module specification

SJ6060 - Documentary Filmmaking (2020/21)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2020/21
Module title Documentary Filmmaking
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Group proposal and pitch
Group Presentation 50%   Group documentary 7-10 minutes
Coursework 20%   Individual 1,000 word critical evaluation
Running in 2020/21
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

Students will develop professional practices working in small groups to produce a short documentary. They will be required to research, pitch and develop a documentary proposal following industry guidelines and legal frameworks. The module will give an overview of the commissioning process and will include input from industry professionals. There will be an emphasis on how to film and work with documentary subjects (or characters) in an ethical way.

Students will learn about a range of documentary modes, genres and techniques via screenings, discussion and practice. Key figures and films will be explored as well as emerging styles and formats.

Prior learning requirements



The module will allow students to develop advanced media practice skills by working towards the production of a 7- 10-minute documentary.

The module will address planning, research, pitching, filming, editing and presentation of a short documentary.

Students will gain experience in specific production roles within their teams through exercises and on their final films.

The module will address aesthetic principles such as how to frame and present an interview.

Key to the module is the selection of interesting and relevant themes to explore though filmmaking.

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning hours comprise face-to-face and virtual contact hours plus self-managed and directed learning and reflecting through group discussion on projects in workshops. Weblearn is used for blended learning. Small groups will meet to develop and film their documentary outside of class time.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

● LO1: Critically and interpret a range of documentaries from different historical periods challenging notions of objectivity in the representation of human experience.
● LO2: Demonstrate understanding of industrial practices such as pitching, proposals and working within a legal framework
● LO3: Work in a team, demonstrating management and planning skills transferable to careers in the audio-visual and creative industries
● LO4: Design and execute a short documentary project from first idea to finished film

Assessment strategy

There will be three contributory assessments.

The first assessment will be formative, involving the research planning and pitching of a group documentary concept. The proposal will assess the students’ theoretical understanding of documentary genres and modes and industrial practices such as writing treatments and seeking consents and permissions.
(LO2, LO3, LO4)

The second assessment will be summative and theory-practice in design. It will demonstrate students’ ability to apply theory in the structure and representation of a short film on their chosen subject and show their technical abilities as filmmakers.
(LO2, LO3, LO4)

The third assessment will also be summative: a written evaluation of their production will enable them to give a critical assessment of their success in realising the aims set out in class for their film project reflecting on their role within the group production.
(LO1, LO2)



Core Text:
● Bruzzi, Stella, New Documentary: A Critical Introduction (London: Routledge, 2000)
● Cousins, Mark and Kevin MacDonald, Imagining Reality (London: Faber, 2006)
● Kochberg, Searle, Introduction to Documentary Production: A guide for media
● students, (London: Wallflower, 2002)
● Nichols, Bill, Introduction to Documentary (Bloomington IA: Indiana University Press, 2001)
● Rabinger, M Directing the Documentary (1992) Focal Press
● Ward, Paul – Documentary: The Margins of Reality Wallflower Press - UK - 2005

     Other Texts:

● Armstrong, Richard, Understanding Realism, London: British Film Institute (2005)
Ashton, Judith, Rose, Mandy, Gaudenzi, Sandra i-Docs: The Evolving Practices of Interactive Documentary (2017) Wallflower Press
● Artis, Anthony (2014) The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide: A Down & Dirty DV Production, Focal Press
● Chanan, Michael The Politics of Documentary, (London: bfi 2007)
● Corner, John, The Art of Record: A Critical Introduction to Documentary, (Manchester University Press (1996)
● Jago, M (2017) Adobe Premiere Pro CC Classroom in a Book (2017 release), Adobe
● Ten Brink, Joram, Building Bridges: The Cinema of Jean Rouch (London: Wallflower Press, 2007)
Winston, Brian, Claiming the Real: The Documentary Film Revisited (London: BFI,