UCL Anthropology


Immersive Factual Storytelling (VR/AR) Studio

Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Practical) MA - Immersive Factual Storytelling (VR/AR) Studio

Led by a former senior BBC immersive producer and a team of immersive technology experts, UCL 360 is UCL's unique non-fiction immersive storytelling lab. This pathway of the MA programme provides students with the foundations for work in immersive factual storytelling formats, focused around 360° and CG-based VR experiences.

All students will be given a grounding in immersive techniques for story-telling, film-making, spatial sound recording and post-production techniques. Students will have access to 360° filming rigs throughout the year and be introduced to a wide range of the latest relevant equipment.

Students will be trained by experts from across this emerging industry and will be at the heart of this new, fast-moving media sector. Joining the programme, you will be part of the generation that shapes immersive factual for the future.

We will expect you to be agile, attentive to the latest innovations in the industry and to surprise us each week with new possibilities in this space.

  • A compulsory module provides practical training (see below for detailed description).
  • Optionals will allow students to do further modules in interactive and experimental film theory and history, radio production and storytelling in the first person. The programme includes regular masterclasses with experts from across the industry.
  • Credits taken within Anthropology or in other departments within our school will provide training in understanding and researching the social world.

In addition to the compulsory module, this pathway includes research and interview techniques, how to construct an immersive narrative and the ethics and different styles of immersion. The programme will also include writing and pitching project ideas for clients and introduce the market for immersive media on various platforms.

All students will use UCL's immersive technologies, filmmaking equipment and dedicated editing suites.

UCL has long been a forerunner in immersive technologies with Mel Slater and Anthony Steed's groundbreaking research in this field at their laboratory in UCL Computer Science. Students will be expected to take advantage of various collaborative opportunities that are available.

Compulsory Module Outline:

The programme is designed to teach immersive camera, sound and editing skills in a context of enquiry into the social world. It will also provide students with a basic grounding in a game engine (probably Unity) to allow them to explore interactive and CG/VR based factual storytelling. It is delivered in eleven hours a week of lab practice in the first term and five hours per week in the second. As well as occasional seminars and tutorials in both terms, there are further screenings and masterclasses concentrated in term two. In total during the compulsory module you will have 144 hours of contact with your tutors. The practical elements of the module are mostly taught in paired sessions - the first being teacher-led and instruction-based. In the second, students' practical exercises are appraised, with the tutor providing individual guidance and feedback on your film practice.

Working in groups, students will spend a minimum of twelve hours each week completing camera, sound, editing, interactive and game engine exercises.

You will also be expected to do some additional reading and watching VR. Over the course of the two terms you will spend a further 110 hours preparing, filming and editing assessed work that will also prepare you for your graduation film. A total of 600 hours learning is allocated to the core course (one third of all your marks for the MA) and the assessment will combine formative and marked work, building up a portfolio of work over the period October-April. You will need your own external hard drive, but you will use the departmental cameras, radio mics and associated kit, decks, editing suite and workstations.

In summary, the compulsory module structure includes the following elements: Practical/technical issues in Documentary and Ethnographic practice; Equipment, insurance, nature of immersive film, filmic and digital methodology, technical handouts, field notes and evaluation.