Syllabus for PHO-101



Introduction to Photography is an online distance learning course designed to help you discover and develop the skills required to use photography confidently and effectively. The course introduces you to basic photographic principles and concepts and relies on the structure of the textbook Photography, 11th ed., by Barbara London, Jim Stone, and John Upton (published by Pearson). A major emphasis for the course is to improve visual awareness.

The Internet provides exciting opportunities to share rich visual experiences by viewing and studying the work of others, including professional photographers. Completion of activities requires you to interact frequently with other participants, to work with the assigned textbook and relevant Web sites, and to apply the insights you gain to your own photography.


On successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Use an SLR camera with manual focus and settings, demonstrating command of shutter speeds, apertures, exposure, depth of field, and focusing lenses as evidenced by the photographic exercises you submit.

  1. Describe camera formats and discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Use image-editing tools and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the digital darkroom.

  1. Apply basic rules of composition and light—including framing and cropping, choosing a subject for content, point of view, light direction, degree of diffusion, metering, and artificial lighting devices—to take quality images and to achieve a variety of effects.

  1. Communicate visually.

  1. Evaluate and critique images produced in relation to identified criteria (both your own images and techniques and those of others).

  1. Discuss historical photographs, contemporary examples of the use of digital images, contemporary art theory, trends, and photographers.

  1. Exercise aesthetic sensitivity and understanding sufficient to produce creative works showcasing competent two-dimensional image design and thoughtful content and composition.

  1. Produce and assemble a cohesive body of work (twenty images) that will serve as a portfolio expressing a personal or critical point of view.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

  • Photography, 11th ed., by Barbara London, Jim Stone, and John Upton (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2013).
    ISBN-13: 978-0205933808


You will need either a digital SLR camera or a 35mm film SLR camera that allows manual control of shutter speed, aperture, and focusing distance. A normal lens (e.g., 50mm or 18–55mm) is sufficient.

General note: Whether you use a digital camera or 35mm film camera, your camera needs to be "adjustable," that is, it must have, at minimum, the option of manually selecting the shutter speed, aperture, and focusing distances. Automatic cameras are acceptable as long as you can override the aforementioned automatic features and control them manually. Generally, this will entail having a single-lens reflex (SLR or D-SLR) camera with manual controls and interchangeable lenses. Fully automatic or point-and-shoot cameras without manual capabilities are not acceptable for this course.

Digital camera users: Ancillary supplies include a memory card, batteries (or rechargeable batteries and charger), and flash (if not already built in to your camera).

Film users: Expect to use about 10 rolls of 24-exposure 35mm color negative film. In addition to the cost of film, you will need access to a film processing service providing digitization of processed 35mm film.


Introduction to Photography is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules and a final project. Five modules center on a photographic exercise and its associated online participation (self-critique and subsequent class discussion). Modules include objectives, getting started study materials (including reading from the required textbook and a creative exercise) and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to complete five (5) Photographic Exercises, participate in five (5) associated Photographic Exercise Forums (self-critique and subsequent class discussion) and six (6) Creative Exercises, take part in an online discussion forum, and complete a Final Project. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Exercises and Online Discussion

Introduction to Photography requires you to complete five (5) Photographic Exercises and to participate in five (5) associated Photographic Exercise Forums (in modules 1–3 and 5–6). In addition, you are to complete and participate in six (6) creative exercises and one (1) class discussion in module 4. The Photographic Exercises involve taking, processing, selecting, editing, and displaying photos in an online photo album (hosted by an online album service of your choice and made available to all class participants for review). In the associated Photographic Exercise Forums you present a self-critique of your photos and participate in online discussions of each other's work. You will be graded separately on the quality of your photos and on your participation in the Photographic Exercise Forums. The six creative exercises entail posting responses to activities in class discussion forums.

The Internet has a plethora of online album services, some of which also offer fine film processing services. Basic membership is often free. Possible options include:

Online Participation

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Since we believe significant discovery occurs through studying and sharing commentary pertaining to visual materials, this course has been designed for maximum communication and collaboration among students, mentor, and contributing consultants for the course.

Our class discussions include three types of forums: (1) a "Class Lounge," where you can post comments, ask questions, and share information about course-related topics and issues at any time; (2) Photographic Exercise Forums, where you post self-critiques of your photographic exercises and contribute constructive comments on the work of your classmates; and (3) Creative Exercise Forums and an online discussion forum, where you post and reply to discussion topics in response to a specific activity or question.

Meaningful participation in discussions is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

For posting guidelines and additional help with discussion board activities, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information page of the course Web site.

Final Project

For the final project, you will create a portfolio of twenty images that demonstrate an understanding of the techniques explored throughout the course and that express a personal or critical point of view. Accompanying the images will be a narrative (artist's statement) that:

A photography portfolio is a cohesive body of work that tells a visual story. The final project is your opportunity to apply the techniques and ideas covered in the course to the production of a portfolio of images whose subject is of your own choosing. You may elect to revisit and expand on one of the topics or approaches covered in earlier activities, or you may head off in another direction entirely. The choice is yours. Your images, however, must relate to one another. In other words, your portfolio should not be a collection of your “greatest hits” but rather a formally and conceptually unified body of work.

Suggestions for Choosing Your Theme

Your portfolio, like a well-written book, should have a unifying theme. This theme can be conceptual or it can be technical. For example, your theme could be about courage, love, urban life, rural life, or garbage. Alternatively, you can create a theme based on photographic technicalities. For example, you could create a portfolio showcasing all of your best wide-angle work or one that displays your best black-and-white work. The themes for creating a portfolio are only limited by your own imagination. So take your time and create a themed portfolio that means something to you.

Suggestions for Choosing the Photos

Choosing the right images to put in your portfolio will be a time-consuming process. By the nature of the portfolio itself, only your best pieces should be placed within the portfolio. If you don't have too many top picks, spend some more time photographing until you get the desired results. Your portfolio is something you should be proud of, not something thrown together out of impatience and haste. Make sure that the images are in a logical order—either chronological or through mood development.

Evaluation Rubric for Final Project

Your final project will be evaluated according to the following criteria (weights in parentheses are approximate):

For additional information on the final project, go to the Final Project section of the course Web site. (See also the Course Calendar.)


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

  1. Read carefully the entire Syllabus, making sure that all aspects of the course are clear to you and that you have all the materials required for the course.

  1. Take the time to read the entire Online Student Handbook. The Handbook answers many questions about how to proceed through the course, how to schedule exams, and how to get the most from your educational experience at Thomas Edison State University.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the learning management systems environment—how to navigate it and what the various course areas contain. If you know what to expect as you navigate the course, you can better pace yourself and complete the work on time.

  1. If you are not familiar with Web-based learning be sure to review the processes for posting responses online and submitting activities before class begins.

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:

  1. To stay on track throughout the course, begin each week by consulting the Course Calendar. The calendar provides an overview of the course and indicates due dates for submitting activities, posting discussions, and scheduling and taking examinations.

  1. Since film processing times vary and may delay timely completion of your activities, consider looking ahead to the next activity's photographic exercise and getting a head start on it. Begin your first photographic exercise (Week 1) immediately.

  1. Check Announcements regularly for new course information.


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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