Immersive Factual Storytelling MA

London, Stratford (UCL East)

Our focus is on training you to create compelling immersive stories. This programme, based within a university but run by leading immersive practitioners, gives you the practical tools and confidence to become a successful member of the international immersive VR/AR documentary community. Skills in immersive storytelling, ethics, 360 production, spatial audio and coding for game engines are learnt by creating a series of short experiences throughout the programme, culminating in an ambitious graduate immersive project.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
£19,300
£9,650
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
£34,400
£17,200
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 05 Apr 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Entry requirements

We normally require an upper second-class Bachelor's degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants with lower second-class degrees (i.e. UK 2:2 or the overseas equivalent) may be considered if their application is supported strongly by relevant experience. In exceptional circumstances, we will also consider applicants without higher education qualifications provided they demonstrate a significant track record in this or a related field.
We seek students who can show evidence of active engagement in immersive storytelling in previous work or study experience. We require a portfolio of work to support all applications, please find the portfolio requirements under the Next Steps section (below).

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

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.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree


Immersive storytelling is a developing field across enterprise and entertainment. Unlike other VR /immersive MAs, this programme focuses on Factual Storytelling in particular, including creating stories for enterprise use with the potential for collaboration across other faculties in UCL. The MA provides training in the use of 360º cameras, immersive sound equipment and computer graphics-based VR experiences along with developing your skills as a factual immersive storyteller.   

It will teach you the fundamentals of immersive storytelling and equip you with a robust self-learning ‘growth mindset’ to equip you for your professional life beyond the MA. You will learn to devise, plan, produce and pitch exhibition quality non-fiction immersive narrative-based experiences, giving you the skills to enable you to practice as creators of non-fiction 360º/VR/immersive storytellers.

We encourage you to explore the boundaries of immersive storytelling, drawing on anthropological and social science approaches to documentary, engaging with, and taking inspiration from existing material including games, films and immersive audio experiences along with a wider range of stimuli relating to immersive engagement. You will also have regular contact with leading industry experts to help you expand your ideas and ambitions. Across the programme you will also be introduced to and engage with ethical questions around immersive storytelling. 

By the end of the programme, you will have acquired full competence in operating digital 360º recording and filming devices, editing, basic coding in game engines and you will be capable of delivering professional level quality immersive stories as well as storytelling skills to create effective content.

Who this course is for

We are looking for students who want to be part of, and help define, the emerging world of immersive production and storytelling. Prospective students may already be actively engaged with immersive storytelling in previous work or studies and want to extend their storytelling by exploring experiential factual storytelling.

What this course will give you

With this MA we continue UCL’s tradition of developing a new generation of immersive experts, which began some years ago with groundbreaking research in immersive technologies by Mel Slater and Anthony Steed in UCL Computer Science. Taught by leading immersive professionals, this MA programme addresses the increasing demand for professional training in VR and XR technologies and storytelling techniques.

Based in Anthropology, through option module choices, students can extend their learning into traditional and new forms of social science, thereby enhancing the range of, and approach to, the stories they wish to tell.

As VR embeds as a tool for enterprise, students also have the opportunity to collaborate with members of other world-leading faculties across UCL to create collaborative, cross-disciplinary work which has the potential to address solutions for current social challenges.

This programme is based at our brand new UCL East campus in East London, forming part of the School for Creative and Cultural Industries. Students will benefit from cultural and educational connections with our East Bank partners such as the V&A and BBC, as well as state-of-the-art facilities including exhibition, performance and curating spaces, conservation studios and a 160-seater surround-sound cinema.

UCL also houses London’s global non-fiction film festival, Open City Documentary Festival. Students have access to this festival, providing a unique opportunity to engage with the global creative non-fiction industry.

The foundation of your career

As this is a new MA, at the time of writing there are not yet alumni of the programme. However, multiple graduates from intakes (2017-2020) to MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film (Studio 4- VR/AR, which pioneered the teaching of immersive factual storytelling at UCL) are currently employed in all aspects of the VR industry. Alumni from Studio 4 have gone on to work in 360 camera companies including Insta and run sections in VR streaming companies like Veer.  

,A Studio 4 alumnus headed up VR creation in China Mobile’s VR production wing. Others have worked on productions with leading companies like Marshmallow Laser Feast and as independent creators in VR and other new media. Graduation projects have been premiered at London festivals and others have been shown at global festivals. Other alumni have gone on to further study in universities around the world, specialising in VR but also other new media.

Employability

The programme provides you with skills in research, 360 pre-production, production, editing, post-production and delivery. You will also learn basic coding (for use in a game engine). You will be introduced to the integration of associated software, IT and equipment necessary for these processes as well as receiving an introduction to the ethical, pitching and distribution skills required for an Immersive factual producer.

You will learn to manage the production of an exhibition quality and broadly distributable immersive documentary experience, working collaboratively in conception, management and delivery and you will learn to pitch an immersive experience to funders and/or industry partners.
Through your participation in workshops, masterclasses, volunteering at industry events, and one round of Open City Documentary Festival, the programme introduces you to a range of industry contexts that raise employability.

The rigours of Virtual Reality multidisciplinary teams working in production and delivery also provides a general training for anyone wishing to work in an industry that demands problem-solving, teamwork, a self-learning mindset and creative initiative taking. The evolving nature of immersive storytelling also provides valuable experience for those wishing to work in emerging technologies, developing the capacity for mental agility, flexibility of approach, open-minded creativity alongside a focus on production goals.

Networking

Students are exposed to leading industry figures throughout the programme and are invited to attend or take part in immersive events in and around London. Most recently students exhibited work at TechIlford, other students worked with community members in Walthamstow, East London to make their graduate project. Students regularly attend UCL’s Computer Science VR Club and have opportunities to show work across anthropology and the rest of UCL. Through volunteering at Sheffield Docfest and our own Open City documentary festival, students can meet others interested and involved in this industry. We have strong relationships with local companies and institutions including East London libraries where students have volunteered and showcased work. There are many immersive and VR exhibitions around the city which we encourage our students to attend.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, practical team-based exercises, workshops, seminars, on demand (online) packages, masterclasses and tutorials. In these modules you take part in supervised research activity to see your practical projects through to conclusion in the form of short Immersive works culminating in the graduate project.

Our teaching is designed to provide you with the skills necessary to think through and interact with issues around immersive storytelling in a concrete, practical way – when and how can immersive techniques be used to engage and communicate effectively? We use the practice of creating headset based immersive stories and experiences to understand, consider, analyse and experiment with the future of innovative storytelling. We teach you to think about the ‘why’ of immersive production – what does an immersive experience do? This approach enables you to develop your own ideas, drawing upon your own personal backgrounds, raising questions in using immersive techniques to investigate the enormously diverse world around you.

The three compulsory modules give you skills in VR filming, editing and storytelling, taught by a team of specialists in their field:  spatial audio, immersive storytelling, 360º editing and interactivity (including coding for game engines). 

You will also engage in VR criticism to help your understanding of the current catalogue of VR content and to develop your critical and analytical abilities. This will involve watching, experiencing and listening to various immersive works from different parts of the world, exploring different modes of representation and storytelling, followed by critical discussion and analysis. Your critical abilities are assessed in the written Critical Evaluations of your own work.

Each practical project is accompanied by a written evaluation, reflecting on what you’ve learnt from the creation process and from your increasing experience of other immersive work.  

In term 1 you will spend much of your time in the classroom along with pre and post activities that include online videos and in-lab sessions for you to practise your skills. In term 2 you will have fewer classroom based activities but will instead spend more time in independent study, creating your own interactive work within a group. From April through to September you work independently in small production teams, overseen by a mentor, to develop and produce your graduate project. Throughout the programme you will also be expected to watch as much VR material as you can and engage in immersive media opportunities – as a spectator and sometimes as a volunteer also.

Weekly, the Introduction to Immersive Factual Storytelling compulsory module typically involves 18 hours of sessions comprising lectures/workshops, guided peer assessment, project supervision and seminars (proportion varies each week), 2 hour online learning with tutor input, 12 hours of independent study (including filming etc), 3 hours drop-ins/office hours/one to ones.

The three optional modules (15 credit) usually amount to 54 contact hours (assuming 2 hour weekly seminar) but will vary depending on the choice of modules.

Modules

In the first and second term you will take the module Introduction to Immersive Factual Storytelling.

You will also take the Sonic Experience Production module which will train you in spatial audio production and immersive audio storytelling.

These two modules are designed to provide you with the practical training and teaching needed to prepare you to create compelling content; find strong stories, produce and direct immersive projects using VR, 360 filming technology and spatial sound. Practical training in the use of 360 cameras, sound technology and coding (to use gaming engines) will equip you to bring your stories to light. In small production teams you will produce a 360 film, a short spatial audio work with associated critical evaluations and a fully interactive VR experience.

You will also take two optional modules, normally within Anthropology or Film Studies. From April to the end of the summer, in small production teams under the guidance of your mentor who will be an established industry professional, you will work on your graduation project, applying what you  have learnt to produce an ambitious full 360 or VR production. This will help to build your experience in advanced level immersive storytelling and design skills, preparing you for professional work in the immersive industry.

You will also have regular engagement with leading industry professionals, through workshops, ideas seminars, masterclasses and as guest tutors.

As a part-time student you will complete your degree after two years. In the first year, working in small production teams, you undertake two compulsory modules: 1. the introductory module which includes two pieces of work – one 360 film and one interactive VR project - along with 2. Sonic Experience production training you in spatial audio production.

You have the freedom to decide when you take two option modules, normally within Anthropology or Film Studies; you may, for instance, chose to take them both in the second year, or one in each year. From April of your second year, under the guidance of your mentor you will work on your graduation project.

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 are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MA in Immersive Factual Storytelling.

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

UCL East Marshgate E20 2AE - Open day

UCL East Graduate Open Evening

Discover our range of practice-based, postgraduate programmes and cutting-edge facilities at our UCL East Postgraduate Open Evening. Visit us for your chance to learn more about the future-focused, interdisciplinary degrees we offer and to meet leading researchers delivering our programmes and interact with current UCL students.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Immersive Factual Storytelling MA

An opportunity to ask any questions you have about studying the Immersive Factual Storytelling MA, from programme content, structure and entry requirements to life in the Department of Anthropology, career prospects and support and wellbeing provisions.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £19,300 £9,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400 £17,200

Additional costs

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.

You will need to have two hard drives capable of securely storing your work. UCL provides one of these in exchange for you buying your own Head Mounted Display (currently we suggest this is a Quest 2) for your personal viewing of VR work. It is important that you have your own headset for several reasons, including hygiene. There are a small number of headsets we can loan students, but in order to have full access to VR it is recommended you have your own.

Students are expected to complete their coursework on campus, as the computers on site are equipped to support video editing.

In addition, as the programme is based at the UCL East campus in Stratford, students will need to fund their own travel between the Bloomsbury and UCL East campuses if they choose to take an optional module available only at Bloomsbury.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL East Scholarship

The scholarship works to support the ambitions of east Londoners by funding the fees and living costs of eligible Master's programmes including this MA at UCL. Further details at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/scholarships/ucl-east-london-scholarship.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

UCL East London Scholarship

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,700 stipend ()
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

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.

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 Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Immersive Factual Storytelling at graduate level
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme at UCL
  • 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. We also require a portfolio of work to support all applications.

If you have no prior immersive experience, the portfolio should consist of one piece of creative work including (but not limited to) audio production/filmmaking/installation (of no more than 20 minutes duration), writing, painting, photography, music composition, or theatre. For those with a performing arts background, evidence of productions such as photos or reviews can be submitted in place of portfolio works.

Applicants with prior immersive experience are asked to send a (linear) video portfolio of up to 10 minutes duration highlighting their work.

You can submit your portfolio by including a link to an external site of your choice in the application (e.g. in the personal statement).

All shortlisted applicants will be asked to submit a proposal for an immersive project – a maximum of two sides of A4, typed and double-spaced – to include: an outline of what the experience is about; what will happen in the experience (the user journey) and other elements crucial to the narrative/structure. You are not committed to the proposal for the final project.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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