Directing and Producing Science and Natural History



BBC Studios

Could you make the next Seven Worlds One Planet, Horizon or Forces of Nature?

This is the only MA course of its kind in the UK, combining Science and Natural History in one MA, designed to give students all they need work professionally in this exciting industry. It aims to give students the skills and expertise needed to direct science and wildlife productions, the know-how to produce and direct entire shows and the ability, confidence and knowledge to generate and pitch ideas and formats to commissioning editors.

Within 2 months of graduating all our 2019 graduates secured roles at leading television companies, including BBC Natural History Unit, Plimsoll Productions and Silverback Films.

The course includes masterclasses from industry experts, including the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit, and work experience is available at major wildlife production companies. Our graduates have the opportunity to build a brilliant list of industry contacts and relevant skills for a career as a Producer/Director.

With a passion for the natural world and a love of storytelling, students can adapt and further their knowledge at the NFTS, learning what they need to become a filmmaker at an exciting time in this industry, documenting how we interact with the natural world and helping to bring together the stories that need to be told.

All NFTS students can attend Masterclasses. Recent guests include David Fincher (Fight Club), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Steve McQueen (12 Years A Slave), Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Ben Wheatley (Free Fire), Rapman (Blue Story), Louis Theroux, Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), Denis Villeneuve (Bladerunner 2049), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Sam Mendes (1917), Asif Kapadia (Senna), Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir), Russell T Davies (Doctor Who) and David Attenborough.

“You are the future. It’s up to you to change things about the way you look at the natural world, using formats I haven’t dreamed about.” Sir David Attenborough, NFTS Masterclass 2017

Recent credits and successes

The Flying Gold of Arabuko promo still

Multiple Success At World Leading Festivals for NFTS Science and Natural History Films. Read more here.

George Pretty

George Pretty has been selected as a 2020 Panda Award nominee in the ‘Emerging Talent’ category at Wildscreen Festival and also received this year’s Newcomer Award at Germany’s Naturvision Film Festival. Read about some more successes here.

Montage of promo stills from NFTS films

Raft of NFTS Science and Natural History films shortlisted for global festivals and Student BAFTA Awards. Read more.

BBC Studios Natural History Unit logo

2019 graduate, Zoe Cousins landed a job at BBC Studios Natural History Unit before she even graduated from NFTS. She's now giving masterclasses along with multiple Emmy and Bafta award winning cameraman and director Paul Stewart. They are currently working together on a major natural history series for the BBC.

NAturVision Film Festival Logo

A host of NFTS Science and Natural History students have been selected for NaturVision Film Festival 2020, Germany's oldest nature, wildlife and evironmental film festival.

  • Painted Ladies | Director Megan Brown
  • The Flying Gold of Arabuko | Director John Davies
  • Life on the Rocks | Director George Pretty 
  • Fight for Quiet | Director Gisela Sepulveda
  • The Common Ground | Director Conor Ferris
  • Those in Grass Houses | Director Christian Lawes
Still from Smart Slime film

NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA student, Juliette Martineau won a prestigious Scientific Merit Award for her first year film, Smart Slime? at the Scinema international Science Festival in Adelaide beating stiff competition from the likes of the BBC and National Geographic.

BBC Studios, Plimsoll Productions and iwc logos

Within two months of graduating, all our 2019 graduates secured roles at leading television companies, including BBC Natural History Unit, Plimsoll Productions and IWC Media.

Nathan Small

“This course has given me the confidence to know that I'm good enough." Nathan Small graduated from the NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA in February 2019 and has already secured a job at Bristol based production company, Plimsoll Productions. Nathan is in good company as within two months of graduating all our 2019 graduates secured roles at leading television companies, including BBC Natural History Unit, Plimsoll Productions and IWC Media. Full story here.

Now or Never promo still

An incredible two out of the three films selected in the ‘Newcomer’ category of this year’s Green Screen Festival are NFTS Directing Science and Natural History MA graduation films: Now Or Never by Matt Senior and Worlds Beyond Our Vision by Chris Orr. Green Screen which takes place between the 11th and 15th September 2019 in Eckernförde, Germany is one of the most important natural history festivals in the world alongside Wild Screen in Bristol and Jackson Hole in Wyoming. Full story here.

Matt Senior

More congratulations are in store for NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA graduate, Matt Senior whose graduation film, Now Or Never, which highlights the plight of the rare Tapanuli orangutan has won a prestigious rhino trophy for ‘Best Documentary’ at the 2009 British Documentary Film Festival’ which took place in May in Leicester Square. Full story here.

Chris Orr

Chris Orr graduated from the NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA in 2019 and has already secured a job as a Researcher at Bristol based production company, Plimsoll Productions and is working on a top secret new bluechip wildlife series! Read his story here.

Katherine Hannaford

Katherine Hannaford graduated from the NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA in 2019 and has already secured a job at Bristol based production company, Plimsoll Productions working on a landmark wildlife series. Read her story here.

Aeon promo still

An impressive three films made by NFTS Directing and Producing Science and Natural History MA students are finalists at the 2019 #LabMeCrazy! Science Film Festival. Read more.

What you will study

This course will give you the skills to direct science and natural history productions, the know-how to produce entire shows, and the ability to generate new programme ideas and formats. Students gain a practical working knowledge of current television production methods and insight into how the business works and current trends.

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.

Students will carry out assignments in the specialist skills of long-lens, time-lapse and macro photography. In the 1st year, students will not only produce and direct, but also shoot and edit their 10-minute film. In the 2nd year they typically shoot their films, but they also collaborate with composers, editors and sound designers when they make their 20 to 25 minute graduation films.

As part of the course students will be exposed to the development and production challenges of specialist factual genres, such as Landmark/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.

Download programme specification (PDF)

Download course outline (PDF)

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home Fees:  £14,800 per year 

International Fees (including EU nationals): £26,000 per year 

These are the fees for January 2023 intake.

Please note:

EU nationals who have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme may be eligible for “Home Fees”, subject to meeting the residency requirements. (You need to be  ordinarily resident in the UK or EEA for 3 years prior to the start of your course).  

The NFTS has £900,000 of scholarships and bursaries available.

There is a compulsory, non-refundable £25 application fee for each MA application. A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place. 

All production costs are included in the course fees, including the use of School facilities and equipment. Students will need to provide their own laptops and will be expected to pay for their travel for work placements, recces and occasional off-campus events. While it is not a requirement, students may find it useful to  provide their own DSLR camera.

The NFTS is committed to ensuring it is open to students of genuine ability, no matter what their background or financial circumstances. We don’t want anybody to be put off applying for a place at the NFTS because of the cost, which is why we award more scholarships and bursaries to British students, relative to the size of our student body, than almost any other educational institution in the UK.

At the NFTS you will get far more time learning directly from tutors, in real production facilities and on real projects, than in the vast majority of film schools or universities – and we won’t charge you extra for the cost of productions or materials. The specialist nature of our courses mean that our students gain the relevant skills and experience they need to go straight into the industry.


Every year, our students work on a number of short films.


Entry requirements

Applicants must be able to demonstrate their passion, commitment and talent for developing a career in television and a keen interest in the natural world, science, conservation and bio-diversity. Typically, applicants will have a proven interest in science and natural history, which may involve a background in Physics, Chemistry, combined Natural Sciences, Zoology, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, Wildlife Photography etc. But other educational backgrounds are not excluded.

While many applicants will have a degree from a British or overseas university, we will consider applicants who do not have a degree if they have an impressive portfolio, a creative track record or an alternative qualification.

For international students, more information about our entry requirements, including Visa and English language requirements, can be found on our What You Need To Know section of our Students From Abroad page. 

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: 07 Jul 2022

Applicants must complete the online application form and submit the following supporting materials:

  • A short proposal for a science or natural history television programme (one side of A4)
  • Optional: A digital portfolio containing samples of your work specifying your exact role in each.
    This work does not need to be in the science and natural history area, as some applicants may not have a film or other programme-making background.

You can apply online by clicking on BEGIN YOUR APPLICATION below. We are happy to receive applications at any time up until the midnight of the application deadline date.

Begin your application