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Why study this course?

Our Documentary Film Production MA is an innovative practical course taught in the heart of London’s creative hub. With a strong industry focus, this course offers an inspiring gateway into contemporary documentary filmmaking.

Supported by award winning tutors, you'll develop a portfolio of innovative films, learning how to devise, shoot and edit documentary through a series of hands-on practical workshops. You’ll create cinematic content using RED, Canon and Blackmagic cameras and capture interactive VR content using 360 cameras. Refine your skills as a researcher and gain insights into how to conduct an engaging interview and prepare material for post-production. Then bring it all together to create cutting edge films that tell dynamic stories for new audiences. 

You can choose to attend a one year intensive full-time course or on a part-time basis over two years.

You’ll benefit from our excellent teaching facilities and resources, including our new film studio and our dedicated post-production suites. You’ll have access to world-class BBC and BFI film archives as part of our membership of Archives for Education, plus the opportunity to undertake BAFTA Albert sustainability training, leading to Albert graduate status.

Course leader Robb Horsley is a filmmaker with award-winning documentary credits, both in the UK and internationally. He is joined by senior 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 who has worked as a director and producer for projects commissioned by Channel 4, BBC and Discovery Channel.

Under their guidance you'll expand your knowledge and gain valuable insight into practical and theoretical concepts of documentary filmmaking. This will help you to develop your ideas into viable projects that appeal to both the audience and commissioners.

You’ll learn about the commissioning process and how the industry works, giving you the skills and knowledge to forge an exciting career in film and TV. You’ll go on exciting field trips, which have included visits to Royal Television Society masterclasses, Pinewood studios and the ARRI VR stage. Gain insider knowledge and insight from guest speakers who have included BAFTA award winning director of Surviving 9/11 – Arthur Cary, BBC commissioning editor Hamish Fergusson, and CEO of Milk and Honey productions Lucy Pilkington.

In 2019 two films made by London Met students were nominated for Royal Television Society awards, with Waiting for Tomorrow going on to win the factual category. In 2022 our students went on to win again for best editing at the RTS student television awards. And in 2023, our students are again nominated for an RTS award in the factual category.

London is the world’s third busiest city for film production. Studying at London Met means you'll be immersed in the London film and TV industry, with access to festivals, screenings and industry events. There are nearly three-million creative jobs accounted for in the UK and more than a third of these are based in London. There's a huge amount of both large-scale and small-scale film and TV production in the city, plus lots of related professional work that surrounds and supports it.

We welcome applicants from a wide-range of backgrounds including graduates from film and media, journalism and other creative courses. We also encourage applications from graduates who come from different academic backgrounds and have a strong interest in developing their skills as a documentary filmmaker.

Learn about every aspect of documentary production

Supported by award winning tutors, you'll develop a portfolio of innovative films, learning how to devise, shoot and edit documentary through a series of hands-on practical workshops

Study in a way that suits you

You can choose to attend a one year intensive full-time course or on a part-time basis over two years

Benefit from our links to the industry

You’ll have access to world-class BBC and BFI film archives as part of our membership of Archives for Education, plus the opportunity to undertake BAFTA Albert sustainability training, leading to Albert graduate status

Course modules

The modules listed below are for the academic year 2024/25 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

Film Production: Techniques for Non-Fiction

This module currently runs:
autumn semester - Tuesday afternoon

(core, 20 credits)

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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Interactive Documentary

This module currently runs:
spring semester - Tuesday afternoon

(core, 20 credits)

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.

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Major Projects

This module currently runs:
summer studies - Tuesday morning

(core, 60 credits)

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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Representations of Reality

This module currently runs:
autumn semester - Wednesday afternoon

(core, 20 credits)

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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The Factual Storytelling Business

This module currently runs:
autumn semester - Wednesday morning

(core, 20 credits)

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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Digital Journalism

This module currently runs:
spring semester - Monday morning

(option, 20 credits)

Students will learn to place their skills in, and understanding of, journalism in relation to today’s 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 different media platforms, (including social networks, such as Twitter TikTok, Facebook Live, Snapchat). Students will be asked to build multimedia packages, blogs, websites and develop ways of working that engage the audience in 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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Interaction Design

This module currently runs:
spring semester - Friday morning

(option, 20 credits)

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 - Tuesday afternoon

(option, 20 credits)

This module introduces students to dramatic storytelling and the craft of writing scripts for the media of film and television. In line with film and television industry practice, students learn how to develop their ideas via outlines, treatments and story beats. This process of development is essential work before a writer can create a good script or screenplay.

Through a series of seminars and workshops, the module aims to introduce students to the major principles and techniques of screenwriting:
• You will develop new skills to enhance your writing and storytelling ability in the media of film and television.
• You will learn what a dramatic story is and how that applies to screenwriting.
• You will develop a critical awareness and understanding of existing screenplays, films and television drama.
• You will learn how to produce a range of development documents and a screenplay, all of which are required to work professionally.
• You will learn how to pitch your work professionally.

Learning will be a mix of analysing existing film and television dramas along with the development of students’ own project for the assessment. This project could be an idea for a feature film or a television series. It must be an original work, developed into a treatment together with a screenplay and accompanied by a reflective essay.

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Work Related Learning

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

(option, 20 credits)

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, or an activity within the University or its entrepreneurship facility, Accelerator.

It is expected that students 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.

It is the student's responsibility to apply for opportunities and to engage with the University to assist them in finding a suitable placement.
The suitability of any opportunities will be assessed by the Module Team and all roles must meet the Health and Safety requirements for Higher Education Work Placements.
Those studying on a Student Visa will be required to submit weekly timesheets for the hours undertaken for the work based learning activity to meet requirements. These will need to be signed by their line manager/supervisor.

The module aims to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • Gain a useful experience of the working environment and the career opportunities available on graduation.
  • Undertake a work related project appropriate to their academic level.
  • Enhance and extend their learning experience by applying and building on their academic skills and abilities by tackling real life problems in the workplace.
  • Enhance professional and personal development.
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Course details

You will be required to have:

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

Alternatively your application will be considered if you have equivalent relevant professional experience and a strong interest in wanting to develop your skills as a documentary filmmaker. 

Accreditation of Prior Learning

Any university-level qualifications or relevant experience you gain prior to starting university could count towards your course at London Met. Find out more about applying for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL).

English language requirements

To study a degree at London Met, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. If you require a Student visa (previously Tier 4) you may need to provide the results of a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. This course requires you to meet our standard 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.

This master's degree has a strong practical focus, giving you the opportunity to develop up to four films across core and major project modules. Some of our core modules include the option for you to choose from a range of different assessment components. Practice-oriented students can choose a practice-based assessment component, while research-oriented students can choose a research-focused type of assessment.

The Major Projects module focuses on the production of a major film project. This project is then showcased at our end-of-year screening.

This Documentary Film Production MA will prepare you for work in a wide range of professions within the film and creative industries. Some of the senior roles our graduates have taken up include:

  • Director
  • Producer
  • Cinematographer

Successfully completing this course is also an excellent gateway into a wide range of production roles, such as:

  • Researcher
  • Assistant Producer (AP)
  • Shooting AP
  • Editor
  • Digital Content Creator

We currently have three locations in Holloway, Aldgate and Shoreditch. As we evolve as a University, we'll be reviewing the use of these spaces to ensure all our students have access to the facilities and study areas they need to succeed. This means the campus where this course is taught may change over time.

The experience of our students will always be our top priority and we'll notify applicants and students of any changes to their teaching location at the earliest opportunity.

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.

If you require a Student 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.

To find out when teaching for this degree will begin, as well as welcome week and any induction activities, view our academic term dates.

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