Immersive Factual Storytelling MA

London, Bloomsbury

Our focus is on training you to create compelling immersive content. 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 (2022/23)
£16,500
£8,250
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
£29,400
£14,700
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 13 May 2022

Applications closed

Notification

Application closes at 17:00 GMT.

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 with visual or audio 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).

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.

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 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 in order for you to tell factual and ethnographic stories on immersive platforms.

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 experience 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 visual or audio 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 forms one of a number of innovative, cross-disciplinary courses that will, from September 2023, be based at the new UCL East campus. The new campus will be a hub of creativity and collaboration between engineering, architecture, arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences and population health studies.

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. UCL also 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.

The foundation of your career

As yet, there are no alumni of the programme as this is a new MA. However, multiple graduates from intakes (2017-2019) 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, run sections in VR streaming companies – for instance Veer, currently lead VR creation in China Mobile’s new VR production wing, work on productions with leading companies like Marshmallow Laser Feast and work as independent creators in VR and other new media. Two 2018 Graduation projects had their world premieres in a London festival. Graduates from the 2019 and 2020 cohorts has also shown their work at global festivals. Other alumni have gone on to further study in universities around the world, specialising in VR but also other new media.

The new MA retains the same staff as delivered Studio 4 VR/AR in previous years.

Employability

The programme provides you with skills in research, 360 pre-production, production, editing, post-production and delivery. 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 VR 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.

Teaching and learning

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 also 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 the skills 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). They are delivered in 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 piece of Immersive work.

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.

Modules

Full-time

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

You will also take the Sonic Experience, Design and 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; to find strong stories, produce and direct immersive and compelling pieces 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 fully interactive VR experience and a short spatial audio work with associated critical evaluations.

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 which will allow you to apply what you have learnt and produce an ambitious full 360 or VR production. This will help to build your experience in advanced level immersive storytelling and VR design skills, preparing you for professional work in the VR industry.

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

Part-time

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. the sonic experience module 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 who will be an established industry professional, 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 is subject to change.

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 & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Programme Introduction to Immersive Factual Storytelling MA

This is the programme introduction video for Immersive Factual Storytelling MA. This programme, based within a university but run by leading immersive practitioners, gives you the practical tools and the confidence to become successful members of the international immersive VR/AR documentary community.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

The Applying to UCL for graduate study session took place in December 2021. The session, covered by our Graduate Admissions and Student Recruitment teams, provides helpful information about the process of applying for graduate study, as well as offering an insight into what we consider to be a competitive application.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £16,500 £8,250
Tuition fees (2022/23) £29,400 £14,700

Additional costs

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.

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

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

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 in any application cycle.

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This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021