Undergraduate Research - The Documentary
Full course description
Many of us regularly turn to documentaries as entertaining and engaging ways of learning about new topics from different perspectives. Visual communication – including non-fiction film – is increasingly saturating all aspects of our lives, and images and sound now constitute a large part of the information and entertainment we seek out and consume in daily life. In academia, too, visual methods are increasingly part of the toolkit used to do research and share research with both specialist and general audiences. Audiovisual media, like documentaries, can broaden the topics we can research, add new dimensions to the knowledge we create, and make scientific findings accessible to diverse audiences. As such, filmmaking can be a way of conducting serious academic research – asking questions, gathering data, and presenting arguments – in novel and creative ways.
This project will extend your existing academic skills into a new arena by introducing you to an alternative medium for doing and presenting academic research, namely through filmmaking based on the visual ethnographic tradition. You will learn basic filmmaking skills and visual research methods and use them to design and carry out your own research project in groups. The result will be a short research film, through which you will answer an academic research question and present new information in accessible, informative and appealing ways. By the end of the project, you will have acquired the tools necessary to design, record, and edit your own research film which deals with an academic question in a field of your interest.
The Documentary is a semester long group research project carrying 10 ECTS. The level of the project is equivalent to that of a 3000 level course, as we expect students to acquire entirely new skills while building upon their already acquainted knowledge and research skills. It encompasses the two skills trainings and the project offered during the Spring Semester. During the first period, students will be acquainted with the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of research filmmaking. Simultaneously, the groups will start to develop their research. In the second period, students will conduct their research through film, and attend workshops to teach them the skills necessary to do so. In the final period, students will edit their final documentaries.
By the end of this project, students will:
- Develop an understanding of the basic theoretical and methodological aspects of filmmaking as a research method;
- Acquire and apply basic research-filmmaking skills, i.e., planning, filming and editing; and
- Produce a research film that investigates and answers a relevant academic question.
First year students are not eligible for this course. There are no prerequisites for this project, however, the Ethnography track and a topic related course in Film Studies s such as HUM2043 Film Art or Narrative Media are strongly recommended. Nevertheless, a definite requirement is enthusiasm and the motivation to work hard and to develop new skills. Students are required to have a progress rate of at least 0.9 and a GPA of at least 7.5.
If you would like to join The Documentary you need to apply for it by filling in the application form on MyUCM. Part of this form asks you to elaborate on your motivation to follow the project. This should cover an explanation as to how participating in the project adds to your curriculum, why you think you are well prepared to follow the project, an overview of the relevant courses that you took, and the suggestion of a research topic. The application needs to be submitted in advance of the course registration deadline.
The number of available spots in different in The Documentary is limited. Therefore, the course coordinator reserves the right to only select the students that are deemed most suitable. It will be communicated in a timely manner, but no later than 6 weeks before the start of the project, whether the application for the project was successful. If access to the project is denied, then you will be allocated to backup modules. Please indicate the backup modules on your course registration form.