The NFTS has a tradition of enabling documentary filmmakers to find a distinctive voice that both prepares them for the Industry and makes their work a force for changing it.
  • Develop a personal voice.
  • Put storytelling at the centre of your process.
  • Study in a multi-disciplinary filmmaking environment.
  • Shoot on digital formats.
  • Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School.

We welcome EU/EEA Students. Those accepted onto the course starting in 2018 and 2019 will have their fees guaranteed at the UK rate for both years of the course. Postgraduate students can apply for a loan to help with their studies via the Student Loans Company Loans. A £10,609 loan is available to contribute to course and living costs. The Post Graduate Loan is only open to EU/EEA and UK Students who normally live in England.  It is not currently available to Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Students. Find out more here.

Course Overview

This course commences in January each year. The goal of the course is to give our graduates the tools and the confidence to become successful members of the international documentary community. Our students have won the Grierson and Sheffield Student Awards two years running, IDFA and the Royal Television Society last year, and win prizes at the most prestigious festivals round the world: Sundance, IDFA, Hot Docs, Berlin, Sheffield and many others. The most important thing, however, is to prepare them for life as committed documentary storytellers, wherever that may lead.

In the UK, getting a first commission can be a daunting task but last year, for example,  Marc Williamson, made a First Cut for Channel 4 from his Sheffield student award winning graduation film which this year won him the Grierson Prize for Best Newcomer. Some use the contacts they make in the last phase of the course, to put together deals with TV  production companies and non-TV source as Sam Blair did with Adidas for his brilliant feature debut about sprinters, Personal Best.  Since students direct and shoot five films in different genres during the course, many progress swiftly by using their unique skills to contribute to productions throughout the industry, like James Newton who won a Grierson last year as one of the directors of The Year the Town Hall Shrank .


Year One

Built around a series of four practical exercises, increasing in length and complexity, informed and inspired by relevant traditions. Each exercise isolates and focuses on the techniques and content of a specific documentary genre: observation, character–led narrative, image/sound poetry and investigation. Students collaborate in various combinations with editors, cinematographers, sound designers and composers and also work alone using digital video equipment.

Year Two

Includes three projects: a graduation film in which students synthesise what they have discovered in the first year, and use it to confidently challenge conventional approaches to documentary: an MA dissertation in which they reflect on a practical question that has intrigued them during the course so far and a proposal/taster tape for a project to take into the professional arena.
The final stage consists of visits to film festivals, broadcasters, independent producers and other relevant institutions, together with seminars dealing with the commissioning process,  legal requirements, finance and festival potential.
Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School including an above-the-line cash production budget. NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors.
For the outline programme specification and MA course student agreement, please view the documents available on our entry requirements page for more information.


Some of the UK's leading Documentary makers teach at the School, including internationally acclaimed directors Kim Longinotto, Sean McAllister, Asher Tlalim, Nick Broomfield, vastly experienced producer/directors Riete Oord, Ros Franey, award-winning cinematographer Roger Chapman, Rory Peck award winner Rodrigo Vazquez, the founder of Dochouse, Elizabeth Wood, Exec Producer of The Act of Killing, Andre Singer, and successful younger alumni like Lara Agnew, Sandhya Suri, Simon Chambers and Dan Vernon .
The department is led by Dick Fontaine and Peter Dale.
Dick has directed over forty films for television and the independent media, has recently had retrospectives in New York, Paris, Barcelona and Sao Paulo and was nominated last year for a Grierson Award for his latest film.
Peter started as a television film editor and directed his first documentary for BBC One in 1980. He went on to produce and direct documentaries at the BBC for the next 18 years. In 1998 he went to Channel 4 to become Head of Documentaries where he took the opportunity to commission a good number of NFTS graduates, including Kim Longinotto, Nick Broomfield and Molly Dineen. In 2005 he conceived and launched More4, Channel 4’s third digital channel. And in September 2008 set up his own independent production company, Rare Day, dedicated to producing quality documentary and drama for broadcasters and other distributors.


Graduates include Nick Broomfield who pioneered a powerful new genre in documentary: the filmmaker-as- provocateur (The Leader, the Driver and the Driver’s Wife, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer,and, most recently, Tales from the Grim Sleeper), Grierson Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Molly Dineen (Home from the Hill, The Lie of the Land), Kim Longinotto, whose inspirational films about women are celebrated at festivals around the world (Divorce Iranian–Style, Sisters in Law, and her new film Dreamcatcher), and Sundance winner Sean McAllister (The Liberace of Baghdad, The Reluctant Revolutionary) and many others who are making striking contributions in documentary on many different platforms.

Entry Requirements

Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have usually had some previous experience of filmmaking, though this may not be at a professional level. All have a strong social awareness and a keen desire to translate that awareness into stories told with a personal voice.

Apply With

  • A short film (20 minutes max) which you have conceived and directed: Please submit your work via Vimeo links.
    Please note, that if you wish to submit a longer film, only the first 20 minutes will be viewed. If dialogue is not in English, you should enclose a dialogue transcript in English.
  • A written proposal for a different film of any specified length (no more than four sides of A4 paper, typed and double spaced) which should include the basic premise, a description of the characters and locations and most importantly, the developing narrative. 

How to Apply

The application deadline has now passed, please contact registry via email stating your name, course of interest and email address if you would like to be added to a mailing list:
  • 2 Year Course
  • Full-time
  • Course runs Jan-Dec each year
  • Next intake: January 2020
  • NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students