Introduction to the History of Photography - HART3160

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module provides students with a broad introduction to the history of photography over the first 150 years of its existence, together with some of the prehistory of the medium. It begins by looking at the origins and invention of photography, as well as reactions to, and early uses of, the medium. Following this background, a number of photographic genre are explored along with key contributors to their development. While the genre explored may change from year to year, the genre covered are likely to include portraiture, documentary photography and landscape photography, but the greatest focus will be given to the various styles and movements giving shape to the history of photographic art.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 36
Private study hours: 114
Total study hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Image Analysis (2000 words) (60%)
Seminar Preparation Notes (For each seminar, a set of preparation notes of approximately 500 words) (40%)

Reassessment methods
Like for Like

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Barthes, R. (1981), Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, New York: Hill and Wang.
Batchen, G. (1997), Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT.
Bate, D. (2016), Photography: Key Concepts, London: Bloomsbury.
Clarke, G. (1997), The Photograph, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Frizot, M. (1998), A New History of Photography, Cologne: Konemann.
Marien, M. (2002), Photography: A Cultural History, London: Laurence King.
Rosenblum, N. (2007), A World History of Photography, 4th Edition, New York: Abbeville.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 demonstrate some understanding of the origins of photography and the development of the medium through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
2 demonstrate some understanding of the social and cultural contexts relevant to the emergence of the photographic medium.
3 identify and characterise a wide range of photographic genres and styles.
4 demonstrate a good understanding of emergence and development of photography as an art form.
5 outline the technological development of the photographic medium and the effects of such developments upon photographic practices.
6 demonstrate an ability to critically analyse photographic images.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 correctly employ the appropriate technical vocabulary in writing about art.
2 attend critically to the views of others, whether spoken or written, and make a relevant response that furthers the investigation.
3 construct and evaluate arguments.
4 adhere to deadlines and demonstrate time-management skills.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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