- Start dateSeptember 2018
- Course length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
MA Documentary Film
Applications for 2017/18 entry to this course are now closed and will re-open in Autumn 2017 for 2018/19 entry.
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
- Film producer Lord Puttnam launches LCC Screen School with a message for creatives in Brexit and Trump era
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 1
- 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
- Documentary Process and Practice, continued (20 credits)
- 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 3
- 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
- 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.
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
Please note, this course has places available for UK and EU applicants only for 2017/18 entry.
Applications for 2018/19 entry will open in Autumn 2017.
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.
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
- Study Proposal
Start your application now
Applications are accepted and offers are made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.
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.
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 the 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 a documentary film work before applying?
Successful applicants have generally made their own films and have some experience of filming, but we do 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.
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.
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:
- Firstly they will look at your qualifications or transcripts (or projected results).
- Then they will review your personal statement, especially your documentary film study proposal 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.
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 want 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. Outline the content, style, and structure.
This would not necessarily be the graduation film you would make on the course, it’s there to inform your application and demonstrate your ability to recognise a good documentary film idea.
Your application should also be accompanied (if available) by a short example of existing documentary film production work, with a clear note of your role (director, producer, camera etc) in each production.
You will be asked to upload directly to our online review tool examples of this work, or web links to the work that you would like to be considered.
The Course Leader will review your work and you may be invited to an interview. They will then make a decision on your application. (Interviews take place at LCC or via Skype/ telephone).
The admissions team will be in touch after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps of the process.
Fees and funding
Home / EU fee
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 CCN; 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.