Wildlife, Biology and Ecology
Wildlife Documentary Production
School of Environment & Life Sciences
September 2019Next enrolment
In a nutshell
On this course you will learn the research, scriptwriting and production skills that you will need to produce polished, professional wildlife documentaries.
As well as lectures and seminars, you will attend masterclasses given by expert practitioners with links to the television industry. Plus you will take field trips to a range of animal habitats, where you will work on individual and group projects.
During your time with us, you will learn specialist wildlife-production techniques, including long-lens and time-lapse photography and close-up sound recording. There is a strong emphasis on professional practice, and your projects will be expected to measure up to scientific scrutiny, as well as exhibition and broadcast standards.
- Work towards a fulfilling career in an exciting field with the potential for travel
- Learn from respected filmmakers via a series of masterclasses
- Develop the creative and technical skills you will need to produce striking and informative wildlife documentaries
This is for you if...
You have a passion for using video documentary techniques to communicate scientific knowledge about wildlife and the environment.
You are interested in a unique interdisciplinary interaction between sciences and creative arts.
You want to learn from expert practitioners with links to the television industry
All about the course
This course aims to develop skills in video production applied to wildlife alongside a scientific understanding of animal behaviour, biodiversity, ecology and environment.
You will gain a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to the study of the biology, ecology and behaviour of wildlife species as relevant to wildlife documentary production and a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge of the biology, ecology and behaviour of wildlife.
Media Theory and Practice
A series of lectures aims to develop your appreciation and engagement with critical approaches to contextualising and informing your practical creative work. The lectures examine the theory and practice of media production and contextualise the contemporary broadcasting and film environment.
Advanced Production Practices
In contrast with the production skills workshop in semester one, this module will specifically enhance your knowledge of, and skills in, the specialised techniques of production. You will therefore deal with specialised elements such as long-lens photography, time-lapse photography, macro-photography, high-speed photography, specialised close-up sound recording and advanced post production techniques.
Wildlife Research Skills
This module looks at a range of research and practical skills needed for the preparation of a wildlife documentary production. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, exercises and projects, you will deal with issues around wildlife law, the logistics of organising field trips and the challenges of organising a film production. You will also be taken through all the key areas that link science to production, including the communication skills necessary to facilitate the appropriate dialogue between scientist and filmmaker.
Major Project: Practical Research Project
Building on research carried out in the Wildlife Research Skills module, you will carry out further research, script, produce and complete a 10-20 minute wildlife film, bringing together all your accumulated knowledge and experience. You will be guided by a supervisor.
Major Project: Dissertation
This is an opportunity to demonstrate the theoretical skills that you’ve gained over the two previous semesters. You will demonstrate your creative and critical skills through self-directed research that demonstrates original and innovative work within the field of contemporary media practice.
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What Will I be Doing?
The course will employ a range of teaching and learning strategies in order to meet learning outcomes. These will include:
- Camera, sound and editing skills practice and assessment
- Analysis of case studies
- Student-led independent research
- Student-led project work and field trips.
This strategy will be integrated with an assessment strategy based on outcomes, students' reflective self-assessments and learning plans. Assessment methods will include production exercises and portfolios, projects, critical essays and a dissertation project.
Each module within the course uses and combines a number of different assessment criteria. The following styles are used within the course modules:
- Practical project
- Research Portfolio
School of Arts and Media
The School of Arts and Media is the largest School at the University of Salford with more than 4,000 creative students. Across sites at MediaCityUK and the University's Peel Park campus, we offer a huge variety of courses, from fashion image making and styling, television and radio, creative writing and music to journalism, animation, design and performance.
This broad range of disciplines offers enhanced opportunities for specialist and interdisciplinary study, including collaborative work across subject areas.
This course benefits from the state-of-the-art facilities at MediaCityUK. These include a 5-camera HD TV studio, a 3-camera HD TV studio and a digital performance studio with full green screen capability. There are two radio/audio recording studios, and 5.1 surround sound audio post production theatre, with foley booth. Audition v3 audio editing and Final Cut Pro and Avid software-enabled suites are available throughout the building.
What about after uni?
The course is ideal for those wishing to pursue careers in all aspects of wildlife documentary production, including directing, producing, script-writing, photography, sound recording and editing. A number of graduates are now working within the TV industry both in the UK and abroad, including several independent companies and ITV, all within wildlife documentary.
The majority of past students have found jobs in the television industry. Examples include:
- Graduates who are now producer/directors and making long-form documentaries for broadcast
- Ex-students are working for the BBC Natural History Unit as researchers and assistant producers and editors
- Ex-students are working for independent Wildlife Documentary Production Companies as cameramen and assistant producers
- Ex-students are working for ITV, producing short films from their wildlife images catalogue
- A student is working as an assistant cameraman for a leading wildlife independent company
- One student is working as a producer for Portuguese TV
- Other graduates have jobs as field assistants (currently working in the arctic on a major wildlife film), runners and film librarians
- A student is making web-based programmes for Cornwall TV
- All are connected with wildlife and nature film-making
This course has a number of links with media companies throughout the UK including the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. Students have undertaken work experience both at the BBC, Warehouse51 Wildlife Production Company and Films@59, the post production company that works on a range of wildlife programmes for the BBC and Disney Nature.
What you need to know
Our students are accepted from three backgrounds:
- Science and specifically biological science graduates
- Graduates with a degree in media, in particular film and video production
- Applicants with proven interest in wildlife documentary. This can be demonstrated by a body of work: short video films or stills photography portfolio.
To join this MA you should have a second class honours degree, 2:2 or above.
Applicants will be interviewed and should be able to supply references if requested.
English language requirements
International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 5.5) as proof of this.
Standard entry requirements
To join this MA you should have a relevant second class honours degree, 2:2 or above.
For the MA programmes in Media Production you will be required to submit a project proposal related to your chosen specialist field, to support your application. A brief written synopsis (max. 500 words) of your ideas would also be required. Please note that this would be for discussion purposes at the interview only.
Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)
We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.
The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.
Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home/EU||2019||£7,776per year|
|Full-time international||2019||£14,310per year|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.