Postgraduate study

Film Directing MA, MFA

Awards: MA, MFA

Accreditation

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Film Directing

COVID-19

We are committed to offering a high-quality experience to all our students. We are working to minimise the impact of COVID-19, but we have reluctantly decided that we will be unable to offer the MFA Film Directing programme for entry in 2020.

We anticipate that this degree will be available again for entry in September 2021, but we are not currently in the position to confirm that. Applications for the next intake usually open in October.

You may instead be interested in the alternative MA (eca) Film Directing programme.

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This programme takes a practice-based collaborative approach to studying for an award in Film Directing (Documentary) that integrates practical film making with analysis of contemporary practice.

You will make a creative documentary or non-fiction film that defies genre definition and pushes the boundaries of narrative. We develop these through workshops and tutorials. You will work in an integrated framework that helps you question the form of your film and enables you to find the right language for your storytelling.

We encourage community ways of working that foster the exchange of ideas, with inspiration from international visiting film makers through the Scottish Documentary Institute and support from our team of documentary practitioners - our tutors are top professionals currently working in the industry as directors, producers, editors, sound designers or cinematographers.

An Avid edit teaching space, and screening space, help us encourage a fresh approach to emerging technologies.

Graduate films do well internationally, regularly winning BAFTAs, RTS Awards and awards at international festivals. Over the last five years our students and graduates have received an Oscar nomination and an Oscar shortlist. We work closely with the Scottish Documentary Institute, the University’s internationally-acclaimed research centre in documentary film making.

Accreditation

Creative Skillset MA/MFA Film Directing has been awarded the Creative Skillset Tick, the industry kitemark of quality, following a rigorous assessment process by experts working in the Creative Industries. The Creative Skillset Tick is awarded to practice-based courses which best prepare students for a career in the industry. Screen Academy Scotland is one of only 3 Screen Academies in the UK along with National Film School and London Film School.

This programme is project-led and delivered through workshops and regular individual tutorials. It integrates practical studio work with theoretical and written studies from the screen cultures course which is run independently.

Your work is initially organised around micro-films that enhance your awareness of film language and your technical skills. Visiting lecturers deliver cinematography and sound workshops.

You will then prepare and shoot your graduate film, backed up by edit tutorials and project support from a tutor, before it is edited and finished with input from group crits and tutorials.

You may also attend or volunteer with Edinburgh Film Festival and the Edinburgh Pitch, to observe and engage with key players from the international documentary world.

Students on the MA programme will complete a short documentary in their one year course. Students on the MFA programme (2 years) make one short documentary and develop a feature documentary film through directing scenes, a trailer and writing a long treatment.

Our students often go on to tour their short films round international festivals from their MA or find ways of making a completed feature documentary through international co-production after graduating from the MFA.

  • challenge boundaries, encourage original thought, and develop intellectual and critical approaches to making films
  • combine the contemporary energy and discipline of current creative approaches to film practices with the professionalism of industry practices, in order to produce innovative and grounded work
  • facilitate the interrelationship between different cultural traditions, traditional and emerging screen technologies, and classical and non-traditional cinematic genres and conventions
  • ability to take risks with established forms of narrative
  • understanding of contemporary international documentary practice
  • practice based knowledge of the tools to make a short original documentary film from conception to completion

Our students go on to a wide range of roles, including producer, director, writer, production or location manager, researcher, editor, assistant director, cinematographer, or journalist. Graduates have found work directing for the BBC and making work internationally for top broadcasters and film funds. Related fields include advertising, community films, academia or film development agencies.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject area. You should have technical skills in filmmaking and experience in directing.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application.

Your portfolio should:

  • include a link to one finished film, which can be any form but must be subtitled in English

  • demonstrate technical skills in filmmaking

  • demonstrate experience in directing

Your portfolio should not:

  • include more than one film

  • be a showreel

If your submitted film is fiction you must include in your personal statement why you wish to make documentary films.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements

  • PTE Academic: total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements

  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Emma Davie
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5867
  • Contact: e.davie@ed.ac.uk
  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2020/21 are shown below.

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 15 November 2019 20 December 2019
2 31 January 2020 06 March 2020
3 20 April 2020 25 May 2020
4 19 June 2020 24 July 2020

*(Revised 30 October to include application deadline information.)

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio. You should upload your video to a website of your choice (eg YouTube, Vimeo etc) and add the link to the portfolio upload section of your online application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Emma Davie
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5867
  • Contact: e.davie@ed.ac.uk
  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU