Directing Fiction



BBC Film BBC Childrens

This course provides a unique environment in which directors can find their individual style and their own distinctive voice.

"The NFTS is right at the heart of training for the industry." Graduate David Yates, director of the Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The course is highly practical, giving students the opportunity to make high quality films in our in-house studios or on location. They will also have the chance to learn from top industry professionals.

Students will collaborate with those in other specialisms to make several films and practical projects, putting into practice the skills they learn along throughout the course – with all production costs met by the School. The NFTS has purpose-built film and television studios and professional standard post-production facilities.

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 Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

​This course is industry recognised by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen-based industries, and carries the ScreenSkills Select quality-mark which indicates courses best suited to prepare students for a career in the screen industries.

Recent credits and successes

Beast promo pic

Graduate Michael Pearce won the 2019 BAFTA  for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for his debut feature Beast, along with producer Lauren Dark.

You Were Never Really Here promo pic

Graduate Lynne Ramsay’s credits include You Were Never Really Here, We Need to Talk about Kevin and Ratcatcher

Cleaing Up promo pic

2013 graduate Lewis Arnold has gone to direct Cleaning Up, Humans, Broadchurch and Misfits.

Dead Birds promo pic

Johnny Kenton’s 2018 graduation film Dead Birds was selected from over 1500 films to reach the semi-final stage of the Student Academy Awards.

What you will study

This course provides two years in which directing students will be adding depth and understanding to their abilities whilst regularly producing work. This is an environment where they will be both challenged and supported by staff and fellow students.

The essence of the course is the practical experience of film-making, combined with a wide-ranging series of work-shops emphasising performance, mise-en-scène and an examination of how narrative works in cinema and in television. The tutor to student ratio is high, thus allowing the teaching to be specific to the needs of the individual director.

The course includes weekly sessions on film and television culture, both contemporary and historical, and opportunities to learn from the work of more established directors through masterclasses and set visits. It also involves interaction with other disciplines, ranging from visual art, literature and architecture to installation and performance art.

In order to be awarded an MA Directing Fiction degree, you will also be asked to complete a dissertation/research project. The dissertation/research project should relate to your own work and practice as a director – help articulate your sense of cinema, what you love or what you reject – to enable you to think about how you might wish to develop as a filmmaker. It will be supported by tutors at every stage, and you will be guided in your choice of subject and approach. 

Download programme specification (PDF)

Download course outline (PDF)

Heads of Department

Head of Directing Fiction is Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal, Memphis Belle, Shooting Dogs, Urban Hymn).

Current or Recent Tutors

Many other leading directors have taught on the programme, including Lesley Manning (Ghostwatch, Leila, Honeycomb Lodge), Ian Sellar (Venus Peter, Prague, Home Road Movies), Stephen Frears (The QueenA Very English Scandal) and Michael Hoffman (Last Station).

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home Fees:  £14,800 per year 

International Fees (including EU nationals): £24,900 per year 

These are the fees for January 2022 intake. Fees for January 2023 will be confirmed in June.

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 are expected to provide their own laptops and software. Students will be expected to pay for their travel for occasional off-campus events.

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 make a number of short films.


Entry requirements

Students come from a wide range of backgrounds: you may be an independent filmmaker, you might have a degree or you may have experience of working in the industry.

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. 

In case your application is successful and you are offered a place, we will ask you to attend a 4-week Foundation Course which is run uniquely for the Fiction Directors. The Foundation course is not part of the selection process, but an integral part of your teaching which then leads into the 2-year MA course, running from January to December.

The Foundation course usually happens mid-October to early November (4 weeks). Dates may vary slightly, but will be announced with your offer of place.

Please allow time and allocate funds for travel and accommodation to attend the Foundation course.

If you have any questions, please email

How to apply

Application deadline: Contact Registry

The following items should accompany your online application:

  • A short film(s) (up to 3 films can be submitted), which you have solely directed. Please submit your work via a Vimeo link. Your film(s) will be viewed by a panel of professionals. The panel guarantee to watch 15 minutes of your submission. If you submit a film which is longer than 15 minutes, the panel will only commit to watching 15 minutes of it - you may specify which continuous 15 minutes you would like them to view. You may also submit a film that is less than 15 minutes. If you are submitting multiple films, please specify which sections should be watched, amounting to 15 minutes in total.
    The technical quality of the work submitted is not a priority in assessment. (If dialogue is not in English and the film does not have English subtitles please email a dialogue transcript in English).
  • A treatment for an original film or video project of no more than 2 sides of A4 paper, typed and double spaced. This should not be a treatment for the same project as submitted above. It should be a treatment for either a short film or a feature length project.
    This treatment should include the basic situation, the characters and other elements, the main thrust of the story as it changes from beginning, through middle, to end. A brief logline should also be submitted on a separate page. 

The application deadline has now passed. Please join our mailing list if you would like to be kept up to date with NFTS news and updates.