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MA in Filmmaking (Screen Documentary)

Course overview

This MA will develop your skills and creative vision in documentary production. It enhances your understanding of the historical context and contemporary modes of documentary production against a backdrop of the wider issues in media production.

Creative Skillset

This course is accredited by Creative Skillset.

This Masters, a pathway of the MA Filmmaking, will encourage your understanding of the politics, aesthetics and ethics of documentary production, and the nature and diversity of documentary practice in contemporary society.

What we offer

The programme is housed in a new purpose-built media facility equipped with state-of-the art teaching spaces including a range of digital cameras, Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Film Editing suites, Animation, Digital Special Effects, Pro Tools Audio Postproduction suites.

You will be able to make your own documentaries, learning and refining research, interviewing, self-shooting and editing techniques – but also have the unique opportunity to be part of a programme that includes specialised producers, cinematographers, editors, sound recordists and sound designers, so that you can develop the scope and range of your filmmaking by collaborating with them.

You work on at least two films during the year, culminating in a major production towards the end of the degree. In addition you can attend classes in related disciplines such as Cinematography and Editing and may collaborate with students across other specialisations on film projects. This framework is designed to  provide you with a breadth of filmmaking knowledge combined with a high level of expertise in your chosen filmmaking discipline.

The MA encourages you to develop

  • an awareness of documentary production techniques, ethics and aesthetics
  • specific filmmaking and production management skills
  • technical skills (including camera, lighting and sound editing)
  • an understanding of the workings of the media and their broad cultural and social impacts

Our former students have gone on to win awards including:

They've also launched their own film festivals, worked on critically acclaimed films and documentaries, and have had their work screened at the London International Documentary Festival, National Geographic's All Roads Film Festival and Open City, the London Documentary Festival.


Our students say...

"From first-hand coaching from industry experts, access to the newest facilities and cameras, to fantastic mentoring – it was the perfect course to develop my skills and prepare me for a career in documentary filmmaking."

"The different theory courses provided both the history and ethics when filming documentary as well as providing artistic inspiration to approach reality in an innovative way."


Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Daisy Asquith

Modules & structure

How you will learn

You will be taught the skills to be able to self-shoot and edit, but will also have the chance to work with specialised camera-people, editors and producers. You complete several short films and exercises, then make your own 15-25 minute documentary, during which you will fully explore research methods, visual and thematic storytelling, experimental and multi-platform formats and much more.

For two terms you will spend a full day a week in specialised contact with your specific programme convenor, plus a further day in Screen Lab working with colleagues across the programme in a Talent Campus-style project-led learning structure with:

  • Masterclassess
  • Pitches
  • Role-plays
  • Exercises aimed at using your skills specialism in a variety of live shoot situations

You will also have a variety of research projects to undertake, as well as other module options.

Screen Lab

You will also advance your collaborative skills by working in teams with both fiction and documentary producers and cinematography, sound and edit students, on a variety of projects and at least three scheduled films across the year.

You will leave the programme with a diverse portfolio of work that may span a variety of formats – essay or diary film, web and multi-platform content, activist or campaign film, longer form feature-documentary 

Screen School options

As well as your Screen Documentary specialism, you will undertake three short courses to enhance your other skills and critical approaches. Available option modules may include for instance:

Module title Credits
  Social Activist Film 15 credits
  Adaptation and Script Editing 30 credits
  Archaeology of the Moving Image 15 credits
  Camera Fundamentals 15 credits
  Contemporary Screen Narratives in Practice and Theory 30 credits
  Experimental Media - Media Arts pathway 30 credits
  Filmmakers Make Theory 15 credits
  Film Producing Fundamentals 15 credits
  Representing Reality 15 credits
  Sound Design Fundamentals 15 credits
  The Ascent of the Image 15 credits
  Visual Storytelling 15 credits
  Doctor Holby: Writing for Existing Continuing TV Drama Series 15 credits
  Media Law and Ethics 15 credits
  Practical Law for Film-makers 15 credits.

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

We are ranked:
1st in the UK for the quality of our research* Joint 1st in the UK for effective teaching** 8th in the world for communication and media studies***

Media and Communications

We’ve also been ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top graduate universities for media professionals, because so many of our graduates go on to find jobs in the industry.

The department includes some of the top academics in the world for this discipline – the pioneers of media, communications and cultural studies. They actively teach on our programmes, and will introduce you to current research and debate in these areas. And many of our practice tutors are industry professionals active in TV, film, journalism, radio and animation.

We also run EastLondonLines.co.uk – our 24/7 student news website – which gives students the opportunity to gain experience working in a real-time news environment.

And we run regular public events featuring world-renowned writers and practitioners that have recently included Danny Boyle, Gurinda Chadha, Noel Clark and Tessa Ross. So you’ll get to experience the latest developments and debates in the industry.

Find out more about the Department of Media and Communications

*Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
**Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
***QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017

Skills & careers

If you are passionate about fashioning an exciting career for yourself as a filmmaker in an environment that promotes innovative filmmaking, this course is for you.

Our alumni are active in the film, media and cultural industries around the world, working and winning awards as documentary producers and directors.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Student work

Trailer for Waiting for You, by Lisa Fingleton. Lisa's end-of-year film won many awards, including the Royal Television Society Student Award for best postgraduate factual film.
Trailer for Almost Famous, by Vincent Wu. A story about the dream of music, and becoming famous.

Student profiles

Belen

"I'm able to tell the stories that move me"

"I am a Peruvian journalist with twelve years of experience in both broadcast and print news. Currently, I am studying the MA Filmmaking: Screen Documentary.

Searching for a masters programme was a long and difficult process. However, I eventually chose to study at Goldsmiths because the course was the most closely aligned with my interests. I also chose to study here because of its academic prestige and the practical nature of the course. I am learning to make documentaries as I make them! I am constantly encouraged to develop my voice and style to tell the stories that move me.

By studying a masters degree in documentary filmmaking, I will be able to produce and direct documentaries that do not appear only in festivals, but that can reach a much broader audience."

Mille

"The MA encouraged me to really push myself."

"Studying Screen Documentary at Goldsmiths was an invaluable experience, the perfect mix of practical guidance and critical theory. In particular the discussions and ongoing debates dealing with ethics and aesthetics in documentary has given me an awareness and understanding that I simply would not have gained without my fellow classmates and tutors. 

Directing documentary can be a daunting prospect – you need a big helping of self-belief and courage, and one of the things I valued most about the MA was the supportive and cultivating environment that encouraged me to really push myself."

Rafael

"A robust academic and artistic institution like Goldsmiths will help you to explore yourself to develop a more consistent voice as a creative source."

"My time at Goldsmiths was the opportunity to explore documentaries and my own craft, not only through the always important technical aspect of it, but through what it is, perhaps, the most relevant part of any story: the content. A robust academic and artistic institution like Goldsmiths will help you to explore yourself to develop a more consistent voice as a creative source. You will be challenged to re-investigate your own ideas and to push the limits of creativity.

Needless to say that you’ll have the amazing opportunity to nurture yourself and exchange ideas with the unrivalled and always vibrant cosmopolitan community that a university located in the heart of London has."

See more profiles for this programme

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant/related subject as well as a level of practical experience from work in the arts or the media.

You might also be considered for the programme if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

The annual IELTS deadline for the programme is June 30th.

Because funding deadlines and requirements vary around the world, applications are considered on a rolling basis from February onwards and places on the programme fill up across the recruitment cycle. For this reason, we strongly advise you to submit your completed application as early as you can.

 

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online. Please tell us about your passion and aptitude for Filmmaking. What are your dreams and aspirations? How did your engagement with visual media develop, and how has it developed in terms of professional, voluntary and personal work?

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • A 1-2 page proposal for a documentary film
  • Examples of your recent work in a related field (eg moving image samples), preferably via a web link to your online portfolio – please upload this under 'additional' in your online application (NB the maximum file size you can upload is 20MB)
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • IELTS test results, at the point of application

You should emphasise your practical/theoretical experience in the arts or the media in your application.

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

Applications are open from October. There is no deadline for applications, however applicants are encouraged to apply early to avoid disappointment. 

When are applications considered

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, with the aim of making a decision within 1 month of receiving a completed appliaction.

Interviews

Applicants who are considered suitable for the programme based on their application will be shortlisted to attend an interview. Overseas applicants who can’t attend an interview day are interviewed by Skype.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Additional Costs

The materials and incidentals budget for your film projects is likely to amount to several thousand pounds. Each team member is responsible for raising approximately £600 to cover the material costs of the three films that each team makes on the course.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Scholarships

The Department of Media and Communications offers fee waivers for MA Filmmaking.

BAFTA scholarship

UK students offered a place on this MA are eligible to apply for the BAFTA Scholarship Programme. Find out more on our departmental funding page.

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