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TV Research Skills - TFT00046H

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Edward Braman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

Researchers are the foundation on which television programmes (and quite a few movies) are built. And TV research is the platform from which the majority of broadcast careers are launched. Quite simply: without the researcher’s ability to identify stories, assemble facts, draft scripts, cast contributors and secure locations and co-operation, few documentaries would ever get made, few popular factual shows would ever leave the development phase, and quite a few light entertainment shows would struggle for participants and contestants. This module will introduce you to some of the key skills that combine to make a successful TV researcher. It will cover underlying disciplines like story-finding and casting. It will focus on ethics and compliance and the researcher’s duties to both contributor and broadcaster or streamer. It will explore different programme forms and formats and how the researcher adapts their practice to different editorial demands. And it will expose students to some of the professional procedures - the story conference, the development round-table and the producer scrutiny - which characterise how researchers actually go about their business in the industry.

Professional requirements

This modification - changing the previous mid-semester 30% assessment to a formative, and then creating a single 100% summative assessment at the end of the module - responds to the general move towards rationalising assessment. More critically, it better accommodates and rewards the level of work expected in the final exercise. The retention of a formative component however ensures that students do not go into a final single-point of assessment with detailed feedback and guidance that they can deploy to do their eventual best work.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

Over the course of this module, you can expect to:

  • Understand the role of a television researcher on factual and dramatic programmes.
  • Learn how to find and evaluate stories and to write research briefs and factual scripts to a near-professional standard Learn how to set up a shoot, including finding and contracting contributors and locations. Understand the compliance process and legal requirements for television production.
  • Develop insights into different editorial structures, programme formats and commissioning systems in the UK and beyond.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you will be expected to:

  • Have developed strategies and procedures for coming up with editorially viable ideas for TV stories.
  • Understand how to research and develop factual stories for television.
  • Be familiar with the ways in which stories can change their form, or potential content, in line with different editorial formats or broadcast structures
  • Understand how to find and contract contributors.
  • Understand how to find and contract locations.
  • Be able to write research briefs and short factual scripts, to near professional standard.
  • Observe broadcast compliance and related legal considerations, including copyright, contempt, trespass and defamation.
  • Respect and adhere to a researcher's ethical obligations to their contributors.
  • Develop a sense of how research drives programme content in different markets, UK and beyond, public service and commercial, scheduled broadcast and video-on-demand.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio: Full Story brief and script
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The module is structured around weekly editorial conferences (and some complementary masterclasses) therefore feedback is a constant process, akin to best-practice in the broadcast industry.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio: Full Story brief and script
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

  • BBC Producers Guidelines.
  • Ofcom Regulations
  • Barry Hampe, Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos, Owl books
  • Andy Glynne, Documentaries and how to make them, Creative Essentials.
  • Gary Hudson and Sarah Rowlands, The Broadcast Journalism Handbook, Pearson
  • Alan Rosenthal, Writing, Directing and Producing Documentary Films and Videos, Southern Illinois University Press
  • Ivor Yorke, The Technique Of Television News, London, Focal.
  • Gordon Croton, From Script To Screen: Documentaries, Borehamwood, BBC Television Training.
  • Paul Kriwaczek, Documentary For The Small Screen, Oxford: Focal.
  • Chater, Kathy (1998) Production Research: An Introduction, Oxford: Focal Press
  • Chater, Kathy (1995) The Television Researcher s Guide, London, BBC TV Training
  • Chater, Kathy (1998) The Television Researcher s Handbook, London, BBC TV Training.
  • Hart, Colin, (1999), Television Program Making, Oxford: Focal Press.
  • Walls, Susan (2005), How to Get a Job in Television, How To Books.

Reference sources:

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.