The pursuit of photographic qualifications at any level has the potential to inspire photographers to attempt what may previously have seemed beyond reach. Courses are available all over the UK at City and Guilds level, as A-levels, as Higher National certificates (HNC and HND), and as full degrees. All of these encourage students to broaden and deepen their knowledge of photography, and open doors for those seeking careers.
Most photography courses recognize that the art and science of the subject must be learned, at least in large measure, from experience. They therefore incorporate significant practical elements such as project briefs, assignments and portfolio work. These not only provide opportunities to exercise skills, but also form a basis for critical examination of students' work. This is a vital part of the improvement cycle because it encourages photographers to criticise their own work, teaches a degree of objectivity and inspires the authors when improvement in their work is acknowledged by others.