BA Film Studies and Arabic / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Contemporary Documentary Film Making

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM32102
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Today, documentary filmmaking practice is an expanding field of emerging forms, genre experimentation and digital platforms that are transforming the way that non-fiction is constructed on screen. This course trains and supports you in the creation of your own 10-15 minute documentary film and encourages you to critically position your own practice within an examination of contemporary modes and methods. Through a series of advanced workshops combining practice with theory, students develop their filmmaking craft with industry-level camera, sound and editing equipment alongside their understanding of documentary genres, style and narrative technique.

Teaching will be responsive to the evolving ideas and needs of the students as they work in small groups to take their idea from proposal development to production. This course is designed to prepare you for work in the non-fiction filmmaking industry and provide the opportunity to make a film that is festival ready. You will learn in depth about professional practices and considerations such as proposal writing; documentary research; filmmaking ethics; interviewing and a range of techniques to support your creative choices when shooting and editing. You will also learn about the range of potential careers in documentary and television production and be encouraged to think about how your film might sit within current platforms for non-fiction film.


  • Any L1 Drama or Film Study or Practical core option  
  •   Any L2 Drama or Film Study core option: Theatres of Modernity; Screen, Culture and Society  
  •   At least one 20 credit L2 Drama/Film practical course 


  • To develop student’s craft and foster their creative approach to devising, shooting and editing their own original documentary film 
  • To develop students’ critical understanding of a range of contemporary modes of documentary storytelling, with an emphasis on the hybrid legacies of observational cinema and new approaches to short form documentary 
  • To aid students in the development of ethical, responsible relationships with the chosen subject/s of their film 
  • To enhance students’ understanding of cutting-edge practice and prepare them for potential careers in the industry 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify and analyse some of the key modes, methods and contexts of contemporary documentary practice 
  • Identify key theoretical concepts that underpin contemporary documentary practice 
  • Understand the practical and ethical considerations that arise when making documentary films 
  • Use this understanding to devise original work that builds on their own societal, creative and intellectual interests 
  • Demonstrate a sophisticated critical understanding of their own creative process 

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate how research, theory and craft synthesise in the production of original documentary work  
  • Work collaboratively and responsively with peers to critique and enhance each other’s practice, drawing on feedback to develop and refine the creative process  
  • Communicate in a critically informed manner with industry professionals 
  • Demonstrate a self-reflexive understanding of the creative filmmaking process through reflective writing 

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate advanced practical skill in: 
  • Camera operation and shooting technique  
  • Production planning and management  
  • Proposal writing 
  • Factual script production 
  • Archive sourcing and clearance 
  • Applying ethical and legal guidelines to documentary practice  
  • Editing using Adobe Premiere Pro 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Advanced interpersonal communication and team-working skills 
  • Critical thinking skills and creative group-work practice skills (problem-solving, thinking innovatively, drawing on creative approaches of others, evaluating arguments, giving and receiving feedback, time-keeping) 
  • Using effective leadership and group-work skills to solve complex problems 
  • Performing with confidence and precision for specific audiences/contexts, making use of diverse creative approaches and media 

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Ability to develop informed critique of professional practice (own and others), drawing on understanding of high-quality standards
Group/team working
Ability to work independently and as part of a group to conceive, plan, undertake and evaluate original, well-developed projects that involve complex and unpredictable scenarios
Advanced skills in group-work, leadership, reflexivity, planning and project management
Industry-level research, development, shooting and editing skills
Networking with industry professionals. Development of a professional identity and skills/knowledge base to inform further professional practice, training and learning

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative Weighting within unit (%)

Pitch and supporting written proposal

Formative n/a

Final film and production portfolio

Summative 60%

Reflective exit interview

Summative 40%

Ongoing feedback during workshops and on individual reflective journals – peer to peer and tutor to student

Formative n/a


Resit Assessment

Assessment task

Alternative assessment (TBD)

Feedback methods

  • Formative : Pitch and proposal – verbal and written 
  • Summative : Film and production portfolio - written 
  • Summative: Reflective interview - written 
  • Summative : Formative feedback points throughout the process, via dedicated tutorial hours, reflective journals and in-class sessions 

Recommended reading

  • Baker, Maxine, Michael Darlow, and Georgia Kennedy. 2006. Documentary in the Digital Age 
  • Bricca, Jacob. 2017. Documentary Editing: Principles and Practice 
  • Bruzzi, Stella. 2006. New Documentary (2nd edition) 
  • De Jong, Wilma, Erik Knudsen and Jerry Rothwell. 2012. Creative Documentary 
  • Fox, Broderick. 2018. Documentary Media: History, Theory, Practice 
  • Kihoon, Jim 2022. Documentary’s Expanded Fields: New Media and the Twenty-First Century Documentary 
  • Marcus, Daniel and Selmin Kara. 2016. Contemporary Documentary 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 84
Independent study hours
Independent study 16

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sophie Everest Unit coordinator

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