HomeProgrammesCreativeCertificate in Introductory Photography

Certificate in Introductory Photography

Level 5

Learn the basics of photography as a medium to express creative ideas in the UCOL Certificate in Introductory Photography.

A close-up of a person holding a DSLR camera.
Quick info

Level: 5

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North, UCOL Whanganui

Duration: 10 weeks, part-time

Palmerston North
05 Mar 2024 - 25 May 2024
20 Aug - 09 Nov 2024

30 Apr 2024 - 06 Jul 2024

Domestic Fees: *

Scholarship info

International Fees:*
Please enquire for details

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

You will develop introductory knowledge and skills in the usage of camera equipment, composition, lighting, digital image processing and presentation of your images. This course will give you the practical skills to equip you for further study in photography.

In the course, you will be using camera equipment that allows you to manually change camera settings. We will teach you how to use the manual functionality of your camera (or ours if you don’t own a camera) to create interesting and visually appealing images.

Image above by UCOL Te Pūkenga photography student Reuben Parr.

 Course Hours & Duration


Please find the class schedule for Palmerston North below (05 Mar 2024 - 25 May 2024): weeknight (Tuesday and Thursday) classes are 5:30-8:30pm, and weekend (Saturday) classes are 10am-3pm.
Week 1: Tue 05 Mar, Thu 07 Mar
Week 2: Tue 12 Mar, Sat 16 Mar
Week 3: Tue 19 Mar, Thu 21 Mar
Week 4: Tue 26 Mar, Sat 30 Mar
Week 5: Tue 02 Apr, Thu 04 Apr
Week 6: Tue 09 Apr, Sat 13 Apr
2-week break
Week 7: Tue 30 Apr, Thu 02 May
Week 8: Tue 07 May, Sat 11 May
Week 9: Tue 14 May, Thu 16 May
Week 10: Tue 21 May, Sat 25 May

Palmerston North: 
20 Aug - 09 Nov 2024
Tuesdays, 9am – 12:30pm
Thursdays, 9am – 12:30pm

30 Apr 2024 - 06 Jul 2024
Tuesday evening 5:30-8:30pm, alternating Thursday evening 5:30-8:30pm and Saturday 10am-3pm.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of the Certificate in Introductory Photography will be able to apply their new knowledge and skills in a variety of potential employment opportunities, including professional photography (introductory level), marketing and social media.

To find out more about possible job prospects and salaries for Photographers, see careers.govt.nz

Education pathway

Graduates wanting to take their skills to the next level can enrol in:

Please contact the Programme Leader regarding pathways into other courses in the Creative Industries.

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, UCOL Te Pūkenga is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time. If you have any questions call an Enrolment Advisor on 0800 468 265.

This programme will help you develop introductory knowledge and skills to improve your photography. It will cover:

  • Composition of images through the application of design elements and principles such as texture, shape, form, space, shadow and colour as appropriate
  • Camera types, use and relevant accessories
  • Exposure and ISO
  • White balance
  • Shutter speed, aperture and focusing
  • Using natural and studio lighting
  • An introduction to Photoshop processing
  • Influences on contemporary photographic practice
  • Visual ideas, from analysis of the initial brief
  • Research and development from concept to resolution

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Learning Facilities

Excellent industry-standard learning facilities and equipment including Canon DSLR cameras, photography studios, and Apple iMacs equiped with Adobe creative software.

 Domestic Entry Requirements

Open entry.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5 with no band score less than 5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible).


For more information about NCEA Credits see the UCOL Te Pūkenga NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

This programme of study is not open to international learners.

 Advice & Guidance

It is recommended that learners have met the literacy and numeracy requirements of NCEA Level 1 or equivalent.

The Certificate in Introductory Photography, Level 5 (Training Scheme), comprises 20 credits

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Te Pūkenga Academic Statute and other relevant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

 Additional Costs

Required equipment

DSLR or mirrorless camera. If you do not have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you don’t have to buy one before the course - you can loan a camera from UCOL. The bond is $80 for outside class use, for two days at a time, and is fully refundable at the end of the course.)

• SD card - for recording your photographs on. 16GB SD cards are available from about $15, and 32GB from $20
• Two USB flash drives - At least 32GB. These start from $10 each. 

Optional equipment

• Portable hard drive - some people prefer this to a USB flash drive. A 1TB drive costs less than $100. If you intend to do a lot of photography work, this is recommended. 
• Adobe Photoshop and Bridge - this software is available as a monthly download for approximately $20 per month. Photoshop and Bridge form part of the Adobe Creative Suite.

Required items for mounting images

• Self-adhesive foam core board for mounting of printed images – approximately $30. (Do not purchase this before the course – we will help make sure that you buy the correct product)
• Cutting knife with sharp blades $5 - $10


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education and Training Act 2020, and Universal College of Learning Limited, a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga is accredited to teach it.