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UCEN Manchester to launch new Photography degree alongside Open Eye Gallery


The three-year course has been written and will be delivered in partnership with Open Eye, with social engagement at its centre.

UCEN Manchester is delighted to announce its first ever Photography degree course, alongside one of the UK’s leading galleries.

The BA Photography and Social Practice course, launching in September 2021, has been written in partnership with Open Eye Gallery, the North West’s only gallery dedicated to photography.

The team at Open Eye will also be heavily involved in delivering the three-year course, ensuring social engagement and real-world experience are at its centre. Throughout the course, students will work with Open Eye Gallery staff and partners to gain a thorough understanding of the different careers available to them.

Michael Walsh, Dean of UCEN Manchester, said:

“This is an exciting day for UCEN Manchester, as we introduce our first ever three-year degree course in Photography and Social Practice, in partnership with the Open Eye gallery. I want to thank Andrew Moseley and our Photography team for their vision and commitment in bringing this innovative new offer to UCEN Manchester. It’s an honour to have the Open Eye gallery, one of the UK’s biggest and most-socially engaged photography spaces, helping us to develop the next generation of industry talent.

“This will be a hugely successful partnership, bringing a number of great benefits to our students and we look forward to welcoming our first cohort onto the course in September.”

On the course, students will be encouraged to think critically and collaboratively and to discover their creative voices. They will learn how to create projects for a range of settings while also learning how to communicate ideas visually and in writing. Modules will focus on embedding the skills that creative practitioners will need, with learning taking place in a range of settings including the gallery environment.

Sarah Fisher, Executive Director of Open Eye Gallery said:

“Open Eye Gallery is delighted to be partnering with such a dynamic and forward-looking institution as UCEN Manchester. Their staff have been so open in recognising that our collective knowledge and networks can shape a unique student experience, one that connects to the importance of photography now in all aspects of our lives – whether that’s buying goods and services online or sharing our lives via social media, where 1.8 billion images are uploaded daily.

“With teaching staff coming from both UCEN Manchester and Open Eye Gallery, and the focus on real world opportunities, students can expect to leave with a degree and tangible career options.”

To celebrate the launch of the new degree course, Open Eye Gallery will be selecting two successful applicants to receive the Open Eye Gallery bursary of £3,000 (£1,000 per year). The bursary is aimed at supporting students to engage fully in the opportunities the course offers.

Course Leader Andrew Moseley said:

“The Open Eye is an incredibly well-respected gallery that I know very well. They have a really interesting remit, working with themes that I’m really passionate about such as the ideas of pluralism, cultural diversity and socially engaged practice. It’s also crucial to stay relevant as a course and not be teaching practices that haven’t got much of a place in the real world. That’s why I wanted to write a programme with the Open Eye.

“This new exciting programme enables our students to engage artistically and to explore opportunities within diverse photographic practices. Curators and educators from the Open Eye Gallery will input throughout the course alongside our own tutorial team of professionals who have extensive experience in the photographic world to encourage students to think critically and explore their creative potential.”

Open Eye Gallery Curator, Mariama Attah, who has written six of the course modules, added:

“We are thrilled to have co-authored and designed a course that is so reflective of photography and its ability to reach people in meaningful ways. We’re looking forward to supporting students to explore socially engaged photography and to see where this can lead their own practices, as well as the wider sector. I’m really looking forward to working with the students and supporting their learning over the years to come.” 

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