Course Structure and Dates

The CAS has a diverse and varied curriculum. Seminars and interactive teaching methods, exercises with presentations, and written assignments are all essential components of the course. Excursions to museums, galleries, and archives complement the program and offer the opportunity to study originals and collection holdings independently in thematic depth and in dialogue with experts.   

A total of 12 ECTS can be earned in five modules in the certificate program. Classes are held predominantly in German. A proficient knowledge of English is required for the understanding of readings and, if applicable, contributions by international guests.


Certificate of Advanced Studies UZH in Theory and History of Photography 


Module Title  



Module I: Introduction in Theory and History of Photography   

4 days  


Module II: Archives and Collections: Then and Now  

4 days  


Module III: Analog/Digital: Photo Critique and the Objects of Photography  

2 days  


Module IV: Humanist Potentials and Politics of Photography   

4 days  


Module V: Artists/Agents: History and Theory 

2 days  



16 days  


Course Dates 2023/2024

*Subject to changes

Module I

Friday, 15 September 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 16 September 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Friday, 6 October 2023, 910 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 7 October 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Module II

Friday, 3 November 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 4 November 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Friday, 8 December 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 9 December 2023, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Module III

Friday, 9 February 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 10 February 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Module IV

Friday, 15 March 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 16 March 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Friday, 12 April 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 13 April 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Module V

Friday, 24 May 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturday, 25 May 2024, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Module Contents

Module I: Introduction in Theory and History of Photography     
The introduction module provides basic expertise in the theory and history of photography, offering an overview of the study of photography in terms of its central objects of investigation, questions, and methods. Participants will additionally learn skills in the visual analysis of images in order to develop analytic criteria for both historical and contemporary approaches to photographic media and techniques. 

Module II: Archives and Collections: Then and Now     
How are photographs collected and archived? And what are the conditions and narratives that shape how they are published and exhibited? What scientific, artistic, art historical, and cultural-political strategies underlie their acquisition, circulation, and communication? Not least in light of the current reassessment of European colonialism and the debates this has prompted about the provenance and restitution of cultural assets, we see a growing awareness of photographic objects as image sources in their own right. The module combines the study of original photographs in various collecting institutions in Switzerland with theoretical discussion, conducted with experts on site, about the cultural and political significance of collected objects and practices of collecting. Taking an overarching perspective, the module will also address strategies of knowledge organization and digital long-term archiving. 

Module III: Analog/Digital: Photo Critique and the Objects of Photography    
Hardly any other medium has emerged in so many forms over the past 200 years as photography. Both early photographic processes and the shift from analog to digital images have continued to expand our understanding of photographs. Today, photography has become a visual medium pervading our lives like perhaps no other. And it is not only in new areas of social communication and collecting institutions that the digital circulation of photographic images has come to play a considerable role. In other areas, too, such as the digital humanities, opportunities for qualitatively and quantitatively analyzing digital stocks of images have become a topic of intense discussion. This module focuses on the various forms in which photography has emerged, ranging from selfies on mobile phones to images appearing in print media, photographic-scientific visualizations, photo books, and exhibition prints.   

Module IV: Humanist Potentials and Politics of Photography       
The module is dedicated to current sociopolitical issues and theoretical approaches. Current postcolonial, antiracist, queer, and gender-theoretical discourses offer central approaches for interpreting contemporary and historical photographs. At the same time, it is often photographic images themselves that have produced or made visible precisely these discourses. In dialogue with photographs, we will discuss the ambivalences of the medium—in its function as a surveillance tool (facial recognition), an instrument of scientific illustration, a means of propaganda, or a manifestation of protest and activism. The module teaches skills for writing productively about photography and for analyzing image and text media with attention to forms of discourse.  

Module V: Artists/Agents: History and Theory 
The module examines case studies of historical and contemporary photographic positions from a range of different thematic frameworks. Through dialogue with international artists, gallery owners, and curators, and working from various artistic, economic, and curatorial perspectives, it singles out the field of tension that exists between photography and art. Students will reflect on historical and contemporary modes of collecting, exhibiting, and archiving in order to deepen their skills in contextualizing and visually analyzing photographic images.