MA Wildlife Filmmaking
Please note there are no vacancies for new applications to this course for September 2023.
Page last updated 29 September 2023
This postgraduate degree has been co-designed by UWE Bristol academics along with producers, directors and production managers from the BBC's world renowned Natural History Unit (NHU).
Bristol is the global capital of natural history programme making and the natural place to study for an MA in Wildlife Filmmaking. On this highly popular Masters course you will learn how to develop and pitch ideas, tell great stories and make intelligent and surprising programmes to captivate and engage audiences.
Our partnership with the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) means that, alongside your studies, you will have incredible opportunities to network with professional wildlife film makers, attend talks, film festivals and other events around the city.
Our MA students graduate with the skills, experience and knowledge needed for entry level jobs in all areas of production from online to broadcast. Graduates now work for the BBC, Icon Films, Discovery, Tigress and other top production companies in the UK and overseas.
Why study this course?
The course is based at Bower Ashton, part of the City Campus, in the creative heart of Bristol. Bower has exceptional facilities and resources which include a news studio, TV studio and post production areas which offer the latest technology.
Be inspired by watching some of the Wildlife Filmmaking videos created by students on our Vimeo site.
Alum, Lindsey Parietti, won a student BAFTA for her powerful nature documentary Blood Island, a film created for this course. In this video she talks about what compelled her to tell the story, and the success that followed.
Engaging, industry-led teaching
Our MA Wildlife Filmmaking is based at Bower Ashton, part of our City Campus, in the creative heart of Bristol. You'll get hands on in our modern production facilities and resources, including an industry-standard TV production studio and post-production facilities.
Throughout the course, you'll develop a range of production skills through attending technical workshops, seminars, and industry masterclasses. Where possible, you'll be assigned to a BBC production mentor during your final module, who'll provide editorial input for your film projects.
Exciting graduate prospects
On completion, you'll graduate with the creative skills and specialist knowledge needed for entry level roles in the wildlife production industry. Many graduates have secured positions with the BBC and in larger independent production companies based in Bristol, the UK and overseas.
Some of our MA students have been nominated for their films and won major awards from industry leaders. These include BAFTA LA, Wildscreen, Royal Television Society (RTS), Jackson Hole and International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF). Graduation films have also been used in BBC broadcasts and commercial distribution.
BAFTA Student award winner and alum, Lindsey Parietti's documentary, 'Blood Island', was produced for her MA. Watch this interview with Lindsey to hear her story.
The course is practical and production-based. During the one-year course, you'll complete four modules:
Creating the Story - (Semester 1) You'll work on developing film narratives and some of the conventions in storytelling used by productions. Through dialogue and written work, you'll see how film ideas come together through discussion.
Mastering the Business (Semester 1) This module introduces you to the way production works, including post-production and production management. It also provides commercial context for film ideas and the current production landscape for natural history shows.
Preparing for Production (Semester 2) This module comprises all the preparatory work required to launch the production stage for your final MA module films. This requires you to complete the editorial development and production management prior to filming which commences Semester 3.
Professional Production You'll now move into your production schedule, including final planning, filming, and post-production, through to delivery and submission in September/October. You'll produce an individual film project in this semester. You'll also have production support through tutorial discussions to track project progress, which will replace your weekly seminars and workshops.
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
You'll be taught in seminars and workshops focused around the University's creative media centre at its Bower Ashton site (see Study Facilities). You'll also benefit from informal sessions with the BBC and independent production companies, giving you the opportunity to hear from professional production staff. It's also useful to take advantage of external events including conferences and festivals based in Bristol where possible.
While semesters 1 and 2 are scheduled for class activities, you'll be expected to be flexible when you need to attend any industry visitor and event timings.
This intensive and rigorous year-long course is delivered as full-time only and runs from September to late October.
Your modules will be assessed by a range of submissions from portfolios of work including films to other production elements. In the first two semesters, you'll develop the practical skills and production thinking required to produce your final module film production. This should be of professional standard and submitted with industry standard paperwork. Completing the MA also requires you to comply with strict health and safety processes for your production activities. For example, all final module films and all overseas productions, will need your tutor's approval in some instances UWE Bristol's Executive office too.
See our full glossary of assessment terms.
Study MA Wildlife Filmmaking and you'll get the production skills you need to capture the natural world in a way that engages your audience. From finding and developing film ideas, building practical skills in camera, sound and editing, to crucial production management skills, you'll become a confident wildlife filmmaker.
Bristol is the global capital of natural history production. Our partnership with the BBC's Natural History Unit (NHU) means you'll have opportunities to network with professional wildlife filmmakers to gain industry knowledge. You'll also have the chance to attend talks, film festivals and other events around the city to get inspiration and boost your creativity.
Teaching will take place at our Bower Ashton site on City Campus. Studying at Bower Ashton offers you an excellent base within the exciting City Campus that connects teaching and learning with some of the best creative 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'll also have the opportunity to study and access facilities at other sites within City Campus. This may include attending lectures, including guest lectures, and seminars at Arnolfini and Watershed in Bristol city centre.
The media hub encompasses studio facilities for news, television production and creative filmmaking as well as post-production facilities with sound and picture editing, grading suites and a dubbing theatre. There is an extensive range of location filming equipment available to students from the college's Central Loans Department.
In addition, you'll have access to other technical resources available to support your practice, including fabrication, computer suites for design software and a well-resourced library.
Our aim is to produce ready and able graduates with a range of skills and industry understanding allowing them to secure and perform well in entry level posts in natural history production companies. The skills you'll learn are also transferrable to other documentary genres.
Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.
Study in Bristol
With many of our graduates already working in the BBC and in the independent sector in Bristol and beyond, we have established ourselves as part of the production community here in the city.
Our BBC Natural History Unit Partnership is unique and so is our location, bringing opportunities for engagement, collaboration and ultimately employment - the BBC highly values the talent, fresh ideas and enthusiasm of our students.
Your final project
As part of the Professional Production module, you'll create your own short-form film (approximately 12-minute duration) together with industry standard deliverables. This project will showcase your skills and abilities for planning and completing a production to industry standard.
Previous students have produced a wide range of films across documentary genres, from observational and behavioural to expedition and experimental. We encourage you to produce distinctive films with impact.
You may choose to travel overseas to film for your final project, but many well-received films have been made here in the UK.
Careers / Further study
For over a decade our MA Filmmaking graduates have been successful in securing careers with natural history production companies in the UK and overseas. Many of these are located here in Bristol, and previous students now range from producers to junior researchers in all major production companies based here.
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
Supplementary fee information
The additional costs listed are those that students could reasonably expect to incur during their studies and are for items not covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, text books, travel, clothing, software or printing.
See our funding pages for more information.
For funding options, please see our funding and scholarships information.
Usually applicants will have an undergraduate degree. Previous media skills may be helpful but are not essential. We're looking for highly motivated individuals who can demonstrate their ability to come up with documentary ideas and the potential to develop their technical, editorial and organisational skills.
For country-specific entry requirements, please find your country on the country information pages.
Applicants will be asked to provide the below for review:
- A programme idea for short wildlife documentary (no more than a single side of A4).
- A list of ten documentary titles you have seen, and a paragraph on each giving us your thoughts. These need not be all wildlife documentaries.
- One or more samples of something you have made. This could be film, photography, written, illustrations, or another creative form.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an online interview. The interview will focus on ideas you have for film, what you have watched and review some of the sample work you have submitted with your application.
We do not accept deferrals for this course.
English Language Requirement
International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).
*The university accepts many UK and International qualifications in place of IELTS. To find details of acceptable tests and the required grades please visit English Language requirements.
English language support
If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.
Read more about our pre-sessional English Programme.
How to apply
The deadline for applications to this course is 14 February. Applications can be submitted after this point but please be aware that late applications cannot be guaranteed for consideration.
Please note, we are unable to allow applicants holding offers to defer their entry.