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Film Studies Programming & Curation

Course Description

A ground-breaking new MA delivered in partnership with the BFI to prepare students to build successful careers in film exhibition, programming, criticism or archival work.

Quick Facts:

2 Year Course
Course runs Jan-Dec each year
Next intake: January 2017
NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students

Visit the website https://nfts.co.uk/our-courses/masters/film-studies-programming-and-curation



- The course is delivered in partnership with the BFI (the leading body for film in the UK) who will also provide hands-on placement opportunities across a range of curatorial and critical activities.
- The course is delivered by film professionals in film exhibition and distribution, festivals, archives and film criticism, alongside academics and film makers
- Students on the course will attend film festivals.
- Students learn how to conceptualise film work in terms of idea, form and style, as well as understanding the relationship between film and audience.
- Students will learn about the practicalities of film exhibition, distribution and preservation in the changing digital landscape.
- Students will study the practice of film criticism and comment, including reviewing and critical writing about films, filmmakers and the broader culture.
- Students have the opportunity to mount festivals, pop up screenings and other events.

This course commences at the end of January each year.

The National Film and Television School’s Film Studies Programming and Curation Masters delivered in partnership with the BFI is designed for students who wish to make a career in the wider film and media culture, whether in the fields of curation, exhibition, criticism, archives, preservation or restoration. The course provides a detailed understanding of the concepts, contexts and critical thought that have shaped the production and reception of film as a basis for engagement with rapidly changing contemporary film and moving image culture. A rigorous academic framework is combined with real world applications enabling each student to develop their own skills, knowledge and understanding to provide a strong basis for a career in film and media.

The philosophy of this course is to give students a theoretical, historical and critical understanding of film, which they will apply practically in the fields of film curating and programming, distribution and archiving.

With all the resources of the National Film and Television School available to them, students on this Master’s programme benefit from working alongside a new generation of filmmakers, encouraging creative dialogue between makers and curators/critics.


Students on this course gain a thorough understanding of the process by which a film moves from a creative idea to an audience experience. They will explore the history, theory and critical contexts of film. In addition they will look at a variety of critical writing on film, to give them access to the major ideas that inform film.

Optional units and a professional placement allow a more specialised focus on industry practices in programming, curation, archives and film criticism through project work and research portfolios.

1: Conceptualising Film: Idea, Form and Style

The unit provides an introduction to key ways of conceptualising film that underpin approaches to critical, theoretical and creative practice. The main topics include:

- The Evolution of the moving image – from scientific experiment to mass entertainment and beyond
- Ways of seeing: approaches to studying film
- The development of an industry and its audience. Film and Commerce
- Film and Realism: Cinema as a Mirror of Society?
- The Subconscious Art: Dream Cinema and the language of film
- Historical movements in Cinema: Influential developments, including the early avant-garde, Italian neo-realism, the Nouvelle Vague, Third Cinema
- Contemporary and British World Cinema: approaches development and trends
- Film Forum: the evolution of film criticism and comment
- Film and Digital Media (technology, and the impact on form and style)
- Expanded cinema: Film as a gallery experience, film as a live event

The unit draws on a wide range of illustrative film examples, and explores each concept with in-depth analysis of one or more key films. Each topic will be introduced by a film and media practitioner and/or an academic.

Students will write an essay in order to explore one of the key concepts.

2: Identifying the Audience: The Practice of Cinema from Idea to Exhibition

This unit looks at the changing sites and forms of film viewing, providing a detailed exploration of the cultural, economic and technological contexts that structure the processes and pathways by which films reach an audience. Whilst primary examples will largely be drawn from Europe and the USA, these will be considered in a global context.

- Audiences: bringing people together to watch films: who, why and how, from fairground attraction to movie palace to pop-up and online.
- The relationship between production and audiences: creativity, development journeys, film finance and funding.
- Contemporary patterns of distribution: buying and selling films in a multi-platform world; from conglomeration and globalisation to independence and self-distribution
- The business of contemporary exhibition: the ‘majors’ and the alternatives; the digital revolution
- Cultural cinema in the UK and Europe; the status of ‘specialised cinema’, including repertory and archive film
- Film Festivals and markets: cultural and economic impact; models of programming;
- Programming for diverse audiences
- Programming beyond the single screen: event cinema, alternative content, installation and on-line platforms
- Marketing and promotion: identifying, reaching and developing audiences
- Critics and criticism in the age of the internet and social media: continuity and change
- Reception: case studies

In addition to regular lectures and seminars by NFTS tutors, the teaching programme includes a wide range of talks by cinema and festival directors and programmers; industry executives working in exhibition, distribution, sales and marketing; venue and event managers; filmmakers and critics.

Students will prepare and present a case study one of the subject areas.

3: Programming Film & Cultural Events and Film Preservation and Restoration

This unit is broken into two strands with students participating in both.

Informed by the study in Parts A and B, there will be in-depth sessions on programming, including researching programme and event ideas, developing themes, selecting work to meet cultural and commercial imperatives, copywriting and devising marketing strategies. Practical issues regarding rights and availability, projection and technical presentation, producing publicity materials and on-stage introductions and Q&A hosting will all be covered.

The film preservation and restoration strand will cover understanding film materials, the impact of digitization on film preservation, and its limits; sessions will also explore issues of curatorial practice with regard both to collecting and exhibiting work and will consider the presentation and reception of archive material across a range of exhibition platforms. Students will also have the opportunity to visit archives, a specialised film collection, film laboratory or digital media centre.

During this part of the course students will attend the London Film Festival

4: Dissertation

As part of the dissertation module a number of specialised workshops will be arranged to enable students to explore a strand related to their dissertation in greater detail.

The dissertation may take the form of an extended piece of film criticism or an original exploration of aspects of film culture, genre or cinema history.

5: Graduation Project

The Graduation Project will be both a theoretical and practical exploration of their chosen subject and specialist areas. For example if a student wishes to explore sites and forms of cinema they will organise a pop-up cinema experience and deliver a written or video essay that explores the themes and concepts.

6: Professional Placement

During the process of developing the graduation portfolio each student will also undertake a 1-2 month professional placement.

7: Meet The Industry

A series of familiarisation visits to venues and projects with a variety of curatorial and critical approaches, to help provide students with a further sense of possible career options.


In addition to a wide range of screenings and seminars, the course provides hands-on approach to teaching and learning through workshops, group projects, field trips, personal research, portfolio as well as professional placements (at Festivals, Cinemas etc). For example, students work in small groups to develop portfolios (e.g. promotional strategy for a film) and workshops (e.g. peer review in film criticism).


This course invites applications from students with a BA (Hons) degree (or equivalent) in arts, humanities or science. Film and media related degrees, while welcome, are not essential for admission.

Applicants without a first degree but with professional experience may also be considered for admission. In these cases an appropriate piece of written work will be required, along with details of professional qualifications. The application will then be referred to the NFTS concessions committee for consideration.


- Please submit a brief essay on either a) The preservation of film culture, through archiving, exhibition and restoration
Or b) Discuss the changing forms of cinema distribution and exhibition.

- Write a review of either: a) A contemporary film that has impressed you, or, b) an earlier film that you believe to be of artistic or historical importance. The review should not exceed 1,000 words.

- Choose a movement in cinema or one particular national cinema that is important to you. Briefly discuss your personal response to it. This should not exceed 1,000 words

- Discuss one author or film critic, or one book of critical writing on film that has influenced you. Discuss why you have found this author/book of value to you.


You can apply directly to us at the NFTS by clicking on the link below:

APPLY FOR FILM STUDIES PROGRAMMING & CURATION COURSE - https://nfts.co.uk/sign-me-up/apply-now/?nid=1857

You can apply online, or download a word document of the application form to submit via email
When selecting your course, please ensure that you have read the entry requirements and details of the supporting materials that should accompany your application.


We are happy to receive applications 24/7 and 365 days a year up until the deadline. That said, there is no particular advantage to submitting your application very early. The important thing is that your application shows us your latest work and tell us about your most recent filmmaking experiences.

Visit the Film Studies Programming & Curation page on the National Film & Television School website for more details!

All Available Videos:

Student Profiles

NFTS Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

All long term resident UK students, once they are offered a place on the MA programme, are invited to apply for an NFTS funding award. Awards may consist of either a bursary or a scholarship or a combination of both. NFTS Scholarships are donated by individuals or organisations with a direct involvement in the film, games and television industries. They often include a mentorship and an individual donor may take in interest in your work. Therefore they have an added prestige.The NFTS funding awards contribute directly to tuition fees and may be between £1,000 and £10,000. They are not re-payable by the student. They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Value of Scholarship(s)



They are only available to UK permanent residents although there is also currently one small scholarship available annually to a French-speaking student.

Application Procedure

Students are invited to apply in both of the two years of the course. Some scholarships are intended to be for a particular specialisation, for female students, or awarded on ethnicity or according to the UK region of an applicant.

Further Information



The Toledo Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

Applications are treated confidentially and are means tested. The school reserves the right to ask an applicant to provide proof of his/her financial circumstances and of possible family support. The Assistant Registrar must be notified immediately of any change in an applicant’s financial circumstances. Careful consideration is given by the Scholarship Panel with a view to responding to demonstrated financial need. Funds are limited and students are asked to estimate responsibly how much assistance they think they will need as this affects the School’s ability to accommodate students in serious need.Unfortunately, we are unable to open this scheme to EU or International students, or to students on the Diploma programmes. There are some course specific scholarship opportunities available to Diploma students. Please check the latest situation on the NFTS website course pages. There may not be enough scholarships available to allow the school to give one to all applicants. Therefore it may be necessary for you to make alternative arrangements for your tuition fees and maintenance. All students offered a place are provided with guidelines for applying for independent funding. This information is distributed during the summer. NFTS funding applications are received in September and the Scholarship Panel meets in October to decide the awards for the following year. Decisions are announced shortly afterwards.

Value of Scholarship(s)

See the website


The Toledo Scholarship is an NFTS scholarship specifically intended to enable talented newcomers from the UK’s ethnic minorities to fast-track their ambitions and join the British film industry.

Application Procedure

Application is made in the same way as all other NFTS scholarships but candidates will need to identify themselves as an UK ethnic minority candidate in order to be considered automatically.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

This course invites applications from students with a BA (Hons) degree (or equivalent) in arts, humanities or science. Film and media related degrees, while welcome, are not essential for admission. Applicants without a first degree but with professional experience may also be considered for admission. In these cases an appropriate piece of written work will be required, along with details of professional qualifications. The application will then be referred to the NFTS concessions committee for consideration.

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