History of Photography (MLitt) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

The MLitt in History of Photography offers a range of innovative modules that cover areas from the origins of photography to contemporary practices and debates, including modernist art photography, documentary approaches, photographic collections, and technological advances up to the digital era. 

Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
School of Art History

Application deadline

Thursday 8 August 2024

Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

“I was attracted to the MLitt History of Photography programme because of its close engagement with the extant photographic archive here, which is used both as a resource for teaching and further research. The tutors have been incredibly supportive of my research interests and my personal development during my time here. The School of Art History facilitates a programme of research seminars with visiting scholars from the UK and internationally, including talks from photo-journalists and contemporary photographers. One of the best parts about studying here is proximity to the sea. There’s something incredibly calming about being so close to the coast.”
- Lanarkshire, Scotland

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé
  • personal statement (500 words)
  • sample of your own, single-authored academic written work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.  See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MLitt in History of Photography is a taught postgraduate programme run by the School of Art History. The MLitt offers a unique opportunity to study the history of photography as a specialised field of research.  


  • This innovative degree is inspired by the important role played by St Andrews in the early history of the most influential visual medium of the modern era. 
  • Students are introduced to the theoretical and methodological challenges and debates that photography’s multiple functions and contexts have provoked since its invention. 
  • Classes make full use of the outstanding photographic collections of Special Collections, University Library and associated photographic archives. 
  • Small class sizes prioritise discussion with peers and interaction with the tutor. 
  • Students may apply to take part in exchange programmes at our partner institutions


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.

  • Issues in Photographic Criticism: provides an introduction to key writings and debates in the history of photographic criticism from the 1830s to the present day. 

History of Photography students choose three postgraduate-level course modules. One of the three modules may be selected from the undergraduate-level Honours programme, from the MLitt programme in Art History or from reading and bibliography modules on advisement. 

Here is a sample of optional modules that may be offered: 

  • Object Lessons in Photography 
  • The Documentary Impulse 
  • The 'New Vision' in Twentieth-Century European Photography. 

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students.

The final three months of your course will be focused on writing the final assessment piece, a 15,000-word dissertation. Across the two semesters, students participate in a series of skills workshops designed in part to help prepare for the dissertation element. Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation must be submitted by a date specified in August. 

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of a MLitt. 


The MLitt degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework, normally equivalent to four modules. 

Each module has a minimum contact time of 16 hours.

The modules are taught as small group discussion seminars, with an average size of four to eight students in each group. 

Additionally, there may be class trips where relevant to the taught modules. 

The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework including: 

  • book reviews 
  • critical bibliographies 
  • visual analysis and object analysis essays 
  • reading journals 
  • research papers. 


The School organises postgraduate research seminars and occasional symposia. Each year they invite a number of artists and scholars to give lectures.




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our tuition fees, can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


Recent postgraduates in History of Photography are employed in: 

  • universities 
  • archives 
  • museums 
  • galleries 
  • auction houses 
  • web design
  • publishing houses and magazines.  

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

In addition to the MLitt, the School offers a two-year Art History Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree option. 

Many History of Photography graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere. 

Postgraduate research

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Postgraduate online visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2399
School of Art History
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

School of Art History website