Approaches to Documentary (020P3)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

You explore key issues and debates in the history and theory of documentary.

From a 'boom' in theatrical documentary to DIY footage posted online, recent years have witnessed significant changes in the commercial, aesthetic, technological, political and social dimensions of documentaries.

You will consider such developments in the light of earlier trends in documentary and ongoing debates about the purpose, form and efficacy of the mode.

You will address aesthetics, power, the politics of representation and ethics across a range of documentary material from film, television and the internet.

Topics may include:

  • documentary modes (observational, ethnographic, auto/biographical, etc)
  • truth claims and trust
  • feminist documentary
  • documentary ethics
  • audiences for documentary
  • hybridity and re-enactment
  • the politics of documentary
  • documentaries online.


50%: Lecture (Film)
50%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

We’re currently reviewing contact hours for modules and will update with further information as soon as it is available.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: