Postgraduate Courses

FAM5015W Making the Critical Documentary

NQF credits: 24 at HEQSF level 9.

Course convener

Dr. Liani Maasdorp

Entrance requirements

Acceptance into Honours or Master’s programme. Students who wish to do the course must consult the convener and submit a portfolio of creative work before they may register for the course.

Course outline

The course will explore how documentary makers endeavour to make a difference with their work and their engagement, how they shift consciousness through the camera lens. The course will take participants on a journey into the worlds of some important photographers and filmmakers. We will look closely at exponents of, and approaches to, documentary photography and filmmaking. Intrinsic to the course is the understanding of narrative. We will deconstruct these narratives in various disciplines to understand more deeply the techniques used to tell non-fiction stories. Ultimately, this course is about growing student' conceptual and practical skills in documentary work and facilitating the development of original new voices in documentary film and photography.  Students will be expected to produce several exercises, on project (in either photography or film) and write an academic explication of their work.

DP requirements

Attendance at all classes; punctual submission of work.


Three photographic exercises: 20%; One 10-minute Power Point presentation on a documentarian of student's choice: 10%; Three film exercises: 30%; Short film/photo project pitch: 10%; Final project (10 minute film or 20-30 image photographic essay): 20%; 5 000-word academic explication on photography or film project 10%.