This course provides an environment in which directors can find their individual style and their own distinctive voice. Supported by the David Lean Foundation, this is the UK’s premier MA course in directing.
  • Unique specialist course.
  • Students of all key film-making disciplines work together on productions.
  • Purpose-built film and television studios.
  • Industry standard post- production facilities.
  • The MA Course in Directing Fiction is supported by the David Lean Foundation.
  • Flare Studio scholarship available. More info here.
  • 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 Postgraduate 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 MA course at the NFTS provides two years in which directing students will be adding depth and understanding to their abilities whilst regularly producing work. This is an environment where they will be both challenged and supported by staff and fellow students. The tutor to student ratio is high, thus allowing the teaching to be specific to the needs of the individual director. One great advantage of having different departments within the school is not only that students gain from the practical experience of working with the other specialisations but that their thinking is informed by the various collaborative engagements that together convey an idea to the screen.
The essence of the course is the practical experience of film-making, combined with a wide-ranging series of work-shops emphasising performance, mise-en-scène and an examination of how narrative works in cinema and in television. Engagement with students of other disciplines at the NFTS is a crucial aspect of the course. The curriculum of each specialisation is designed to link with the others throughout the course, so that students work together on projects of varying scale and complexity, increasing their understanding of the various specialist roles involved in film and television programme-making. The course includes weekly sessions on film and television culture, both contemporary and historical, and opportunities to learn from the work of more established directors through masterclasses and set visits. It also involves interaction with other disciplines, ranging from visual art, literature and architecture to installation and performance art.


In the first year, Directing Fiction students take part in a series of workshops exploring all aspects of directing, acquiring a solid understanding of current practices and technology across related specialist crafts. The workshops are supported by seminars on screen language and history, as well as individual tutorial sessions; which can guide students in self-motivated research to supplement their particular learning needs. Besides the weekly Screen Arts programme of screenings and seminars, the Directing Fiction department has regular sessions of screenings, scene by scene analysis and discussion led by tutors and students.

The Directing Fiction department workshops focus on isolating and building on skills used in collaboration with other departments. Each series of workshops culminates in a practical production exercise. Production experience is considered essential because the ability to maintain clarity of ideas and their expression within the conflicting demands of script, cast, crew and practical parameters – it is the test of the learning that has come before.

The first year work is aimed not only at developing skills, but at exposing weak areas of understanding and concept. In the final term of the first year, the directors collaborate with a team to make the First Year Film. This is a project which, apart from temporal and budgetary restrictions, gives the students considerable freedom and which encourages them to take responsibility for their work. During the first year, the student will have begun work on developing second year projects and their dissertation.

The second year of the Directing Fiction course provides more of an opportunity for the self- motivated student to develop his or her own voice through two different types of production experience. The dissertation allows for examining a particular area in depth and should be complementing and informing further work. Longer form storytelling is developed through the digital production. The primary collaboration on this production is focused on director/cinematographer/actor.

Short form storytelling and collaboration with a larger crew is developed through a film production called The Summer Fiction. Both it and the Digital Film are heavily supported by individual tutorials.
The productions also include scheduled workshops/seminars/tutorial support for casting, rehearsals, shot planning, set procedures and working with the A.D., as well as intensive and continuous viewings and critiques of rushes and edits. Editing, Sound and Music tutors also provide tutorials during post-production.

Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School. In addition you will be given a 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.


The Fiction department is led by Brian Gilbert (Wilde); Lesley Manning (Ghostwatch; Honeycombe Lodge) and Ian Sellar (Venus Peter, Prague). Many other leading directors teach on the programme, including, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Tamara Drew,  and Udayan Prasad (Gabriel & Me, The Yellow Handkerchief).


Directors David Yates (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really HereWe need to talk about Kevin), Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea), Michael Radford (Il Postino), Danny Cannon (Gotham, CSI Crime Scene Investigation, Judge Dredd,), Sarah Gavron (Suffragette, Brick Lane) and Michael Caton Jones (Memphis Belle, Rob Roy) studied at the NFTS.

Entry Requirements

Students come from a wide range of backgrounds: you may be an independent filmmaker, you might have a degree or you may have experience of working in the Industry.

Your application must include a web link to a short fiction piece that you have directed - or an extract of a longer work - that you have directed recently, and a short treatment for another narrative-based project.

Apply With

  • short film (15 minutes max) which you have directed.
    Please submit your work via Vimeo links. 
    If you are submitting a piece of work which is longer than 15 minutes, please note that you can specify which 15 minutes should be viewed. The technical quality of the work submitted is not a priority in assessment.
    (If dialogue is not in English and the film does not have English subtitles please email a dialogue transcript in English).
  • A treatment for an original film or video project of no more than 5 sides of A4 paper, typed and double spaced. This should not be a treatment for the same project as submitted above. It should be a treatment for either a short film or a feature length project.
    This treatment should include:
    i. the basic situation,
    ii. the characters and other elements
    iii. the main thrust of the story as it changes from beginning, through middle, to end

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