Centre for Science Communication the home of storytelling and science

Science and Natural History Filmmaking



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The world's premier course in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. Taught in association with NHNZ, the world's second-largest producer of factual films.

During this unique two-year course you'll do the following:


  • Produce a commercial length film.
  • Get to experience the workings and folks at NHNZ, an institution specializing in factual filmmaking.
  • Learn how to craft stories - the key skill for effective communication and filmmaking.
  • Develop critiquing abilities so as to understand from the audience's perspective what works and what does not.
  • Learn camera and editing techniques.
  • Develop an understanding of the elements of design that make communication engaging.
  • AND earn your degree Master of Science Communication (MSciComm) endorsed in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

That's it in a nutshell really: become part of the science and natural history filmmaking course that has produced more award-winning filmmakers and films than all the others combined. Get taught by the best in the business and do it in a place that really rocks for wildlife (in both senses of the word). Honestly, it doesn't get better than this.


Course Structure



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The University of Otago's MSciComm in Science and Natural History Filmmaking is a two-year full-time programme taught in collaboration with NHNZ. The course is restricted to 12 students each year.


First Year of the Programme


The first year of the programme consists of five papers. But it's not like you're stuck in a classroom memorizing formulas or learning to take an Arriflex camera apart with your teeth - there's plenty of hands-on practical work. Our philosophy when it comes to communication is that we all have to walk the talk. Yep, we cover the theory, but we go one step further than where academia usually stops: we make you produce, and in particular, we help you to produce better. Didn't we say that there is a better way?

The required papers are:
  • SCOM 402 The craft of storytelling
  • SCOM 405 Science and Natural History Film
  • SCOM 411 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking I
  • SCOM 412 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking II
  • SCOM 495 Thesis Preparation and Proposal

One paper is required from:
  • SCOM 408 Critical & Creative Thinking in Science Communication


Second Year of the Programme


This is where the real fun begins! You get to make your own documentary on science, wildlife or natural history. The film will constitute a part of your thesis, which includes a written academic component as well.

The world is literally your oyster as we encourage you to enter brave new worlds of filmmaking.

Applications for PhD study can be accepted at any time.

Applications for the MSciComm and PGDipNHFC must be received by 31 October.