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Global ambition leads to unique visual journalism course

30 October 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

Multi-media journalist Riley Arthur has already worked for National Geographic as an expedition leader and photographer.

Documentary maker Riley looks to UCLan for competitive edge

Multi-media journalist Riley Arthur has already worked for National Geographic as an expedition leader and photographer, documented human rights violations in Slovenia through a prestigious scholarship and seen her work published in a range of galleries, publications and shows. Now the American Samoan citizen’s endless ambition has led her to the MA Visual Journalism course at UCLan, the only one of its kind in the UK, in her bid to develop her global journalistic ambitions.

The 28-year-old said: “I want to continue my work in documentary photography, much of which requires long term funding, and by gaining a UK Masters qualification in this field it will give me a competitive edge and extra credibility.”

Riley initially looked to the US for her postgraduate studies but couldn’t find a course that matched her requirements. UCLan’s MA Visual Journalism is targeted at a newly emerging generation of digital storytellers and will allow Riley to develop her video, publishing, blogging and all-round journalism skills in an industry where reporters are expected to be multi-skilled.

“I want to get as much experience as possible during my time in Preston and am concentrating on improving my video and publishing work.

“I’m taking advantage of the many extra free events on offer at UCLan including additional lectures and workshops with working journalists and publishers. I’m also using a lot of my free time to travel around the country and writing for a lifestyle website called Vulture Hound” she said.

“I’m taking advantage of the many extra free events on offer at UCLan including additional lectures and workshops with working journalists and publishers."

UCLan is one of only a few UK universities to accept the US Federal Student Loan, available to American students studying at American universities, which has provided a financial boost for Riley during her year-long stay in Preston. She is also pleased that her Masters course will only take one year to complete instead of the usual two years in the US.

She commented: “I’m really eager to get going and continue in my career so being able to complete my postgraduate course in a year is an added bonus.”

Riley left American Samoa ten years ago to attend Southern Oregon University where she completed undergraduate degrees in art and theatre before taking five years away from education to gain some hands-on experience.

During this time she has worked in a variety of commercial photography genres before moving into the field of documentary, focusing mainly on human rights and conservation. After securing a Fulbright Scholarship, which promotes positive international relations, Riley spent nine months in Slovenia interviewing people who’ve experienced human rights violations and blogging for the National Geographic Explorers’ Journal.

She added: “I want to continue working as a documentary photographer and journalist around the world. My long term goal is one day work for the United Nations so I’m doing everything I can to realise this dream.”