Travel Writing & Photography


This intensive, seven days unit is open to anyone wishing to deepen their knowledge of travel writing and photography in an academically rigorous and journalistically stimulating environment. Travel Writing & Photography is a highly practical course that will teach you the skills needed to capitalize on the market for professional travel journalism. You will receive training in how to successfully research and write a travel feature, as well as produce photo essays of high quality. The unit also teaches you how to market your stories and pictures to editors.

The geographic focus of this unit is Sarawak, Malaysia. Students will live, study, write and photograph in this beautiful state in Borneo. The unit includes numerous field trips and immersive experiences during which students will practice their skills and be assessed on their work.

Students also have the added benefit of learning directly from professional photographers during this unit, both in the classroom and in the field, by virtue of Curtin’s proud partnership with Nikon School Malaysia on the content and delivery of the Travel Writing & Photography unit. This partnership brings Nikon’s photojournalism experts to Curtin, along with a technical support team, demonstration lenses and other photographic equipment to enhance student’s learning experience.

Students who enrol for Travel Writing & Photography are also eligible for great discounts on Nikon photographic equipment including camera bodies, lense kits and tripods.

Please email or ​to enquire about these offers, to receive a price-list or to make a purchase.

Course Information:

Start Dates Duration Cost Application
Course (Calendar) 7 days MYR 3400* (excludes 6% GST)(Check Rate) Apply Now

Travel Writing & Photography introduces and equips students with pertinent skills and techniques to craft publishable travel feature articles. Important topics addressed in this unit include finding a compelling story, researching for a story, interviewing skills, writing techniques, and pitching story ideas. The complimentary vital component is taking powerful images to accompany the travel feature piece. Students will learn the technicalities of taking a compelling image and ways to compose and frame photographs that are meaningful to the article.

Apart from learning the skills and techniques of writing and capturing still images, the unit examines the debates and discourses of travel writing as a genre. We will introduce ethical practices in travel writing, as well as in editing and taking photographs. Students will learn the importance of being aware of their own perspectives, being sensitive towards local cultures and practices, and ways of handling controversial topics.

As the world embraces the online medium, this unit explores ways of optimizing the use of the digital platforms to conduct quality research and to build a personal brand through digital publication. In this manner, the unit prepares to students to not only write and photograph, but also to build a business around their journalistic skills. As such, we’ll cover marketing tactics, digital publication, what editors are looking for, and international market and legal considerations.


Topic Summary:

  1. Finding the story
    2. Researching for the story
    3. Interviewing and appropriate sources
    4. Writing the story – styles, the angle, lead, body and end
    5. Pitching your story and photo ideas
    6. Taking control of your camera (Aperture, shutter speed, ISO and lighting)
    7. Framing, composition and editing the images
    8. Letting the images tell the story
    9. Ethics in travel writing and taking photographs
    10. The power of language: Being aware of objectivity and bias in writing

Teaching and Assessment:

This unit runs over 7 days and learning activities consist of both seminars and field trips. During seminars key concepts and principles will be imparted through interactive teaching and learning activities while, during field trips, these will be clarified through group discussions and practical exercises.



Travel article and accompanying photographs


Instructor Information:

Travel Writing – Dr. Hah Foong Lian (Unit Coordinator, Curtin University, Malaysia)

The Team
1. K. Azril Ismail was a lecturer from the Department of Photography & Creative Imaging, Faculty of Art & Design, UiTM, Shah Alam, Malaysia. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy for his visual studies of the Pudu Jail’s Graffiti from the University of Plymouth, & graduated with MA in Art & Design (Fine Art & Technology) and a BFA in Media Studies from Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio. He had published widely in art & photography magazines and journals for his extensive artworks in regards to the prison studies which had him worked closely with the Malaysian Prison Department.

His previous large scale installation works turned publication; the “Iron Dragons of Malaya” (Project IDoM), which describes the missing heritage of the Malaysian railway life, was a prominently shown in KLPac in 2009 & various other group exhibitions that took him across international level from Singapore to Tokyo & Istanbul.

He is currently pursuing in the early arts of early 19th Century Photographic Processes, particularly on the daguerreotype and the wet plate Collodion process. Utilising these past techniques, as his method in a contemporary material studies, it became as a new chapter in his visual journey.

2. Eiffel Chong  graduated with an MA in International Contemporary Art and Design Practice from the University of East London and a BA (Hons) in Photography from London College of Printing. He is an award-winning photographer and has been featured in many exhibitions in Malaysia and around the world.

He recently won the 2nd Prize in Category D for the Nikon Photo Contest 2014-2015, Japan. He is also one of the finalists for the Asia-Pacific Photobook Award 2015, Australia and Sovereign Asian Art Prize 2014, Hong Kong and he has been nominated twice for the Prix Pictet. The exhibitions that he is involved are ‘After Image: Contemporary Photography From Southeast Asia’, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; ‘Others & Me: Contemporary Photography Exhibition’, Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE; and ‘Malaysian Eye’, Whitebox Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Besides his production of photographic work, Chong is highly engaged with the Malaysian photographic community; taking on the role of mentor for the Goethe Institut Malaysia/Nikon Shooting Stars programme and Exposure+ Workshop. In addition, he has been appointed to the panel of judges for the Kuala Lumpur Photography Awards 2013 and 2016.

4. Azrul K. Abdullah  manages a studio based in Kuala Lumpur specializing in architecture and portraiture. His formative years in photography began as the photo editor at his high school and later college magazine.

He later turned to journalism with a Kuala Lumpur based newspaper as a sub-editor and feature writer/photographer. He later spent time in the world of advertising before returning to photography full-time. He has served as a contract speaker for Apple Malaysia and numerous imaging companies including Nikon, Hasselblad, Leica and Sony.

He has guest lectured at HELP University College, INTI International University, University Malaya, Raffles Design, Malaysian Institute of Art, University Teknologi MARA and Galeri Petronas.

He has also served as a facilitator at Nikon Centre Kuala Lumpur and has been called upon as a judge for numerous photography competitions for various organisations.

He holds a degree from the University of Western Australia and also served as a researcher for the UWA Graduate School of Management in Perth.

Editorial Credits (non-exhaustive):

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia), Haven, Off TheEdge, Cubes, Vox, Cleo, NewMan, TECH, Upstreet Mode (FRANCE), Architecture Malaysia, Asia Pacific IT, Concepts by Hochtief (Germany), InDesign (Australia), Expatriate Lifestyle (Malaysia),

Photo Credits (books):

‘Concrete, Metal, Glass: Hijjas Kasturi Associates (Selected Works 1977-2007) by Dr. Paul McGillick. (Archipelago Press: Publishers)

‘Kuala Lumpur: Corporate Capital, Cultural Cornupcopia’ by Dr. Chandran Jeshurun (Arus Intelek: Publishers)

GDP log (GDP Architects: Publisher)

5. Alex Moh was an independent photographer, curator, critic, researcher and project coordinator for numerous photography projects at national and international arena since 1997. Among the institutions he has worked with are; the Asia-Europe Foundation, the Goethe Institute, International Research Network (IPRN), Singapore International Photography Festival, Chobi Mela – Photography Festival of Asia, Berlin Photo Festival, the Delphic Games, The Month of Photography, Tokyo and many other festival venues and exhibitions ranging from the National Art Gallery Malaysia to private galleries, commercial exhibition centers, in Malaysia and abroad. He has curated and held 54 groups and 2 solo exhibitions since 1997.

He co-wrote History & Beyond, Malaysian Photography from 1900 to the Present Day (2004) and The Loke Legacy: The Private Collection of Loke Wan Tho (2005) both published by National Art Gallery Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

He now teaches photography and manages the Nikon Centre KL, the Nikon School and the Nikon Club Malaysia.

He serves in the committee of several local photography societies and is also a member of the Royal Photography Society of Great Britain.



A love of writing and photography, and a commitment to share your stories with others. You will need a camera to complete the assignments. Computer labs are available throughout the campus, but you may benefit from bringing your own laptop. While the unit material is certainly geared towards DSLR cameras, students may use film, mobile or point-and-shoot cameras.


English Requirements:

Applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English.

Credits & Progression Pathways:

Travel Writing & Photograph is a course offered internationally by Curtin Consultancy Services in partnership with Curtin University, Malaysia.
Participants completing the course will receive a certificate of completion from Curtin Consultancy Services (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Field Trip 1 – Kuala Baram Wetlands (1-2hrs), Emart and Miri City Tour (3-4hrs)

Kuala Baram Wetlands covers 600ha of marshland near the former ferry point and the river mouth of the 400km long Baram River, the second longest in Sarawak which creates a beautiful sanctuary for migrating birds from China, Taiwan and from as far away as Siberia. To the west is the Lutong-Baram beach and to the east, the marshland and lagoon, which, over the past three years, had gone through some dry and rainy season, water logged conditions many trees get drowned and give some parts a very eerie feel. Small islands of the plant life pop up in the marshland giving birds, ducks and other wildlife a place to make their nests and food resources.

Although 111 avian species have so far been found such as Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), Blue-throated Bee-Eatrer (Merops viriddis), Buff-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tukki), Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis), Olive-back Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis), Pied fantail (Rhipidura javanica) , Yellow-bellied Prinia (Prinia flaviventris), Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris), Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis), Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata), Changeable Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus), Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia), Green Pigeons (Treron spp.), Black-headed Munia (Lonchura atricapilla), Dusky Munia (Lonchura fuscans), Wandering Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arcuata), Oriental Darters (Anhinga melanogaster), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Great Egret (Ardea alba), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Malaysian Plover (Charadrius peronii), Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii), Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus), Brahminy kite (Haliastur indus), White-bellied sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and the Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea).

Tour include a visit to Malaysia 1st Oil Well – The Grand Old Lady located at Canada Hill. Petroleum Museum Miri (closed on Monday or Public Holiday) – with various exhibits displayed that shows us the history of the petroleum industry in Sarawak. Handicraft Heritage Centre – all sort of unique and handmade art craft, handicrafts, T-shirts, bead work and many more. Tua Pek Kong Temple – delicate to the deity most beloved by overseas Chinese. According to local legend, work started in the temple in 1913, in order to give thanks to the deity for helping to end a mysterious epidemic. Emart – the native market, where all the stalls sell various tropical fruit and vegetable. Taoist temple – San Ching Tian temple was one of the largest Taoist temple in Southeast Asia, the superb red roof, elegant lotus design motif and the delightful and wind chimes make this a very impressive and atmospheric place.

Field Trip 2 – Niah National Park and Tusan Beach (6-8hrs) with Lunch

Transfer to Niah National Park for 1 ½ hrs drive to the Park. Upon arrival, take a boat to cross the Niah River and visit Niah Museum (closed on Monday). After museum visit, proceed on 3 KM plank walk for about 45 minutes to the Traders Cave, The Great Cave – Niah Cave is famous for its edible birds nest found high-up in the cave about 300 ft from the ground. You will have a chance to see the birds nest collector harvest the nest if in season, and last to the Painted Cave. At the Painted Cave you are about to see the prehistoric wall drawing as well as the preserved remains of the STONE AGE PEOPLE 40,000 year old. Return journey on the same plank walk to Niah National Park HQ. Lunch will be served at Niah Town, transfer to Tusan Beach for its fascinating sunset or white sandy beach walk before return to Miri.

Field trip 3 – Entulang Iban Longhouse (2-3hrs) & Lambir Night Walk (3-4hrs) – with Dinner

Tour start with an hour drive to Entulang Longhouse. An Iban Longhouse with about 30 families. Upon arrival at the Longhouse, the chief of the longhouse will invite you to visit and tour around the longhouse and see their communal living quarter, which longhouse are actually a number of rooms linked together but sharing a common ‘ruai’ – a verandah were traditional ceremonies are pre-formed in the olden days. You might have a chance to try the famous rice wine ‘tuak’ brewed locally.

Tour start with a 45 minutes’ leisure drive to Lambir Hills National Park. Upon arrival, safety briefing with park guide before proceeding to explore the rainforest by night. Here you might have a chances to spot some of nocturnal wildlife’s such as wild boar, Bornean tarantula, frogs, insects, and many more (no guarantee on seeing wildlife). Macro camera, proper trekking attire, torchlight, poncho, insect repellent, and hat/cap is required for the tour.



RM 3400 is the total cost of this unit. This price excludes 6% GST. This price includes all accommodation for the duration of the course, including accommodation while on field trips and in National Parks. Boat and land transfers during the duration of the course are included. Airfares to Miri before the commencement of the course and your flights home at the end of the course are not included. We recommend that you consider booking your flights with our travel partner Brighton Travel and Tours. Daily breakfast is included as are meals on Field Trips. Remaining lunches and dinners are intentionally left open for participants to savour local delicacies at their leisure and own expense. All unit materials and handbooks are included.


Mode of Payment:

Payment by cheque or bank draft should be made payable to Curtin Consultancy Services (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.  Payment can also be made via telegraphic transfer to our banker as detailed below:

112, Jalan Bendahara, 98000 Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia
Current Account No.: 5110 1056 3557
Swift Code: MBBEMYKL

Important: You must fax your TT slip to us at Fax: +60 85 443900 or send it via e-mail to after the TT transaction is completed. Any shortfall from any translation of foreign currencies to Ringgit Malaysia and bank charges shall be borne by the participant.


Accommodation, Transport & Catering:

All transfers, accommodation and catering are by Curtin University or it’s partners. Accommodation while in Miri is in a local hotel and the price is based on single occupancy per room per night.  Rooms have internet facilities and students will have full usage of gym and swimming pool facilities. Students will receive coffee, tea and water in rooms daily, along with a daily local newspaper. There is 24 hour room service, safe deposit boxes, laundry and dry cleaning services, currency exchange, postal and concierge services.

Vegetarian, vegan and/or halal meal options are available. Alcoholic beverages are not included in catered meals. Transfer is by air-conditioned coach. Travel guides, fluent in English and local languages, will accompany students on all field trips, and will be able to assist with interviewing and research.


Visa & Insurance Requirements:

Every person entering Malaysia must possess a valid Passport or internationally recognized Travel Document valid. The document shall be valid, for more than six (6) months from the date of entry into Malaysia.

Students are advised to check the respective visa requirements for their nationalities at the Malaysia Department of Immigration . Curtin University, Malaysia does not offer immigration services for Flexible Study Units.

While every effort is made to ensure that your flexible study experience is a safe and happy one, unexpected events can occur. Although travel insurance is probably the last thing on your mind with the excitement of your upcoming adventure, it can provide you with peace of mind that you and your belongings are covered in the event of an emergency and therefore must be one of the key components of your time in Borneo. As a result we have made travel insurance a prerequisite of your flexible study with us. This means that ALL of students must have adequate travel insurance for all elements of their tour before they travel.


Getting to Miri:

There are a choice of airlines and frequent flights departing from Miri’s International Airport. Malaysia Airlines, MASwings and Air Asia connect Miri with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Johor Bahru, and Labuan. From both Kuala Lumpur and Singapore connections to most international destinations are possible. We recommend that you consider booking your flights with our travel partner Brighton Travel and Tours.


MOODLE is an online Learning System provided for students & lecturers in Curtin University, Malaysia. This is a place where Students & Lecturers can interact with each others, interchange suggestions and ideas, and also getting learning materials from Lecturers. Please follow the Moodle link in the top right hand corner of this page to login.


Library Resources

The Library is situated on Curtin Malaysia campus at Chancellery Building. Please follow the links below for further information:

General Library Information

Accessing the Library’s Free Databases 

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