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Postgraduate

MA Documentary Film

A child puts her fingers in her ears while her father shoots a gun on a boat.
Molly Adams, MA Documentary Film, London College of Communication, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2022
Course length
1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

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

Why choose this course at London College of Communication

  • Practical skills: train using industry-standard equipment and facilities while making your first films throughout the course.
  • Critical skills: study documentary history and theory, learn to analyse films through group screenings and discussions, and receive 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: UK applicants to MA Documentary Film can apply for the BAFTA scholarship. Each BAFTA Scholar receives between £5,000 to £12,000 towards their annual course fees as well as mentoring support and free access to BAFTA events around the UK. Find out more and apply via the BAFTA website.

Open Evenings

The next Open Day for this course will be announced soon.

Follow us

@MADocFilm

Online Open Day

(Recorded March 2021)

Course Leader, Jeremy Williams, gives an overview of studying MA Documentary Film at London College of Communication.

Course showreels and trailers

2020 | Course showreel

Forced to adapt their initial documentary plans at short notice due to the global pandemic, this year’s work from MA Documentary Film graduates charts their resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges.

2019 | Course showreel

Watch the showreel for the students graduating in 2019.

Playlist | Film trailers 2019

View film trailers on our YouTube channel from graduating MA Documentary Film students.

2017 | Course showreel

Watch film trailers from MA Documentary film graduates.

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.

Student voices

Crescencio Ferreira

Student voices

Crescencio talks to us about his final year film The Priory which focuses on the life of a rapper from North London.

Martha Shepherd

Student voices

Martha talks us through her film In Their Youth.

Kagweni Micheni

Student voices

Graduating student Kagweni talks us through her final year film about a girl growing up in Kenya.

Jill Damatac Futtur

Student voices

Jill tells us about her final year film, following the life of a 97 year-old tattooist in the Philippines.

Course stories

Facilities

  • 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.

  • Student reading a book in between two bookshelves in the Library
    Students in the Digital Space. London College of Communication, UAL. Photograph: Alys Tomlinson
    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 overview

MA Documentary Film is a leader in exploring the traditions of the documentary film genre and its modes of production. Integrating practice with theory, you’ll analyse filmmaking critically, historically and conceptually within a practical context.

Documentary has the power to investigate and inspire - to reveal the human experience, call the powerful to account and help effect lasting change.

As a student of documentary film, you’ll be naturally inquisitive and interested in the lives of others, committed to understanding the world that surrounds you, and keen to examining the most pressing issues of our time.

On this course, you’ll undertake the roles of producer, director, camera operator, sound-recordist and editor. You’ll learn how to self-shoot, to work in teams, and to direct and produce for broadcast, independent and web media.

For your Major Project, you’ll develop ideas in ways that suit your work best. From identifying characters, stories and locations to shooting and editing with a particular visual style, you can choose to be the author of your work or to collaborate with peers.

What to expect

  • You’ll become grounded in direction, camerawork and editing, and learn key artistic and technical skills alongside sustainable practice for a successful documentary filmmaker.
  • You’ll contextualise theoretical and ethical debates surrounding the documentary form to compliment and nourish your growing practical skills in documentary filmmaking.
  • You’ll introduce your work to the competitive British and international documentary filmmaking circuits.
  • You’ll enhance your career prospects, gaining valuable vision, opportunities and skills including guidance on pitching for funding and commissions.
  • In return, you’ll need to be committed to the practice, ready with strong ideas, and open to constructive and supportive criticism so that you can push boundaries in your thinking, writing and reflection alongside making films.

​Work experience and opportunities

You’ll collaborate with external partners for projects and live briefs. Previously, we’ve worked with a variety of partners, including a collaboration with the Independent Film Trust, collaborating on the Coldharbour Project, an oral documentary series.

We have a long, successful history of graduates finding freelance work as directors, self-shooters and editors with companies ranging from The Guardian, Century Films and True Vision, to the BBC, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The Screen School at LCC belongs to the BAFTA albert Education Partnership providing graduates with the opportunity to understand sustainability and its professional and personal relevance. You will have the opportunity to undertake an optional assignment where you’ll learn about topics including sustainable production solutions, the role of – and opportunities for - responsible businesses, and how to create content with a strategic environmental purpose.

Mode of study

MA Documentary Film is in Full Time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

Contact us

For queries relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, read our Coronavirus guidance for prospective students.

To register your interest and receive information and updates about studying at UAL, please complete this form.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for or to ask a question, please contact us.

Course units

Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves 6 units, totalling 180 credits.

Whether contextual or practice-based, all units on MA Documentary Film are mandatory. The contextual lectures with screenings and seminars are timetabled to a regular weekly pattern. Throughout the terms, your production-based classes, as well as your individual and group assignments, will vary your timetable according to the nature of the production.

Autumn, term 1

Documentary Development (40 credits)

You’ll be introduced to documentary filmmaking and equipped with the core practice skills of documentary film production. You’ll be encouraged to research, develop and pitch a documentary idea which you’ll go on to produce as your Major Project film.

Documentary History and Theory (20 credits) 

This unit positions documentary production within a historical and theoretical context.

Spring, term 2

Documentary Development (Continued)

Documentary Ethics and Methods (20 credits)

You’ll explore the relationship between filmmakers and their subjects, questions of representation, and the ethics and practices of documentary filmmakers.

Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

With a focus on student-driven collaboration, you’ll identify and develop collaborative working relationships with a range of possible partners, from postgraduate student colleagues on your course to external parties.

Major Project (60 credits)

This unit initiates the production and direction of an individually authored or co-authored documentary film of up to 20 minutes, which is accompanied by a portfolio of research, a proposal and a treatment.

Summer, term 3

Documentary: Contemporary Discourses (20 credits)

This unit weaves together analysis of present-day issues faced by the documentary film business and brings up-to-date examination of contemporary approaches to storytelling and the documentary form.

Major Project (Continued)

Autumn, term 4

Your Major Project will resume, culminating with a critical and analytical report which contextualises your documentary film while articulating a promotional and impact strategy aligned to your future professional plans.

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

  • Workshops
  • Lectures
  • Screenings
  • Tutorials
  • Self-directed study
  • Unsupervised collaborative assignments
  • Peer review

Assessment methods

  • Essays
  • Presentations
  • Taster film
  • Pitches
  • Critical and evaluative reports
  • Documentary film
  • Research dossier

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 disability@arts.ac.uk 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.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Learning)

Applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered in exceptional cases. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • OR a combination of these factors

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

Language requirements

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

Making your application

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

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Extra information required for applications to this course

You will be asked to supply:

  • Portfolio
  • Video task
  • Study proposal

Start your application 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.

Apply now

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

CV

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).

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

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

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Please note: we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas). Read our immigration and visa information to find out if you need a visa to study at UAL.

You can only apply to the same course once per year. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn. For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

Extra information required for applications to this course

You will be asked to supply:

  • Portfolio
  • Video task
  • Study proposal

Start your application now

There are 2 ways international students can apply to a postgraduate course:

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner. Read our Admissions Policy for details, including how to request a deferral and by when.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, you can apply to transfer.

The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying through a UAL representative or direct application you will need to complete an Immigration History check. If you do not complete the Immigration History Check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

CV

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).

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal. Please add @arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.

Please log into the portal, as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, and you can contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

What happens next

Portfolio

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 (to a maximum of 10 images).

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.

Video task

We’d like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you.

Please speak clearly in English and face the camera. Read our guidance for more information about how to submit your video task and the file types we accept.

Your video task should cover the following topics:

We would like you to identify one project from your portfolio which challenged you and your understanding of Documentary Film. Explain how this experience has inspired you to apply to MA Documentary Film at London College of Communication.

Interview

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will be held online, and details will be sent via the UAL Portal.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Applicant Portal.

Requesting feedback

This course receives a high number of applications, and we can’t provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you’ve had an interview.

If you would like to request feedback – please email lcc.ukeu@arts.ac.uk if you are a Home or EU applicant, or lcc.international@arts.ac.uk if International. We are only able to provide feedback to you directly, or to someone you have told us in writing can receive it on your behalf.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£11,220 per course

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£22,920 per course

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

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?