4 LS: I’m really curious about the research you did, planning a new course, looking at the state of the field, because that gives you a good overview of the UK MA scene at the moment.
ucy Soutter is the Course Leader of the Photography Arts MA at the University of Westminster and Anthony Luvera is the Course Director of the Photography and Collaboration MA at Coventry University. They discussed what makes a good MA programme.
AL: Sure, when I began working at Coventry in 2014 it really struck me how most courses in photography education are structured to provide a general programme to cater for a wide variety of students. When the University asked me to develop a new post-graduate course, and I researched what was on offer throughout the UK and further afield, it seemed to me that the field of MA photography programmes is oversubscribed. Many of these courses were under performing in recruitment and producing graduates who weren’t able to find meaningful places within the photography industries afterwards. So it seemed to make sense to design a course that capitalised on the research interests within the course team and offer a learning experience for an emergent community of practice that took them deeper into issues to do with socially engaged practice; to specialise. So we began to design the course along those lines. LS: At least in London, Photography MA courses have been growing, with particular pressure to recruit international students. So a number of the courses that I have been involved with over the years have now doubled or tripled the number of MA students they have, which has been producing a very different kind of experience that’s much less about being a tight knit cohort. So I was pleased to get an opportunity to lead the Photography Arts MA at Westminster, partly because the course still has relatively modest student targets. I am building it back up but I’m hoping to stay in the sweet spot of fifteen to twenty-five in a group where I think some of the most satisfying MA discussions can happen. But it is interesting that Westminster has two Photography MAs, the other is Documen
AL: Can you tell me a little bit about the approach to teaching and learning on the programme? LS: Westminster has been one of the places to teach photography as a serious intellectual pursuit since it was the Polytechnic of Central London and Victor Burgin was teaching there. And so, alongside the practice modules, our course probably has What Makes a Good MA?
Lucy Soutter with Westminster Photography Arts MA students at The Photographers' Gallery, September 2019
tary Photography and Photojournalism; something happens where we end up specialising by default in relation to each other. The unique selling point of the one that I teach is that we are thinking about the intersection points between contemporary photographic practice and contemporary art. And I think something about the specificity of focusing on that makes the course work quite nicely and encourages work that’s diverse in form and content.