In 2007 Source started a website called Graduate Photography Online. The site brought together work from different degree courses and, as it was added to each year, created an archive of students' work. As the number of students increased we asked curators, editors and other industry figures to make selections from the work with these recommendations acting as an introduction to each year's graduates. For example, looking through the MA work this year are Thomas Dukes the curator at Open Eye Gallery, Anna Sparham, curator at the Museum of London and Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur.
The site grew and now, a decade on, it includes 4,879 graduate projects. It provides a fascinating overview of recent photography in the UK and Ireland. It shows the distinctive character of different courses. It is possible to pick out the early work of well know photographers and spot trends in subject matter and style.
We have published some work that has appeared on Graduate Photography Online but we thought that, ten years on, we should look back and see what stood out with the benefit of hindsight. Looking through everything on the site, we drew up a long list of 150 students' work and then shorted-listed ten photographers, one from each year, whose graduate project we haven't featured previously. That shortlist is the work we are publishing in this issue. In an accompanying essay Jesse Alexander examines what students have and haven't been photographing and how representative these stand-out projects are.
Lastly, we wanted to address the perennial question of what studying photography is for. Lucy Soutter, who has recently become the course leader of the Photography Arts MA at the University of Westminster, has asked why someone might (or might not) do an MA, how they could benefit from such a course and what approach they should take to get the most out of it. Jonathan Watts has thought about the continuing relevance of photography theory. Is it an outdated vestige of the 1980s or a still vital part of photography education?