Media Theory and Practice
Documentary Production for TV, Film and Digital Media
Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology
In a nutshell
Do you have a passion for documentary filmmaking and telling stories where real life is often stranger than fiction? Do you want to shed light on the pressing social issues? On our MA Documentary Filmmaking course, we’ll help you hone your voice as a documentary filmmaker and guide you as you take those first steps into the industry. Whether it’s a one-hour documentary or a five-minute film, you will learn the craft of documentary filmmaking: how to tell a cracking story and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.
From specialist factual to factual entertainment and from reality TV to current affairs, you’ll also benefit from a range of industry engagement and live brief opportunities, which will enable you to work on real world projects.
As part of this master’s degree in documentary filmmaking you’ll receive expert instruction and guidance from working producers and filmmakers, who will be able to provide you with the concepts, techniques and processes that are key to the TV documentary form.
In addition to quality teaching and a wealth of opportunities, this course has an enviable reputation for producing award winning films (Previous students have been nominated for RTS Student TV Awards and won the prestigious BBC Arabic Film Festival). Many graduates have gone on to work for BBC, ITV independent production companies in the UK and internationally.
What’s more, you’ll be able to take advantage of the TV production grade facilities that our exciting MediaCityUK campus has to offer, collaborating with your fellow students to produce innovative content. And studying at Salford is about much more than the course. You’ll be located at the heart of one of the country’s most reputable media hubs, where you’ll join a vibrant community of practicing creatives.
Want to find out more about our master’s degree in documentary filmmaking? Why not sign-up to an Open Day.
International applicants: Please check the international intakes page for the latest information and application dates.
- Specialise in the areas of documentary filmmaking that interest you
- Gain industry advice from major broadcasters in how to build your career
- Learn from award winning documentary filmmakers who will help you transition to working in the TV and film industry
- Engage with and pitch ideas to production companies In MediaCity
- Learn cutting-edge TV documentary production techniques using the latest technologies
- Graduate with a strong portfolio of work that can be used for employment or further study
This is for you if...
You want to launch a professional career in TV documentary production
You want to develop your skills as a visual storyteller working on a wide range of factual films
You want to build a portfolio of professional work that can be used to enhance your employability.
All about the course
So, what does a master’s in documentary filmmaking involve? Throughout this MA documentary filmmaking course, course, you’ll learn by making different types of films. You will work alongside peers, directors and producers from industry you will learn the stages of production; how to spot a good story, how to whet the audiences appetite and how to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
You’ll learn to analyse and critique the growing body of work in this field, before developing innovative approaches to your own work. Through a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials, you’ll hone your specialism by pitching your ideas to panels of academic staff and industry experts – helping you to gain the hands-on experience you’ll need to launch your professional media career.
Learning from those who have a wealth of real-world experience in the industry, you’ll have access to a variety of resources that will enable you to embark on your own research or practical project. These projects are designed to showcase the techniques and skills you’ve learnt throughout the course, as well as your ability to produce original work within the field of contemporary media practice.
Each trimester we bring in local talent from industry. These are some of the people who have come in to work with our students:
Paul Greengrass - Film Director
Danny Ward – Editor ITV
Fran Baker - Executive Producer Hatchling Films
Colin Stone - Documentary Director
Lisa Holdsworth - Screenwriter
Paul Sapin – Documentary Director
Sol Papadopoulos – Drama Producer Hurricane Films
Mark Elliot – Editor BBC Drama
James Knight – Documentary Series Producer Wise Owl Films
Dympna Jackson + Pam Cavanagh Purple Productions
True North Productions
A series of lectures aims to develop your appreciation and engagement with critical approaches to contextualising and informing your practical creative work. The lectures examine the theory and practice of media production and contextualise the contemporary broadcasting and film environment.
Creative Development Projects
The Creative Development Projects (CDP) module offers you a chance to develop skills appropriate to your programme of study within an atmosphere and philosophy of innovation and experimentation. The module is built around programmes of lecture/seminars and workshops in which you develop your creative and critical skills through applied theory and practical work. You may work in production teams.
Through a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials that aim to develop your specialisms, the module will set live briefs from real industry clients and broadcasters. You will examine the practice and theory of media production readying you for pitching your ideas to a panel of academics and industry practitioners and developing creative and critical skills through applied theory and practical work.
Advanced Production Practices
A series of lectures, seminars and workshops aim to develop production craft specialisms in readiness for production in semester two and three if appropriate. The module will examine and enhance the practice and theory of media production advancing your creative and technical skills. Where appropriate this would provide opportunities to prepare you for your final Major Practice Research Module.
These weekly hands-on workshops will run alongside your formal lectures guiding your through the practical skills of camera, sound and editing. In the camera classes you will practice on the Canon C200 or the FS7. In post production you will be taught on broadcast software such as AVID, Premier Pro, Resolve and Davinci.
Choose one module from:
Major Project: Practice Research Project
This is an opportunity to demonstrate both the theoretical and practical skills that you’ve gained over the two previous semesters. You will demonstrate your creative, technical and critical skills through self-directed practice and research that demonstrates original and innovative work within the field of contemporary media practice.
Major Project: Dissertation
This is an opportunity to demonstrate the theoretical skills that you’ve gained over the two previous semesters. You will demonstrate your creative and critical skills through self-directed research that demonstrates original and innovative work within the field of contemporary media practice.
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What will I be doing?
Reflective writing and essays
Before embarking on your MA documentary filmmaking course, you’ll be provided with a timetable that will provide a breakdown of your scheduled lessons, as well as giving you plenty of time to explore your independent research interests.
Based at our exciting MediaCityUK campus, you’ll have access to a range of state-of-the-art studios and production facilities, allowing you to spend time honing and developing your technical skills.
This MA documentary production course is taught through a combination of seminars, workshops in storytelling and production practice, study of broadcast and editorial guidelines, independent research, collaborative project work and film screenings, in order to give you as much real-world experience possible.
Our aim is to support your learning with an effective blend of theory and creative practice, and to encourage ownership of your learning through self-directed projects.
Methods of assessment will depend on the module and elective pathway you choose. Methods include creative projects portfolios and productions, live briefs, critical reflections, presentations and essays. Practical-based modules are assessed by project and a reflective critical evaluation.
BE A PART OF A CREATIVE, SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
All our Film TV and Radio courses. are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.
Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.
Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.
Our MediaCity facilities are industry-standard, so much so that they are used by our industry partners themselves.
When you study with us on this MA Media Production: TV Documentary Production degree, you’ll learn from our experienced tutors and demonstrators, who’ll teach you how to use our facilities. These include:
TV studios - our TV studios have been used by the BBC for a variety of broadcasts, such as the Olympics and Christmas music concerts, and they’re equipped with the same audio-visual systems used by the ITV and Sky too.
The studios have green screen facilities as well as basic props so you can design and build sets for a range of projects.
Green screen facilities - these allow you to create effects such as those you see on weather reports and incorporates a camera system and 3D graphics software.
Audio production - we’ve got all the hardware and software you need to make sure you’ll know just how to create, edit, mix and master audio for film and television. Our main studios feature Avid S6 consoles – a similar set up to those at our MediaCityUK neighbours, such as Dock10 and ITV.
MakerSpace - bring your designs to life using 3D scanners and printers, power tools and a range of art and craft materials.
Stop-frame studio – we have animation booths equipped with industry standard lighting, grip, software and cameras and learn just what it takes to make your ideas and storyboards a reality.
Computer Suites and Editing Studios – our computer suites are equipped with the latest industry-standard software. You’ll learn from our experienced demonstrators, who’ll teach you the skills needed to turn your concepts into a reality.
Equipment stores - cameras, lighting kits and mics – they’re all essential to media production. But don’t worry, you won’t need to spend thousands of pounds to get the set-up you need – we have a fully equipped equipment store available for you to use and take-out industry-standard kit.
The MA teaching team have all spent most of their careers in industry and have extensive experience making films.
"I have made docs about Apache battles, the Beijing Olympics, Time Travel, Volcanic eruptions in the Pacific Rim and many other subjects. I love the access that documentary gives you and also the learning that you get each time you make a film."
Simon Stanton Sharma
"I have been a filmmaker and television director for over twenty years and have experience in the industry across multiple genres. My background in both single and multi-camera production has seen me lead global output for the BBC at the London Olympics and write and direct US films and commercials."
Liza Ryan Carter
"After working in fine art, and video art, I became a freelance editor and set up a small post-production facility in the heart of Manchester, through which I worked as an editor across a variety of genres including factual tv, drama (short films and features), music videos, rockumentary, commercials and arts based projects."
Paul Greengrass - Honorary Professor
Paul started his career here in Salford at Granada TV on the documentary series World in Action. He then moved into drama and, from The Murder of Stephen Laurence (ITV 1999) to 22nd July (Netflix 2018), combines powerful documentary research with stunning writing and directing to tell galvanising stories that stay with you long after the movie has finished.
More recently Paul directed Tom Hanks in the Western News of the World (Netflix, 2020), which he describes as being about “the healing power of storytelling and the healing power of belonging”.
Paul is a stalwart in the film and television industry. In 2007, he founded Director’s UK and in 2017 was honoured with a British Film Institute Fellowship.
"I'm very honoured to join these MAs at Salford University as Honorary Professor.
I began my working life just down the road at Granada TV in 1977, so this is an opportunity to maintain my links with the north west and to be able to encourage an exciting new generation of students into the industry."
What about after uni?
If you’ve always wanted to work in TV documentary production, this MA documentary filmmaking course will open up a range of exciting career opportunities. With the knowledge, practical skills and confidence gained throughout their degree, many of our recent graduates have gone on to secure professional roles in a variety of areas, including producing, directing and journalism.
On this MA we bring industry into the classroom. You will be working up close with documentary makers, producers and directors and you will find out how to put together a gripping story that will hook your viewers.
This MA will give you an insight into the industry so that you can apply for jobs and start in them as soon as you finish the course. Many of our MA alumni have done exactly that.
Graduates of this course have also forged successful careers in broadcasting, with roles including camera operators, editors and sound assistants, while others are currently employed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and a range of independent media companies across the UK.
Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further academic research path through our doctoral (PhD) programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.
To develop your skills and employability, there are opportunities on our media production courses to work on live briefs and gain valuable work experience. Previous students have worked with:
- BBC Writersroom
- BBC Natural History Unit
- Nine Lives Media production company
- Sumners Post Production Facility House
- BBC Fast Train, BBC Academy, BBC Red Nose Day and BBC Turn Up the Talent
- Sheffield Documentary Festival, Salford Media Festival, One World Media Festival
- The following prominent speakers have delivered guest lectures:
- Joe Godwin (Director of BBC Childrens)
- Steve Hewlett (Media commentator / Guardian Columnist)
- Tony Palmer (Documentary filmmaker)
- Jackie Priddle (Aardman Animation Producer)
- BBC Stepping Out and Audience Research Team
What you need to know
To gain a place on this course, you’ll have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements when you apply.
Within your personal statement (up to 500 words), we’ll want to understand:
- what motivates you and where do your interests in television, film and media creation lie; whether that’s scriptwriting, filming, producing or editing, for example?
- What have you been involved with in the past and what did you do?
- Are you a creative thinker and how do you develop ideas?
- do you have any knowledge of the industry for drama; are there any projects that inspire you?
- why do you want to work in the film and TV sector?
- and why the University of Salford and this MA Documentary Production for TV, Film and Digital Media is the right choice for your future goals.
Standard entry requirements
To join this MA you should have a second class honours degree, 2:2 or above, with an appropriate amount of media production, technology and design experience.
International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5, with no element below 5.5, is proof of this.
We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)
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).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home||2024/25||£8,820.00per year|
|Full-time international||2024/25||£16,380.00per year|
|Part-time||2024/25||Part time fees will be calculated on a pro rata basis|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Aziz Foundation Scholarship
The Aziz Scholarship Programme offers 100% tuition fee Masters scholarships to support British Muslims who wish to advance their careers and bring positive change to their communities by studying at one of their partner UK universities. One of the eligible programmes at the University of Salford is MA Documentary Production for TV, Film and Digital Media. Find out more about the Aziz Foundation Scholarship.
Scholarships for International Students
If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Explore our international scholarships.