Taught course

Documentary by Practice

Royal Holloway, University of London · Department of Media Arts

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Entry requirements

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 pages 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.

Months of entry


Course content

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

Information for international students

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no subscore below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.

See our International pages for more information.

Fees and funding

See our Postgraduate fees and funding pages to find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Postgraduate Administrator
+44 (0)1784 443734