Photography HNC

Course code 146W

What is special about this course?

The HNC Photography is designed for creative practitioners who want to build a solid technical and theoretical foundation in the field of contemporary photography, and/or prepare for further academic study.

You will study a range of different genres such as portraiture, environment, still life, and documentary practice, whilst generating an extended portfolio by working through a variety of photographic disciplines.

The course enables you to develop a visual practice of digital and analogue technologies along with learning a range of photo editing skills. 

We offer specialist printing facilities along with an portfolio presentation module and opportunities to present your work to the public.

Explore past and present students' work by visiting our Creative Arts showcase.

Special features

  • Delivered with a full or part time pathway, you can study largely in your home region and will gain a strong foundation in a range of photographic genres
  • You will be encouraged to develop a personal style and to collaborate with others

Entry requirements

  • 1 Scottish Higher at grade C or above OR
  • 1 A level at grade D or above OR
  • NC Photography
  • We will consider individual competence in photographic-based skills, evidenced by a portfolio of at least ten photographs (this can be an electronic or paper-based folio) and you will be required to attend an interview
  • Prospective students without the standard entry requirements are encouraged to apply
  • You are required to have access to sufficient home studio space to control various lighting set ups, and will need a digital camera, tripod, speedlight, reflectors, filters, lens i.e. prime or zoom
  • You will also need access to computer facilities to support post production editing software

Year 1 - HNC

Units include:

  • Photographic theory
  • Image editing 
  • Portraiture 
  • Studio still life
  • Corporate
  • Social portraiture
  • Philosophical aesthetics 
  • Documentary
  • Environment
  • Graded unit
  • Portfolio presentation

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • You will learn via a combination of face to face sessions, plus structured weekly online study from your own location, consisting of video conference lectures and tutorials
  • The face to face element consists of two short practical residentials, held in September and May, at UHI North, West and Hebrides (Broadford) with an optional exhibition trip (TBC)
  • Further online and self-directed study is via the university's virtual learning environment (VLE), and recommended reading

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 1 year
  • Part-time (structured): 2 years

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides

You can study the online elements of this course from anywhere in the UK, including your local campus. You will be enrolled and supported by staff at UHI North, West and Hebrides.

Start date

  • September


For students normally domiciled in Scotland, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes

  • EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status in the UK,
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with settled status in the UK
  • EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.
Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2022-232023-24
Full-time per year £1,285 £1,285
Part-time (per HN credit) £86 £86

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland, including Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2022-232023-24
Full-time per year £7,110 £7,110
Part-time (per HN credit) £474 £474

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living while studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status in the UK, with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

This includes EEA/Swiss nationals with pre-settled status who are not self-employed or migrant workers in the UK.

Higher National Awards (HNC, HND)2022-232023-24
Full-time per year £7,440 £7,980
Part-time (per HN credit) £496 £532

Part-time study is not open to international student requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK.


UHI has a number of scholarships, bursaries, awards, and discretionary fund opportunities available to new and current students. Please use the A-Z of funds or use the filter to see which ones may be relevant to you. All students are welcome to apply.

Further information on funding your studies is also available, please see the attached link or contact the relevant UHI partner.

Additional costs

  • You are required to have access to sufficient home studio space to control various lighting set ups, and will need a digital camera, tripod, speedlight, reflectors, filters, lens i.e. prime or zoom
  • The purchase of several key texts will also be required costing approximately £100
  • You will be expected to purchase professional photographic prints of your work through laboratories such as The Print Space and Loxley. The estimated total print cost for year one is £100 and in year two, £200. These costs will be spread over the academic year
  • There are two compulsory residencies each year and you will be required to self-fund any travel to the residencies and cover accommodation and subsistence costs

What can I do on completion of my course?

On successful completion of the course you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills required to become a freelance photographer, working in a broad range of photographic genres and disciplines, as well as being an able candidate for photographic jobs in business.

Can I progress into further study?

You may be able to progress to the second year of an HND in Photography at another institution. In some cases, particularly in the case of mature students, successful completion of the HNC with an overall distinction profile and a first-class portfolio to match, could lead to entry to a BA in Photography.

Is there more information available online?

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One of the best bits about the course was being able to meet with my classmates and bounce ideas off each other. The whole experience was so helpful and continues to inspire and encourage me on my creative journey.

Since completing the Higher and HNC Photography courses, I have greatly expanded both my knowledge, technical skills and my passion for photography. I have already completed some paid photography work, which I would never have dreamt was possible before I started this course.

I highly recommend this path to anyone who is considering a career in photography and wants to learn a broad range of theoretical, practical and technical skills. I'm excited to see what the future holds!

Andrea Sheedy Brown completed our HNC Photography at UHI West Highland.

I like the creative arts: writing, history and photography. I chose this course because I wanted to express my creative abilities in a fun and practical way and to improve my mental health and well-being.

The course has exceeded my expectations and has been thoroughly enjoyable. I like how diverse the modules are and I am particularly fond of portraiture, stock, and environmental photography which allow me to be creative in my approach.

My plans are to keep photography as a hobby and advance my skills by reading and researching photographer’s work. I think this course will help me with my practical abilities and improve my confidence when creating new work.

Natalie Small studied the HNC Photography.

The part-time and mostly remote way of learning was very well suited to me, I have learned immensely during the HNC Photography and would not have been able to consider a career in photography without this course. 
My favourite thing about UHI is the flexibility of the studies with part-time and distance learning options available. This is especially important for rural areas such as the Highlands where travel distances can be considerable.
I am so extremely grateful for the opportunity to study a subject that interests me, and I have gained more knowledge within the 2 years than I ever thought I would! 

Noru Innes is studying the HNC Photography at UHI West Highland. 

Apply for Photography HNC

  • Applications to this course are now closed for September 2023 entry. Applications for September 2024 will open in September 2023. Please revisit this page then to apply.

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.