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AOP Member Login

Join the AOP
Accredited photography course

© Nina Ballie, Best in Category, People, The Student Awards 2016

The Association of Photographers is interested in both the vocational and educational aspects of photographic courses. Our position within the photographic, editorial and advertising industries enables us to influence and support course content and structure; it also allows us to introduce you to dynamic and well-respected professionals as visiting lecturers to the colleges/universities of accredited courses.

Our publication, Beyond the Lens is a 200-page reference book written and published by the AOP and is known as the definitive authority on rights, ethics and business practice for professional photography. Photographers, photographers' agents, assisting photographers, commissioners of photography, indeed everyone related to professional photography has either got a copy or at the very least is familiar with it.

It is a requirement of accreditation that all courses incorporate Beyond the Lens somewhere within their teaching, usually within professional practice modules. Over time we have seen colleges/universities, course leaders, industry professionals and commissioners of photography welcome Beyond the Lens and it has become a well-defined industry essential. With a programme of continual updates, Beyond the Lens has been used as a tool to teach rights, ethics and good business practice in professional photography for almost 30 years.

By becoming accredited to the AOP you automatically become part of a wider community of photographers, assistants, photographers' agents and photography students as well as coming together with like-minded photography courses being run across the UK.

Who are our members?

We have accredited photographic courses around the UK, ranging from BTEC, HND to MA. Most of our accredited courses operate at Degree level and we enjoy a good relationship with tutors, lecturers and programme leaders. Among the many benefits on offer for accredited courses is our Lecturers' Day, which is an opportunity to get together with fellow lecturers and tutors for an informal day of talks & visits, hosted by our industry and with plenty of opportunity for debate.

As part of the accreditation membership, we will send you copies of our beautiful Photographers Awards books, as well as copies of Beyond the Lens. There are many other tangible benefits, but, perhaps the most important is the link that you, the college/university you represent together with your students, will have with an industry body that represents top professional photographers in the business.

In addition to our accredited courses we also have around 800 AOP Student members. Studying at various institutions around the UK, AOP Students tend to be one step ahead of their peer group and are keen to get out into industry and forge a career. Many achieve recognition in the AOP Student Awards and they tend to be those who work hard on their course and are the most committed.

Benefits of accrediting your photography course:

  • Recognition as one of the photography courses accepted for accreditation to the AOP and the peer group it represents.
  • AOP Website Presence. Your college/university will be listed and searchable on our website (non-accredited courses are just listed) as part of our 'Find a...' search facility with a direct link to your home page or course information.
  • Your students will qualify for FREE AOP Student membership, normally £25 per student.
  • You will receive 3 free copies of Beyond the Lens: The essential guide to rights, ethics and business practice in professional photography, normally £30. Further copies can be bought at; up to 9 copies at £20 each, 10 and above copies at £15 each.
  • Tickets to the Photographers Awards event at members discount.
  • Discounted copies of the AOP Photographers Awards Book, normally £30.
  • AOP business & legal team speaker to attend your course to discuss with students either issues around copyright and licensing or starting up in business. There is a charge for non-accredited courses of £350 + expenses (+VAT), but one talk is provided free (bar expenses) for each AOP membership fee paid by the college or university.
    A second talk during the academic year can be booked for only £150 plus expenses plus VAT.
    (Please note that colleges/universities with more than Accredited Course currently only pay one membership fee).
  • We hold an annual meeting for programme leaders and tutors. This is a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and information with professionals and other educational institutions in an informal setting. There is also the opportunity to visit studios and talk to industry professionals.
  • We are able to offer a heavily-discounted, (but therefore trimmed-down), AOP Photographer membership to all lecturers on AOP Accredited courses for just £99 + VAT per annum.

    This membership gets you access to the Business & Legal advice service provided to our Accredited Photographer and Assisting Photographer members as well as access to the well-regarded AOP email forum.

    Please note that this reduced-fee membership does not include a web-portfolio, nor, therefore, inclusion in the 'Find A Photographer' service and there is also no Professional Indemnity cover or access to the additional Business & Legal paperwork on the AOP website (the public-facing advice and downloads are, of course, all still available). Should you wish to have a web-folio on the AOP website and be listed in 'Find A Photographer', and have Professional Indemnity insurance cover (cover up £250k) it will cost you £65 + VAT plus a reduced admin fee of £20 + VAT.

    You will need to apply with your institution email address in order to qualify for this special sub-category of AOP Photographer membership. 

    For more information contact the AOP office at


Our accredited course membership is able to provide support and industry expertise to photography courses at BTEC, HND, FdA and Batchelor (BA/BSc) level or higher (such as MA), as long as the course can provide evidence that its content responds to the current demands in advertising, fashion and editorial photography.

Colleges/universities must integrate substantial elements of our publication, Beyond the Lens, into the course teaching structure, usually as part of any Professional Practice/Professonal Development (PDP) module(s).

The college/university must hold a fair copyright policy as applicable to their students and not seek to take any IP from them.

This membership is available to colleges/universities who can demonstrate a satisfactory provision of lens-based and/or electronic imaging and who seek a stronger liaison and involvement with the professional photographic industry.

If the criteria are met, we will carry out an on-site assessment visit of the course facilities. The visit is fairly informal but can take between 3 - 4 hours. We would expect to see all facilities including studios, digital suites, dark-rooms and the library. We would like to talk to current students and teaching staff on the course. A convenient date and time will be arranged. This visit is chargeable at £175.00 plus travel expenses.

For more information email us at

Voting Rights:

No voting rights.


  • £472 p.a. plus VAT (plus £175 & expenses for the initial accreditation assessment carried out by the AOP)


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