England.  Change location

Digital photography: creating and sharing better images

Whether you’re new to digital photography or want to improve your existing skills, this ten-week online course, created and presented in partnership with The Royal Photographic Society (RPS), expands your ability to create and share digital images you can be proud of. The course develops your technical and visual skills as you learn the principles of digital photography and image editing. You’ll join a vibrant and supportive online community where your photographic skills can evolve. A series of weekly hands-on assignments let you practise the skills you learn.

The Royal Photographic Society logo

Standalone study only

This module is available for standalone study only. Any credits from this module cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.


Module code




Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

The course is designed to be studied over a ten-week period, with approximately ten hours of study each week.

The course will:

  • teach you the key principles of capturing digital images
  • show you how to manipulate images with photo-editing software
  • equip you with basic skills to navigate technological developments in digital photography
  • teach you how to critically evaluate your own and others’ work in the spirit of continuous technical and artistic improvement
  • encourage you to develop your photography as part of a supportive online community
  • help you to develop a portfolio of which you can be proud.

The course is a creative mix of practice, learning, sharing and reflection.

Each week you will do a practical photographic activity that will broaden and strengthen your photographic experience. Together these activities form the basis of your portfolio that you will draw upon for your end-of-module assessment.

Each week you will learn about different aspects of photographic techniques, as well as relevant aspects of the technology behind digital photography.

Sharing and reflection
Each week you will share your work within the course’s online community of photographers. You’ll steadily develop your ability to reflect upon your own and others’ work, and to write about your increasing visual awareness.

Week 1: What makes an interesting image?

  • Welcome to the course
  • Images and our view of the world
  • Fundamentals of image composition
  • Looking critically at images
  • Planning your composition
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 2: When light becomes data

  • Welcome to Week 2
  • Your digital camera
  • Light and its properties
  • Finding information about a digital image
  • Working with light
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 3: Working with exposure

  • Welcome to Week 3
  • Visually assessing exposure in an image
  • Controlling exposure
  • Capturing movement
  • Exploring exposure: the histogram
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 4: Focus and depth of field

  • Welcome to Week 4
  • Exploring lenses and focus
  • Focal length and camera shake
  • Optical and digital zoom
  • Controlling depth of field
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 5: Understanding and using colour

  • Welcome to Week 5
  • Colours in digital photography
  • The language of colour
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 6: Displaying your images

  • Welcome to Week 6
  • Display technologies
  • Printing technologies
  • Managing colour
  • Image storage
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 7: Historic and contemporary innovation

  • Welcome to Week 7
  • Technology and technique
  • Advanced image composition
  • Experimental photography
  • Genre-established aesthetics
  • Digital darkroom
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 8: The power of smartphone photography

  • Welcome to Week 8
  • Advantages and limitations of the smartphone
  • Knowing your smartphone camera
  • Organising your images
  • Social media for your images
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 9: Preparing for the end-of-module assessment (EMA)

  • Welcome to Week 9
  • How your EMA will be assessed and the feedback you will receive
  • Examples of assessment of images
  • Detailed guidance on Part 1 of the EMA
  • Detailed guidance on Part 2 of the EMA
  • Submitting your work
  • OpenStudio assignment
  • Week review

Week 10: What next?

  • Moving on from TG089
  • Moving towards professional-level photography
  • The Royal Photographic Society
  • End-of-module assessment
    • Introduction
    • General advice for submitting your EMA
    • Part 1: selecting 10 of your own photographs (60 marks)
    • Part 2: writing about your photographs (40 marks)
    • Checklist before submission

You’ll develop as a photographer by creating and sharing images with fellow students: taking and uploading them each week to OpenStudio (the course’s online photo-sharing platform), looking at your own and other people’s images, and commenting on or critiquing images.

As a beginner, you might feel you don’t know enough to comment on others’ images. However, we’ll help you to gain the confidence to discuss images knowledgeably, for example, composition, use of colour, exposure and focus. By commenting on images, you’ll develop your judgement of what makes a ‘good’ photograph. By sharing your own images, you’ll find out what others see in your work and receive constructive comments on how you might improve them. Collaborating with fellow students by sharing photos and comments is an essential part of the course.

You will learn

The course will introduce a range of aspects of digital photography including:

  • ‘ways of seeing’ and the elements of composition
  • the basic principles of capturing light information digitally (e.g. sensors, memory, file types)
  • the digital workflow (capture, organise, edit and share)
  • how to control exposure, focus and depth of field
  • an introduction to digital colour management
  • how to print and display your images
  • using your smartphone for photography
  • an introduction to historical and contemporary photographic aesthetics.

The course includes videos that illustrate how to technically and creatively improve your images using photo-editing software.

Professional recognition

This ten-week online course is presented in partnership with The Royal Photographic Society (RPS).

Successful completion of the course will lead to the award of The Royal Photographic Society Certificate in Photography. This is free to members of the Society and is available for a small fee to non-members.

If your images are of a high standard, you may wish to try for a qualification or distinction in photography. The course has been designed to give you the necessary basic skills to tackle The Royal Photographic Society Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) in still photography.

Learner support

You’ll have access to online forums that we strongly encourage you to participate in, as they’re an excellent source of support and information. These forums combine input from learning advisors who are expert photographers with self-help from fellow students.

At the end of the course, you’ll receive expert feedback on the images you submit for the end-of-module assessment.

If you have a disability

Photography is inherently a highly visual subject, and use of a camera may require some manual dexterity.

The course includes significant amounts of work with a computer. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you, you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

Written transcripts of audio material are provided.

Course length

This course will require around 100 hours to complete.

Teaching and assessment


The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box.

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) has two components:

  • A portfolio of images you have captured and worked on assesses your visual and technical skills in digital photography.
  • A short piece of written work assesses your ability to articulate your visual awareness and your knowledge of the principles and techniques of digital photography.

Your EMA will be marked, and you‘ll receive expert feedback on the visual awareness and technical quality shown by your set of images.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Course work includes:

End-of-module assessment

Entry requirements

The course is suitable if you are completely new to photography and it does not assume any knowledge of photographic techniques or digital photo-editing skills. It will also appeal if you are an amateur photographer wanting to top up your skills and be part of an online community sharing and improving your photographs.

We assume that you might be fairly new to computing but are not a complete beginner. You should be able to use your computer to save and locate files, install software and access websites.

If you are already an intermediate level photographer, you might consider our second-level course Digital photography: discover your genre and develop your style (TZFM201).

Course length

This course last 10 weeks and will require around 100 hours to complete.


Start End England fee Register
19 Oct 2024 Jan 2025 £225.00

Registration closes 10/10/24 (places subject to availability)

01 Mar 2025 Jun 2025 £225.00

Registration closes 20/02/25 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2026.

Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of not more than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

Online study texts, tutorial videos, a photo-sharing website, and supported discussion forums.

You will need

You will need a camera that creates images as digital files. Obviously a digital camera is designed to do this but mobile phone cameras are also suitable. Whatever camera you use, it is preferable if it has some controls or settings (e.g. shutter speed and aperture, or automatic settings such as ‘sport’, ‘landscape’ or ‘portrait’), as the course will teach you about the full range of controls and settings that a photographer uses. However, it will also be possible to complete the course using a basic camera with little or no control over its settings.

You will need photo-editing software. There are many suitable packages available which vary in their sophistication. It is possible to complete the course using a basic package such as the photo app already provided on your computer or tablet.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.