Documentary Practice

MA ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )


This pioneering MA programme will enable you to integrate the practice and theory of documentary film and develop your voice as a documentary filmmaker. You will learn about the many forms, discourses and approaches of the documentary, drawing upon the current research of prominent filmmakers, theorists and historians.

Your studies will involve a dynamic schedule of workshops, lectures, guest speakers, events and field trips, working in a productive, collaborative context with students from around the world.

Access to specialist production and post-production equipment, black box studio spaces, along with the advice and support offered by experienced practitioner staff, will ensure you gain in-depth production skills.

By completing the MA you will have produced a unique portfolio of documentary films and assisted on numerous other productions.

If you want to become a practising documentary filmmaker then MA Documentary Practice is the ideal course for you. And if your ambition is in the area of factual film research, or to embark on theory-practice academic study, then the programme is also a perfect fit.


MA Documentary Practice is based in the nationally high-ranking Film Studies Department within Queen Mary University’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film. Located in the Arts One and Two buildings, the school boasts a bespoke 41-seat cinema, state-of-the-art black box film studio facilities, up-to-date camera and post-production technology. Film Studies has great links to the film industry, film festivals, the art world and theory-practice research, and is home to the Think Tank film philosophy research group and the Screening Nature series. The MA regularly welcomes guest speakers from the industry as well as hosting special events and lectures. The campus is ideally located as a jumping-off point for East London’s vibrant film and arts culture.

Areas of Study

The philosophy of MA Documentary Practice is to explore the diverse ways in which documentaries can be made. Areas of study include: the observational documentary; artists’ moving image documentary; documentary ethics; the non-human subject; new ethnographies; the visual essay; activist filmmaking; the animated documentary; fact-fiction hybrid filmmaking; community, advocacy and the NGO film; the diary film; the archive and heritage film.

Intensive practical workshops, group sessions and one-to-one guidance will help you locate subjects and stories that matter to you, find a method of making and a mode of encounter with your subject, develop distinct shooting and editing strategies, and evolve your own unique visual language.

We train you to be an all-rounder, with valuable expertise in directing, production managing, camera operating, recording sound, editing, and also pitching your projects to funders and promoting your films to festivals.

Film Studies has several PhD research-led projects in film and there will be opportunities to develop your postgraduate research interests.


Programme structure MA Documentary Practice is currently available for one year full-time study or two years part-time study.

The MA is made up of a range of 30 and 60 credit modules totalling 180 credits overall.

Our core modules provide you with a rich set of practical and intellectual skills. Documentary Theory & Practice gives you the essential research and practical abilities necessary for the MA, covering modes of factual representation, exploring crew roles, production planning, and providing training in camera, sound and editing. Documentary Production takes these skills deeper, encouraging you to experiment with form and take risks with what you think a documentary can be and do. The Dissertation Production is your chance to realise an in-depth, high production, festivals-ready film.

A range of option modules in film practice, theory and history enable you to choose specialist areas relevant to your research interests and ambitions. You may also wish to choose modules from other University of London institutions.

In addition, you will also complete an independent Film studies research project.

Core module

Film Studies Research Project

Compulsory modules

  • Documentary film: Theory and Practice
  • Documentary Production Project

Option modules

  • Auteur Direction
  • Film Practice and Manifestos
  • Film Studies Core Course
  • History, Fiction and Memory in French Cinema
  • 9/11 and American Film
  • Reading Images: Painting, Photography, Film
  • Latin American Documentary
  • Ecocinemas: Nature, Animals, and the Moving Image

Why study your MA in Documentary Practice at Queen Mary?

The Department of Film Studies at Queen Mary is an exciting and vibrant department. The documentary genre is becoming increasingly popular with both cinema, TV, online and art world audiences. This programme will allow you to develop a career and skills in production, documentary making, or develop an academic career.

  • Our London location adds a large amount of value to the programme as we have links with the London Film Festival, BFI, Open City Docs, Visible Evidence, Film-Philosophy conference, East London Film Festival and Doc House.
  • Our teaching staff have both national and international reputations in their fields. You will be taught by experienced filmmakers, as well as by leading academics in areas which cover many different periods of film history and which draw on films and cinema traditions from around the world.
  • During your study, you will be able to produce four or more individual documentary productions, giving you a solid platform of work to build your portfolio on.

Your future career

Our graduates emerge equipped with a portfolio of films, a plethora of practical skills, and in-depth knowledge of the many approaches and contexts of documentary filmmaking. Students leave well prepared to succeed in the creative industries and academic sector, in areas such as broadcast television, independent film production, contemporary art, doctoral research and teaching.

For more information:

MA in Documentary Practice
Steven Eastwood

The programme convenor, Steven Eastwood, is a filmmaker working in both the cinema and gallery. His feature film Buried Land, a fact-fiction hybrid, was officially selected for Tribeca, Moscow, Sarajevo, Mumbai film festivals 2010. His documentary Those Who Are Jesus was nominated for a Grierson Award. He has convened a number of symposia and screenings to do with documentary and artists¿ moving image, and has published widely. He is currently working on two feature film projects with associated research publications, one on autism and the other on death and dying.

Visit the website:

Entry requirements

You will need an upper second class honours degree in a humanities or creative arts discipline, and will have an informal interview on application. Graduates from non-humanities disciplines are also welcome to apply, but may also be asked to complete a written assignment. International students will need to be highly proficient in English for academic purposes.

International applicants

Students from outside of the UK help form a global community here at Queen Mary. For detailed country specific entry requirements please visit the International section of our website. If your first language is not English, you must provide evidence of your English language proficiency. You can find details on our English language entry requirements page.

If you do not meet language or scholarly requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

Learning and teaching

You will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You will be assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in formal classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.


you will be assessed by coursework only, usually in the form of a practical project or a written essay, the tutor, or project supervisor, will offer guidance and support in researching, producing and/or writing of these assessed elements.


You will also complete a 5,000-word research essay and a festivals-ready documentary film for the Dissertation Production module.


Tuition fees for Home and EU students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £9,150
Part time £4,575

Tuition fees for International students

2019/20 Academic Year

Full time £16,350
Part time £8,175

Part time fees are charged per annum over two years for a two year programme and per annum over three years for a three year programme. A percentage increase may be applied to the fees in years two and three.

This increase is defined each year and published on the intranet and in the Tuition Fee Regulations. A 3% increase was applied to the unregulated university fees in 2019/20. Further information can be viewed on our University Fees webpage, including details about annual increases.


There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717



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