Photographic History MA

Join our online time-flexible distance learning programme to learn about photography’s relationship with politics, science, technology, and cultural heritage while enhancing your research skills and employability in the culture sector.


Photography has shaped the ways we imagine the recent past and how we experience life in the present day. The Photographic History MA will provide you with the skills needed to explore photographic materials, practices, processes, and critical field scholarship. Along the way, it will also equip you with real-world professional expertise through remote fieldwork experience at well-known photography organisations.

The internationally renowned teaching staff are based at the Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC), bringing with them outstanding links with major photographic collections, archives, galleries, and museums worldwide. Networking through vibrant research seminars, workshops, and conferences, you will gain an in-depth understanding of the relationship between photography, history, and culture, while enhancing your research skills and employability in the field.

Aimed at anyone with deep interest in photographic practice, communication media, visual history, or archival collections, the Photographic History MA will prepare you for further study and careers in the culture sector. We equally welcome per-module applications, an option especially suitable for field professionals and employers looking for Continuing Professional Development—CPD opportunities.

As this course is delivered online by distance learning, you will need access to the internet and a computer with software capable of reading and writing Rich Text Format documents, such as Microsoft Word.

Key features

  • Flexible mode of delivery allows you to study around your job, family, and other commitments.
  • Full-time, part-time, and per-module study options enable you to develop your studies at your own pace with ongoing support from our expert academic staff.
  • Completing an independent project for an external photography organisation equips you with real-world professional skills and expertise.
  • Focus on social and cultural photographic practices expands your knowledge of the cultural and social significance of photography throughout its history.
  • Consideration of digital and analogue photography provides you with deep understanding about the changing socio-political role of photography and its cultural conception.
  • Work alongside a renowned team of expert scholars from the Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC) and beyond.

Talk to our course team

If you would like to ask any questions about how this course can help you achieve your career ambitions, you are welcome to email Professor Gil Pasternak, who is a Professor of Photographic Cultures and Heritage on Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate event or call our course enquirers team on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70  / WhatsApp: 0797 0655 800.



DMU offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships and bursaries to help you realise your academic ambitions.

International Scholarships

Find out about available scholarships and country specific fee discounts for international students. 


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  • UK
  • EU/International

Location: Online/distance learning

Start date: September 2024

Duration: One year full-time. Two years part-time.

Fees and funding: UK 2024/25 fees: £9,435 (full-time) per year.

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Contact us: For more information complete our online enquiry form or call us on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70.

Location: Online/distance learning

Start date: September 2024

Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time.

Fees and funding: 2024/25 full-time DL tuition fees for international students: £15,800. 

Find out more about course fees and available funding.

Additional costs: Here at DMU we provide excellent learning resources, including the Kimberlin Library and specialist workshops and studios. However, you should be aware that sometimes you may incur additional costs for this programme.

Contact us: For more information complete our online enquiry form or call us on +44 (0)116 2 50 60 70.

Entry criteria

Typical entry requirements 

You should have the equivalent of a 2.2 or above UK bachelor’s honours degree in a relevant subject such as history, museum studies, art history, photography and lens based media, history of science, heritage studies or literature.

We welcome applications from a wide sector and all non-standard applications will be carefully considered.


Non-standard applicants will be invited to attend an interview.

International students

If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 5.5 in each band, or equivalent when you start the course is essential. English Language tuition, delivered by our British Council accredited Centre for English Language Learning, is available both before and throughout the course if you need it.

Structure and assessment


Course modules

Teaching and assessments




Term 1

Learning Photographic History Online (Zero credits)

This module introduces you to online learning at the MA level in Photographic History. It serves to introduce students to the platform, help them to navigate the learning tasks, and familiarise them with the expectations of the MA modules, assessment, and resources available. All students must take this module and pass the assessment to commence study. The module will cover aspects of online learning, platform navigation, MA study, and photographic history introduction to enable students to begin a module.

Material Histories (15 credits)

This module offers an introduction to photographic images as objects. With lectures based on objects including those at DMU's Special Collections, the you will be encouraged to find and use collections local to them. You will be encouraged to learn history through a hands-on approach to primary source material.

Photography, Ethics and Emotions (15 credits)

This module examines the ethics of photography from historical and practical points of view. Engaging with research in atrocity photography, postcolonial studies and medical humanities among others, it explores how and when photographs are sensitive materials and the ethical responsibilities of photographers, historians and researchers towards historical subjects and the public.

Producing and Consuming Photographs (15 credits)

This module introduces you to the businesses, industries and markets in which photographs are made, circulated and consumed. The module is intended to raise critical awareness of the economies of photography as it is produced by companies and consumed by its audiences. The module will cover themes from the following topics: photographic companies; “crazes” and “trends”; photographs as commodities in the market; industrial histories around the world; environmental histories of photographic production.

Photographic Historiography (15 credits)

This module introduces you to historiography in photographic scholarship through examination of key theoretical frameworks and their influence on the development of research in the field. It will develop your knowledge of traditional historiographical concerns alongside current trends and new directions in writing and thinking about photographs. It also aims to enable you to think critically about the way photographic historians have formulated questions, used sources and written photographic history. It will help you to build up an informed knowledge of recent developments in photographic history, as well as the history of the discipline as it has been written across the globe. Topics to be covered will be drawn from the following: global and transnational histories; the canon of photographic history; photographic histories and the history of photography; social and cultural histories of photography; gender and race and the histories of photography; and recent developments in photographic history.

Term 2

Photography and Politics (15 credits)

This module approaches the study of photography through exploration of the medium’s employment in state, national, social, civil and cultural inter-personal relations. Combining considerations of political scholarship with internationally diverse case studies from the nineteenth-century to the present day, it unravels how photography has participated in historical processes and conditioned everyday lived experiences since its very beginnings. The module will discuss themes from: politics and the conceptualization of photography; photography and political realities; the significance of photography to the organization and re-organization of civil society; photography and gender, race, class and queer politics. 

Photography, Science and Technology (15 credits)

This module introduces you to photography through the prism of science studies, considering how photography structures large organizations, how it facilitates communication, and how it comes to have meaning in the scientific world. Topics will be drawn from: The science and technology of analogue photography; the science and technology of digital photography; uses of photography in scientific disciplines; uses of photography as an organizational or scientific tool; current themes in visual science and technology studies (vSTS).

Fieldwork Experience (30 credits)

The fieldwork experience module will involve at least 250 hours of experience with a relevant organisation. Fieldwork experiences may be organised by the programme leader or you can find a reputable organisation or business with which to gain experience (on site or online).

Dissertation or Heritage Project (60 credits)

You will develop your own research in this long and deep module, either in a traditional written format or in an embedded project. The module is developed around your own research, with help of your personal tutor.

Note: All modules are indicative and based on the current academic session. Course information is correct at the time of publication and is subject to review. Exact modules may, therefore, vary for your intake in order to keep content current. If there are changes to your course we will, where reasonable, take steps to inform you as appropriate.


Each module blends asynchronous lectures, activities, research and reflection accessed through our learning platform. Your learning will be facilitated by tutorials arranged by appointment. 

Contact hours

Each 15 credit module encompasses 150 hours of learning, researching and assessment. The 30 credit module and 60 credit module are 300 and 600 hours respectively. Tutors have dedicated office hours in term time for tutorials, answering queries, responding to discussion boards and engaging with your research. 


Facilities and features


On campus, the main Kimberlin Library offers a space where you can work, study and access a vast range of print materials, with computer stations, laptops, plasma screens and assistive technology also available. 

As well as providing a physical space in which to work, we offer online tools to support your studies, and our extensive online collection of resources accessible from our Library website, e-books, specialised databases and electronic journals and films which can be remotely accessed from anywhere you choose. 

We will support you to confidently use a huge range of learning technologies, including Learning Zone, Collaborate Ultra, DMU Replay, MS Teams, Turnitin and more. Alongside this, you can access LinkedIn Learning and learn how to use Microsoft 365, and study support software such as mind mapping and note-taking through our new Digital Student Skills Hub. 

The library staff offer additional support to students, including help with academic writing, research strategies, literature searching, reference management and assistive technology. There is also a ‘Just Ask’ service for help and advice, live LibChat, online workshops, tutorials and drop-ins available from our Learning Services, and weekly library live chat sessions that give you the chance to ask the library teams for help.

More flexible ways to learn

We offer an equitable and inclusive approach to learning and teaching for all our students. Known as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), our teaching approach has been recognised as sector leading. UDL means we offer a wide variety of support, facilities and technology to all students, including those with disabilities and specific learning differences.

Just one of the ways we do this is by using ‘DMU Replay’ – a technology providing all students with anytime access to audio and/or visual material of lectures. This means students can revise taught material in a way that suits them best, whether it's replaying a recording of a class or adapting written material shared in class using specialist software.


Opportunities and careers

Find the people who will open doors for you

DMU's award-winning careers service provides guaranteed work experience opportunities DMU Careers Team


Through the Fieldwork module, you can gain professional experience working within a relevant organisation to boost your employability, alongside developing your critical evaluation skills. Your fieldwork will either be negotiated with the programme team’s established connections, or you are welcome to develop your own connections into a fieldwork opportunity. 


Graduate careers

The Photographic History MA provides you with a solid grounding of practical skills and theoretical understanding that will equip you for a wide range of careers in research, archives, museums and galleries. Many of our graduates have received scholarships to pursue PhDs in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA, while others have embarked upon careers in curating, museum and gallery administration, digital cataloguing and publishing throughout Europe.

Find out more about our Humanities MPhil/PhD research opportunities.

Take your next steps