Course Summary

MA Social Impact Documentary Filmmaking leads on teaching the theory and practice of impact filmmaking, aimed at students with a commitment for political activism and social change, and a commitment to the documentary arts. This practice-led course provides students with the tools, resources and mentorship, to actively contribute to social transformation using film, media and technology. All phases of Documentary production are taught, to an advanced level, including: impact research strategies, producing, directing, camera operating, sound recording and editing.

Course Highlights

  • The course involves a high level of practical filmmaking elements, supported by modules on documentary research methods, effective strategy planning and financing productions.

  • Our tutors are industry professionals. This allows students to receive training of a high standard from tutors who are Industry professionals.

  • The course pairs students with experienced mentors from the documentary field, who act as advisors on the development of the major project.

  • The course involves a higher than normal proportion of scheduled contact hours to reflect the higher level of practical, professional skills taught on the programme.

  • Free access to equipment and facilities outside of class time

  • Students will be able to connect with our partners via their project, such as the Bertha Foundation, DocHouse and BritDoc.

  • Students pitch their major documentary projects to a panel of industry professionals at the end of the MA programme.


Graduates are open to a range of Documentary production routes and opportunities, such as: academic research, commissions from international NGOs, and factual broadcast work in the independent television sectors.

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Student Films

Course Structure

The programme is one year in duration over three terms of study.

Course Timeline

Module 1 - Creative DocumentaryProoduction 1: Technical Foundations

This module aims to introduce students to the creative, practical and technical aspects of documentary production. This hands-on production module tackles the practical, technical and aesthetic aspects of professional documentary filmmaking. Additionally, lectures and seminars will examine narrative structures, documentary conventions and industry-standard best practice. Students will engage in short-form filmmaking exercises through idea development, pre-production, production through to post production

Module 2 - Beyond The Documentary: Creating Social Impact

This module will provide students with advanced critical and practical skills in understanding the relationship between research methods and social impact filmmaking. The module explores how compelling documentary narratives and well-crafted outreach plans serve as a catalyst for change, and alter entrenched belief systems and behaviours.

MODULE 3 - Creative Documentary Production 2: Beyond Linear Storytelling

This module challenges conventional approaches to filmmaking and explores the experimental tradition of using film and media as an alternate channel for creative expression, political dissidence, artistic experimentation, environmental protest and technical exploration.

MODULE 4 - The Business of Documentary

Through an understanding of the funding channels for documentary production, students will be able to effectively research, develop, structure and pitch their ideas with potential markets and audiences in mind. Additionally, this module will explore the legal framework and ethical standards relevant to documentary filmmakers, both in the UK and internationally.

MODULE 5 - Postgraduate Project: Documentary Production or Feature Documentary Proposal

Students choose one of two Pathways. Pathway 1 offers students the option to focus on advanced research, leading to the production of a non-feature length final documentary project. This may take the form of a documentary series, a short- form high-impact project or any other form of experimental filmmaking that suits the nature of the project’s intended impact. Pathway 2 offers students the option to focus on advanced impact research, and the development of a social impact feature documentary project bible. A student creates a documentary development package, including a research dossier that justifies the rationale and appropriate impact indicators, a synopsis, treatment, draft budget, distribution and audience engagement strategies and visual supporting materials.

Entry Requirements

  • You will need at least a 2.2 honours degree, in a relevant field, or equivalent industry experience

  • International students need IELTS 6.0 overall (no less than 5.5 in any band)or equivalent

  • Applicants for this course will be invited to attend an interview

  • All applicants must submit a visual portfolio with their application.This could include a short film or a show-reel (both a maximum of 10minutes in length)

Course Fees

Course Fee:
£500 Registration Fee + £9,900 (UK/EU)
£500 Registration Fee + £16,950 (International)

Duration: 1 year
Start date: October 2020

In addition to tuition fees, you will incur a further costs of £500 to cover the Graduation film.  You will also need Production hard drive for your work and travel expenses.  The School will cover Actors costs, shooting kit and Production costs for module exercises.

Merit Scholarship

Central Film School is pleased to reward academic excellence. We have a number of up to 50% merit scholarships for high-achieving students entering the following courses in 2018:

  • BA(Hons) Practical Filmmaking

  • BA(Hons) Screenwriting

  • MA Directing Fiction

  • MA Filmmaking

  • MA Sales and Distribution

  • MA VFX

No application for scholarship required. Students will be automatically considered for the merit scholarship upon receiving an offer for the above courses and will be notified by the admissions team if successful. Successful students will then have 28 days in order to pay a £3,000 advance tuition fee payment to secure the award. Limited availability- Scholarships issued on a first come, first served basis.  It should be noted that this discount applies to new students only and cannot be cumulated with any other the Central Film School scholarship.