Film Studies

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Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
Film Studies
University of Essex
University of Essex
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
MA QV2324

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A mid 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages or Art History.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes

Please refer to the full time version of this course for information on Core and Compulsory modules.

External examiners

Dr Agnieszka Elzbieta Piotrowska


University of Bedfordshire

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 LT901-7-FY / LT932-7-SP/ LT927-7-AU / LT905-7-FY Film option(s) from list Optional 0 Optional Optional

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 LT983-7-FY Dissertation: MA Film Studies Core 80 Core
02 LT901-7-FY / LT932-7-SP / LT927-7-AU / LT905-7-FY Film option(s) from list Compulsory with Options 20 Compulsory Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

1. To familiarise students with essential concepts of film form

2. To enable students to discourse on filmic texts at an advanced level, informed by social, thematic, formal, and theoretical perspectives.

3. To provide specialised Film Studies courses

4. To introduce students to production techniques

5. To encourage students to work as scholars in specific fields of investigation

6. To encourage students to make conceptual links between theoretical and practical work in film

7. To help students develop their work independently of guidance for extended periods

8. To enhance students' career options

9. To prepare qualified students for progression to doctoral research with a view to entering the academic profession

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1: A range of selected films from a variety of film genres and national cinemas

A2: Specialised topics in Film Studies in greater depth

A3: Aspects of the significant theoretical, thematic, and formal approaches to Film Studies and the social contexts in which films are made

A4: Essential terms, concepts, and methods of critical analysis employed in Film Studies

A5: Appropriate research techniques and methodologies

A6: Essential hands-on production techniques

Learning methods

1-5 are addressed in seminar instruction and discussion, and in oral and written feedback on essays.

6 is addressed through instruction in the practical course component and through oral and written feedback on the collective practical project that stems from this course.

Assessment methods

Formal assessment is by written coursework (three essays for three seminars) and dissertation.

Students can choose between a written dissertation of 20,000 words (developing expertise in outcomes 1-5), or a practical dissertation with a shorter written component (10-15,000 words) which further develops expertise in outcome 6 in addition to 1-5.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: Develop critical thinking strategies

B2: Analyse and evaluate theoretical concepts at advanced levels

B3: Reason critically in an environment of complex ideas

B4: Argue persuasively in writing, adopting critical positions on issues related to Film Studies

B5: Reflect critically on the creative film-making process

B6: Develop and sustain a critical argument over a sustained period of research

Learning methods

These skills are developed in: seminar discussions; class presentations (which may form the basis of essays) followed by questions and answers; guided instruction of primary and secondary sources in seminars; guided analysis of visual material in seminars; oral and written feedback on essays; guided instruction, questions and answers, individual consultation, and pre-production preparatory assignments in the practical component.

Individual guidance, in addition to formal seminars, is available in posted office hours during the preparation of essays and of the collective project.

Individual guidance is available in advance of the deadline for the dissertation proposal, and detailed oral feedback is given on the proposal in advance of dissertation writing.

Assessment methods

1-5 are assessed in three course essays.
The essays and practical project are regarded essentially as a form of progressive assessment leading to the dissertation.

Depending on desired outcomes of enhanced expertise in theoretical or practical areas, students can choose between a dissertation that enhances skills 1-5 (written dissertation), or a practical dissertation project with a shorter written component, that further develops expertise in skill 6 in addition to 1-5.

C: Practical skills

C1: Analyse film images, deploying a vocabulary of key cinematic terms (both technical and theoretical)

C3: Organise, structure and present an argument in writing, putting forward clear critical positions

C4: Compile and present extended bibliographies

C5: Provide complex references according to accepted conventions

C6: Use libraries and IT to gain access to a variety of scholarly sources

C7: Plan and execute a basic practical project (sometimes of a co-operative nature).

Learning methods

Skills 1 and 2 are developed through seminar instruction, seminar discussions, and through individual consultation in office hours.

Feedback is provided through oral and written comments on essays.

Guidance on skills 3-5 is provided in the Literature Guide for M.A.

Students, and available on an individual basis during office hour consultation. 5 is additionally provided in optional information sessions offered by the Library.

6 is developed through specific units on pre-production, production, and post-production techniques in the practical course and in the process of putting together a collective project for this course.

Assessment methods

Essays are assessed for skills 1-5; the practical project assesses skill 6.

Students can choose between a dissertation that focuses on skills 1-5 (written dissertation project) or that incorporates skill 6 in addition to 1-5 (practical dissertation project with a shorter written component).

D: Key skills

D1: The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts, both orally and in writing

D2: Typing and word-processing skills; use of electronic library catalogues and email

D4: Students should be able to manage projects and timetables; and to apply knowledge and understanding in order to make judgements and offer solutions in a range of scholarly and practical contexts.

D5: Students should be able to work co-operatively in a practical production context.

D6: Students should enhance the ability to work to deadlines; should take responsibility for their own work in individual and collective contexts; should reflect on their own performance and make constructive use of feedback; should share responsibility for their own programme of studies.

Learning methods

Communication is developed through seminar discussions.

Visual media skills of analysis are developed through guided analysis and discussion of visual material in seminars.

These ideas are explored in a hand-on practical context through instruction in the practical component, leading to the production of a collective project.

The development of communication skills may also be enhanced through more formal oral presentations in seminars, with further information supplied through subsequent questions and answers.

Students are expected to acquire IT skills based on some initial guidance, and tutors can provide additional guidance during office hours, while students can elect to follow Library-sponsored information sessions.

Students are given the opportunity to work constructively and productively in groups, particularly as part of the practical component of the degree.

All students present a written proposal leading to the writing of the dissertation, which receives extensive feedback.

Students should be able to advance an argument in seminar discussion and should be able to listen and respond effectively.

Assessment methods

Essays and dissertations are assessed for qualities that incorporate most of the skills outlined in D1-D4, and in D6.

All work must be submitted in typewritten form (normally word-processed) and must be presented according to the standard conventions outlined in the Literature Guide for M.A. Students.

The collective project and practical dissertation option particularly addresses and assesses practical skills outlined in D5.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: