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Home > Courses > Courses for 2017 > Postgraduate > Documentary by Practice
More in this section Media Arts

Documentary by Practice MA

UCAS code
Year of entry 2017
View 2018 entry »
Course Length
1 year full time
Department Media Arts »

We're in the middle of a documentary renaissance. Documentary stories are being told in cinemas, on TV, in galleries, on tablets and on mobile phones. On this course you'll learn about the technology that's bringing improvements in documentary making, understand the ethical challenges that documentarians face, and face questions of authorship and authenticity. At Royal Holloway we nurture creative and challenging Filmmakers. The course offers a launch pad for outstanding careers in a growing field of filmmaking.  

You'll be taught by award-winning documentary filmmakers and commissioners: our tutors Marc Isaacs, Helen Littleboy and Victoria Mapplebeck, are all active filmmakers with industry contacts. They'll give you insight into what commissioners are looking for in documentaries today and you'll get real vocational experience by working on your own projects with established industry leaders.

  • You will gain hands-on tuition, classes, workshops and ongoing support from award winning directors, producers, editors, commissioners and film programmers
  • Be part of a challenging and dynamic production environment in which you will meet other aspiring directors, writers and producers, creating contacts and support that could last a lifetime
  • We bring in commissioners from the real world of documentary production to give you a full picture of what it takes to work as a documentarian. Some of our visiting commissioners have gone on to work with our students to develop their projects.
  • You will have the chance to workshop, develop and produce creative and original documentaries, gaining the skills, knowledge and contacts to see those projects go from idea to screen with an depth knowledge of documentary commissioning, across all platforms of distribution and exhibition
  • Draw inspiration from our location: taught predominantly at 11 Bedford Square, our creative hub close to the British Museum in London's Bloomsbury – plugging you right into the centre of a busy industry. You'll also have access to all of our facilities at our leafy Egham campus.
  • Make use of our exclusive 24-7 media labs and post-production rooms, complemented by our impressive range of professional location filming equipment, TV and sound studio facilities, supported by our committed and approachable technical team.
  • Access to work opportunities and internships in TV, cinema and cross platform production.  Our students and alumni have worked on productions at BBC Storyville, Channel 4 and Reuters.

Guest Lectures and Guest Speakers include:

  • Nick Fraser – Commissioning Editor - BBC Storyville
  • Clare Paterson – Commissioning Editor - BBC Documentaries
  • Ollie Lambert – Award Winning Director
    Films include: The Tea Boy of Gaza, Mum and Dad are Splitting Up and Syria ; Across the Lines
  • Pawel Pawlikowski – Award Winning Writer and Director
    Films include: Ida, Last Resort, My Summer of Love , The Women in the Fifth and Tripping With Zhirinovsky


Ideas to Screen (50 credits)

Foundations of Production (50 credits)

Major Documentary Production / Dissertation (80 credits)

Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff.

Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including project work, photo essays and written production papers.

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1). or equivalent, in Literature, Fine Art, Media or a related discipline.

Students with degrees in other subjects will also be considered, as will those with relevant professional or creative experience

To be considered, you are asked to submit the following documents as part of your application:

  • A short documentary or an extract of a film you have made, directed or produced - no longer than 10 minutes in duration. Please send this via link on either YouTube or Vimeo; and
  • A two page synopsis for a documentary film you would like to make. Give a clear account of the story; describe the narrative approach and visual style; try to make reference to the work of known film makers/photographers/artists as a way of describing your idea

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor your study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Our students have gone onto become award winning Directors, Editors, Animators and Producers. Recent graduates have been nominated for and won many awards, including The London International Film Festival, BBC Storyville, International Women’s Film Festival, Open City Docs, CineGlobe and The One World Media Award.

Recent Graduates include:

Iris Lebrun - Whilst at Royal Holloway, Iris won a One World Broadcasting Award. Her film Feeding The Void, won First Prize at Open City Docs Fest. Iris was also selected for Mini Meet Market at Sheffield Doc Fest 2014 . Since graduating she has interned at BBC Modern Times and worked as an Editor on Text Me, a cross platform Documentary which won the 2014 Pixel Lab Award.

Masumi Higashi – Masumi’s film Motorbike Midwifes won a One World Broadcasting Award whilst she was at Royal Holloway. Motorbike Midwifes went on to win twenty Awards, including, BBC Storyville Prize for documentary narrative excellence at CineGlobe , Winner of the International Short Documentary Garden State Film Festival and The Gold Award Winner at the California Film Awards.

Jeong One Park.  Jeong One's film Kung Fu Grannies won a One World Broadcasting Award and was nominated for a One World Media Award. Kung Fu Grannies went on to win: First Prize at the International Women’s Film Festival, Best Short Film at the Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival and Best Short Film at the Cineffable France. Since graduating Jeong One has worked as an Editor and Producer at Channel 4, BBC and Reuters.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £8,300

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £15,800

Other essential costs**: Optional field trip approximately £400; memory card costs approximately £100.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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