MA

Documentary Filmmaking: Landscape and Ecology

This unique Masters draws on Aberystwyth’s location between the mountains and the sea, allowing you to develop a documentary filmmaking practice informed by nature, landscape and environmental politics.

Surrounded by nature and in close proximity to a number of key environmental organisations (Centre for Alternative Technology, Dyfi Biosphere, Cambrian Wildwood), as well as the National Screen and Sound Archive, Aberystwyth is the perfect location for an immersion in documentary filmmaking.

Typical Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements 2:1 Bachelors (Honours) degree in a relevant subject area, or equivalent.  Non-graduates will be considered individually based on relevant work experience/professional practice.

English Language Requirements IELTS 7.0 with minimum 6.0 in each component, or equivalent

Other Requirements Applicants are encouraged to submit an up-to-date CV as part of their application.

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Course Overview

Why study MA Documentary Filmmaking: Landscape and Ecology at Aberystwyth University?

The MA in Documentary Film at Aberystwyth provides you with a unique opportunity to develop your practical skills as a documentary filmmaker in a research-led context and with access to both film and digital technologies.

You will have the opportunity to explore a range of techniques, experiment with new approaches and take risks as you develop your own creative voice through a period of sustained reflection that leads to a final practical project. The scheme is designed to equip you with technical expertise, supported by a grounding in the key critical debates in documentary film. You will be encouraged to experiment with different media and methods, and to think about documentary as a form of both personal expression and political intervention, stimulating new ways of seeing and engaging with the world. You will benefit from departmental interests in documentary history and theory, space, place and landscape, activism, ecocriticism and site-specific performance. 

Specialist opportunities at Aberystwyth for Documentary Film students include:

  • benefitting first-hand from the Department's strengths in site-specific practice
  • use of facilities to work across digital, 8mm and 16mm film, including a digital research lab and darkrooms for analogue film and photography
  • access to the National Screen and Sound Archive at the National Library of Wales
  • taking part in workshops and masterclasses with visiting artists
  • field work and trips.

Course Details

Duration: 

1 year (full-time) or 2 years (part-time). The academic year (September to September) is divided into three semesters: September to January; January to June; June to September. 

Contact Time: 

Approximately 10-14 hours per week in the first two semesters. During semester three you will arrange your level of contact time with your assigned supervisor, who will support you through your final practical project. In addition to scheduled teaching times, you will also have access to specialist technical workspaces to pursue independent study and creative practice throughout the course. 

English Language Requirements: 

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from a UK University, you do not need to take an English proficiency test. Non-native English speakers who do not meet this requirement must take a University-recognised test of academic English language proficiency. For further information please see our English Language requirements page

Course Fees: 

Please see the tuition fee pages for current tuition fees. Please note that all fees are subject to an annual increase. 

Funding: 

Funding opportunities may be available, please check our funding calculator for details. 

Modules

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Core

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Practice Research Project TFM1060 60
16mm Filmmaking TFM0720 20
Documentary Practices TFM0840 40
Ecocriticism and Ecocinema TFM0920 20
Key Concepts and Debates in Human Geography GGM3120 20

Options

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Engaging Publics TPM1820 20
Exhibiting Film TFM3520 20
Human Geography Theory and Method GGM1320 20
Risk, Resilience and Behaviour in a Changing Environment EAM4420 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh

Careers

You will be equipped with the creative and critical skills required to pursue a career as independent filmmakers, artists or collaborators within professional organisations. You will gain advanced technical knowledge in your chosen specialisms, including camerawork, sound and editing. 

Course Content

What will I learn?

Modules that you may study on this course include:

  • Documentary Practices
  • 16mm Filmmaking
  • Key Concepts and Debates in Human Geography
  • Risk, Resilience and Behaviour in a Changing Environment
  • Ecocriticism and Ecocinema
  • Human Geography: Theory and Method
  • Exhibiting Film
  • Engaging Publics
  • Practice Research Project

Documentary Practices

Combining critical inquiry and creative practice, this module encourages you to develop your own authorial voice and to explore the possibilities of the documentary form, reaching beyond traditional techniques to find new and innovative languages. 

16mm Filmmaking

This module provides a rare opportunity to explore the material possibilities of 16mm film. Using our specialist lab and taught by experts in the field of photochemical film, you will explore Bolex shooting, hand-processing, optical printing, tinting and toning, as well as projection and installation.

Ecocriticism and Ecocinema

This module introduces you to the expanding field of ecocriticism, an environmentally conscious approach to the study of cultural productions that has impacted significantly upon film theory and practice. 

Practice Research Project

Supported by your supervisor, you will have the opportunity to develop a substantial piece of documentary filmmaking (on film, digital or a combination of both) informed by research into your chosen topic. You will be encouraged to collaborate with project partners in developing your project. 

For more details and the latest information on our modules, see the modules tab.

How will I learn?

The taught part of the course is delivered through lectures, seminars, practical workshops and screenings. During semester three (June-September), you will arrange your level of contact time with your assigned supervisor. In addition to scheduled teaching times you will also have access to technical workspaces to pursue independent study and creative practice throughout the course.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment is designed to extend your critical and creative capabilities. You will engage in at least five practical film projects, write a number of essays, reflective journals and critical reflections and devise a curatorial project related to documentary film. In the third semester, you will complete a substantial research-led film project of 15-20 minutes (with a supporting 5,000 word essay), the shape of which will be determined in discussion with the relevant supervisor. You will submit your film work to appropriate film festivals and screening events and you will be supported in this by an experienced staff member.