Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Photography Begins
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Written Response  500 Words  20%
Semester Assessment Illustrated Essay  2500 Words  80%
Supplementary Assessment Written Response  500 Words  20%
Supplementary Assessment Illustrated Essay  2500 Words  80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Identify and classify major movements in 19th and early 20th century photography.

Recognise major 19th and early 20th century photographic processes.

Demonstrate an understanding of 19th and early 20th century trends in photography.

Identify and interpret works by key 19th and early 20th century photographers.

Explain how photography heralded a visual revolution for societies world-wide.

Brief description

This module begins with the invention of photography by a small cluster of brilliant and often radical thinkers. Case studies taken from the first 100 years of photography are used to explore the photograph as a carrier of ideas. You will delve into subjects such as portraiture, travel, science, war and propaganda, as well as the relationship between photography and historical narratives and events. The emergence of photography as fine art is also considered.

You will have the opportunity to examine rare and original photographic prints from the collections of the National Library of Wales and the School of Art Museum.


Introduction. Readings. Assignments. Field trip. Blackboard. ‘Opticks’ and the origins of Photography. Philosophical Inquiries and Concepts centred on Light and Light Capture.
The 'Official' Invention (1839): Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot.
Exploring early photographs at the National Library of Wales.
A New Language: War, Travel and the Portrait.
A New Art: Romance, Polemics and Recantations.
New Momentum, New Directions.
Photo-Modernism: American Realism/European Experimental before 1945.
Politics and the Camera: Social(ist) Commentaries (1840s-1950s).
Documents and Narratives: Politics and Ideology as Photographic Form.
Margaret Bourke-White: War, Fortune and Steel.
Bill Brandt and Robert Frank: Documentary to Art. ​

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Articulating ideas orally in seminar discussions and textually through essay.
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent study through assignment research and preparation; written and oral feedback, and essay.
Information Technology Conducting research through library catalogues, online scholarly databases and museum websites; engaging with digital platforms like Blackboard, Turnitin, Panopto.
Personal Development and Career planning Emphasis on professional presentation of research and essay plan using MLA style documentation.
Problem solving In seminar preparation and discussion, essay research and writing.
Research skills In seminar preparation, conducting research for essay, compiling essay plan.
Subject Specific Skills Ability to visually analyze photographs, set them in their historical context, draw explanatory connections between photographic approaches, critically engage with primary and secondary sources, compose and justify arguments about photographic history.
Team work n/a


This module is at CQFW Level 4