MA Documentary Film

Direct and produce your own film. Learn from experienced tutors who've screened work for the BBC and Channel 4. Find out how to pitch and compete for commissions. With MA Documentary graduates who've achieved distinction in leading industry awards and screenings, this course gives you the chance to become another of the celebrated faces behind the camera.

Watch // MA Documentary Film 2016 showreel

Watch // MA Documentary Film: LCC Postgraduate Shows 2016

Watch // MA Documentary Grad Film 2015

Promo shot from Lagos to London: Britain’s New Super Rich.

Watch // Student Voices: Kagweni Micheni – MA Documentary Film

Still from the Souleyman Messalti-directed documentary for Channel 4.

Watch // Student Voices: Jill Damatac Futtur – MA Documentary Film

Fields of Immersion by Matthew Szechenyi

Still from the documentary.

Miss July (trailer) by Victoria Burns

Documentary (trailer) by Thomas Grimshaw

Funding opportunities

Find out about the range of funding options available for postgraduate study.

Use UAL's fees and funding calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

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.


Course Leader

Pratap Rughani

Course Location

London College of Communication 
Elephant and Castle
Find Us

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
Home/EU Fee

2017/18: £8,500 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL. 

International Fee

2017/18: £17,920 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Start Date25 September 2017
Application Route

Direct to College

Application DeadlineApplications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Content and Structure


Get to grips with the entire documentary film making process on this comprehensive course which blends theory with practical experience.

London College of Communication’s MA Documentary Film course leads on exploring the full range of 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 the broadcast, independent and web 2.0 media. You will learn the entire process, taking the roles of Producer, Director, Camera Operator, Sound-Recordist and Editor.

You can 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 through the valuable skills, vision and opportunities that this postgraduate course provides, 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 your 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 visual style, you will be the complete author of your work whatever style you adopt – 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.

This MA explores the great 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 final cut-pro. Practice is integrated with theory so that filmmaking is critically and conceptually analysed within the historical and practical context of documentary film.

Tutors on this course ...

Tutors on this course are extensively experienced and practising documentary filmmakers and academics and include award-winning Directors. Course Leader, Pratap Rughani, has produced over 30 films for BBC TV, Channel 4, British Council and for art galleries.

Tutoring is also provided by Gavin McFadyen, Director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism; Nancy Platt, Documentary Maker; Professor Brian Winston, a key contributor to Documentary Studies.

Recent guest speakers include leading British documentary filmmakers, 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.

Alumni include ...

Many former students who are now building strong reputations for their work from this relatively new LCC course. Only recently, student Alana McVerry had her graduation film shortlisted in this year’s Grierson Awards. Furthermore, graduate Sahba Saberian has been selected for the London International Documetary Festival (LIDF).

What students say ...

“ (....) The Course Leader is passionate about his subject and really encourages us. In my applications for work people always respond well when they know that you are from LCC. During my work placement for my MA I got to work in the BBC's documentary and specialist factual unit. It was the best placement I could have got. I worked there for a month and at the end they offered me a job." Former LCC student, anonymous.


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 1

Units Summary:

  • 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 2

Units Summary:

  • Documentary Practices: Taster Film and Pitch and Critical Context (40 credits) 

This unit further develops skills in camerawork, producing, directing and editing, now in a more exploratory and individually authored context.

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 3

Units Summary:

  • 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 4

Units Summary:

  • 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.

Additional costs

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

Course Structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.


Programme Director:

Chris Petter

Course Leader: 

Dr Pratap Rughani

Head of Production:

Nancy Platt

Associate Lecturers:

Dr Katerina Loukopoulou and Zadoc Nava


Students go on a range of production and academic research and film-making options. Alumni have gone on to research and associate producer contracts and commissions for their ideas in broadcast and independent sectors. Much depends on individual focus and aspiration.

Student Jobs and Careers at UAL

We know what it takes to be successful in your chosen field. Your tutors are professionals in their own right and understand what you need to help you establish your career. 

Careers and Employability is dedicated to helping students build up work-relevant skills, knowledge, experience and networks throughout your time here. 

Creative Opportunities is the UAL job and work placement website for students and graduates, advertising hundreds of creative opportunities each month. This includes ArtsTemps in-house recruitment agency, placing students and graduates in paid temping roles within the University.

UAL houses a number of organisations which promote aspects of career development in the arts and media, and which hold regular workshops and careers fairs. These include:

  • Own-It (intellectual property issues)
  • ArtQuest (career development resource for artists and designers)

Entry Requirements

Recruitment and admissions

You should have a proven interest in documentary films and a keen desire to make your own 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. A portfolio is not essential but applicants will be asked to send links to documentary work they have already made (if available). 

Q. Do I need to have made documentary film work before applying?

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. 

A first degree is desirable but not essential. If you do not have the required qualifications, but do have professional experience, you may be eligible to gain credit for previous learning and experience through the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APeL) i.e. professional experience or a combination of courses and work experience.

Your experience is assessed as a learning process and tutors will evaluate that experience for currency, validity, quality and sufficiency.

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 be interested in studying such questions.

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) with a minimum of 6.0 in each of the four skills is required.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

Selection Criteria

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:

  1. Firstly they will look at your qualifications or transcripts (or projected results)
  2. Then they will scrutinise your personal statement especially your documentary film proposal or ‘treatment’ and links to your documentary work

Academic or personal references are not required for this course.

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.

Personal statement

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.


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.

Study proposal (200-400 words)

Your application should be accompanied by an original documentary film idea/treatment (essential). 


Your application should also be accompanied by a short example (if available) of existing documentary film production work, with a clear note of your role in each production.

You will be asked to upload to our online review tool examples of film work that you would like to be considered.

The existing documentary film work is a way for us to assess your particular understanding of the documentary form, and 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.

Interview advice

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone. 


Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Any questions? Please email or visit Postgraduate Funding page.

How to Apply

You can begin your application for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements to learn about the application process, including detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process. 

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • 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

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will need to contact you separately to ask 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

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email.

From January 2017 you will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal statement



Your application should also be accompanied by a short example (if available) of existing documentary film production work, with a clear note of your role in each production.

You will be asked to upload to our online review tool examples of film work, or web links to the work that you would like to be considered.

The existing documentary film work is a way for us to assess your particular understanding of the documentary form, and 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.

Study Proposal

The course leader will then review your work, may invite you to interview, and will then make a decision on your application, from January 2017.

The admissions team will be in touch 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.

Apply now

The application form 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 submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

Make an enquiry