MFA Photography

Postgraduate, Full-time

Photography MFA

Develop your creative knowledge and skills as a photographer or photo-video creator, and create a professional portfolio of work


The MFA in Photography is designed to help you explore a full range of artistic and commercial photographic practices alongside current global critical and theoretical debates. 

The programme recognises the possibilities of new and converging lens-based media and offers the broadest practical base in which to develop your skills; from traditional analogue black and white wet processes to advanced digital image capture and computer assisted post-production control. 

The course provides a contemporary understanding of the vast possibilities that are now available to the professional photographer, and offers considerable scope to tailor elements of the programme to your interests and the needs of your project(s), which will form a central context your learning.   

This programme is offered in full-time (one-year MA/ two-year MFA) and part-time (two-year MA/ four-year MFA) study modes.

Applications submitted after 31 July 2020 are not guaranteed to be considered for September 2020 entry.

Visitors at the Creative Degree Show 2018 at Edinburgh Napier University

Mode of Study:


(available as MFA Part-time or MA )


2 years

Start date:


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Course details

In this programme, you will:
  • Explore and apply new and convergent technical and practical principles of filmmaking and moving image with photo-video equipment
  • Engage with current critical practice and techniques in contemporary still photography
  • Respond to set briefs whilst promoting critical reflection and autonomy
  • Apply rigorous debate and thoroughly investigate contemporary international theory and practice to develop research skills and articulate knowledge
  • Engage in entrepreneurial and research-based live or simulated projects
  • Develop advanced skills in contemporary art direction using computer generated imaging and special effects to enhance photographic styling, set design, and pitch ideas to real or fictional clients
  • Develop professional portfolios of work informed by artistic, commercial, photographic and video-graphic research, ready for employment or further doctoral study. 

Modules that you will study* as part of this course:

Year 1 

Trimester 1 

Photo-video Imaging
• Creative Narratives
• Contemporary Debates in Photography Theory and Practice

These modules will develop your understanding of the art of photo-video filmmaking; storytelling through narrative ordering of sequential photographs; and the contemporary debates in theory and practice in the UK and internationally. This will be evidenced in portfolios of work, workbooks and written assignments, and underpins learning in the next trimester. 

Trimester 2 
• Entrepreneurial and Research Projects
• Production and Art Direction
• Research as Critical Practice 

These modules are shared across the MA/MFA Design suite and are designed to allow cross-disciplinary dialogue and sharing of ideas, production processes, entrepreneurship and research based thinking, while continuing to develop specific photography skills. 

Trimester 3

• Research Portfolio in Creative Practice

The Research Portfolio for Creative Practice module allows for in-depth reflection, evaluation and critical investigation of your own design practices and/or that of others in a wide socio-cultural context. 

Year 2

Students continuing onto the MFA will return from their summer break to commence modules in the second year of the programme.

Trimester 1 & 2

• MFA Professional Practice
• MFA Major Project

In the MFA Professional Practice module, under supervision, students will produce a portfolio of professional photography, evidencing skills and critical reflection on their creative practice. The professional portfolio is supported by a reflective report of 5000 words. 

You will also have the opportunity to undertake an industry placement for all or part of the module, or a simulated creative-industry practice if work-based learning is not possible. You will identify your own specific contribution to each component of work, while reflecting on your individual and collaborative learning experience.

*Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study. Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Part-time study

The programme is available part-time over two years (MA) or four years (MFA). Students studying in this mode are highly valued in the student community and encouraged to participate as fully as possible in programme activities.

Our photography staff team are practitioners and researchers and offer a wide range of knowledge and expertise across art, commercial, portrait, still life, landscape, documentary, filmmaking and photographic history and theory. Our technicians have expertise across traditional darkroom processes and advanced digital workflow.

The programme is led by photo-video and digital artist, Lei Cox. Lei has exhibited photography and video art internationally, curated research and artist exhibitions, worked with large-scale research projects and organised national and international student exhibitions.
He has exhibited in major world galleries such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Tel Aviv Museum of Art and has shown extensively in the United Kingdom. 

  • calendar How you’ll be taught Programmes are constructed from a set of compulsory modules and use lectures, workshops, seminars, guest speakers and supported online learning.  
    You will also develop working linkages with practitioners in complementing fields of expertise that can be extended beyond your studies in professional spheres.
  • note and pen Assessments We take a common approach to learning, teaching and assessment in studio modules where practice-based student work is collated as a portfolio presentation.
  • briefcase Work placement You may have the opportunity to undertake an industry placement or a simulated creative-industry practice if work-based learning is not possible. You will also be encouraged to enter photographic competitions.
  • library Facilities The Photography programmes in the School of Arts & Creative Industries are delivered in studio learning environments.  

    The programmes are supported by designated studio spaces, workshops and a specialist photography facility for you to learn and practice in, as well as excellent computing facilities with industry-standard software. You will also benefit from our visiting lecture programme, with talks from internationally renowned photographers.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above in an art & design or related discipline (architecture, creative computing & engineering design)

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient professional work experience within the industry.

All candidates are interviewed with a portfolio of creative work or technical/business projects. Applicants from overseas can be interviewed by teleconference with an online portfolio.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2020/21 2021/22
Home/EU £4,711 tba
Overseas £10,296 tba
You study this course over two academic years, fees listed are per annum.

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 10% discount on MSc Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.


Graduates from this programme pathway can pursue careers in: 
  • Fine Art Photographer 
  • Documentary Photographer 
  • Commercial Photographer