Study options

Master's Programme in Film and Television - Documentary Film

We aim to train visionary documentary film directors, creative professionals who are creating the future of documentary filmmaking. Here you can deepen your powers of observation and expression while developing your own style as a director. Courses in film analysis, history and modern-form docuementary round out the MA studies.
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Degree:

Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021

Language of instruction:

Finnish
English
Swedish

Duration:

2 years, full-time

Eligibility:

Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design

Credits:

120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

Scholarships and Tuition Fees
Applying to master’s programmes

Study objective

Developers of the field. The goal of the Master’s Programme in Documentary Film is to train visionary documentary film directors and creative professionals who will contribute to the development of the field and its possibilities. In our MA program, students can deepen their powers of observation and expression while developing their own style as documentary film directors. Courses in film analysis, theory, history, ethics and modern-form documentary round out the MA studies.

Theory and Practice. In the Master’s degree, students achieve excellence in professional film practice and a comprehensive understanding of scholarly and artistic research in documentary film. Students will experiment with contemporary expressions in the genre and engage with the history, theory and ethics of documentary film. Direction of the MA diploma film is an important framework within which students develop their professional skills and take part in developing documentary traditions.

    Language of instruction

    The language of instruction in the Master’s Programme in Documentary Film is English. Occasionally, part of the courses might be taught in Finnish. The degree can be completed in English.

    Education content

    The teaching in the Master’s Program in Documentary Film consists of workshops and lecture modules built around different varying themes. The Documentary Film major invites numerous visiting lectures and artists, both from Finland and abroad, who offer multiple viewpoints to our students and enrich their learning experiences. The students' ability to observe and interpret reality, their readiness to encounter people, critical thinking, willingness to experiment and ability to work in a team are developed throughout the program. 

    Developing and directing the diploma film and the related written dissertation work are the essential frameworks of the master’s programme studies. Courses and studies support these creative and research processes. Amongst others, students can take advanced courses in different genres, styles and approaches to documentary film, documentary history, theory and ethics, and new forms and formats of contemporary documentary. Film analysis, reflecting on the conditions of one’s own medium and writing and thinking about documentary are the activities that support practical exercises. Knowledge of experimental and fiction film, visual arts, new media and interdisciplinary engagements are also a vital part of our program.

    Studies in the master's programme include departments joint courses (30 ECTS) which are obligatory. These courses deal with entrepreneurial and working life skills, analytical skills, and provide research skills.

    For further details on the education content, see the study guide for 2020-2022.

    Career opportunities

    The students graduate as independent film directors who have the opportunity to work as filmmakers, teachers, critics and/or event organisers. They will be able to shape the future of the genre while working in film production, film organisations, festivals, and in the broader field of culture. 

    In particular, master’s degree studies are a requirement for working in teaching positions. Students who graduate from the programme with a master’s degree are at the forefront of the field in our country and have an important influence as instructors or when working in other sectors. The works produced by graduates of Documentary Film studies are highly visible at various international festivals.

    A graduate with a major in Documentary Film (Master’s programme) is able to:

    • Work as independent documentary film directors and be employed in applied tasks in the documentary film profession (such as festivals, financing, distribution, production, production of commissioned films, etc.)
    • Achieve major abilities to identify her/his style as a director as well to question and develop practices and traditions in the field.
    • Work on a variety of platforms and environments (theatrical documentary, documentary series, interactive documentary, educational and commissioned films, journalistic, science and institutional documentary, etc.)
    • Work as documentary film teachers and instructors. 
    • Apply for further film studies. 

    Internationalisation

    International faculty, students, and visiting teachers enrich the program and widen students network. Students are encouraged to complete part of their studies in international exchange programmes or internships. Students attend and present their films at international film festivals. Various international film events, seminars and workshops are an essential part of documentary film teaching.

    Post-graduate opportunities

    Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture offers doctoral studies in the fields of architecture, art, design, media, film and scenography. For more information about our research groups visit the following link.

    Study option-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

    Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master’s programme in Film and television – Documentary film will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

    Phase I

    Artistic and/or design practice

    Assessed area

    Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments.

    The portfolio assesses the creative filmmaking skills of the applicant.

    Admission requirements

     

    Applicants who have already made at least one film that has been publicly presented, and thus demonstrated their basic skills as documentary film-makers can be selected for master's degree studies.

     

    Gifted students who want to deepen their understanding of different means of expression, theories and histories of documentary film, explore new possibilities in terms of form, content and approach in documentary filmmaking, and are interested in the combination of theory and practice can be selected for the major.

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Portfolio: One or two documentary films that have been publicly screened or broadcast (at a festival or on television), lasting at least 10 minutes each and submitted as Vimeo link(s).

    Please include a description (e.g. a synopsis) of each film, with the one or two descriptions fitting onto a single A4 sheet.

    Before sending your application, upload your digital portfolio as a single PDF file into the application system. Include in the portfolio links to the video(s) and ensure that the video file(s) open and play in common Mac or PC programs.

     

    Suitability

    Assessed area

    Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills

     

    Students capacity to articulate the reasons for applying to MA documentary and her/his goals and expectations for the study.

    Admission requirements

     

    A letter of motivation (4000 characters maximum) explaining your reasons for applying for this study option. Explain your particular interest(s) in the field as well as your goals and expectations for the studies to be completed at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Give reasons for why you are interested specifically in documentary film.  

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Motivation Letter

     

     

    Other areas of competence

    Assessed area

    Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications, non-formal education, competitions

    Admission requirements

     

    A CV (single PDF file) with your personal details, education, work experience, completed films, festivals, and any other creative work, awards, grants, study trips or positions of trust.

    Before sending the application, upload your CV as a single PDF file into the application system.

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Curriculum vitae

     

    Phase II

    Suitability

    Assessed area

    Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills

    Admission requirements

     

    In the second stage the evaluation criteria consist of the personal interview of the selected applicant.

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Interview

    Selected applicants are invited to the Phase II (i.e. personal interview) on the basis of the submitted material in Phase I.

     

    Evaluation process

    The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

    The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases: 

    Phase I

    In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria.

    • Artistic and/or design practice
    • Suitability/Motivation Letter
    • Other areas of competence

    Only the applicants who fulfill the requirements/are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.

    Phase II

    In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria.

    • Suitability/Personal Interview

    Selected applicants will be invited to the second phase (i.e. personal interview) on the basis of the submitted material for Phase I. The invitation to Phase II will be send to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

    After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II.

    Study-option-specific documents requested

    The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:

    Portfolio

    Submit one or two documentary films that have been publicly screened or broadcast (at a festival or on television), lasting at least 10 minutes each and submitted as Vimeo link(s).

    Please include a description (e.g. a synopsis) of each film, with the one or two descriptions fitting onto a single A4 sheet.

    Before sending your application, upload your digital portfolio as a single PDF file into the application system. Include in the portfolio links to the video(s) and ensure that the video file(s) open and play in common Mac or PC programs.

    Maximum size for the portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file as portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.

    Letter of Motivation

    A letter of motivation (4000 characters maximum) explaining your reasons for applying for this study option. Explain your particular interest(s) in the field as well as your goals and expectations for the studies to be completed at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Give reasons for why you are interested specifically in documentary film.  

    CV

    A CV (single PDF file) with your personal details, education, work experience, completed films, festivals, and any other creative work, awards, grants, study trips or positions of trust.

    Before sending the application, upload your CV as a single PDF file into the application system.

    Language of application documents

    The application documents must be submitted in English or Finnish (Swedish).

     

    The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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