Higher National Certificate in Photography

Key Course Information

Sometimes seen as an alternative to going straight to higher education, the HNC in Photography takes you into professional practice, editorial and fine art photography or can be used as a stepping stone to place you in a very competitive position when applying for a degree or even a masters course later on. The course is intensive and project based with options to cover both analogue and digital photography. You will be working in the studio and on location doing live projects.

The course includes a trip to Paris Photo in November. There are core units which look at contextualising photographic practice against a background of both commercial, documentary and fine art practices, followed by specialist practice based units. To do this course, you need to have completed, or have knowledge equivalent to, our level 3 BTEC Diploma in Photography. The course requires a lot of self-motivation as you will need the determination to succeed in preparing a strong portfolio during the course to make you into a successful photographer. Taught by a strong team of working freelance photographers, the course is supported by a well equipped studio, black and white darkroom and digital facilities.

Entry Requirements

You need at least 2 GCSE’s (or equivalents) at A*-C grades for English and maths. You’ll also need bring a portfolio of work to an interview together with the completion of both a set practical project and a written project. 

What Books And Equipment Do I Need?

You will need at least one camera which, at a minimum, needs to be a DSLR or Mirrorless digital camera. An analogue (film) camera is an advantage too. You will need a PC or Mac and good internet connection together with notebooks etc for lectures.

Where will I Study ?

We have a studio, darkroom and digital suite at our Chelsea Centre, some work will also take place on location and at photography galleries.

What will I learn?

This course is intended to equip you to start out as a freelance or go on to higher education (BA or MA). You will be taken through a series of units which will cover techniques (digital and analogue cameras, studio, digital post production and wet darkroom work), and contextual studies (looking at the work of other photographers, applying photographic cultural theory and semiotics).

Additionally, there is an extended unit on editorial and press photography as well as one on professional practice which will include the setting up of an exhibition including marketing and web presence for the project and a virtual exhibition.  

How will I be taught?

There will be a range of classroom based activities and workshops, live external projects that link directly into your curriculum and internal projects that allow you to apply your knowledge and skills.

The course is also heavily tutorial based allowing you to develop your own individual style and approach to your subject matter. You will also be supported through the university entry system should that be the direction you want to take.

How will I be assessed?

Continual assessment is by coursework and is internally assessed and verified. You will be given opportunities to improve grades and stay on target through directed learning sessions.  Interim deadlines, one to one support plus written, verbal and digital feedback.

What can I do next?

– Higher Education: You can progress to higher education either through a BA and, possibly, an MA route. You will be supported in doing this with personal statement advice and interview practice.

– Employment: Most photographers and photographic artists work as freelancers, we will help you develop the skills to run your own business and get set up.


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