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MA Documentary Film

Start date
September 2019
Course length
1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

Course summary

Learn the entire documentary film making process on this comprehensive course, which integrates theory with practical experience of making your own short films.

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.

Four reasons to apply

  • Practical skills – train on high-end equipment from the start and use it while making your first films.
  • Critical skills – study documentary history and theory, learn to analyse films through group screenings and discussions. Get feedback from industry professionals.
  • Industry skills – practice writing effective treatments, train in pitching ideas, search out work placements in production companies, meet well-known producers and directors doing special sessions.
  • Networking skills – be part of information-sharing about filming opportunities with former students, tutors, industry contacts.

BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme

This course is part of the BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme. UK applicants to MA Documentary Film can apply for the BAFTA scholarship. Each successful BAFTA scholar receives up to £12,000 towards their annual course fees, as well as mentoring support from a BAFTA member, and free access to BAFTA events around the UK. Find out more and apply via the BAFTA website. (Applications close on Monday 11 June 2018)

Open evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be on Thursday 6 December.

Book your place

Showreel 2016

Watch the MA Documentary Film 2016 showreel

Student Voices: Jill Damatac Futtur

Watch an interview with Jill Damatac Futtur

Student Voices: Kagweni Micheni

Watch an interview with Kagweni Micheni

Degree Shows 2016: Screening at Bertha DocHouse

As part of London College of Communication's Postgraduate Shows 2016 MA Documentary Film held an event at the Bertha DocHouse.

Behind the scenes: Degree Show 2015

Behind the scenes look as MA Documentary Film students prepare for their final year show.

USIZI by graduate Giulietta Verdon-Roe

USIZI by graduate Giulietta Verdon-Roe, nominated for Learning on Screen Award 2014.

Miss July (Trailer) - Directed by Victoria Burns

Miss July (Trailer) - Directed by Victoria Burns

Documentary (Trailer) - Directed by Thomas Grimshaw

Documentary (Trailer) - Directed by Thomas Grimshaw

Halfway at Sea (trailer) by graduate Leila Hussain

Leila's film was shortlisted for The Grierson Awards.

Latest news


Red light indicating recording is taking place.
Image © Vladimir Molico

Lens-Based and Audio-Visual

Find out about the workspaces and studios that support Lens-Based and Audio-Visual practice.

The Digital Space, London College of Communication.
Image © Ana Escobar

The Digital Space

The Digital Space is an open-plan, creative hub with computers set up with specialist software.

A close-up of a monitor in the TV studio.
Image © Vladimir Molico

Film and Television

Find out about the resources on offer to Film and Television students.

Course details

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.

What are our graduates doing?

Holly Cocker (2010): 'I'm currently running my production company Markthree Media from Sheffield. We've recently made two episodes in the new series of CBBCs My Life; one on homelessness in London that was shot entirely with iPhones by kids and one on orphanages in Moldova, presented by a lad with Down's Syndrome.

We've also made a documentary about young with parents in prison for Radio One and are working on films for BBC Three and Channel 5.'

Chloe White (2011): 'I run the production company Whalebone Films. We are an award-winning production company based in London and Hastings. We work primarily in non-fiction, short-film format and our repertoire includes documentaries, animated content, educational, promotional and fundraising films. We've just finished a short film for the Guardian on climate change and Christianity in the USA and we're working on a feature – 1001 Days.'

Uzma Hussein (2014): 'I've been working as an Assistant Producer, in casting, developing storylines and second camera assistant on a number of BBC and Channel Four documentaries. In 2015 I was nominated for the Limelight Film Awards, in the documentary category. In the same year I also worked with Sean McAllister, who won the Grand Jury prize at Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

My role involved story development, direction in sound design and some editing. Currently I'm working with Brian Hill on a documentary-musical themed around Asian immigration to the UK, to be broadcast in summer 2018 as part of the BBCs British Asian Season.'

Hanna Aqvilin (2016): 'I've been filming in New York and Japan as Assistant Producer on a documentary project I initiated with True Vision Productions, to be shown on BBC Two This World. My graduation film Faye Presto, Queen of Close-up won best documentary at Fastnet Film Festival and has since been shown in 16 festivals, winning prizes in four of them.'

Ansiq Li (2016): I'm working for the International Department of China Intercontinental Communication Centre in Beijing. I am producing Modern China: How We Made It – a three episode documentary to be broadcast on Discovery in 2018. I have two projects with Lion TV and BBC called China On Stage and Lines Through China. My graduation film LAOGA was shortlisted for the Fastnet Film Festival and showed at film festivals in Japan, Egypt and China.'

Niels Ladefoged (2010): 'I was the Creative Producer of Free Speech Fear Free, directed by Tarquin Ramsay. It won the American INSIGHT Free Speech Award in Philadephia and it will be released in Germany and France and will appear on Amazon Prime and Netflix (in German-speaking countries).

I co-founded newsPeeks. As well as directing independent documentary films, I am a freelance video journalist and a camera operator.'

What does industry say about our course?

Donna Howard, Digital Learning Associates: 'We came to the LCC Documentary Filmmaking screenings and were really excited by the work we saw. It was fantastic to see that each person was empowered to seek out the stories they wanted to tell – big or small – and it was clear that the students had developed confident, distinct approaches to telling them. We'd love to have voices like those of your filmmakers on board.'

Ria Gibson, Operations and Content Manager for BAMM Global: 'We continue to be impressed with the level of quality coming from  MA Documentary and Photojournalism courses at LCC.

We have a long successful history of using graduates for ongoing freelance work, for both fieldwork and editing. They come with that special combination of both technical skills allied with intelligent thinking to help create human stories that have more insight.'

Course units

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

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 Two

Units summary:

  • 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

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 Four

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.

Learning and teaching methods

The above programme outcomes are taught using the following learning and teaching methods:

  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Screenings
  • Tutorials
  • Self-Directed study
  • Peer review

Assessment methods

The above programme outcomes are assessed using the following assessment methods:

  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Taster Tape
  • Pitches
  • Critical and Evaluative Reports
  • Documentary Film
  • Research Dossier

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.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.


Ken  Kirby

Ken Kirby

Course Leader, MA Documentary Film

Iris  Wakulenko

Iris Wakulenko

Associate Lecturer, MA Documentary Film

Katerina  Loukopoulou

Katerina Loukopoulou

Associate Lecturer, MA Documentary Film

Zadoc  Nava

Zadoc Nava

Associate Lecturer, MA Documentary Film

Nancy  Platt

Nancy Platt

Head of Production, MA Documentary Film

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

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.

Selection criteria

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 2019/20 but wish to defer to 2020/21, 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 2020/21)

Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.

Making your application

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
  • CV
  • 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:

  • Portfolio
  • 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.

Apply now

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).

After you apply

Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.

Fees & Funding

Home / EU fee

£10,890 (2019/20).

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

International fee

£19,930 (2019/20).

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

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.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme

This course is part of the BAFTA UK Scholarship Programme. Applicants to MA Documentary Film can apply for the BAFTA UK scholarship Programme, which is open to British citizens in need of financial assistance. Each successful BAFTA Scholar receives up to £12,000 towards their annual course fees, as well as mentoring support from a BAFTA member, and free access to BAFTA events around the UK.

To find out more about the scheme and apply visit the BAFTA scholarship website. (Applications close on Monday 11 June 2018)

Home / EU and International students

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

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are 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.

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

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.

What are our graduates doing?

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