MA Documentary Journalism
This course will prepare you to research and produce long-form journalism for online, radio and television. It includes all the steps of the process from research and production across multi-platforms, to making a pitch, the commissioning process, costing and budgets.
What you'll study
You’ll take a multi-platform approach to documentary making, developing in-depth research methods and story-telling, along with practical skills in writing, broadcasting, online and visual journalism.
You’ll be taught by our team of experienced media professionals as well as visiting documentary makers across all platforms and be guided through the commercial process of documentary making.
As part of the course, you can choose to work with the MA Documentary production hub Borderless which provides film production experience on live projects within NTU, the local creative industries and further afield.
Recent projects included pre-release promotional films for the Ken Loach movie I Daniel Blake; an ongoing heritage funded archive film about the Theatre Royal in Nottingham and a documentary celebrating 35 years of Caribbean newspaper The Voice in London, which will start next year.
- Documentary Journalism Skills and Digital Production (60 credit points) - This is a practical module which provides the essential skills you need to work in documentary journalism. These include research, interviewing, scripting and writing for different platforms. You will learn techniques for recording and edit audio and video, working with stills, online and multimedia. The module culminates in making a long-form video documentary. Part of the module involves you doing a three-week placement with an external organisation like the BBC, ITV, an independent production company, facilities house or other commissioned project.
- Documentary Practice (20 credit points) - This module introduces you to the key concepts and genres of documentary journalism. It will provide you with the knowledge and understanding to critically evaluate documentaries across a range of genres and emerging platforms and will explore some of the ethical issues of documentary making. The module also examines the business of documentary production, looking at pitching and commissioning as well as new forms of funding and distribution. Part of this may be through our own production company.
- Visual Journalism (20 credit points) - This module addresses the changing role of visual storytelling through an exploration of documentary photography and new forms of visual multimedia. You will be exposed to a range of multidisciplinary material and develop communication technologies, computing and software which enable an extraordinary range of visual stories to diverse audiences globally. You will be encouraged to find your own creative voice through critical analysis, research and practice-based skills.
- Media Law (20 credit points) - You will acquire a full understanding of the scope and effect of media law. You will be taught to recognise the danger areas in publication, evaluating risk and amending or eliminating content. You will gain an appreciation of the impact of reporting restrictions on the work of journalists as well as the legal considerations involved in investigative and covert filming.
Students taking the Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) route follow the same modules as those on the full MA with the exception of the 60 credit MA Multiplatform Project.
- Multiplatform Project (MA route only) - This year-long project brings together skills and understanding gained over the entire course. It involves researching a topical issue and producing a 3,000-word research essay which feeds into an online multimedia feature in radio (12-15 minutes) or television (8-10 minutes). Work produced for this module in the past has gone on to win awards in student media competitions.
How you’re taught
Study methods and assessment
Study methods include lectures, seminars, individual tutorials, screenings, production workshops, presentation and peer review, combined with a programme of visiting industry practitioners.
You’ll undertake a minimum of three weeks of placements. Placement opportunities may include radio, television, interactive, or digital storytelling within a media concern of your choice. Activities may include research and development for a documentary in pre-production or shadowing a documentary editor in a facilities house. Students sometimes do placements at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, which runs nearby every June. This is a must for any student of the documentary, and the biggest festival of its kind in the UK.
You’ll be assessed by a mixture of portfolio work, essays and exams as well as producing a final project of a finished documentary of your choice.
Notts TV is one of 19 new local TV stations awarded a 12-year licence to broadcast on Freeview channel 8, Sky 117, and Virgin 159. We’re home to the station’s news output, which produces two hours of news every weeknight.
Uniquely MA Documentary Journalism students may have the chance to work with the station and take part in work placements.
Careers and employability
Your career development
The teaching team are all from industry and have backgrounds in award-winning documentary production and reportage. Employability is a key focus of the course, and you will meet commissioning editors and documentary producers within the field. You will work with live commissioning briefs wherever possible and will be encouraged to pitch ideas to documentary and other festivals during your course. The MA is designed to enhance your future career in documentary journalism across a range of platforms and outlets, terrestrial or online.
Our award-winning range of journalism courses are based in the Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism, centrally placed on our City site. This multimillion pound development includes one of the largest student newsrooms in the UK, a fully functioning TV studio with production facilities and three radio studios.
- six high definition SDI cameras incorporating pedestals
- live weather green screen
- a studio news set with back video projection
- automated newsroom reading system (autocue).
TV Production / Viewing Gallery
This is a dedicated production facility incorporating:
- live multi-channel audio mixing desk
- digital high definition vision mixer
- operation stations including Director (with access to multi-functional communications system), a Production Assistant (accessing automated programme time counts), Autocue Controller (synchronising camera on-screen prompts in live TV studio), Play-out Operator (responsible for queuing and output of pre-recording and news packages).
- 96 workstations including two hydraulic workstations for disability access
- a specialised production facility for television, radio, print, magazine and online news production
- an integrated 1GB network system
- Adobe Master Collection software (continual updates to latest versions)
- multi-screen workstations
- newsroom live production points, live links to external camera feeds
- live news feeds Independent Radio News feed
- Press Association Feed.
Three radio studios
The radio news production facilities incorporate:
- one larger studio with six-microphone hex desk (used for multi-presenter panel debates)
- fully soundproofed with the acoustic isolated floating floor system
- news production consoles
- automated newsroom reading system (autocue)
- a three-presenter newsdesk
- automated live bulletin recorder
- audio news package play-out system (BPM)
- real-time audio monitoring for newsroom
- convergence systems for online platforms
- two voice-over recording cubicles.
Student technical resources
Free hire of broadcast equipment that can be used on location including:
- 70 widescreen digital video cameras
- high definition cameras
- video camera kits including balance line, microphone, Sony Pro headphones, Manfrotto Pro floating tripod system
- over 60 digital audio recorders (digital Marantz recorders)
- over 40 digital still cameras and production lighting equipment.
Photographic production area
- a pull-down white Cyclorama curtain
- a three-point lighting system
- soft and hard lighting
- white defusing tent for photographing smaller objects (for print magazines).
- 50mm lenses
The Centre for Broadcasting and Journalism production facilities have a dedicated team of six friendly and experienced engineers. They provide constant technical support and training for students and update and create systems that mirror the latest innovations in the industry.
Books and library resources
In our library, you will have access to an extensive and diverse range of books, periodicals and other resources that focus on specialist areas within Broadcast Journalism.
Our IT resource rooms and PC clusters are distributed across the City site, with PCs providing access to:
- Microsoft Office
- web browsing
- networked file storage
- high-speed online printing services (with a free printing allowance for each student).
Resource rooms are available 24 hours a day.
- You will need a good honours degree (minimum 2.1) and enthusiasm for, or experience in documentary radio, film, reportage or multimedia.
- Applicants with a 2.2 and substantial experience will be considered.
- Applications from candidates with non-standard entry qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.
Written journalism test
All applicants will be asked to submit two short (250 words) documentary proposals as part of the application. These will be judged against clear criteria that show an understanding of the documentary genre, and creative ideas for achievable projects.
We accept qualifications from schools, colleges and universities all over the world for entry onto our courses. If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.
Pre-masters and foundation courses
If you need to do a foundation course to meet our course requirements please visit Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). If you’re already studying in the UK at a school or college and would like to know if we can accept your qualification please visit our pre-masters and foundation courses page.
English language entry requirements
If English is not the first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.
- For a list of our language requirements please visit our English language page.
- If you need to do a pre-sessional English language course to meet the English requirements please visit our pre-sessional English course page.
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Last updated April 25, 2018