Wildlife Documentary Production
MA

Based at MediaCityUK
Work placement opportunity
International Students can apply

3 good reasons to study Wildlife Documentary Production at Salford

1.

Work towards a fulfilling career in an exciting field with the potential for travel

2.

Learn from respected filmmakers via a series of masterclasses

3.

Develop the creative and technical skills you will need to produce striking and informative wildlife documentaries – this is a Skillset-accredited course

Course Summary

On this course you will learn the research, scriptwriting and production skills that you will need to produce polished, professional wildlife documentaries.

As well as lectures and seminars, you will attend masterclasses given by expert practitioners with links to the television industry. Plus you will take field trips to a range of animal habitats, where you will work on individual and group projects.

During your time with us, you will learn specialist wildlife-production techniques, including long-lens and time-lapse photography and close-up sound recording. There is a strong emphasis on professional practice, and your projects will be expected to measure up to scientific scrutiny, as well as exhibition and broadcast standards.

Graduates’ final films have won many awards at national and international festivals.

Download the guidelines to apply for this course here.

Course Details

This course aims to develop skills in video production applied to wildlife alongside a scientific understanding of animal behaviour, biodiversity, ecology and environment.

Course Structure

Semester 1

You will select two specialist production areas from the pool of producing, directing, camera, editing and sound, in liaison with the programme leader. You will then take part in workshops in which you develop your documentary production skills. Part of this module includes the production of a minor project in which you partake in one of your specialist roles.
You will gain a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the study of the biology, ecology and behaviour of wildlife species as relevant to wildlife documentary production and a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge of the biology, ecology and behaviour of wildlife.

Semester 2

In contrast with the production skills workshop in semester one, this module will specifically enhance your knowledge of, and skills in, the specialised techniques of production. You will therefore deal with specialised elements such as long-lens photography, time-lapse photography, macro-photography, high-speed photography, specialised close-up sound recording and advanced post production techniques.
This module looks at a range of research and practical skills needed for the preparation of a wildlife documentary production. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, exercises and projects, you will deal with issues around wildlife law, the logistics of organising field trips and the challenges of organising a film production. You will also be taken through all the key areas that link science to production, including the communication skills necessary to facilitate the appropriate dialogue between scientist and filmmaker.

Semester 3

Building on research carried out in the Wildlife Research Skills module, you will carry out further research, script, produce and complete a 10-20 minute wildlife film, bringing together all your accumulated knowledge and experience. You will be guided by a supervisor.

Entry Requirements

Relevant undergraduate honours degree normally at 2:1 or above.

For the MA programmes in Media Production you will be required to submit a project proposal related to your chosen specialist field, to support your application. A brief written synopsis (max. 500 words) of your ideas would also be required. Please note that this would be for discussion purposes at the interview only. 

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 5.5) as proof of this.

Suitable For

Graduates who have a passion for using video documentary techniques to communicate scientific knowledge about wildlife and the environment. The programme will provide students with a unique interdisciplinary interaction between sciences and creative arts.

Applicant profile

Our students are accepted from three backgrounds:

  • Science and specifically biological science graduates
  • Graduates with a degree in media, in particular film and video production
  • Applicants with proven interest in wildlife documentary. This can be demonstrated by a body of work: short video films or stills photography portfolio.

Graduate applicants should have a minimum second class degree, preferably an upper second or better. Applicants will be interviewed and should be able to supply references if requested.

Teaching

The course will employ a range of teaching and learning strategies in order to meet learning outcomes. These will include:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Camera, sound and editing skills practice and assessment
  • Analysis of case studies
  • Student-led independent research
  • Student-led project work and field trips.

This strategy will be integrated with an assessment strategy based on outcomes, students' reflective self-assessments and learning plans. Assessment methods will include production exercises and portfolios, projects, critical essays and a dissertation project.

Assessment

Each module within the course uses and combines a number of different assessment criteria. The following styles are used within the course modules:

  • Reports
  • Presentations
  • Essay
  • Practical project
  • Research Portfolio

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Employability

The course is ideal for those wishing to pursue careers in all aspects of wildlife documentary production, including directing, producing, script-writing, photography, sound recording and editing. A number of graduates are now working within the TV industry both in the UK and abroad, including several independent companies and ITV, all within wildlife documentary.

The majority of past students have found jobs in the television industry. Examples include:

  • Graduates who are now producer/directors and making long-form documentaries for broadcast
  • Ex-students are working for the BBC Natural History Unit as researchers and assistant producers and editors
  • Ex-students are working for independent Wildlife Documentary Production Companies as cameramen and assistant producers
  • Ex-students are working for ITV, producing short films from their wildlife images catalogue
  • A student is working as an assistant cameraman for a leading wildlife independent company
  • One student is working as a producer for Portuguese TV
  • Other graduates have jobs as field assistants (currently working in the arctic on a major wildlife film), runners and film librarians
  • A student is making web-based programmes for Cornwall TV
  • All are connected with wildlife and nature film-making

Career Prospects

Alumni Profile

Justine Allan, graduated 2009

Joined the BBC in 2010 and worked on several large projects. Now working as an Assistant producer with an Plimsoll Productions in Bristol.Madalena  Bota 2009

Joined Portuguese TV straight from Salford university. Now is the producer of wildlife films in Portugal.Matt Hamilton, graduated 2010

Joined Films@59 as a runner. After a few weeks was offered a job as researcher and field assistant on a major wildlife film shoot in the remote Arctic. Matt has now made 2 wildlife documentaries and is currently working on a 3 part series based in South East Asia.Jack Hynes, graduated 2011

Working as Assistant cameraman for major Independent Wildlife Documentary Company.Ferne Corrigan, graduated 2012

Produced and directed a film after graduating and now working as a presenter for BBC in Scotland.

Gisle Svedrup, graduated 2013Working as cameraman and assistant producer on a major wildlife series for the BBC.

Links with Industry

This course has a number of links with media companies throughout the UK including the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. The current external examiner for the course is the head of the BBC Natural History Unit, Andrew Jackson. Students have undertaken work experience both at the BBC, Warehouse51 Wildlife Production Company and Films@59, the post production company that works on a range of wildlife programmes for the BBC and Disney Nature. Both the course leader and the visiting fellow keep close links with companies within the TV sector, including Panasonic, Sony, Canon and Arriflex to ensure students are aware of latest technologies.

Further Study

Fees and Funding

Fees for entry in 2017-18 will be published as soon as possible.

Fees 2016-17

Type of StudyFee
Full-time£7,100
Full-time International£12,500
Full-time PgDip£4,736

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section

Facilities

Watch our video

Take a guided tour of the University's facilities at MediaCityUK.