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Course content

On the MA in Film Studies: Popular Cinema you will develop a historically-informed and critically aware understanding of film as an industry, art form, and cultural product. Through this course, you will build a broad portfolio of writing and research skills by combining academic and professional writing projects. We cover the history and theory of popular cinema in the US (classical and contemporary Hollywood), Europe and East Asia (especially Japanese cinema). Through modules on story development and research methods you will sharpen your writing skills in preparation for your dissertation project.

You will develop skills central to a career in either academia or the media industries. You will be taught by a diverse team of film specialists with different national and cultural backgrounds, as well as by industry professional guest speakers.

Why choose this course?

  • The School of Arts offers a unified hub for the arts in the Richard Hamilton Building, with state-of-the-art technical facilities and 24-hour studio access.
  • All Film Studies staff are active researchers publishing widely on subjects such as: Italian films and their audiences, puzzle films, film theory, film policy, film tourism, visual anthropology, and crime films.
  • You will have the opportunity to go on the annual field trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
  • We have an advisory panel of film industry experts including leading directors, journalists, and producers and technical specialists who contribute to the programme and our annual series of Film Studies events, including an annual Careers Day.
  • Research and teaching programmes linked to some of Oxford’s premier cultural organisations such as Modern Art Oxford, the Ultimate Picture Palace, Oxford Contemporary Music, and locally held Film Festivals.
  • You will be part of a stimulating environment where creative practitioners and writers about the arts and culture work closely together to form specialist research units and interdisciplinary research clusters in diverse areas from videogaming to modernism.

This course in detail

Compulsory modules

Students studying for the MA in Film Studies are required to complete the following two compulsory modules:

  • Narration in Classical Hollywood Cinema
  • Research Methods in Film

Optional modules

MA students can then choose any two of the options below:

  • Popular European Cinema
  • Professional Film Cultures
  • Story Development
  • Popular Cinema in East Asia
  • Independent Study
  • Dissertation

Teaching and learning

Teaching is centred around film screenings, seminars, individual tutorials and, in the case of Story Development, intensive writing workshops.

Assessment activities include writing academic essays and a dissertation. Other assessments include professional writing activities - book reviews, feature articles, and screenplays.

Approach to assessment

Our programmes vary the forms of assessment in order to offer students the opportunity to develop many core academic skills. Assignments include: academic essays, presentations, book reviews, pitches, treatments, and screenplays. 

Specialist facilities

Brookes' Film Studies course has recently set up a specialist cinema room, with a state of the art surround sound system. Graduate students are welcome to book this room to watch films for their research, or just for their interest.

Field trips

MA students have the opportunity to go on an optional Film trip. In 2010, Brookes film students visited New York and in 2011-12 a group of students attended the Berlin Film Festival with their Film Studies lecturers. Since 2013, students have been attending the Cannes film festival. The cost of the trip varies, and is not included in tuition fees.

Attendance pattern

Because many of our graduate students are in part time work, we schedule all of our classes on Thursdays, leaving the rest of the week free for students to arrange their work and study timetable around what suits them.


Visit the MA/PGDip/PGCert Film Studies: Popular Cinema page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

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