Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2 (Taught over 2 semesters)

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture Lectures 3 x 1 hour per week (3 weeks)
Other 10 x 1 hour Seminars (Semester 1) 7 x 1 hour Seminars (Semester 2) 4 x 2 hour Practical Workshops 4 x 30-minute Group Tutorials (2 hours per group)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Research portfolio (individual, written/practical)  20%
Semester Assessment Project treatment (group, written)  20%
Semester Assessment Final Project (group, practical)  40%
Semester Assessment Project assessment (individual, written)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Project assessment (individual, written)  Any supplementary assignment question and criteria will need to be individually negotiated with the student concerned depending on the nature of their contribution during the module. Two of the Learning Outcomes are devised on the basis of practice-based work and performance as a member of a team. In addition to demonstrating the ability to engage with LO's 1, 2, 5 and 6, therefore; any written submission will need to reflect upon and demonstrate a clear understanding of LO's 3 and 4.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to

1. Understand the various stages in the process of making a documentary film

2. Employ a range of research techniques in order to create, develop and present a film idea

3. Manifest technical competence in camera, sound and editing

4. Understand the respective roles of key production personnel in the team

5. Recognise the ethical dimensions of professional media practice

6. Critically reflect on the process of documentary filmmaking


This module explores the conceptual aesthetic, ethical and technical issues raised by documentary film practice. Emphasis is placed on the creative process, rather than product, critical reflection is encouraged, both individually and as a dialogue within the group.


The module will cover the following areas over two semesters. The work will be introduced in general terms in the three introductory lectures. This will be followed by more in depth exploration of each theme during the seminars; and a practical application of the skills acquired during the workshops and tutorials.

  • Approaches to selection of subject, theme and style
  • Research methodologies
  • Archives: research methods, rights and technical issues
  • Journalistic, observational and narrative-driven traditions
  • Visual story-telling techniques
  • Writing and revising a treatment, pitching ideas
  • Production: finance, commissioning, schedules and budgeting
  • Planning and organising a shoot
  • Recce, location and interview methods
  • Ethical and legal issues
  • Camera and sound recording techniques
  • Directorial techniques
  • Advanced editing techniques, shooting with editing in mind

Brief description

Building on the basic production skills acquired in pre-requisite module TF21820 (TV Production - Fiction) this module also requires co-requisite module TF32910 (The Documentary Tradition) which provides a theoretical and historical background to documentary film practice. This advanced practical module is organised around a series of student-centered projects set by the module coordinator and involving such activities as: project-oriented writing assignments; practical research assignments; exercises in visual story-telling; individual presentations, group discussions and evaluations; practical camera and sound exercises. The first semester concentrates on project research and development, the second focuses on the key roles in the production team and the creative power of editing. Each semester culminates in several team projects.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Technical work required numeracy. This will not be assessed.
Communication Oral and written communication skills are developed through exercises, seminars, pitches and feedback on written work.
Improving own Learning and Performance Documentary filmmaking is a continual process of self-assessment and learning. The final project includes a self-assessment.
Information Technology Competence and familiarity with information technology is expected, particularly in the research period. This is not formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning This module has value not only for those with concrete career faims in the media industries but offers all participants opportunities for personal development - see items 1 to 7 above. Guest lecturers from the industry (item F3) can also provide specific career advice.
Problem solving Filmmaking is a continual process of problem-solving. Students are tested on this individually and as part of a team.
Research skills Students undertake research as exercises and in the development of the final project.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Virtually all media practice involves a high degree of team work.

Reading List

General Text
Aufderheide, Patricia (2007) Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction OUP Primo search Baker, Maxine (2006) Documentary in the Digital Age Focal Press Primo search Curran Bernard, Sheila (2004) Documentary Storytelling Focal Press Primo search Glynne, Andy (2008) Documentaries...and how to make them Kamera Books Primo search Hampe, Barry (2007) Making Documentary Films and Videos Holt Primo search Rabiger, Michael (1992) Directing the Documentary Focal Press Primo search Rosenthal, Alan (1996) Writing, Directing & Producing Documentary Films & Videos Southern Illinois UP Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6