Postgraduate study

Film Directing

Awards: Master of Fine Art, MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

Programme website: Film Directing

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.

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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
Master of Fine ArtFilm Directing21 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MA (eca)Film Directing1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
  • 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.

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.

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 one finished film in support of your application
  • demonstrate technical skills in filmmaking
  • demonstrate experience in directing

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

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): 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

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Programme Director, Emma Davie
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5867
  • Email: e.davie@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

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
  • Email: e.davie@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX