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 for either the MSciComm or MAppSc degrees, 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.

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. A shorter version of the programme (MAppSc) can be taken that excludes the production of a thesis. The programme 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.

The required papers in the first year for both the MSciComm and MAppSc in Science and Natural History Filmmaking are:
  • SCOM 402 The craft of storytelling
  • SCOM 413 Digital Production for Communicating Science
  • SCOM 409 Introduction to Science Communication
  • 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

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.

Those doing the full MSciComm degree will also write a thesis, marking you as truly a master of filmmaking and communication.

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

Application Deadlines

Applications for PhD study can be accepted at any time.

Applications for PostGraduate Courses in 2016 for domestic students are still open

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