- Start dateSeptember 2018
- Course length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
MA Documentary Film
Learn the entire documentary film making process on this comprehensive course, which blends theory with practical experience.
About this course
MA Documentary Film develops specialist skills in production, directing, camera-operating, sound recording and editing, as well as teaching you how to pitch and compete for funding and commissions.
You will benefit from the extensive industry experience of your tutors, who are practising documentary filmmakers, academics and award-winning directors.
Student films and profiles
See the world through the eyes of a newborn baby with MA Documentary Film grad’s Guardian Virtual Reality project
Get to grips with the entire documentary film making process on this comprehensive course, which blends theory with practical experience.
MA Documentary Film leads on exploring the full range of the documentary genre and modes of production that have brought about recent innovation.
The digital revolution means new ways of directing, producing and showing documentary films in broadcast, independent and web 2.0 media. You will learn the entire process – taking on the roles of producer, director, camera operator, sound-recordist and editor.
What can you expect?
You can expect to be grounded in documentary direction, camerawork and editing - the key artistic and technical skills for a successful production team. Each year students take their work from LCC onto the competitive British and international documentary filmmaking circuit.
You will enhance your career prospects gaining valuable skills, vision and opportunities including guidance on pitching for funding and commissions.
In return, you’ll need to be committed and passionate about your study and practice and be ready with strong ideas. You will also need to be open to constructive and supportive criticism so that you’re able to push boundaries in your thinking, writing and reflection, alongside the making of your films.
The course culminates in you making a short documentary film (15-20 minutes). From identifying characters, stories and locations to shooting and editing with a particular visual style, you will be the complete author of your work. Artistic, investigative, observational and activist film ideas are all welcome. These can be developed for the context that suits your work best – from broadcast to independent or gallery exhibition.
MA Documentary Film explores the traditions of international documentary film while offering modern documentary production facilities at LCC. Training includes shooting and directing on high-definition cameras and editing in Adobe Premiere. Practice is integrated with the theory so that filmmaking is critically and conceptually analysed within the historical and practical context of documentary film.
Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.
Autumn, Term One
- Documentary Process and Practice (20 credits) - This unit introduces documentary film making to equip you with the core skills of documentary film production.
- Documentary History and Theory (20 credits) - This unit seeks to position documentary production within a historical context.
Spring, Term Two
- Documentary Process and Practice, (continued)
- Documentary Practices: Taster Film and Pitch and Critical Context (40 credits) - This unit further develops skills in camera work, producing, directing and editing, now in a more exploratory and individually authored context.
- Collaborative Unit (20 credits)
Building upon your study in the first unit, you will have the opportunity to study the ramifications of contemporary theoretical debates, documentary history and theory in relation to a chosen approach and research methodology.
Summer, Term Three
- Documentary Practices: Taster Film and Pitch and Critical Context (continued)
- Documentary Practices: Ethics and Methodologies (20 credits)
- Major Project (60 credits)
This term allows you to develop your own specialist interest in documentary through the completion of a Major Project, involving the production and direction of an individually authored documentary film, accompanied by a research dossier, a proposal and a treatment.
Autumn, Term Four
- Major Project (continued)
If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.
Find out about the workspaces and studios that support Lens-Based and Audio-Visual practice.
The Digital Space is an open-plan, creative hub with computers set up with specialist software.
Find out about the resources on offer to Film and Television students.
Head of Production
Professor Brian Winston (Photographer and Documentary Filmmaker)
Guest speakers include leading British documentary filmmakers, Christopher Hird, Phil Agland, Kim Longinotto, Molly Dineen, Jon Ronson, Hito Steyerl, Jane and Louise Wilson and LCC Alumni returning to show work commissioned by BBC TV and others.
How to apply
We ask all applicants to complete an online application and upload additional digital items, via the Apply now link, below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements section to learn about the application process and additional items you would need to supply.
All applications will be considered by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:
- First, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
- Then they will review your personal statement especially your documentary film study proposal or ‘treatment’ and links to your documentary work (portfolio)
There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.
REQUIRED INFORMATION FOR ALL POSTGRADUATE COURSE APPLICATIONS
You will need to enter the following information in the online application:
- Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
- Current and/or previous education and qualification details
- Employment history
- Personal statement
Before submitting your application, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the application form. Once you have submitted the online application, we will send you a confirmation email.
Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).
EXTRA INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR APPLICATIONS TO THIS COURSE
You will be asked to supply:
- Study proposal
After you have submitted your application, the course leader will then review your work and may invite you to interview or interview you via Skype, and will then make a decision on your application.
The admissions team will be in touch soon after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps.
START YOUR APPLICATION NOW
Applications are accepted and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.
The online application can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you press submit.
As you progress through the application process we will send you emails with important information, so do check your inbox regularly (and junk folder, just in case).
An applicant will normally be considered for admission if they have achieved an educational level equivalent to an honours degree.
Applicants should have a proven interest in documentary films and a keen desire to make documentary films. You should know what kinds of documentary interest you and why you have an ambition to deepen your involvement in documentary film study and production.
Successful applicants have generally made their own videos and have some experience of filming, but we can also consider candidates without a production background who demonstrate exceptional film ideas and directing potential. We often have applications from mid-career photographers or producers in related fields.
Your experience is assessed as a learning process and tutors will evaluate that experience for currency, validity, quality and sufficiency. Your educational level may be demonstrated by:
- Honours degree;
- Possession of equivalent qualifications;
- Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
- Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.
Language requirements (International/EU)
All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.
- IELTS 7.0 (or equivalent) is required, with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four skills.
- If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.
For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the International Applications page.
Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:
- Evidence that you have knowledge and awareness of documentary film culture, practice, directors, films and debates
- Evidence of an understanding of what goes into making a good documentary idea and a keen desire to make your own authored documentary films
Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.
Personal statement advice
You will be asked to complete a personal statement describing why you want to study on MA Documentary Film. An awareness of and interest in current developments in documentary film is expected. Knowledge of film and media history and theory is not a requirement but we expect candidates to show an interest in studying such questions.
The personal statement is a very important part of your application and should demonstrate to the course team that you are interested in documentary film and that you have thought very carefully about why you wish to study on the course.
Ensure that your personal statement it is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes. It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future. This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.
Study Proposal/Project Proposal advice (200-400 words)
Your application should be accompanied by an original documentary film idea/treatment (essential).
Portfolio and interview advice
Applicants will be asked to submit a short example of existing documentary film production work, with a clear note of your role in each production, as part of their application.
Your existing documentary film work is a way for the course team to assess your particular understanding of the documentary form. Note, we cannot advise you on specific content.
It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across the year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.
We ask for moving image or single images of the work that you would like to be considered.
Please note: you can submit text only by pasting into the ‘image title’ section, and as many website links or links to media assets as you need to – but please note these links in your CV only.
Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone.
Deferring an offer
If you are offered a place for 2018/19 but wish to defer to 2019/20, information on how to do this and who to contact can be found in your offer letter. Additionally, International applicants should pay the deposit in order to defer. In all cases, deferred places will be held for one year.
Making a deferred application (during 2018/19 for entry in 2019/20)
Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.
What happens next?
Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.
Fees and funding
Home / EU fee
Home/EU students whose chosen course is at a level equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already hold, would will be charged the fees shown above, plus an additional £1,100 (called the Equivalent or Lower Qualifications (ELQ) fee). Students in receipt of Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are exempt from ELQ fees and will pay the original fee, regardless of the highest qualification held. For enquiries relating to ELQ fees, please complete the course enquiry form.
In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page.
Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.
Scholarships and awards
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.
Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.
Home / EU and International students
Funding opportunities available for this course:
Graduates go into a range of film-making options such as production and academic research. Alumni of this course have also gone on to associate producer roles and commissions in broadcast and independent sectors. Much depends on individual focus and aspiration.
Many former students are now building strong reputations for their work on the course. Alana McVerry is a producer at VICE after making documentaries for the BBC; Leila Hussain is making short documentary features all over the world for CNN; Anahi Aradas has made films for BBC World and Victoria Burns won a Mead Fellowship to make a one-hour observational documentary on the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre.
UAL Jobs and Careers
UAL has a number of services and networks that hold regular workshops and careers fairs developed to help you establish and promote your career in the arts, design, or media. These include:
Careers and Employability are the University's dedicated careers and professional practice service. We help UAL students and graduates embark on their professional futures in the creative industries, find jobs, set up a business, and sell their work. We run events throughout the year on all aspects of the career journey.
Creative Opportunities jobs board helps graduates and students find job and internship opportunities and connect with organisations and companies in the creative sector. We post jobs and paid internships, part-time work, freelance contracts and full-time opportunities.