Brightly dressed female holding ketchup bottle

Commercial Photography BA(Hons)

Develop a strong creative portfolio for a future in commercial photography.

Key details
Penryn Campus
Course duration
3 years / 4 years
Full-time / Placement year
UCAS code

Course overview

On this Commercial Photography degree, you’ll gain a solid understanding of advertising, marketing, branding, narrative and audience to produce a range of innovative content.

From creating photographs and films for high-end advertising and marketing campaigns to producing still and video content for social media, you’ll learn how to tell compelling brand stories and shoot commissions for live industry briefs, building your professional network.

You will:

  • Work on real industry challenges, from concept to pitch and delivery, and collaborate with peers on live campaigns and brand strategies
  • Collaborate with other Falmouth students on live campaigns and brand strategies
  • Explore product, portrait, beauty, food, fashion, location, lifestyle, documentary, interiors and architecture
  • Master project management and workflow, including pre/post production, design, layout and retouching
  • Use our state-of-the-art studios and digital post-production suites
  • Develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking and negotiation, alongside legal, ethical and budget considerations

The Integrated Foundation Year and placement year pathways for this course are new for entry year 2023 and subject to validation.

Course details

On this Commercial Photography degree, you'll have the opportunity to gain a BA(Hons) degree over three years or the option to study Commercial Photography BA(Hons) with Integrated Foundation Year and/or a placement year.

As part of our Commercial Photography degree, you'll gain a solid understanding of advertising, marketing, branding, narrative and audience. Using industry-standard technologies, equipment and processes, you'll produce innovative photographic, video and multimedia content.

From day one of your Commercial Photography degree, you'll develop specialist photographic skills and learn to market yourself as a professional visual content producer. You'll explore the contexts and histories of modern advertising and the fundamentals of marketing communications, and we'll introduce you to a range of commercial photography and moving image-making techniques and technologies.


Elements of Commercial Practice

You'll be introduced to the fundamentals of commercial photographic techniques and the contexts of practice, project development, research methodologies and health and safety. Through inductions and practical workshops, you'll develop the necessary digital photographic studio lighting skills.

Professional Practice

You'll be introduced to key industry issues, copyright and business practices, allowing you to construct your professional identity while researching and interrogating the importance of professional ethics. You will design and construct your own website and business profile and build your social media presence while developing your CV through workshops, lectures and tutorials.

Developing Approaches to Commercial Practice

You'll take part in technical inductions and workshops to develop digital production skills, from working with professional studio equipment through to the use of moving image. Responding to a series of briefs, you'll create a portfolio of multi-channel digital content and build your understanding of advertising and visual marketing campaigns.

Image in Context

This module focuses on how the photographic image is disseminated within the creative industries. You will explore methods of describing and analysing photographs within the context in which they are placed, exploring key concepts in visual culture and media studies. This will help your understanding of the relationship between image and text, and the professional contexts in which photographic images function.

Through portfolio development, live briefs and work placements, you'll raise your level of technical ability, explore the commercial environment and build on your critical and collaborative working skills. You'll also begin to investigate using photography and moving image within multi-channel campaigns and use theories and concepts to critically reflect on the impact of emerging technologies.


Building Brand Narrative

This practice-based module will equip you with an understanding of brand narratives and digital storytelling. Through a series of lectures and workshops, you'll gain insight into how brands build communication strategies. From this, you'll go on to develop the project management and moving image production skills needed to produce content in line with brand identity.

Collaborative Project

Working within a small team, you'll research and build a proposal for a collaborative project. You'll have a choice of outputs to work on, which may include: a set build, publication, short film, socially engaged/community project, or a self-initiated collaborative entrepreneurial proposal. Working collaboratively, you will develop an awareness of a variety of roles within the photographic and creative industries, considering ethics, copyright law and other legal matters relating to professional practice.

Industry Knowhow

In this module, you'll gain an understanding of commercial photographic industries and their working practices by honing your business acumen, your ability to interpret briefs and your understanding of industry terminology. You'll also develop your communication skills and pitching/presentation skills and undertake an industry case study.

Audience and Context

Working on a series of live briefs, you'll build your own self-directed practice through the production of a personalised portfolio. This module is designed to progress independent practice alongside building your awareness of the professional context in which your own practice is situated.

Work Experience

This module will prepare you with the professional skills and experience to pursue a career in creative practice. You will consider a range of career opportunities available within the photographic, environmental and conservation sectors. Tutors will help to identify your own particular strengths and interests, and support you in the initiation and organisation of a work placement (typically two weeks' duration or equivalent). 

You can choose to take an optional placement year after your second year on a three-year programme, or after your third year if you’re studying for a degree with an Integrated Foundation Year. 

You’ll be responsible for finding your own placement, with support from the RealWORKS employability team. 

Choosing this option will enhance your industry experience and skills while studying. 

How you’ll study during your placement year 

You’ll spend time working in a professional context, as part of a business or organisation. This can be in one role, or up to three, and must be for a minimum of 24 weeks. 

You’ll develop in-demand workplace skills, deepen your insight into industry and grow your network of contacts, all of which could help you get ahead in your career after graduation. 

Throughout this year, you’ll develop a portfolio of work that includes critical self-reflection on what has been learned from the experience. You’ll be required to evidence your experiences, the skills you’ve learned and your professional growth. 

The final year of your Commercial Photography degree represents your chance to shape your professional and creative identity. Putting your skills to use, you'll showcase your unique photographic practice and critical mind through your final contextual project, portfolio and degree show.


Developmental Portfolio

Based on the interests you have developed in the previous two years, you'll produce a commercial portfolio that begins to define your individual practice. Emphasis will be on research and exploration towards the completion of your final major project.

Contextual Project

Working independently, with supervision, you'll research, explore and develop your own interests to build a final piece of academic work. This will contextualise where your commercial practice fits within the industry. This project may take the form of a written essay, a curatorial proposal or a multimedia/moving image piece of work.

Final Project

You'll produce a professional commercial portfolio and final exhibition presentation of your practice that will help you enter into your chosen career path after university. This final project should reflect your technical skill, creativity and individuality to industry-level standards.

Why study an Integrated Foundation Year route? 

If you’re taking on a new subject that you haven’t studied in depth before, have been out of education for a while or have a non-standard educational background then an Integrated Foundation Year degree may be the right choice for you. It is a four-year degree with an Integrated Foundation Year to start, which allows you to explore the primary elements of your subject before progressing on to the remaining three years of the BA(Hons) degree. 

What you'll study in your Foundation year

If you choose this pathway, you'll study five core modules in your Foundation year. These are all designed to help you explore the foundational elements of your subject. You'll gain relevant technical skills, learn to experiment and take risks, develop an understanding of professional practice, have opportunities to work across disciplines and collaborate with other students on live project briefs. 



You'll begin your foundation year by working collaboratively with others to explore themes of the future. You'll take risks, experiment through play and be supported to break through barriers.


You'll take subject-specific workshops and develop essential technical and practical skills in your area of study. You'll also enhance your analytical and organisational abilities.


You'll work with your peer group to think beyond discipline by addressing a societal or global issue. You'll then showcase your work to your peers and deliver and accompanying evaluation of your process.


You'll enhance your creative and practical skills in your subject specialism by responding to typical industry briefs, underpinned by focused research and experiments. You'll also gain industry insights through guest lectures and workshops.


You'll develop your unique identity in your specialism through the production of a self-initiated body of work. Your final project will be the bridge to your next year, fully supported by evaluative reviews and critical analysis of the work you have created.

After the Foundation year, you progress into Year One of the full three-year degree, equipped with a deeper knowledge of your subject, a clear understanding of your strengths, and develop a practical and technical skillset and the confidence to excel in your chosen subject. 


If you apply for and enrol onto a degree with an Integrated Foundation Year, you’ll have the option to switch onto a five-year version including a placement year. That means you’ll complete the first three years of your course before completing a placement in industry in your fourth year and returning to Falmouth for the fifth year of your programme. 

The Integrated Foundation Year pathway is subject to validation.

The modules above are those being studied by our students, or proposed new ones. Programme structures and modules can change as part of our curriculum enhancement and review processes. If a certain module is important to you, please discuss it with the Course Leader.

How you'll learn

On this Commercial Photography course, you'll build valuable technical, critical and business skills through lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, group 'crits', work placements and masterclasses from industry experts. 

At Falmouth, we use a 'digitally enhanced learning & teaching' approach. Your experience will always be predominantly in-person, including seminars, tutorials and studio teaching, with some, more targeted elements, being online either live (synchronous) or pre-recorded (asynchronous). You can read more here.

How you'll be assessed

100% of your assessment will be coursework.


Assessment methods

  • Foundation year assessments are 100% coursework based
  • Coursework assignments with no formal examinations.
  • Portfolios, projects, exhibitions, journals, presentations and papers.

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As well as our staff of experienced photography, advertising and branding practitioners, you’ll gain insights and placement opportunities from a network of inspiring visiting professionals.

Some members of staff only teach on specific modules, and your course might not feature every staff member who teaches on the course.

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  • Hire stores housing a huge range of professional digital cameras, lenses and peripherals.
  • Professional photographic studios and lighting.
  • Location lighting kits.
  • Digital post-production suites.
  • In-house professional Photo Lab.
  • Discounted student membership through our affiliation with the Association of Photographers.
  • A range of creative workshops across the university through the Workshops Festival and Wednesday Open Workshops.


Take a virtual tour

Falmouth Photography lecturer using camera equipment in a studio
Photography lecturer using camera equipment

Photography Facilities

Housing dark rooms, post-production suites, full professional studios and gallery, our Institute of ...

Photography Facilities
Library interior with 'group study' written on large pillar and students reading
Penryn library group study area

Library Facilities

Offering extensive collections, our two libraries provide a wealth of digital resources, magazines, ...

Library Facilities
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Sports Centre - Outside
Sports Centre

Sports Centre

Our Sports Centre, on Penryn Campus, includes a spacious gym with up to 90 of the latest, new statio...

Sports Centre


As a graduate, you could become:

  • An advertising photographer, or a specialist in food, fashion, product, lifestyle or interiors
  • A photographic studio manager
  • A creative director
  • A picture editor or digital retoucher


How to apply

Apply via UCAS

Ready to join us? You can apply through UCAS. You'll need to reference the course and University code (F33).

Apply now

Applying as an international student? 

International students can apply for a course through UCAS, via an agent or directly with the university. For more information about how to apply as an international student, visit our international applications page.

International applications

Course route UCAS code
Commercial Photography BA(Hons) three year degree W643
Commercial Photography BA(Hons) with Integrated Foundation Year FY18
Commercial Photography BA(Hons) with placement year PY36

We consider all applications on their own individual merit and potential. We invite all applicants to an interview day or audition to give them the opportunity to demonstrate this along with what inspires and motivates them in their field. Applicants will also be able to show their portfolio or give a performance depending on the course. We welcome applications from all subject backgrounds, whether you’ve specialised in STEM, the arts or humanities.  

Course route Entry requirements
BA/BSc(Hons) three year degree 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points
BA/BSc(Hons) four year degree with placement year 104 – 120 UCAS Tariff points
BA/BSc(Hons) four year degree with Integrated Foundation Year 80 – 120 UCAS Tariff points

Check the title of your course to see if it's a BA or BSc award. UCAS Tariff points will primarily be from Level 3 qualifications such as but not limited to A-levels, T Levels, a BTEC/UAL Extended Diploma or a Foundation Diploma. 

Check how many points your qualifications are worth

For applicants whose first language is English we require you to have or be working towards GCSE English Language Grade 4 (C), or equivalent. 

If English is not your first language you will need to meet the same standard which is equivalent to the IELTS Academic 6.0 overall score, with at least 5.5 in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. We accept a range of in country equivalencies and approved tests.  

If you need a student visa to study in the UK, you may need to take a recognised language test. You can read our English Language Requirements for more information.

For starting your studies in 2023

UK applications: 25 January 2023 (for equal consideration)

Applications after the 25 January will be considered on a first-come, first-served as long as there are places available. Apply for this course now.

International fee payers

International fee payers can apply throughout the year. But we recommend applying as early as possible, to make time for visa and travel arrangements.

Fees, costs & funding

Tuition fees

Annual tuition fee Student
£9,250 per year Full-time UK
£17,460 per year Full-time EU/international
Annual tuition fee Student
£9,250 per year Full-time UK
£17,460 per year Full-time EU/international
£1,850 per placement year Full-Time UK and EU/international

Tuition fees are set annually and are subject to review each year. The University may therefore raise tuition fees in the second or subsequent years of a course, in line with inflation and/or the maximum permitted by law or Government policy. Students will be notified of any changes as soon as possible. 

The figures above don't include accommodation and living costs

Typical course costs

  • A basic digital camera and a standard lens (either DSLR or a Mirrorless System) capable of shooting in RAW and Moving Image. Approx £200-£900. (See Welcome Letter for more details.)
  • £100-200 per year for photographic materials
  • £100-£400 for consumable materials
  • Optional study visits and placements. Approx £600 (this may vary).
  • £400-£1500 Optional international trips
  • £300-£500 for degree show portfolio production in your final year

If you need to bring equipment or materials with you, these will be outlined in your Welcome Letter.

Additional typical course costs for Integrated Foundation Year pathway

  • £250 for materials
  • A laptop/desktop computer
  • Adobe Creative Suite

In order to participate in our digitally enhanced learning approach, you'll need to have a personal laptop/desktop computer. Depending on your subject, you may need a specific type of computer. If you're unsure about what you might need, please contact our course advisors.

Ask a student

What better way to find out about life at Falmouth University than by asking our current students?

From course details and academic support, to the social scene and settling in, our students are ready and available to answer any questions you might have. Simply set up your account, send them a question and they'll get back to you within 24 hours.


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