Photographing the City: London

University of Westminster

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Photographing the City: London

  • Host University

    University of Westminster

  • Location

    London, England

  • Area of Study

    European Studies, Media Studies, Photography

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • UK Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Course Level: 4
    Site: Central London
    Assessment: 100% Coursework

    This class is concerned with an investigation of the city as represented through historical and contemporary photography. Through a series of lectures and workshops, students gain a critical perspective on the city as a social, cultural, architectural and artistic phenomenon. Through image and text based research they focus on an aspect of the city to represent through their own photographic project.

    ***Please note that it is advisable for students to bring their own digital or digital SLR camera for this module. If students do not have a digital or digital SLR camera one can be hired out from the Photography department based at the Harrow Campus.

    To enable students to produce a coherent photographic project based on the theme of the city.
    To inform the work with an historical overview of the city, its development and its inhabitants based on photographic representations from the 1860's to the present day.
    To consider ways that the city and its social conditions, (housing, work, poverty, war), cultural trends (music film fashion) and artistic production can be represented through photography based media (illustrated press, Film, Television)
    To develop photographic production techniques and methodology through the production of the body of photographic work in response to the briefing on the city.
    To introduce the practice of constructive appraisal and self appraisal of performance.
    To evaluate the genres of documentary, urban landscape, street photography, fashion, the tableau and photojournalism and paparazzi, in representing city themes.

    By the end of the class the successful student will be able to:
    Construct a coherent body of photographs representing a key aspect of the city.
    Demonstrate an historical understanding of the city its development, as depicted in photography and photography-based media from 1860 to the present day. Demonstrate proficiency in the use of cameras and photographic images.
    Critically evaluate their own performance and that of their peers.

    This class will begin with an illustrated lecture on the city, with examples of the work of key historical and contemporary practitioners and an introduction to key themes. Starting with John Thomson 1870 study of "The Street Life of London" other key areas will include war time London, The Blitz, Social problems and the role of documentary photography (and film) and the illustrated press, London as a cultural centre, the 1960?s "Swinging London" through to Brit Art and Brit pop in the 1990?s. London will also be considered in its mythical representation and in relation to photography for tourists and tourism, celebrity, royalty and so on. There will also be consideration of the characterisation of the city as represented in fictional and dramatic forms including Movies and Television.
    Students will be given a guided tour of an area of London. They will then develop a project proposal defining aims, references, context, photographic approach and intended final from of the project. This proposal will be presented to the group to help scrutinise for effectiveness and viability, and suggest support and methodology for the project.
    There will be workshops on camera use, exposure, lighting and image quality for intended final production. There will be practical photographic workshops on:
    Lighting Colour temperature Preparing for print/publication Editing
    There will be critical reviews of projects and tutorials where project proposals are discussed and monitored.

    Lectures, walking tour, proposal presentations, seminars, practical workshops, tutorials, interactive critical review.

    The assessments are designed to test student?s conceptual as well as technical abilities. In setting two projects each with specific briefs, students will be required to engage with the conventions of the genre they elect to employ for their project. The first two projects will be set and assessed early in the class so that students will receive formative feedback. The second will be assessed at the end of the class encouraging a more in depth response to the brief. The inclusion of a workbook and critical self-appraisal as requirements will enable assessors to determine the technical processes, level of research and critical engagement with the briefs.

    Produce and present two sets of photographic images 15% Project 1 70% Main Project
    In support of this work students must also submit: A workbook evidencing research, project development and production procedure. A three hundred word Critical self evaluation in relation to the above assessment criteria These are an assessment requirement but do not carry a separate mark - they will be factored in to the overall mark for the projects.

    Students will be assessed according to the following criteria:
    Ability to construct a coherent body of photographic work in relation to a specific genre. Conceptual engagement with and creative response to the brief. Overall image quality
    Evidence of research, awareness of the genre and relevant practices.

    John Tomson
    Bill Brandt
    David Bailey

    Brighton Rock
    The Ipcress File
    The Long Good Friday
    Lock stock and Two smoking Barrels
    Doctor Who

    Essential reading
    Langford, M., Basic Photography, Focal Press, 2000.
    Berger, J., Another Way of Telling, Granta 1994.

    Further reading
    Picture Post Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs by John Thomson, Dover Publications 1994 The Picture Post album / Robert Kee ; with a foreword by Sir Tom Hopkinson. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1989
    A Hackney camera, 1883-1918 : a photographic portrait of Hackney during the last years of Queen Victoria's reign until the First World War.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.


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