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Study programme overview

Video: MEANINGFUL TRANSITIONS assignment for the Interactive Media classes with the 2nd year students (2014-2015)

Full-time programme

The full-time programme comprises four years. For the structure of the semesters in the full-time programme, please refer to descriptions of each year below.

Part-time programme

The four-year programme is also divided into semesters. The programme consists of modules that together form a complete package. In the near future, it will also be possible to take the modules separately, if the student’s level of competence is deemed sufficient. Students who have successfully completed the examination module have fulfilled the learning outcomes of the current Bachelor programme in Photography.

This educational structure also allows us to offer the part-time programme in four years. In most cases, classes are held on two or three days each week, usually with one day starting at 2.00 p.m. and the (two) other day(s) at 4.00 p.m. The last class ends at 9.45 p.m. In the final phase, students should be available for one full workday a week in order to attend classes. For the structure of the semesters in the full-time programme, please refer to descriptions of each year below.

The content of the part-time programme in Photography is the same as that of the full-time programme, but with a different organisation and structure. To date, no internship period is included in the programme. Part-time students must therefore engage in independent career orientation, in addition to the programme. With permission, part-time students may follow parts of the full-time curriculum.

Individual Study Trajectory

The Individual Study Track (IST), which is required for all students beginning in the second study year, is aimed at expanding the depth and breadth of the programme.

Space has been created in the schedule to this end. The study load and associated credits are applied to the IST, in consultation with the supervisors. Several options are available for organising the Individual Study Track, including the possibility of taking a minor course at Leiden University. In addition to the electives, students may use the IST to add depth to their studies by paying additional attention to the fundamental courses or by choosing from the Academy-wide range of IST course offerings. The IST is paired with a study plan, which must be approved by the supervisors and guided by a coach.

During each year of the main phase, credits of 12 EC are reserved for the Individual Study Track.


We have a large population of students from various countries. In addition, the study programme is placed within an international perspective from the outset. Each study year includes a project week abroad, and we collaborate with other art schools throughout Europe. In addition to these activities, we receive exchange students for a semester, and our students have the opportunity to complete an exchange period at one of our partner institutes.

We recommend placing exchange programmes in Semester 6, under certain conditions.
Advance permission from the department is required.

Propaedeutic year

(Exploration and visual development)

Full-time / Part-time: semesters one and two

In the propaedeutic year programme, the programme focuses on visual development. The properties of photographic visual language are investigated extensively, with technical skills providing a solid foundation. The individual abilities of students are explored in a broad packet of subjects, which are offered in a coordinated manner, when possible.

Field orientation to the discipline and its professional opportunities plays a central role in the programme. This orientation is provided in both theoretical and practical courses, as well as during field visits outside the Academy. The emphasis is on learning to study and structuring the individual work process. Students are encouraged to pose questions for themselves and attempt to find the answers. The process is supported by a coach and a professional practice programme. This phase creates the foundation for a professional attitude that will enable students to develop the authorship that they will need for their future careers after the Academy.

At the end of the year, students will have gained sufficient insight from the programme in order to choose their profiles for the remainder of the programme. The motivation for this choice is reflected in a final presentation and in the composition of the portfolio. The course descriptions on the website describe the content, teaching methods, instructional forms and assessment of the programme components. The following study components are covered in the first two semesters:

The study components covered in the first two semesters are:

  • Career orientation
  • Acquisition of professional practice and study skills
  • Image Development
  • Photojournalism, Conceptual documentary photography, Photography
  • Fiction (concentrating on people), Photography Fiction (concentrating on mise-en-scène and space)
  • Photographic Technical Skills
  • Digital Workflow and Skills
  • Art/Photography History and Reflection
  • Research and Discourse
  • Graphic Design

Main Phase / year 2

(Proficiency & in-depth research)

Full time/Part time: semesters three and four

In this phase, students engage in more extensive and substantive research into the world of photography and the professional practice of their chosen specialisations in Documentary or Fiction photography (the latter specialisation is available only full-time). Considerable attention is devoted to the competencies required for the practice of the specialisation, with the social functioning and the development of social skills as key concepts. Extensive discussion is also provided with regard to the ethical side of the profession. In the Documentary field, photography focuses on the acquisition of background information (research) on a diverse range of topics before the actual act of photographing. In contrast, Fiction photography emphasises the creation of concepts and the pursuit of proper visual execution, in combination with sophisticated technical execution. Students regularly work together in multidisciplinary teams. An important motivation is to change the attitude of involved third parties. Students are also introduced to specific options for applying their work in the following, highly diverse, markets:

  • Print media (e.g. newspapers, magazines, books)
  • Various electronic and social media
  • Autonomous museum space and other spatial presentations

 Within these three frameworks, both specialisations focus on the following:

  • Conceptual photography: images are regarded as guides to and/or translations of ideas, texts, thoughts and experiences
  • Autonomous photography: photographers investigate their personal artistic goals and possibilities

The second year is also divided into semesters, each of which is sub-divided into two thematic blocks (when possible). When necessary, the themes are adapted to the chosen specialisation or to the markets mentioned above. The course descriptions on the website describe the content, teaching methods, instructional forms and assessment of the programme components. The project week in Semester 4 involves a week abroad, in which each student works on a project.

The following fundamental course components apply to both study profiles

  • Genre Photography specific to the selected profile
  • Autonomous Photography
  • Photography Technical Skills
  • Image and Concept Development
  • Professional Practice Skills
  • Audio-visual Media, AV and Film Theory (as an elective after an introduction block)
  • Graphic Design
  • Image Development focusing on spatial presentation
  • Interactive Media Design and Media Theory (as an elective after an introduction block)
  • Art/Photography History and Reflection
  • Sociology
  • Communication

The Fiction specialisation concentrates on ‘staging people’ and ‘mise-en-scène’, as applied in fashion/lifestyle or commercial photography. The Documentary specialisation focuses on photojournalism and on documentary and conceptual documentary photography.

Main Phase / year 3

(Professionalisation & presentation)

Full-time / part-time: semesters five and six

Full time

The third year focuses on the use of research and skills to achieve professionalisation. Previously acquired knowledge and skills are placed in relation to the field and professional practice. Students choose to engage with the world outside the Academy from their own personal viewpoints. The portfolio is based on this approach, and a thematic, project-based semester offers students the opportunity to test and define their positions within the professional world.

The components photojournalism and conceptual documentary photography are specific to the Documentary specialisation, and they are supported by a course in sociology. The Fiction specialisation offers the sub-fields of miseen- scène and staging people. Students substantiate their choices for one of these fields in a related project description developed during a research period.

Special attention is paid to visual investigation (i.e. ‘artistic research’) and the student’s ability to work with a variety of visual strategies. The presentation of the work to the outside world is another prominent goal. Students work independently and make highly individual choices. The realisation of the described plans and study content within the central project is accomplished in close consultation with the coach, fellow students and the team of lecturers, as is any participation in practice projects.

The programme includes a number of elements for students from all specialisations:

  • Professional Practice Skills
  • Art, Photography History and Reflection
  • Audiovisual Media, AV (as an elective in the second year)
  • Interactive Media Design (as an elective in the second year)
  • Graphic Design for publication
  • Image Development aimed at spatial presentation

In the sixth semester, students complete one or two internships. These highly diverse experiences are related to the specialisation and at least one of the markets mentioned above. Many students choose international internships within a field of well-known and established photographers.

During their internships, students learn to work in teams, with formulated assignments, within a time limit and in partnership with clients. They also gain valuable networking experience. Moreover, the internships enable students to test their expectations regarding their own possible specialisations in the field. At different points during the internship, students return to the Academy to discuss their experiences with the internship supervisor and to receive information about the internship report. At these times, students also have the opportunity to exchange experiences with fellow students (second-year students are also present in these meetings as preparation for their choices in the following year). The internship supervisor writes a report, which constitutes part of the evaluation.


The part-time programme does not include an internship period. Part-time students must therefore initiate their own career orientation independently, albeit as part of the programme. In the sixth semester, students enter the examination track, in addition to taking several foundation courses. Based on the orientation to professional practice, each student also prepares a properly substantiated choice of specialisation in relation to the discipline.

The following goals for this phase of the programme are intended to ensure that students:

  • have composed a study plan (professional profile), with an updated accompanying argumentation
  • have achieved the study objectives of the projects and programme components associated with this phase
  • have demonstrated that they have acquired the qualities, skills and insights needed to claim a position within the field of photography
  • have added depth to their research
  • have exhibited an independent study attitude
  • have demonstrated interest in all aspects of the work and design process and expressed interest in all aspects of the profession
  • are capable of completing the final phase of the programme successfully
  • have explored and experienced the field
  • have demonstrated preparation as professional photographer

Fourth year

(Profiling and positioning)

Full / part time: semesters seven and eight

This phase is characterised by ‘profiling’. The conclusion of the internship/career orientation period is the prelude to the final year of study. At this point, each student writes another study plan with a revised professional profile:

  • Photojournalistic / Conceptual Documentary / Fiction Photography (staging people) / Fiction Photography (miseen- scène) , related to the written professional profile
  • assignment or commission, referring to the client profile chosen
  • project of the student’s choice, relating to the selected profile and presented in two of the presentation options/platforms: one corresponding to the methods of professional practice and one focusing on the student’s possibilities for use (interdisciplinary)
  • thesis, in which students further expand and explain the research for their projects
  • portfolio
  • career preparation (including a business plan)
  • submission of work to an international photo festival (IST) or participation in a prestigious competition

The final exam

The programme concludes with a oneday examination, during which each student presents work prepared specifically for the exam, along with a well-designed thesis and portfolio. The professional profile, business plan and project descriptions provide information about the work presented. Each student is allocated a space for installing the presentation beginning at least four days in advance. On the examination day, students have the opportunity to explain and justify their work. The examination committee poses additional questions.

After the examination, graduating students focus on a group exhibition that is open to the public and accompanied by a catalogue. The examination committee consists of the head of department and an external assessor, in addition to a representation of supervising lecturers from the final year. The external assessor is an expert in the field of photography.

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Last updated: 2016-09-08

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