Documentary Film Production - MA

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Why study this course?

Our Documentary Film Production MA is an innovative course led by industry experts. It is designed to embrace traditional, new and emerging forms of storytelling. You will witness how the way we make and watch non-fiction film, television and online content is changing, and will continue to do so.

Documentary filmmaking is currently a very fluid medium. In light of this your specially tailored modules will cover a host of areas, allowing you to learn how to develop crowd-based productions, interactive and virtual reality content, as well as how to shoot cinematic content using the latest cinema cameras. With access to excellent equipment and resources, there is a strong practical focus to the course with a large number of hands-on workshops. These will ensure that you gain confidence in all technical aspects of the production process.

More about this course

Our tutors and guest speakers for this master's degree in Documentary Film Production have extensive industry experience. They have had work commissioned and shown on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and have won major industry awards. Course leader Robb Horsley is a filmmaker with award-winning documentary credits, both in the UK and internationally. He is joined by lecturer Suzanne Cohen, a highly experienced documentary specialist who was named Educator of the Year at the 2018 Into Film awards, and lecturer Louis Heaton, a former director and producer of factual content at Channel 4.

Under their guidance you will expand your knowledge and insight into how factual content is made and commissioned, in turn helping you to develop your own ideas into viable projects that appeal to audiences and commissioners. In 2019 two films made by London Met students were nominated for Royal Television Society awards, with one, Waiting for Tomorrow, going on to win the factual category.

Taught in the heart of London, the world’s third busiest city for film production, you will be immersed in the London film and TV industry through access to world-class archives, festivals, screenings and industry events. The master’s degree will also prepare you to work in film or in creative fields more generally. Both industries form a large and growing part of both London’s and the UK economy. There are nearly three million creative jobs accounted for in the UK and more than a third of these are based in London. There is a huge amount of both large-scale and small-scale film and audio-visual production in the city and a great deal of related professional work that surrounds and supports it. 

You’ll find that this course comes in response to the exciting evolution of documentary and factual storytelling, a genre embracing new and emerging technologies and distribution platforms. Once considered a less popular area, this genre is currently experiencing a remarkable growth trend. Now, with game changers such as Blue Planet II, “the biggest show with young UK viewers ages 16 to 24”, documentary film has become a key commercial component in the industry. Coupled with viewing on demand from sites such as Netflix, the genre is only becoming more commercially viable. This prompts more content to be commissioned, something that would directly benefit you as you go into a career in documentary film production.

Assessment

You will be assessed in a variety of ways across your core and optional modules. This includes creative practice-based projects (both individual and group-based), critical and contextual research essays and written reflections on project-based work.

The Major Projects module focuses on the production of a major practice-based project, and is combined with a reflective commentary or an academic dissertation.

Fees and key information

Course type
Postgraduate
Entry requirements View

This course is subject to validation.

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Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • a lower second-class (2.2) honours degree or higher, or an international equivalent

Your application may also be considered if you have a relevant professional qualification or experience.

You may also be required to submit a portfolio and to attend an interview.

To study a degree at London Met, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. If you require a Tier 4 student visa you may need to provide the results of a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

If you need (or wish) to improve your English before starting your degree, the University offers a Pre-sessional Academic English course to help you build your confidence and reach the level of English you require.

Modular structure

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2020/21 and represent the course modules at this time. Modules and module details (including, but not limited to, location and time) are subject to change over time.

Year 1 modules include:

  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Tuesday afternoon

    This module provides students with key film production skills required to shoot documentary and non-fiction film projects to a professional standard.

    Students learn the fundamentals of cinematography, including camera operating, the use of grip and stabilising equipment and lighting for film and TV, both in the studio and on location (in available light or mixed lighting conditions). They learn location sound recording techniques using a variety of different microphones (including shotgun and radio mics) and a range of post-production techniques focussed on non-fiction projects.

    The key aims of this module are to prepare students for major projects and a real-world production environment, giving them the confidence and skills to work flexibly as a crew member in a larger crew, in smaller crews or as a self-shooter, with the ability to adapt to the unique technical challenges of each project.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • summer studies - Tuesday morning

    This module gives postgraduate students the opportunity to devise, plan and produce a major film or interactive digital project in the documentary / factual genre that brings together their knowledge and skills to serve as a cornerstone of their postgraduate portfolio. Alternatively, students can elect to devise, plan and complete a postgraduate-level academic dissertation.

    The major project undertaken on this module will be of a professional standard. It will also leave room for experimentation, enhancing skills, offering the chance for a student to define and make their mark.

    Students originate their project proposal, research, production schedule and brief, developing film or digital work (or an academic dissertation) from initial concept through to completion in a format and to a length / duration agreed by an individually appointed specialist supervisor.

    The major project will be a labour of love, yet the student will also be aware of the market for their work and other cultural contexts.

    Film and screen-based interactive projects can engage with a variety of formats and genres including (but not limited to): Documentary intended for Television, Cinema or Online / Digital output, Interactive and VR content, Experimental Film.

    Students are encouraged to engage with new and emerging practice, to work at the cutting edge, preparing for entry into the industry as it is today.

    The module aims:
    1. Give students the opportunity to work independently to originate, plan and produce significant films or interactive digital works to a professional standard, or to plan, research and write a masters-level academic dissertation.
    2. To provide students with the opportunity and capacity to bring together their intellectual ideas and practical skills, learning from experimentation and through practise-based understanding.
    3. To support and encourage students to make work that is challenging and innovative, preparing them for the industry as it is now and in the future.
    4. Make critically informed work that shows knowledge of audience and industry expectations.
    5. To encourage and enable students to think reflexively, critically appraising their own work.

    An exhibition of creative work produced on the course takes place each year.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday morning

    This module unpacks the history, aesthetic and cultural impact of documentary and non-fiction filmmaking. Beginning with early experiments and the avant-garde, we investigate how film, television and new media production has captured and distorted reality.

    Exploring the myriad of documentary forms from the traditional to the unorthodox, this course explores the broad range of creative opportunities offered by this exciting, fluid and occasionally controversial genre.

    London Metropolitan University is part of the BFI / BBC initiative Archives for Education. This module incorporates and engages with the BBC and BFI archives throughout the module. Students have the opportunity to work directly with the archives as part of their final coursework.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • autumn semester - Wednesday afternoon

    This module investigates and decodes the non-fiction storytelling industry, preparing you for the challenges and expectations you will face as a creative practitioner in an exciting and competitive new media landscape.

    You will learn how to plan and prepare a creative idea in order to attract backing and development funding from industry gatekeepers. We focus on how ideas are pitched to commissioners and design pitch packs and trailers in standard industry formats.

    Embracing new and emerging forms and practice, we also investigate alternatives to film and digital project finance including social media and crowdsourced campaigns. The module concludes with analysis of contemporary strategies and tools available for distribution of finished projects in a rapidly changing online world.

    This module is an essential pre-requisite to the major projects module and a future career in the factual storytelling industry.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Tuesday afternoon

    Documentary filmmaking is currently a very fluid medium. Whereas fiction formats have struggled to adapt to new distribution models, documentary and factual formats have positively embraced new technology. From the i-Docs symposium to New York Times Op-Docs and the UN’s Clouds Over Sidra, documentary content continues to evolve. Entirely new formats have emerged (including crowd-based production and interactive and VR storytelling).

    This module investigates change and innovation. With a strong emphasis on new and emerging practice it challenges students to research and experiment with concepts of presence and interactivity to imagine and create work that engages the viewer in a different way.

    This module is taught alongside New and Emerging Technologies and shares the same syllabus. Interactive Documentary students create an interactive moving image project as part of their coursework for this module. New and Emerging Technologies students produce a research report. The idea of syllabus sharing is in order to encourage an ongoing conversation and collaboration between creative practice students and research-oriented students.

    Read full details
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Tuesday afternoon

    Documentary filmmaking is currently a very fluid medium. Whereas fiction formats have struggled to adapt to new distribution models, documentary and factual formats have positively embraced new technology. From the i-Docs symposium to New York Times Op-Docs and the UN’s Clouds Over Sidra, documentary content continues to evolve. Entirely new formats have emerged (including crowd-based production and interactive and VR storytelling).

    This module investigates change and innovation. With a strong emphasis on new and emerging practice it challenges students to research and experiment with concepts of presence and interactivity to imagine and create work that engages the viewer in a different way.

    This module is taught alongside Interactive Documentary and shares the same syllabus. New and Emerging Technologies students produce a research report as part of their coursework for this module. Interactive Documentary students create an interactive moving image project. The idea of syllabus sharing is in order to encourage an ongoing conversation and collaboration between research-oriented students and creative practice students.

    Read full details
  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Friday morning

    Interaction design is an expanding field increasingly concerned with end user requirements, user experiences and their everyday practice. Digital networks and portable devices have changed the way we work, play and interact with each other. This module provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical issues that underlie interaction design for end users of digital products. Students will be introduced to the key concepts of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), user-centred design approaches and design research methods as well as practically implementing these principles and methods. From gathering use requirements to assembling high fidelity prototypes this module will enable students to develop practical as well as analytical skills necessary for digital project development on different platforms.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Thursday afternoon

    Students will learn to place their skills in, and understanding of, journalism in relation to today’s multimedia digital environment. They will develop their writing, production and design skills to a professional level, learning how to adopt creative approaches to creating journalistic stories across platforms, including social networking services such as Twitter, blogs and online journalism. Students will be asked to build multimedia applications, blogs, websites and ways of working that engage the audience in more interactive and participatory ways.

    Specifically, the module will introduce students to the writing skills and technical demands of online, audio and visual journalism. Students will be asked to develop and deliver news stories working individually and as part of a team.

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  • This module currently runs:
    • spring semester - Wednesday afternoon
    • autumn semester - Wednesday afternoon

    The module enables students to undertake an appropriate short period of professional activity, related to their course at level 7, with a business or community organisation and to gain credit for their achievements. The activity can be a volunteering activity, employment activity, an activity within the Faculty of Computing Virtual Business Environment (VBE), placement or business start-up activity. For the purpose of this module – the FOC VBE will be also be recognised as ‘an employer’.

    It is expected student should work for 200 hours which should be recorded clearly (in a learning log for instance) in the portfolio. The 200 hours can be completed in a FT mode, or spread over a semester in a PT mode.

    Students should register with the module leader to be briefed on the module, undergo induction and work related learning planning and to have the work related learning agreement approved, before they take up the opportunity. It is essential that students are made aware that both the “work related learning agreement” and relevant “health and safety checklist” where applicable need to be approved before starting the placement.

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After the course

This documentary film production course will prepare you to work in a wide range of professions within the film industry or other creative industries. Whether you chose to follow a research-oriented path or a practice-oriented path for your major project will influence the roles you may pursue after the course. These could include:

  • researcher
  • assistant producer
  • content creation role
  • crew role 

Additional costs

Please note, in addition to the tuition fee there may be additional costs for things like equipment, materials, printing, textbooks, trips or professional body fees.

Additionally, there may be other activities that are not formally part of your course and not required to complete your course, but which you may find helpful (for example, optional field trips). The costs of these are additional to your tuition fee and the fees set out above and will be notified when the activity is being arranged.

How to apply

Use the apply button to begin your application.

Non-EU applicants looking to study part-time should apply direct to the University. If you require a Tier 4 visa and wish to study a postgraduate course on a part-time basis, please read our how to apply information for international students to ensure you have all the details you need about the application process.



When to apply

You are advised to apply as early as possible as applications will only be considered if there are places available on the course.

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