Courses accredited by the AOP - process and procedure (click to unfold)
AOP - Course Accreditation Criteria and Process
1. Background and context
Course accreditation by the Association of Photographers (AOP) is a valuable indicator for any course delivering programmes at FE/HE level (levels 3 to 7) and is predicated on an evidence-based peer-review approach.
The AOP Education Working Group is fundamental in supporting this approach and is a small group of industry professionals, AOP staff and academics from previously accredited courses. The Working Group provides peer-review and oversight on the accreditation process.
The benefits of accreditation:
- Accreditation by the AOP means that a course has been examined by industry professionals and benchmarked against a set of criteria to ensure that students studying on that course are being given the correct tools and knowledge to best-prepare them for work in the industry. By confirming that a course delivers the appropriate and relevant information and through accreditation by the AOP, students can be confident that they are making good choices for their employability and future.
- Upon graduating from AOP-accredited courses, graduates are automatically enrolled as Access members of the AOP, giving them a year’s free membership at that level and support in the first steps towards full-time professional practice.
- In a crowded market, AOP-accredited courses are able to use their status as a positive marketing tool and reinforce their position of delivering a curriculum at the appropriate level to best-prepare and support their students and graduates and maximise their employability.
Courses seeking accreditation will:
- State clear academic objectives highlighting specific areas of excellence.
- Avoid prescriptive compliance with the accreditation criteria in favour of a flexible approach that allows students to develop all of their creative and professional skills.
- Contribute to graduate employability by ensuring that all students’ skills in digital and analogue media and the business practice arena are thoroughly represented in coursework and portfolios.
The AOP will:
- Acknowledge innovation and professional relevance in course delivery and pedagogy.
- Use the criteria for accreditation as diagnostic tools and work with the course where any shortfall in achieving the criteria is manifest.
2. The Accreditation Process
The Criteria for accreditation:
- The AOP produces and publishes a guide to professional practice titled Beyond The Lens, which is widely-regarded in the sector as the gold-standard for advice and guidance on how to survive and prosper as a professional photographer. AOP-accredited courses must teach key aspects of this text in any professional practice modules they deliver.
- The institution delivering the course must operate a Fair Copyright Policy as part of their overall Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, which mean that all students engaged in creative activity and output must retain their own IP.
- The curriculum content should reflect contemporary photographic practice, across a range of contextual, contemporary and professional applications.
- The quality of the facilities and equipment provided must be commensurate with the provision of best-practice in professional photography.
- A majority of the staff engaged in delivering the curriculum should be active in photography, producing their own work and engaged with their own practice in addition their teaching responsibilities.
- Employability levels should demonstrate that graduates have the necessary tools and understanding to progress their careers in their chosen fields.
The Process for accreditation:
- Once a course has expressed an interest in becoming accredited, the course/institution will send the relevant module documents to the AOP outlining the delivery of professional practice and confirming that key elements of Beyond The Lens are included in the course delivery.
- A representative from the AOP will visit the course and spend between half a day to a full day on site. A fee for this visit is charged, which is non-refundable in the event of an unsuccessful accreditation. This is currently £175.00 plus travel expenses (+ VAT).
- The AOP will meet and speak with teaching staff, students and technical support staff about the course curriculum and delivery and will take a tour of the facilities, including space and equipment, provided to students.
- The AOP will look at examples of student work from all levels of the course, whether presented in portfolios or exhibited.
- The AOP will produce a short report on the visit and submit this to the AOP Education Working Group along with any documentation submitted by the course in support of its application for accreditation for discussion. The Working Group will make a decision on accreditation and the course will be informed.
Once a course has been accredited, it will remain so on a rolling basis with a review either every two years or triggered by any changes to the course curriculum beyond minor modifications to module structure.
Any change in course curriculum/delivery must be communicated to the AOP within two weeks of any internal changes having been approved and signed off internally by the course.
Withdrawal of accreditation:
Accreditation may be withdrawn by the AOP if there are serious concerns that the course is failing to deliver the attributes that have been verified and that the accreditation criteria are no longer being met.
Listing of courses accredited by the AOP
The Association has a number of accredited courses run by a number of colleges/universities across the UK, a list of which is below.
Clicking on each box opens up to show the course(s) at an institution that have been accredited. Each link takes you direct to the college/university website.
There are a lot of colleges/universities around the UK offering photography courses. All college/university courses accredited by the AOP have a fair student copyright policy, which means you own the copyright to your own work and if the college/university wants to use one or more of your images, then the image(s) is licenced from you. Please be aware not all colleges/universities operate this policy and the AOP considers this extremely bad practice.
We cannot state strongly enough that before making a decision about which college/university to study at, you consider the value and importance of your copyright. Start as you mean to go on.
Canterbury Christ Church University
City of Bristol College
Northbrook College Sussex
The Northern School of Art
Nottingham Trent University
Plymouth College of Art