Documentary Filmmaking

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
18 March 2022


Requisites for this module


LT322, LT833

Key module for

BA P565 Film and Journalism,
BA P566 Film and Journalism (Including Foundation Year),
BA P567 Film and Journalism (including Placement Year),
BA P568 Film and Journalism(including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module specialises in documentary filmmaking and introduces the key concepts of documentary filmmaking in practice and theory.

We will examine different documentary forms through the work of practitioners such as John Grierson, Molly Dineen, Nick Broomfield and Agnes Varda. Each week there are readings and screenings to inform the seminars. Documentary production skills covered include the formulation of the idea, research methods, assessing contributors, handling access, legal and consent issues, documentary camera/sound recording techniques and documentary editing.

The classes are structured around short lectures, demonstrations and practical exercises. Students work individually as well as in small groups, devising practical projects under the guidance of the tutor. The term culminates with students creating their own individual documentary film.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. to provide students with the necessary practical and research skills to produce short documentary films
2. to foster an understanding of production management
3. to give students the opportunity to develop their time management, creative thinking and problem solution skills
4. to develop team working skills within small production teams

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students should have:

1. acquired the practical skills necessary to produce short documentary films
2. acquired an understanding of production management
3. gained experience of time management, within the constraints of limited resources
4. developed skills in negotiating / working effectively with others in achieving a common goal
5. experience of documentary research and production

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 3-hour session


  • Barnouw, Erik. (1993) Documentary: a history of the non-fiction film, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Rabiger, Michael. (2014) Directing the documentary, Burlington, MA: Focal Press.
  • Nichols, Bill. (2017) Introduction to documentary, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1 - Individual Documentary Film (8-12 mins) *Submit via link on Moodle* Contributor Consent Forms to be submitted to FASer    60% 
Coursework   Assignment 2 - Analytical Essay (2000 words)    35% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Nic Blower, email:
Nic Blower
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Andrew Birtwistle
Canterbury Christ Church University
Reader in Film and Sound
Available via Moodle
Of 112 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
112 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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