Students working on the TV production desk

MA/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate

Documentary Production

This course is open for applications.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Film and Journalism
City Campus
One year
Full-time, starts September
Programme leader:
Tim Tarrant
Key fact:
This exciting and unique Masters degree has been co-designed by UWE academics and producers, directors and production managers from documentary and factual units within the BBC.

Page last updated 31 August 2017


Why study MA Documentary Production?

This course will enable you to develop the skills you need to make documentaries for any platform from TV to YouTube. And, what better place to learn your craft than in Bristol, a major UK centre for the Creative Industries.

Why study this course?

We prepare you for the industry by putting storytelling at the heart of your learning. You'll develop skills that will help you tell great stories and make intelligent and surprising programmes to captivate and engage audiences.

Each student is matched with an industry mentor from one of the many independent companies based in Bristol. Alongside your course tutor, your mentor will help with career advice and guidance.

This course is based at our Bower Ashton Studios, part of City Campus, where you'll have access to exceptional industry standard facilities and resources including a shiny new post production building and TV studios - opening in 2017.

See some of the work created by our students on our Vimeo site.

Engaging, industry-led teaching

MA Documentary Production is a practice-based course which equips you with the skills needed for all documentary production. This will include directing and producing, self-shooting and editing, research and development of ideas, budgeting and commissioning and writing for all formats and genres.

There's a rolling programme of industry speakers and, combined with live briefs from industry, we help you develop the industry knowledge and entrepreneurial skills you need to succeed in your career.

Bristol is a vibrant and innovative media hub with a thriving independent production sector. We work closely with a wide range of creative and cultural partners, including the Pervasive Media Studio based at Watershed cinema, the BBC Academy and the Encounters Film Festival. This ensures a rich teaching and learning experience.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience

Accreditations and partnerships:



The full Master's course comprises 180 credits divided into three 60 credits stages: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, and Master's. Students work incrementally through the three stages and must pass all modules at each stage in order to progress to the next.

UWE Bristol and the BBC have jointly developed modules, which include:

  • The business of factual - this module explores the broadcast business; media, law and ethics; and the development of production and technical skills
  • Ideas, story, format - you will work through the creative process of factual documentary broadcasting, generating ideas; research into story; genre, audience and format.
  • Preparing for factual production - this module guides students through the production process for their final film, exploring factual research and development, editorial specification, pitching to green-light and the development of key technical skills.
  • Future docs - you will develop your knowledge of multi-platform principles and practice; audiences and interaction; technology and innovation. This module will be delivered by members of the internationally renowned Idocs team.
  • Professional practice in factual production - this module is an extended 3-6 month production module, where you will undertake your own creative project, showcasing your portfolio of skills.  This bespoke module will be largely self-directed, supported by tutorials and sessions with an industry mentor. 

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

This course provides a distinct and bespoke learning experience.  Most of the teaching (practice and theory) is delivered by current and former BBC production professionals - the very best in the business and each student is matched with an industry mentor who will act as advisor for the final major project.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and expert-led technical workshops in camera techniques, sound, recording, post-production, TV studio work and editing using industry-standard software such as AVID, Premier and Final Cut Pro.

There will be field visits to post-production houses and regular guest speakers from the BBC (around 15 - 20 a year) to enhance learning and bring valuable industry insight.

For more details see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.

Study time

This rigorous course is delivered full time over 12 months.You will have 18 hours of contact time a week. The academic year runs from September with study over the summer (main shooting period).


You will be assessed on the production of short films both independently and in teams and the completion of written reports and portfolios of work.

For more details see our glossary of assessment terms.



You will be given the opportunity to volunteer at a series of events including Encounters Film and Animation Festival, the Vision Conference and Digital Bristol Week.  In addition, we encourage students to become delegates at other relevant industry events like Sheffield International Documentary Festival and work alongside external clients making shorts films and documentaries.

Study facilities

Teaching will take place at Bower Ashton Studios where our new multi million pound media building encompasses an upgraded television studio, as well as a post-production facility with sound and picture editing, grading suites and a dubbing theatre. There is an extensive range of filming equipment, including specialist industry-standard cameras, lighting and grips.

Studying at Bower Ashton offers an excellent base for students within the exciting City Campus that connects teaching and learning with some of the best creative companies and cultural organisations in Bristol. 

Bower Ashton houses the main library supporting the creative and cultural industries, student support services, as well as the extensive resource base that make up the technical resource areas. You will also have the opportunity of studying and accessing facilities at other sites within City Campus. This may include attending lectures, including guest lectures, and seminars at the Arnolfini and Watershed in Bristol City Centre.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.

Industry connections

Specialist knowledge delivery

Producers, directors, production managers and editors from the BBC and the independent sector will play a key role in delivering specialist knowledge through master classes, workshops, lectures and seminars throughout the year.

Industry designed 'real world' assignments

Industry professionals will help to design production exercises to prepare you for professional commissions, whether for the BBC, C4 or a commercial client. From the start you will work as part of a 'production team', dealing with everything from pre-production to post production. You will be expected to develop projects to an industry standard.

Industry mentor

You will be matched with an industry mentor who will act as an advisor for your professional development and give guidance on the development and production of your final major project.

BBC career guidance, training, events and learning resources

Throughout the course you will be offered career guidance and job preparation advice through specially organised events. You will have access to industry produced learning resources and will also be invited to industry hosted events throughout the year.


Careers / Further study

We aim to produce ready and able graduates with the skills and understanding suitable for entry level posts in the factual broadcast sector including documentary, formats and presenter-led features.

Successful students secure work in production companies and post-production facilities asrunners, junior researchers, technical and edit assistants and camera operatives.

There are also options to teach and to progress to PhD study at UWE, Bristol and elsewhere.

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.


Full Time Course

FeesAmount (£)
Home/EU-Full Time-Award Fee9500
Home/EU-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)792
International-Full Time-Award Fee13000
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1083

Supplementary fee information

For information about fees and funding for courses please see our fees and funding pages.

For funding options, please see our funding and scholarships information.


Entry requirements

An honours degree in a related subject area is required, but applicants with substantial relevant professional experience will also be considered.

Short-listed candidates will be invited to an interview (telephone interviews will be conducted for international applicants). They will need to bring/provide a show reel or portfolio of previous work. This may include audio, film, video, photography and writing. Applicants will need previous experience of camera work in order to progress on the course.

We accept applications throughout the year. However, as there is a high demand for this course and an interview process, we would recommend that people apply at least one month before the start of the course. The course starts on the third week of September, so applications received close to the start maybe rolled over to the following year.

UWE Bristol's International College
International students who do not meet the academic or English language requirements to study this course can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.

Please note, we are unable to allow applicants with offers to defer their entry to subsequent years.

How to apply

For more information about joining the University, please see our New Students pages.

If you are applying to organisations for funding, they may have application deadlines by which time you will need to know if you have a place on a course. You should build this deadline into your application process and if you are working to a funding deadline then please let us know.

For further information

You might also like

Back to top