MA
1 year full time, 2 years part time
Starts September 2017

Journalism and Documentary Practice

This MA is for you if you have a passion for news, current affairs, documentary or any aspect of factual programme-making. It offers a practical training in, and critical engagement with, journalism and documentary-making.

You’ll learn how to:

  • create informed and engaging journalism – for print or radio and tv (off or online) – to a professional standard
  • develop your visual and verbal storytelling
  • research, shoot and edit documentaries about the topics that interest you most
  • project manage, schedule, budget and distribute your documentary work
  • contextualise your practice through critical study of current media developments.

Key facts

  • We are ranked in the top 10 in the UK for Journalism (The Guardian University Guide 2018).
  • We offer excellent technical facilities, including a dedicated newsroom, the latest software, video and radio studios, and a suite of digital media laboratories.
  • We focus on fast-changing developments in journalism and documentary practice – this MA combines theory and practice.

How will I study?

You’ll learn through practical and theoretical core modules and options in the autumn and spring terms. In the summer, you develop a research project that can take the form of a conventional dissertation, a journalism project or a documentary.

Assessment is by:

  • practical video/media work and supporting production documentation
  • term papers and critiques
  • practical work in either journalism or documentary accompanied by a critical reflection.

The final assessment may take the form of a 15,000-word dissertation, a 20-minute documentary or a portfolio of journalism and critical work.

Watch Jessi Gutch's project from the course, which was shortlisted for the One World Student Award

Brighton Journalist Works  

Elements of our Journalism MAs are taught by experienced journalists at our partner institution, Brighton Journalist Works (BJW). This hands-on training is framed within the academic and intellectual agenda delivered at Sussex. 

Full-time and part-time study

You can choose to study this course full time or part time. Find the modules for the full-time course below. 

For details about the part-time course structure, contact us at mfm@sussex.ac.uk

What will I study?

  • Module list

    Core modules

    Core modules are taken by all students on the course. They give you a solid grounding in your chosen subject and prepare you to explore the topics that interest you most.

    • Documentary Practice

      30 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      You will explore documentary methods and structures though practical exercises and projects so as to develop a systematic knowledge of production within the genre. You will engage in analysis of selected historic and contemporary documentary practices to situate you own work within the field and critically reflect on it. You will gain a comprehensive overview of key concepts in non-fiction production, in particular narrative, address, point of view, montage through discussion and making. Advanced skills in research, planning, scripting, shooting and editing will be applied to self-initiated projects.

      Concepts of the documentary form are explored and interrogated through practical work to enabling you to articulate a critical and creative approach to the relationship between practice and theory. The term culimates in a substantial project and accompanying critical introduction, which builds on the experimentation and analysis undertaken through the module and asks you to critically evaluate your work in relation to your aims with a critical awareness of related practice.

    • International Journalism in Transition B

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      The International Journalism in Transition B module explores debates that are crucial for an understanding of the roles of journalism and its actual practises in contemporary societies. It opens with a discussion of the broader context of media's roles in contemporary societies and the relationships between these and democracy. It then explores key debates on audiences, contents and media professionals, shedding light on areas and developments that have had a major impact on journalism. Throughout the discussion close attention is paid to the influence of economic, political and technological changes on media and journalism. The concepts and theoretical approaches discussed in the course of the module are of an interdisciplinary character, they stem from sociology, cultural studies, media studies as well as political economy.

    • Global News Industries B

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module explores the function, impact and current status of international journalism in an increasingly 'deterritorialised' media environment. The module will cover a comparative study of different news media systems in the world, the global news flow, institutional and professional issues in international news reporting, and the transformation in international journalism. It will also investigate the extent to which the audiences of global journalism might constitute alternative news networks and a putative global public sphere. New technologies from blogging to multiplatform television, twitter to online distribution, have also transformed the way news is made, disseminated and consumed. This module provides a critical consideration of the economics, culture, politics and sociology of journalism on a global scale. It examines fundamental issues in theories and practices of journalism and assesses ongoing developments in the area of journalism development, expansion, ethics and policies. The module will enable you to understand rapid technological changes and further internationalisation of journalism and the impact and consequences for future of journalism.

    • Short Documentary: Research and Production

      30 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module focuses on the methods, processes and research techniques involved in the development of documentary projects from initial concept to distribution, with close analyses of how the different stages of a production are related and may be planned. You will learn how to identify original sources and subjects with a view to creating a distinctive style and approach through practical exercises and the shooting of pilot material. You will study and undertake the development process in relation to acquiring a critical understanding of the markets and other exhibition possibilities for projects from galleries and festivals to the web and television. You will look at how to locate and utilise archives, contributors, interviewees, performers, locations and facilities. Key areas to be explored include scripting, budgeting, scheduling, copyright and contracts, with reference to contemporary and historical examples. You will also look critically at a range of production methods and ways of working through looking both at case studies of specific productions and companies. You may undertake short optional placements as part of your research for this unit.

    Options

    Alongside your core modules, you can choose options to broaden your horizons and tailor your course to your interests.

    • Digital Documentary Project

      60 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      In this module, you produce a major documentary video project of 30 minutes duration, utilising appropriate digital technology - with guidance from your supervisor.

      You identify a suitable topic, approach and research questions that you wish to explore through the production of the project. This project will normally be based on the material you developed in your Project Research and Development module in the spring, unless there are compelling reasons for pursuing a new topic.

      In the process, you compile a relevant filmography/bibliography of relevant film/digital and visual sources, and theoretical critical texts that you will reflect critically on in realising your own creative work.

      You also produce a report which analyses your processes and product utilising the concepts you have explored across the MA programme. You may undertake an optional placement as part of your research for this project.

    • Dissertation (Journalism)

      60 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      The dissertation will utilise skills and knowledge derived from areas and practices studied on the Journalism Postgraduate provision including history, theory, economics and culture of journalism. Some of these will be drawn together in a significant piece of written work. The aims of the dissertation module are:

      - To develop your ability to undertake a sustained investigation into a particular topic or issue within your chosen field of study.
      - To enable you to formulate a research proposal justifying selection of appropriate methods.
      - To test your ability to design, plan, organise, research and write a substantial piece based on independent research.

    • Journalism Project

      60 credits
      All Year Teaching, Year 1

      This independent study module involves the completion of a critical journalism project on a topic of your choice. The module offers you the chance to work independently with guidance and advice from an appropriate tutor appointed as a project supervisor. You will be encouraged to seek relevant work experience, if appropriate, as part of the project.

      You are expected to demonstrate how your ideas and knowledge have developed over the year and how these ideas inform your professional work experience. You will develop a portfolio of your journalism and reflect on this process in the associated learning diary and essay.

    • Broadcast News and Features (1)

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

    • News and Feature Writing

      15 credits
      Autumn Teaching, Year 1

      This module equips you with essential knowledge and skills in news research and writing and you will be encouraged to produce news material for a range of platforms. You will also explore key theories surrounding different approaches to news and writing, and the key ethical and legal challenges involved.

      The module delivers a foundation in the key principles and techniques of news gathering, news reporting and feature writing. You will proceed from exploring news values, finding story ideas, doing research, identifying and interviewing sources to reporting straight news as well as writing different types of feature stories (e.g. columns, profiles, lifestyle pieces, backgrounders). By the end of the course, you will have gained a solid skill and knowledge base in news and feature writing such as:

      - drawing on a range of sources and turning raw information into a publishable news report or feature
      - building an effective story structure
      - grabbing and maintaining the reader's attention in print and online
      - identifying the story angle
      - quoting people effectively and accurately, and
      - using style and vocabulary appropriate to the genre and context

      You will practice all of these via in-class exercises and real-life journalism assignments. You will also obtain a critical understanding of the genres and sub-genres of news and feature and apply this understanding to a critical analysis of existing news products. You will be encouraged and instructed to write publishable content for mainstream news publications.

    • Advanced Journalism Skills

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

      This module will introduce you to the practice and principles of newspaper and magazine design and how to sub-edit and layout pages. You will learn how to re-write and shape reporters' copy for print, broadcast and the internet. You will learn QuarkXpress and how to write snappy headlines. Online subbing and how to write search engine optimised headlines, stand firsts and copy will also be addressed. You will complete a tabloid news page individually and work towards a news day when as a group you will work on a real-life news story and create regularly updated web pages with social media spin-offs and a newspaper front page to deadline. Throughout you will be encouraged to engage in self-reflective critique of your professional practice.

    • Broadcast News and Features (2)

      15 credits
      Spring Teaching, Year 1

Entry requirements

An upper second-class (2.1) undergraduate honours degree or above (or equivalent) in an appropriate humanities or social sciences discipline. We also welcome applicants who do not have this academic qualification who are able to demonstrate in their application that they have relevant professional/creative skills and experience

English language requirements

Standard level (IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section)

Find out about other English language qualifications we accept.

English language support

Don’t have the English language level for your course? Find out more about our pre-sessional courses.

Additional information for international students

We welcome applications from all over the world. Find out about international qualifications suitable for our Masters courses.

Pre-Masters in Media, Journalism and Film Studies

Need to boost your academic skills for your taught course? Find out more about our Pre-Masters in Media, Journalism and Film Studies.

Visas and immigration

Find out how to apply for a student visa


Fees and scholarships

How much does it cost?

Fees

Home: £9,250 per year

EU: £9,250 per year

Channel Islands and Isle of Man: £9,250 per year

Overseas: £15,100 per year

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

How can I fund my course?

Postgraduate Masters loans

Borrow up to £10,280 to contribute to your postgraduate study.

Find out more about Postgraduate Masters Loans

Scholarships

Our aim is to ensure that every student who wants to study with us is able to despite financial barriers, so that we continue to attract talented and unique individuals.

Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship (2017)

Open to students with a 1st class from a UK university or excellent grades from an EU university and offered a F/T place on a Sussex Masters in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Chancellor’s Masters Scholarship

Sussex Graduate Scholarship (2017)

Open to Sussex students who graduate with a first or upper second-class degree and offered a full-time place on a Sussex Masters course in 2017

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Graduate Scholarship

Sussex India Scholarships (2017)

Sussex India Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from India commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex India Scholarships

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Malaysia Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Malaysia commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Malaysia Scholarships

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Nigeria Scholarships are worth £3,500 or £5,000 and are for overseas fee paying students from Nigeria commencing a Masters in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Nigeria Scholarships

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships (2017)

Sussex Pakistan Scholarships are worth £3,500 and are for overseas fee paying students from Pakistan commencing Masters study in September 2017.

Application deadline:

1 August 2017

Find out more about the Sussex Pakistan Scholarships

How Masters scholarships make studying more affordable

Living costs

Find out typical living costs for studying at Sussex.


Faculty

Our faculty work in journalism and documentary across a range of platforms and conduct internationally recognised research in these fields.

Faculty projects have been broadcast on the BBC and Channel Four and shown in high profiles venues such as:

  • the BFI Southbank
  • Jeu de Paume
  • Brighton Festival.

Elements of our degrees are taught by experienced journalists at Brighton Journalist Works.

  • Brighton Journalist Works

    Ms Louisa Hannah
    Brighton Journalist Works Convenor
    lh375@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Mr Richard Lindfield
    Brighton Journalist Works Convenor
    rl244@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Ms Caroline North
    Brighton Journalist Works
    cn232@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Ms Paula O'Shea
    Brighton Journalist Works Convenor
    po43@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Mr Peter Taylor
    Brighton Journalist Works Convenor
    Peter.Taylor@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Ms Marcella Whittingdale
    Brighton Journalist Works
    mw342@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

  • Department of Media and Film faculty

    Ms Judy Aslett
    Teaching Fellow in Journalism
    J.Aslett@sussex.ac.uk

    View profile

    Ms Joanna Callaghan
    Senior Lecturer In Filmmaking
    J.Callaghan@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Deconstruction, Film as philosophy, Film production, filmmaking, practice as research, practice led research, Practice-based research, video art

    View profile

    Dr Xiaojiang Chen

    View profile

    Ms Wilma De Jong
    Senior Lecturer in Media & Film Studies
    W.Dejong@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Archives and media production, Documentary theory and practice, Film-based media (History, Theory & Practice), Interactive and web based documentaries, Media and international development, media and pressure groups

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    Dr Emile Devereaux
    Senior Lecturer In Digital Media
    E.Devereaux@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Critical Gender Studies, Digital Art & Design, Digital Cartography, Digital Culture, Interaction design, media history and theory, Tactical Media, Visual Studies

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    Ms Rachael Duncan
    Teaching Fellow in Media Practice & Journalism
    R.Duncan@sussex.ac.uk

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    Ms Melanie Friend
    Reader in Photography
    M.Friend@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Media and film

    View profile

    Prof Ivor Gaber
    Professor of Journalism
    Ivor.Gaber@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Broadcast News, Journalism, Labour Party, Media and Elections, Media and Policymaking, Media and Social Work, Media Bias, Media Regulation, News Agendas, political communication, Political Parties, Polling, Social Media

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    Mr Adrian Goycoolea
    Senior Lecturer
    A.P.Goycoolea@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: activism, Chilean History, Collage Film, Documentary theory and practice, Film, Film production, First Person Film, Found Footage Film, Human Rights, Installation, Political History, the avant garde, Trauma

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    Ms Coral James O'Connor
    Teaching Fellow in Journalism
    C.JamesOConnor@sussex.ac.uk

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    Dr Paul Lashmar
    Senior Lecturer in Journalism
    P.Lashmar@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Anti-corruption, Computer aided reporting, Data journalism, Digital Heritage, intelligence agencies, investigative journalism, mass surveillance, mugshots, organised crime, Terrorism and political violence

    View profile

    Dr Alisa Lebow
    Reader In Film Studies
    A.S.Lebow@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Activism and Documentary, Documentary theory and practice, Experimental Documentary, First Person Film, Jewish Culture and Film, Queer and Transgender Representation, Revolution and Film, Turkish and Middle Eastern Documentary

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    Dr Monika Metykova
    Senior Lecturer in Media Communications/Journalism Studies
    M.Metykova@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: cultural and media policies, Journalism, media and democracy, media and diversity, media and migration, political economy of media

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    Prof Sally-Jane Norman
    Professor of Performance Technologies
    S.J.Norman@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Embodiment and Technologies, Performing Arts, Practice-based research, Scenography, Sonic Arts, Theatre History

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    Mr Rob Sharp
    Teaching Fellow
    R.Sharp@sussex.ac.uk

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    Dr Martin Spinelli
    Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies
    M.J.Spinelli@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: Aesthetics, arts interviewing, Broadcast News, Broadcasting History, Digital Humanities, ethnography, Journalism, Life writing, literary journalism, memoir, podcasting, radio, radio drama, Radio Studies, Socio-cultural impact of new media, Sound Art

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    Ms Lizzie Thynne
    Reader in Film
    L.Thynne@sussex.ac.uk

    Research interests: art cinema, contemporary television, Cultural and Critical Theory, Documentary theory and practice, Experimental Documentary, Feminist Art History, Film drama, Gay & Lesbian Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Life writing, Queer studies, Television History, Theory and Criticism, Visual fields, women's liberation

    View profile

Careers

Graduate destinations

94% of students from the Department of Media and Film were in work or further study six months after graduating. Recent graduates have gone on to jobs including:

  • journalist, TRT World (Turkish Radio Television)
  • news editor, Alpha Media Holdings, Zimbabwe
  • correspondent, CNBC-TV18.

(HESA EPI, Destinations of Post Graduate Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

This course equips you with the skills for a career in:

  • broadcast and online journalism
  • documentary production
  • television production and research
  • the wider media and communications industry
  • teaching and academic research.

The sessions by industry professionals and distinguished alumni such as Gerry Rothwell, Kim Longinotto, Penny Woolcock, Peter Beard and Marc Isaacs enable you to make links with potential employers and give you insights and advice on working in the media professions.

Employers of our graduates include:

  • the BBC
  • ITN News
  • Al Jazeera
  • Century Films
  • Ricochet
  • Back2Back Productions
  • Brighton.tv
  • EDF Energy
  • BP
  • Vodafone
  • a variety of universities and research centres.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Contact us