This unique MA programme is based within a university but run by leading film practitioners, ensuring that you receive the highest-quality practice-based learning. You have your own camera equipment throughout and we provide large editing suites. From 2021 the degree will be taught in 3 studios (Ethnographic and Documentary Film, Documentary Fiction, and Immersive Factual Storytelling: VR/AR).
Modes and duration
For two year part-timers, please note UCL cannot allow any change in mode of attendance for this programme of study once the programme has started and/or once enrolment has been completed.
Tuition fees (2021/22)
Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.
Fee deposit: All full time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £2,000 for this programme. All part-time students are required to pay a fee deposit of £1,000.
Normally an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a social science, arts, humanities or science discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Academically weaker applications will also be considered provided that they are supported by experience in visual arts or film making. Applicants with prior technical knowledge of film making are asked to send a video portfolio of up to 20’ duration (Vimeo link recommended). Applicants without a video portfolio are asked to complete a photo essay. Please see our guidelines on how to make a visual essay. You can submit either by post - a maximum of twenty 20cm x 25cm (8"x10") stills – or by link to an external site.
All shortlisted applicants will be asked to submit a proposal for a film or video project - a maximum of four sides of A4, typed and double-spaced - to include: an outline of what the film is about; the characters and other elements crucial to the narrative and the film structure/narrative. (You are not committed to the proposal for the final project.)
English language requirements
If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.
The English language level for this programme is: Good
UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses
Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.
Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.
International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.
Select your country:
About this degree
Students learn to tell stories in various film modes; draw on anthropological and social science approaches to documentary; think critically about the relationship between form and content in ethnographic and documentary practice; master the technical skills needed to produce different kinds of films of different lengths for varied audiences; and to critically view and review film material.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of one compulsory module (60 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a practical film project (90 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical).
Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.
All students must take the following module:
- Documentary and Ethnographic Film Practice
Students must take 30 credits in total from the recommended optional modules below, modules available within the department or appropriate options in other departments (with approval from the programme tutor and host department).
- An Introduction to Social Theory
- Documentary Film and the Anthropological Eye
- Documentary Radio – a practice based introduction
- East and South Asian Cinemas
- Experimental and Interactive Storytelling – Form and Narrative
- Experimental cinema and new media: Form and narrative
- Genre in Italian Cinema
- Global Cinemas
- Hollywood Genres
- Journalistic skills for a multi-platform world
- New Argentine Cinemas
- Nordic Cinema: Contextualising Dreyer, Bergman and Dogme
- Performance, visual media and popular culture in Africa
- Russian Cinema: Epochs and genres
- Sonic Experience Design and Production
- The Idea of Documentary
- The French New Wave
- The Latin American Cinematic Tradition
- The Story and I – Finding the Form
- Writing about International Affairs
For a complete list of modules available within the department or in other departments, please see UCL's Module Catalogue.
A major practical film project and diary allowing the students to demonstrate their mastery of the skills of documentary film-making in a film of 20–35 minutes.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of practical tutorials, seminars and masterclasses and assessed by camera and editing exercises and a written piece.
In the first term students have approximately 180 contact hours and in the second, 120. Over the summer they have up to 65 contact hours with mentors and in supervised (rough and fine cut) screenings of work in the MA.
You will need to have two hard drives capable of securely storing your film material. UCL provides one of these in exchange for you buying your own private licence of Creative Cloud for home use. UCL runs Creative Cloud on the edit computers so there is no need for a personal licence but some students find this useful.
For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
The programme equips students for careers in:
- mass media including broadcast, cinematic and web-based moving image
- film and TV industry as camera operators, producers, directors, editors, researchers
- academia – ethnographic research, visual media and culture
- marketing and research
- communication and other media
- archives, as well as cultural heritage organisations.
The increasing demand for social and scientifically trained moving image specialists in the years ahead will continue, if not accelerate. Graduates of our existing programmes now work in organisations such as Ipsos Mori film unit, independent production companies, BBC, BBC Education and in independent production companies.
Why study this degree at UCL?
This MA will allow you to benefit from UCL’s unique position in the heart of London at the centre of the UK creative industries. The programme uses professional film-makers to teach within a truly pan-disciplinary university research environment.
UCL houses London’s global non-fiction film festival, Open City Documentary Festival. You will gain access to this festival, providing a unique opportunity to engage with the global creative non-fiction industry.
Students have access to UCL's camera and editing equipment, the extensive film collections in UCL Libraries and the team of creative artists who work in and around the Future Media Studio and Open City Docs School. Each student has their own full camera kit which they keep throughout the year - avoiding the need to check equipment in and out as well as access to editing suites.
Application and next steps
Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
We are looking for students who want to challenge the documentary form and find innovative ways to tell important stories that resonate with global audiences. This degree is well-suited to students who have little or no experience in making films but also provides the opportunity for those with experience to deepen and broaden the range of their work.
- All applicants
- 31 May 2021
For more information see our Applications page.Apply now
What are we looking for?
When we assess your application we would like to learn:
- why you want to study Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) at graduate level
- why you want to study Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to this programme
- how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.
Please also indicate in your personal statement which of the three studios you are interested in being considered for (Ethnographic and Documentary Film, DocFiction or Immersive Factual Storytelling). You can see more about the studios here.
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