporates all of the knowledge and skills that you’ve gained during your study. This will be presented in the form of a final creative project, devised by you and supported by a reflective rationale, detailing your process and what you’ve learned along the way.
Throughout this course, you’ll be in regular contact with the Open Eye Gallery team, including the Head of Social Practice, Curator, Director and Creative Producers. There will also be an opportunity to exhibit at Open Eye Gallery in a socially engaged photography group show post-graduation. The course is designed to enable you to graduate as a professional artist, curator, producer or creative practitioner.
Find out what is covered in each module by reading the full course breakdown below.
This module focuses on the understanding of and the application of a range of practice based research methods. You are initially encouraged to develop an individual line of inquiry that will be explored through a variety of creative research methods of which you are supported through lectures, seminars and tutorials.. This module has 2 assessment points at week 6 and 12 and submissions will generally be project based (70%) with an underpinning written component (30%).
Exploring Theory and Practice
This module deals with the theoretical and practical issues faced by practitioners in the context of socially engaged practice and the creative and cultural industries. The module supports you in developing new ideas through research and practice and through an appraisal of the context in which they operate. Particular emphasis is placed on contexts that emerge from international perspectives and from contemporary debates around creativity and collaboration.
Developing Socially Engaged Photography Practice
This module looks at the agency of photography now, its position alongside text and the written word as the main medium by which people curate and share their lives on social media. It provides historical and theoretical knowledge from socially engaged practice as well as an exploration of ethical considerations and guidance upon developing individual approaches. You will be able to shadow live projects and take part in workshops and seminars focusing on methods of engagement and collaboration and how these impact upon your own creative practice.
Real World Context
Through the Real World Context module you will undertake a placement in a relevant work place to gain new experiences and test out developing ideas and activities. The creative and cultural industries embrace a range of professional subjects. Given the transversality of these industries, it is important for you to have sufficient knowledge about the sector and its wider contexts, enabling you to identify and acquire professional skills within and across relevant sub-sectors. It is also important to enable you to understand and have experience of working in a multidisciplinary environment and an international context.
The aims of the major project are to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major project in which the emphasis will be on defining and analysing through action research, and developing a constructive practical response to a line of inquiry or research question while formulating your own resolutions or conclusions from your body of work. The culmination of this module could be a community based event or presentation of a sustained body of activity within a particular setting. During the major project you are provided with a supporting supervisor, in developing concerns and practice-drivers accrued throughout your programme, via a programmed series of tutorials. Individual tutorials and peer interaction/group discussions are integral to the development of the major project.
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What Will I be Doing?
Presentations and exhibitions
As part of this MA photography course, your timetable will include a breakdown of your scheduled lessons with timeslots for you to explore your independent research interests. Your classes will be based at our New Adelphi building. You’ll be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars/workshops, tutorials, situated learning( e.g. ‘live projects’) and independent learning. As part of your master’s level study, you’ll need to engage in critical self-reflection in order to guide and develop your abilities. You’ll do this through self-directed projects where you have the freedom to negotiate your focus and what you’ll deliver at the end of it. You’ll take five core modules and will study one day a week. Full-time students will have concentrated module delivery in both the morning and afternoon. If you’re studying parttime, you will have concentrated module delivery in the mornings alongside full-time students. The type of exercises that you’ll undertake include team and peer-based learning, studio practice and critical seminar-events, site visits, visiting professionals, work placements, online activities and critical debates.
You’ll be assessed throughout the course on a body of coursework with contextual research to back it up. You’ll also complete reflective journals, such as a log or sketchbook, outlining your process and learning. As your ‘thesis’ makes up part of the practical major project you’ll work on, there’s no requirement for a separate, written dissertation - although you may choose to do one, if appropriate, in agreement with the Course Team.
You can negotiate the format of your submissions, in response to the needs and priorities within your practice, and in line with contemporary professional practice habits.
'From the rapid rise of social and politically driven documentary photography in the 1970s to today’s daily user-generated imagery via Instagram and Facebook, photography continually finds itself at the forefront of sharing what matters around us. It has become a language all of its own and it is not only professional photographers who are now capturing moments in society but society itself. With this in mind, I ask: ‘what role does photography and the photographer play within the bigger picture of image making today?’
’18 months ago we advertised for photographers to work with seven co-commissioning partners on socially engaged photography residencies across the city region. We had very few proposal from photographers who understood the process of collaboration with communities. On discussion with our arts sector partners nationally we realised there was a real gap in the supply chain – which is bizarre given photography is the perfect medium for socially engaged practice.’
‘Having worked with a socially engaged photographer for the first time over the last couple of years I have been delighted with the outcomes and shared these with colleagues at a major national health conference. I can really say that I have been awakened to the potential for socially engaged photography within my field.’
‘The council works with a range of artists within community settings. Photography works well because it is so accessible as a medium. The skills needed in working with communities are varied and mostly gained slowly through years of experience once people have left university – it would be great if these same skills were taught at masters level.'
‘As artists roles or ways of working in the world are evolving, we need quality photographers who understand socially engaged practice.’
‘Our first project with a socially engaged photographer has grown into a second project and I see potential for future like projects with us and our partners.’
BE A PART OF A CREATIVE, SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
All our Art and Design courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.
Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.
Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.
ART AND DESIGN FACILITIES
This MA in Socially Engaged Photography degree is based at our £55 million New Adelphi building, the home of design and creativity on campus.
When you study with us, you’ll learn from our experienced tutors and demonstrators, who’ll teach you how to use our art and design facilities. These include:
Studio space – dedicated areas for each course, giving you room to think and create.
MarkerSpace workshop - create digital rapid prototypes using 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters and more.
Photography studios - industry-standard photographic studios, which you can use in conjunction with darkrooms and digital printing facilities.
Workshops – from print to textiles, wood to metal, our range of workshops allow you to take your ideas from page to reality and work in a variety of media.
Mac suites - equipped with the industry-standard software you’ll need during your studies and in the world of work.
Explore our Art and Design facilities at New Adelphi, or take a 360 tour of our New Adelphi building.
I am creative practitioner, freelance producer and Head of Social Practice at Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool. Across these roles I seek out to instigate collaborative projects that support and promote social change and wellbeing. I have undertaken various socially engaged residencies and commissions with organisations including CCA Glasgow, Museum of Liverpool ,FACT, Open Eye Gallery, Northwards Housing, AA2A scheme and Manchester Histories and speak nationally and internationally about socially engaged photography practice. I am also an acting board member for Redeye Photography Network.
Find out more about Liz Wewiora or explore the Art and Design faculty at the University of Salford.
What about after uni?
This Master’s community photography course is built around preparing you for a career in the arts, applying your expertise in socially engaged photography and visual representation to real life projects.
After graduating, you may choose to use the knowledge and the skills you’ve gained during your studies in settings such as prisons, youth centres, hospitals and schools. There will be opportunities within the course to look at specific routes to establishing yourself as a professional practitioner in these areas.
You may also choose to become a freelancer. In doing this, you’ll have the opportunity to work in a variety of formal and informal project settings, including workshops and residencies.
There are also several resources that will be available to you when taking the next steps in your career. For example, we coordinate a range of enterprise projects and initiatives that can benefit graduating students in order to assist their career opportunities or routes into self-employment. As well as this, you may join Open Eye Gallery’s Associates programme, meeting with fellow practitioners to share learning, best practice and opportunities for collaboration.
Finally, you may choose to continue your practice-based research through a MPhil/Phd course at the University of Salford. Graduates can become associate members of the School of Arts and Media Research Centre.
Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further academic research path through our doctoral (PhD) programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.
Our MA Art and Design programmes have great working relationships key cultural organisations within the North-west.
This course is delivered in conjunction with Open Eye Gallery.
Since 2016, Open Eye Gallery has been leading Culture Shifts, a programme of socially engaged photography projects spanning Liverpool City Region. It began with eleven photographers working with seven communities across the region, including a support network for young people identifying as LGBTQ+ and women with protected characteristics. So far, it has resulted in eight exhibitions (with an audience of over 40,000), hundreds of workshops and a new digital platform for sharing sequences of images, PhotoStories. Open Eye Gallery also programmed two day-long industry events: a national gathering of leading socially engaged photography practitioners and a public symposium on how public art organisations can foster useful collaborations with other civic institutions including healthcare commissioners, police and community organisers.
What You Need To Know
To gain a place on this MA Socially Engaged Photography course, you’ll have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements when you apply.
Within your Socially Engaged Photography personal statement (up to 500 words), we’ll want to understand:
• what motivates you and what current experiences do you have in terms of art and design and community/socially engaged arts/photography practice?
• how have you been involved and what did you do?
• do you have any knowledge in the arts sector; are there any projects that inspire you?
• What are your future goals; is it to work in the arts sector, for example?
• and why the University of Salford and this postgraduate degree is the right choice for your future goals.
For some applicants, you’ll be asked to provide us with a portfolio of work and potentially take part in an informal group seminar discussion or interview– either live or on camera – to demonstrate your skills.
Once you’ve made your application to study with us, we’ll contact you and let you know the next steps.
Standard entry requirements
To join this MA you should have a second class honours degree, 2:2 or above.
If you are an international student and not from a majority English speaking country, you will need IELTS 6.5 with no element below 5.5. We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.
We also accept a range of other English language qualifications. If you do not have the English language requirements, you could take our Pre-Sessional English course.
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)
We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.
The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.
Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home||2023/24||£8,550per year|
|Full-time international||2023/24||£15,750per year|
|Part-time||2023/24||Part time costs will be calculated on a pro rata basis|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Scholarships for International Students
If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Explore our international scholarships.