MA Screen Production (Documentary)

A Screen Production degree student with filming and audio equipment
Entry year
Course code
School of Arts
City Campus
One year
Full-time, starts January
Programme leader
Sean Daniels

Please note we are no longer offering this course to new applicants.

Page last updated 19 September 2023


Make your own films, tap into Bristol's vibrant indie film sector, and develop the skills and network to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

Why study screen production (documentary)?

Documentary filmmaking is one of the fastest growing sectors of the screen economy.

From feature length films to short online content, documentaries offer a powerful tool for storytelling, and engaging audiences in diverse subjects and causes.

New platforms and channels are opening up new opportunities for filmmakers to create documentaries for broadcast, web and film distribution.

Why UWE Bristol?

Aimed at students with some experience of film and video-making already, our MA Screen Production (Documentary) offers you access to expert support and industry-level facilities to take your work to the next level.

Covering the huge breadth of forms of documentary, you'll study wide-ranging filmmaking practices and apply these to producing your own films.

The course is practice-focused, expanding your experience of documentary filmmaking, and training you to be a 'thinking documentary filmmaker', as you learn from the work of great documentarists.

This course is integrated into the buoyant documentary sector of Bristol's audiovisual economy, where Channel 4 recently opened its regional hub, and commissioners are investing in documentary projects.

Some of the fastest growing indies in the UK, such as Plimsoll, Drummer, Silverback and Icon Films are based here and we work closely with local companies, as well as the BBC, to offer you varied production opportunities.

Working with Bristol Business School, you'll also build the skills you need to operate as a freelance, self-employed documentary filmmaker.

There'll be opportunities to network with other future creative leaders, working alongside students on our other postgraduate screen MAs.

The course includes company visits and guest lectures by leading industry experts.

Where can it take me?

You'll be equipped to follow a wide range of careers in the increasingly diverse field of documentary filmmaking, working for broadcasters or setting up your own independent film company.

You're most likely to first secure work as a researcher or production team associate in a larger production company, before seeking commissions to make your own documentaries. 



The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.

You'll study:

  • Developing a Screen Business Concept for the Marketplace
  • Documentary Films: Diversity of Forms
  • Documentary Research and Development
  • Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy.

Plus, one of the following optional modules:

  • Screen Production Final Project
  • Screen Research Final Project.

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

The course runs for three semesters over 12 months, starting with a three-week film festival at Watershed and Arnolfini.

With a strong emphasis on practice and production-based work running through the course, you'll be shooting your documentary films within weeks of arriving at UWE Bristol. You'll learn about the industrial and business context of film and TV, and build valuable enterprise skills, working with students on our other postgraduate screen MAs.

Take part in seminars, workshops, group activities and tutorials, to embed your contextual and theoretical studies and develop your own documentary projects.

Attend film screenings and events within Bristol's vibrant film and TV sector, such as the Watershed Cinema and Encounters Film Festival.

Work on a major documentary project in semester three, to express yourself within your field and prepare for your career.

Take part in industry screenings and our final year degree show. Submit your films to international competitions and festivals.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

Semesters one and two involve a higher level of teaching and scheduled learning, with approximately three days per week of contact time and two days of individual study.

In semester three, the focus will be on project work, with 36 hours of tutorial contact time.


Assessment is mainly by portfolio, with requirements varying for each module.

See our full glossary of assessment terms.



Take part in Bristol film events such as the Watershed Cinema and Encounters Film Festival.

There may be an opportunity to go on a field trip to an international film festival.

Study facilities

You'll find everything you need for your studies in our specially-built film studio facility at Bower Ashton. You'll have access to Sony FS5 and other cameras, Adobe and AVID editing systems, and Da Vinci Resolve grading. 

Bower Ashton is part of our City Campus, a powerhouse of inspiration and collaboration, which spans Bristol and also includes renowned contemporary arts centres Spike Island, Arnolfini and Watershed.

You'll have access to all the facilities on our Frenchay Campus as well, including the library and our £55m Bristol Business School.

Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources

Get a feel for the Filmmaking, Animation and Photography facilities we have on offer here from wherever you are.


Postgraduate support

Our support includes access to fantastic facilities, study tools and career consultants, plus practical help to access everything from funding to childcare.


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Health and Wellbeing

We provide support in the way you need it.

Campus and facilities

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Careers / Further study

You'll be equipped to follow a wide range of careers in the increasingly diverse field of documentary filmmaking, working for broadcasters or setting up your own independent film company.

You're most likely to first secure work as a researcher or production team associate in a larger production company, before seeking commissions to make your own documentaries. 


Supplementary fee information

The international field trip will cost approximately £400. This is not included in the course fees.

See our funding pages for more information.


Entry requirements

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, or professional experience (such as significant work in film production), and a commitment to research and reflecting on creative practice. You will be expected to demonstrate some experience of your practice in film, video or documentary production. We are looking for highly motivated students with a passionate commitment to creating original documentary films.

International applicants

For country specific entry requirements, please find your country on the Country Information pages.

Selection process

Applicants will be asked to provide a concise showreel plus a CV summary outlining existing practical experience and technical skills. 

In addition, you will be asked to provide links to documentaries on which you have played a significant creative role. For each project, please indicate:

  • The purpose for which the film was made (i.e. education or professional)
  • Where it has been exhibited (e.g. university only, online platform, festivals, broadcast, theatrical)
  • What your role was on the film. 

We are particularly interested to see narrative documentaries; those in which you can demonstrate the level of your storytelling, aesthetic and technical understanding, experience and skills. 

Applicants will also be asked to provide half-page outline of an idea for a documentary you could potentially make as your final project a 10-15 minute film. This outline should make clear the film's potential characters and narrative, the documentary approaches you will adopt (i.e. use of interviews, actuality, archive, dramatic forms, voice over), themes, ethical considerations, and filming schedule. 

If you have any queries about the above guidance, please contact the Programme Leader.

If you are shortlisted for interview, we will invite you to an online interview on Microsoft Teams.

English Language Requirement

International and EU applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 7.0 with 6.0 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The University accepts a large number of 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.

For further information