Biological Photography and Imaging MSc


Fact file

Qualification name:Biological Photography and Imaging
Duration:1 year full-time
Entry requirements:2.2(Lower 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
IELTS:6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
Start date:September
Campus:University Park Campus

School of Life Sciences

Course Overview

In a fast-moving society, the professional image-maker has a powerful role in the way science is communicated to the world. The professional imager is vital to modern research, science communication, commerce and industry. The MSc Biological Photography and Imaging is ideal for students wishing to pursue a career in professional imaging. The study programme incorporates the areas of biological research, imaging (both industrial and media production) and communication. Developing your imaging skills during the course will allow you to integrate scientific and technical aspects with commercial applications. Graduates of our course have gone on to further study in molecular biology and biophysics, or pursued various careers such as medical imaging or wildlife filmmaking.

You are expected to have a high quality undergraduate degree in the biological or related sciences. Applicants with degrees in other disciplines may be accepted at the discretion of the Course Director. Applicants with professional experience at a level equivalent to that of a first degree will also be considered. 

Applicants to this programme are expected to have their own digital SLR camera. Systems normally used on this course are Nikon or Canon; if you wish to operate a different system, you need to discuss this with the Course Director.

Key facts

  • Throughout the course you will have access to technical advice from a dedicated team of staff, high-spec computer equipment, photography studios and photographic stereo and compound microscopes. We also maintain a museum of biological specimens for you to use in assignments.
  • Teaching on our biology courses was rated as excellent (23/24) in the most recent Teaching Quality Assessment Exercise.
  • You will take part in a range of field trips in order to develop every aspect of your photography skills. Experts, such as professional wildlife photographers, are closely involved with these trips. 
    You will receive tuition in the leading industry-standard web design and animation software and will have the opportunity to set up an online portfolio of your work.
  • This course includes a business component, enabling you to present your skills to the competitive marketplace.

Course Details

The learning outcomes of this course are intended to provide the skills and knowledge for students with an undergraduate degree in biology to move into the professional photographic and imaging field. It is also intended as a potential stepping-stone into further postgraduate research in scientific imaging, such as a PhD.


Learning outcomes

You will gain experience in analysing the biological content and scientific value of images produced in various ways. You will also gain an appreciation of the ways that imaging enhances scientific discovery and communication.

You will be provided with an up-to-date technical knowledge of digital stills production, image processing and manipulation, filmmaking techniques, web design, 3-D technology and more.

You will gain experience in outdoor photography techniques for capturing images of animals and plants in their environment, and training in the studio for organisms that can be handled indoors.

You will participate in a dedicated microscopy module that will allow you to produce images using light, scanning electron and fluorescence microscopes. You will also learn how to analyse these images and interpret data from them.

You will gain an appreciation of the commercial application of imaging as well as skills in business and project planning. You will also be advised on the legal principles of copyright and ownership of the images that you produce.

The MSc is a full-time course and lasts for 12 months, with a September start each year. Teaching methods and delivery of each module will be partly determined by content but it is anticipated that at least half of the student’s time will be spent completing practical tasks in the computer lab, studio or field. The teaching week is split into teaching days and days where you are free to complete assignments. In each semester, typically there will be one day per week devoted to each of the three modules (three days total), and two days for assignment completion.

Most of the teaching will occur during the autumn and spring semesters with the final project running during the summer. Students are required to complete six compulsory modules (20 credits each) and a final project (60 credits) on a topic relevant to biological photography and imaging. The topic will be subject to the approval of the Course Director.

The pass mark for the MSc is 50%. Students failing to achieve that grade may be given the opportunity to obtain a Diploma in recognition of work already completed if they achieve a grade between 40-49%. Diploma students do not undertake a final 60 credit project.


The taught component of the MSc Biological Photography and Imaging consists of six modules worth 20 credits each. The modules are listed below:

  • Applied Digital/Conventional Imaging
  • Image Manipulation and Multi-Media
  • Film Production and Digital Film/Video Photography
  • Microscopy and Image Analysis
  • Professional Techniques in the Field
  • Commercial and Business Application for the Professional Imager

Please note that all module details are subject to change.

After completion of the taught modules, during the summer semester, a ten-week work study project worth 60 credits is undertaken in a subject area agreed with the Course Director. This work-study project can be carried out in the UK or abroad. The project allows you to specialise in a specific area relevant to the course. It gives you the opportunity to put your newly-learned skills into practice in one large, intensive project.

For more details on our modules, please see the module catalogue.


UK/EU students

The School of Life Science is offering a number of scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for students starting in September 2016. To apply for these scholarships you need a copy of an acceptance letter confirming that you have a place to study. This is a competitive scheme and students will be awarded a scholarship on academic and individual merit.

Closing date is 12 mid-day (UK time) 12th August 2016.

Full details and application forms for these scholarships can be obtained by contacting:

Anita Purshottam
T: +44 (0)115 8232100

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

International students

The School of Life Science is offering a number of scholarships amounting to £1,000 each for students starting in September 2016. To apply for these scholarships you need a copy of an acceptance letter confirming that you have a place to study. This is a competitive scheme and students will be awarded a scholarship on academic and individual merit.
Closing date is 12 mid-day (UK time) 24th June 2016.

Full details and application forms for these scholarships can be obtained by contacting:

Anita Purshottam
T: +44 (0)115 8232100

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.


The RPS, in partnership with The Photographic Angle, is offering funding for two 1-year projects that will promote environmental awareness.
The two awards are available for applicants aged between 16-30 and 31 years and over.

To support postgraduate students undertaking photographic research or studying Masters courses in Photography.

The Joan Wakelin Bursary offers funding and the chance to have work published in the Guardian and The RPS Journal. The Bursary is awarded to the photographer who presents the best proposal for a photographic essay on an overseas social documentary issue. Submission is open to all.

The RPS is pleased to announce a new short film
award and best cinematography award in partnership with Depict!

All funding available to members and non members.

For further information visit


We have designed this intensive taught course to deliver a wide range of skills that are grounded in a solid understanding and appreciation of the biological sciences. Graduates of our course are equipped with the skills to pursue employment or further study in a variety of areas. Our graduates have gone on to become professional photographers or undertake PhDs in molecular biology and biophysics, or pursued various careers such as website design, food photography, medical imaging or wildlife filmmaking. The writing skills our students develop have enabled them to publish work in scientific and popular magazines.

The MSc Biological Photography and Imaging is also aimed at individuals who wish to pursue a career as a freelance professional imager. The course will give you a strong grounding in the business skills necessary to work on a freelance basis. This includes learning how to:

  • write a business proposal
  • give business presentations
  • apply a marketing strategy to your business
  • understand copyright law
  • deal with a picture agency

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2014, 90.9% of postgraduates from biology taught courses and research opportunities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £23,717 with the highest being £40,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from  careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

Make an enquiry


PGT Team
Room A45
School of Life Sciences
The University of Nottingham
University Park
t:   +44 (0)115 82 32100 or
+44 (0)115 82 30775
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