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TV Research Skills (MACCI) - TFT00084M

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Edward Braman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

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 direct students towards some of the key skills that combine to make a successful TV researcher, identifying the degree to which a creative understanding of research leads to issues of management and creative logistics. 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. 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 and programme developers actually go about their business in the industry.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To understand the role of a television researcher on factual and dramatic programmes.
  • To learn how to find and evaluate stories; and write research briefs and factual scripts.
  • To learn how to set up a shoot, including finding and contracting contributors and locations.
  • To understand the compliance process and legal requirements for television production.
  • To understand the impact underlying TV research has on the management,, logistics and development of TV projects (and other creative outputs).


Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module students will be able to

  • Propose valid  - and format specific - ideas for TV stories.
  • Understand how to research and develop factual stories for television.
  • Suggest the best way to tell a particular story on TV.
  • Understand how to find and contract contributors
  • Understand how to find and contract locations
  • Be able to write research briefs and short factual scripts.
  • Understand broadcast compliance and location law, including copyright and trespass.
  • Understand a researcher's ethical obligations to their contributors.
  • Apply logistical and managerial considerations to the development and realisation of TV stories, and programme developments. 


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio 4000 words
N/A 70
Research and logistics brief
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio 4000 words
N/A 70
Research and logistics brief
N/A 30

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on all assessments and reassessments.  In additional there will be weekly feedback in all practicals and individual supervision.

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.