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Directing & Producing Science & Natural History

Course Description

A unique course, the only one of its kind in the UK, designed to fast track you into the industry.

Quick Facts:

2 Year Course
Course runs Jan-Dec each year
Next intake: January 2017
NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students

Visit the website https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/directing-producing-science-natural-history



New technology and a greater variety of formats are challenging the traditional boundaries of Science and Natural History Programming and driving greater audience demand. British production companies are at the forefront of leading innovation in formats and high-end content, with growing opportunities to work with North American and international broadcasters.

This course will give you:

- The skills to direct science and natural history productions.
- The know-how to produce entire shows.
- A practical working knowledge of current science and natural history television production methods.
- The ability to generate science and natural history programme ideas and formats.
- Knowledge of how the business works and current trends, including co-productions etc.
- The confidence and know-how to pitch those ideas to commissioning editors.
- Brilliant industry contacts and relevant skills for building a sustainable career as a Producer/Director.
- Access to NFTS's Masterclasses lead by major creative figures from film, television and games.

The National Film and Television School’s Science and Natural History Masters* focuses on developing Producers and Directors. Therefore, as part of the course students will be exposed to the development and production challenges of specialist factual genres, such as Landmark and Blue Chip (interchangeable terms for high budget, high production value programming mainly used in a pure wildlife context), mini landmarks, Children’s, People and Nature, Live, Expedition films, Magazine formats, Obs-doc etc. In addition there will be a focus on promoting cross-genre ideas to foster creativity.

Editorial policy and standards, together with codes of practice relating to science and the filming of animals, and Health and Safety will be fully explored.

Students will gain practical experience in both the research and development of programming of this type whilst also developing a body of work that showcases their practical film making skills and innovation within the genre.

* Subject to Validation


Below is an indicative list of the topics covered on the course:

- Audiences, and the genres of science and natural history films: differences and overlaps
- Editorial and production values in science and natural history programmes
- The documentary tradition
- Principles of storytelling and film narrative
- Finding stories: research
- Story Development
- Treatments and Proposal Writing / Pitching and packaging the concept
- The film process, from script to screen
- Writing techniques
- Wildlife Behaviour
- Finding and working with Talent and Presenters
- Guidelines for Filming Animals
- Editorial Policy and Standards
- Digital Content and Social Media Extensions
- Formatting
- Short form storytelling
- Directing the camera to capture a ‘scene’
- Working with graphics and VFX
- Pitch Reel / Sizzle Reels
- Outside Broadcasts
- Production and Post Production Workflow (logging, DITs etc)
- Health and Safety
- The History of Science and Wildlife Filmmaking
- The Business: how programmes are financed. International co-production
- International Markets and Programming
- Marketplace trends
- Managing a career

In addition, students will be exposed to specialist science and natural history filming techniques, such as: thermal, Slow Motion, underwater, Macro & Micro filming, drones, timelapse, rigs etc.

There is a strong emphasis on professional practice. This means that student projects will be expected to measure up to scientific scrutiny, as well as exhibition and broadcast standards.

The structure of the course follows the chronological steps of a Science or Natural History Television production. Injected into this timeline will be specifically tailored modules taught by top television professionals, with experience of different subgenres or appropriate specialist techniques, eg cinematography or VFX. Students also get the chance to pitch their Science and Natural History programme ideas to broadcasters like the BBC, National Geographic and Discovery.

NFTS students are engaged in more productions as part of the curriculum than any of our competitors. Unlike other schools, all production costs are met by the School and productions are given cash production budgets.


Each student will complete a minimum of 10 days work experience.


Science & Natural History course participants will have full access to the NFTS’ optional creative stimulus strands, including: Cinema Club, Screen Arts and NFTS Masterclasses - these strands see major creative figures from film, television and games screening their work and discussing with students in the campus cinema. Recent speakers include David Fincher (Director, Seven, Gone Girl), Graham Linehan (The IT Crowd, Father Ted), Abi Morgan (Suffragette, The Hour), Christopher Nolan (Interstellar, The Dark Knight) and Hamish Hamilton (Director, Super Bowl XLVIII).


If you are lively and imaginative, then this is the course for you! Applicants must be able to demonstrate their passion, commitment and talent for developing a career in Television.

Typically applicants will have a proven interest in science and natural history, which, typically, may involve a background in Physics, Chemistry, combined Natural Sciences, Zoology, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics etc.


- A short proposal for a science or natural history television programme – no more than one A4 typed page
- Optional: A DVD containing samples of your work specifying your exact role in each. This work need not be in the science and natural history area, as some applicants may not have a film or other programme-making background.


You can apply directly to us at the NFTS by clicking on the link below:

APPLY FOR DIRECTING & PRODUCING SCIENCE & NATURAL HISTORY COURSE - https://nfts.co.uk/user/login?destination=node/9%3Fnid%3D2023

You can apply online, or download a word document of the application form to submit via email
When selecting your course, please ensure that you have read the entry requirements and details of the supporting materials that should accompany your application.


We are happy to receive applications 24/7 and 365 days a year up until the deadline. That said, there is no particular advantage to submitting your application very early. The important thing is that your application shows us your latest work and tell us about your most recent filmmaking experiences.

Visit the Directing & Producing Science & Natural History page on the National Film & Television School website for more details!

All Available Videos:

Student Profiles

NFTS Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

All long term resident UK students, once they are offered a place on the MA programme, are invited to apply for an NFTS funding award. Awards may consist of either a bursary or a scholarship or a combination of both. NFTS Scholarships are donated by individuals or organisations with a direct involvement in the film, games and television industries. They often include a mentorship and an individual donor may take in interest in your work. Therefore they have an added prestige.The NFTS funding awards contribute directly to tuition fees and may be between £1,000 and £10,000. They are not re-payable by the student. They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Value of Scholarship(s)



They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Application Procedure

Students are invited to apply in both of the two years of the course. Some scholarships are intended to be for a particular specialisation, for female students, or awarded on ethnicity or according to the UK region of an applicant.

Further Information



The Toledo Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

Applications are treated confidentially and are means tested. The school reserves the right to ask an applicant to provide proof of his/her financial circumstances and of possible family support. The Assistant Registrar must be notified immediately of any change in an applicant’s financial circumstances. Careful consideration is given by the Scholarship Panel with a view to responding to demonstrated financial need. Funds are limited and students are asked to estimate responsibly how much assistance they think they will need as this affects the School’s ability to accommodate students in serious need.Unfortunately, we are unable to open this scheme to EU or International students, or to students on the Diploma programmes. There are some course specific scholarship opportunities available to Diploma students. Please check the latest situation on the NFTS website course pages. There may not be enough scholarships available to allow the school to give one to all applicants. Therefore it may be necessary for you to make alternative arrangements for your tuition fees and maintenance. All students offered a place are provided with guidelines for applying for independent funding. This information is distributed during the summer. NFTS funding applications are received in September and the Scholarship Panel meets in October to decide the awards for the following year. Decisions are announced shortly afterwards.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See the website


The Toledo Scholarship is an NFTS scholarship specifically intended to enable talented newcomers from the UK’s ethnic minorities to fast-track their ambitions and join the British film industry.

Application Procedure

Application is made in the same way as all other NFTS scholarships but candidates will need to identify themselves as an UK ethnic minority candidate in order to be considered automatically.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

If you are lively and imaginative, then this is the course for you! Applicants must be able to demonstrate their passion, commitment and talent for developing a career in Television. See Course Description for further information.

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Recipient: National Film & Television School
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