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Documentary Practice MA

Subject area: Film and Television Studies


Mode of study

1-year full-time

PG Code


Start date


Documentary Practice MA


Please note the application deadline for this course is Friday 25th August 2017, any applications after this date will be considered on an individual basis, subject to course vacancies.

Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2016, students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2016/17 of up to £10,000. Find out more

About the course

MA Documentary Practice at Brunel University London is a modern and innovative postgraduate course that draws on a dense network of organisations and individuals working in documentary today.

The Master's degree offers you the space to creatively, practically and critically engage with the documentary from a variety of traditions. The course is structured to provide you with training and professional expertise in dominant/mainstream documentary production techniques, procedures and alternative traditions.

Students will get their own cameras designated to them for the duration of the course (currently Canon XF100s) and will also have access to other cameras such as Canon C100, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon XF200 as well as GoPros, Canon DSLRs, and other related equipment (various tripods, lighting kits, dolly and tracking systems). Students are also given a 500GB portable hard drive and iPad to use throughout the year for their projects.

The Documentary Practice course encourages you to develop your own interests and skills and is not prescriptive about the kinds of documentary you can make.

We believe that the future for many independent documentary filmmakers will no longer be limited to the old model of getting commissions from broadcast television. The shift to user-generated content and web-based dissemination of work will be increasingly reflected in our curriculum.

See what past Documentary Practice MA student shave had to say about their experience on this course: Alba Gonzalez Cano, Eleanor Church, Jamel Dallali, Carlo Ghidini, Susie Valerio


The dual focus of the Documentary Practice course, allied with its non-prescriptive approach, makes it a unique place to develop your knowledge about the documentary.

While this postgraduate course is primarily oriented towards practice (approximately 70% practical, 30% theoretical) we believe that effective practice in whatever documentary traditions you choose to draw on and work with requires critical engagement, reflection and historical knowledge, if you are to fulfil your own potential, as well as that of the documentary genre. Our MA has a unique blend of staff input from both professional practitioners and academic theorists who are also documentary filmmakers. Integrating theory and practice is our hallmark.

Download the full course programme


Programme Convenor: Dr Michael Wayne

Course Content

The MA consists of compulsory modules, a typical selection can be found below. Modules can vary from year to year, but these offer a good idea of what we teach.

Compulsory modules:

  • Documentary: From Script to Screen
  • Theory and History of Documentary Practices
  • The Art and Grammar of Editing
  • Alternative Practices
  • Short Documentary Film
  • Final Documentary Film

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Special Features

"Somehow I’ve built a successful career as a film editor, but I’ve done it largely in the thick of things. I sometimes wish I’d known much earlier what I know now. Filmmaking isn’t only, or even mainly, about practical skills, it’s about the way you think. A film evolves through a complex series of intellectual and aesthetic processes, and it exists within a broader cultural and historical context. This is where Brunel’s MA course comes in. It’s certainly no pushover; but whatever it demands of the student, it repays in full. Teaching there, I often think 'Wow, this is just what I needed'."

Steve Stevenson, editor.

Teaching and Assessment


The documentary course will be taught through seminars, lectures, workshops, self-directed exercises and projects, satudent presentations and tutorials.

The practical side of the Documentary Practice MA is taught by a range of working professional documentary filmmakers, specially selected to give you a diverse learning experience of the documentary tradition. Email Michael Wayne for an up to date list of professionals currently working for us.

Our teaching and learning strategies are informed by our commitment to independent learning, the exercise of initiative, personal responsibility, problem solving in varied and sometimes unpredictable circumstances and encouraging critical reflection on practice.


Assessment of the Documentary Practice MA includes individual film projects, presentations, essays.



Recent graduates’ achievements and employment:

  • ZDF German Television, history and society documentary department
  • Documentary producer, Danceproject, PureRisk Entertainment
  • Production team, Pramface Mansion (Broadcast BBC March 2008)
  • Development department, Windfall Films (developing documentary and factual ideas for TV series and singles for UK and US broadcasters)
  • Location Assistant, documentary production company in Athens, Greece
  • Freelance Cameraperson
  • Freelance Non-Linear Video Editor

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2016/17 entry

UK/EU students: £7,300 full-time

International students: £15,400 full-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Entry Criteria 2016/17

  • A UK first or second class (2:1) honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in film, television, media or communications is required to study the Documentary Practice MA course.
  • Other subjects and qualifications will be considered if they can demonstrate sufficient academic experience in areas relevant to the subject and are assessed on an individual basis.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU Entry Requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.