Image credits

Portfolio guidance

We are looking for an understanding of what applicants are trying to achieve and an engagement with the process. Photography should be part of your life.

James Smith
Course Leader

Your interview

Once you have applied to BA (Hons) Photography at NUA, we will ask you to prepare your portfolio for your interview.

Key dates

  • If you apply by the UCAS deadline of 15 January, we will offer you an interview (either on campus, Skype or telephone depending your circumstance).
  • Interviews usually take place in February. It is at this stage that we will ask you to bring or submit your portfolio.

This combination of methods are used to assess your suitability to the course. All elements should clearly demonstrate your passion for the subject and your individual creativity.

Your portfolio

When compiling your portfolio, choose pieces that reflect your creativity and personal interests and demonstrate your technical skills.

How much work should I include?

Your portfolio should include at least two projects where you show the steps you took to develop an idea. This might mean you include experiments, drafts or variations that show the progression of your project from the earliest stages through to completion. Do not worry if they are not perfect campaigns, final edits or renderings, because they allow us to understand how you think during the creative process.

What type of work should I include?

You should also include finished projects that you are excited about and particularly proud of. We are interested in you; to understand what motivates your choice in discipline and your creative identity through your preferences and aversions. You may submit assessed projects and coursework, but we recommended that you include independent work where possible. These self-initiated projects and interests tell us a lot more about you and your ambition and illustrate your ability to generate ideas. We are keen to see individuality, passion, risk and analysis.

Things to consider

Spend time choosing pieces for your portfolio.

You should be confident and passionate talking about each one as the interviewer(s) will discuss your work with you. You may not be able to talk us through the entire portfolio so be sure to present the work in an orderly, logical way. Choose a layout that tells the story of each individual project and an overall structure that gives us the full picture of you and your creative practice.

Try to show us the full range of your creative experience and interests.

Your portfolio should be relevant to the course, but do include a wide range of work that shows your creativity, technical competence and understanding of space.

  • You may wish to include some or all of the following:
  • Photography, such as portraits, landscapes, live or staged events, architecture, interiors, fashion and technical challenges such as reconstructions of popular images
  • Film, animation or moving image work
  • Images emphasising retouching and/or colouring skills
  • Images edited using Adobe Photoshop or Adobe InDesign
  • Story boards
  • Editorial based work
  • Compositing skills and collage based imagery
  • Collaborations with other students and creatives.

Hardcopy portfolios

  • If you are only submitting hardcopy materials, you should submit 20 to 30 pieces and we recommend using photography or solander boxes, although we would also accept portfolios that are ring bound or with loose boards, between A4 and A1 in size
  • Include 2 to 3 sketchbooks with the portfolio; these demonstrate ideas development, contextualisation and you work strategies
  • Large, intricate or fragile pieces should be shown as good quality photographs
  • Put your name on the portfolio
  • Labels should be discreet, neat and used in a consistent manner for clear navigation
  • If you are submitting a showreel, you should also present 10 – 15 images of other work (see Digital Portfolios guidance below)

Digital portfolios

  • Up to 30 images, including images from sketchbooks, research, experimental work and finished pieces
  • If you are presenting a showreel, your work should be no longer than five minutes; you could provide 10-15 images to accompany it if you so wish
  • Ensure photographs and scans are clear, in focus and in a large enough format to be seen clearly
  • Digital work should be presented on an online platform such as your own website, Tumblr, Flickr, Prezi, MeMyArt, YouTube, Vimeo or a personal blog. The link should then be submitted through the Applicant Portal or by emailing the below contacts
  • Ensure your digital portfolio is accessible before you arrive for interview as our interviewer(s) look to load this in advance of the interview
  • All UK and EU applicants should send a link to: admissions@nua.ac.uk
  • Non-EU and EEA applicants should send a link to: international@nua.ac.uk

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To find out more about how to apply for a course at NUA, talk to Lynne, Tom or Tori in the following ways:

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Written submission

As part of your offer, you may be asked to submit a piece of written work in addition to your application. This would usually be after your interview.

What should I submit for the written submission?

Your written work might be part of or an entire piece of written work between 500 and 1,000 words. You may submit an essay, report or a completed log. The writing should demonstrate your ability to think critically, make an informed analysis and confident communication in a subject area related to your proposed course of study. All written work must be in English and emailed as a PDF file to admissions@nua.ac.uk.