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MPhil in Film and Screen Studies

Course Description

The MPhil in Film and Screen Studies at Cambridge provides advanced training in study of the theory and history of film and other screen media in a vibrant interdisciplinary context. The moving image is explored in relation to the development of modern and contemporary culture, and to the history and theory of other media (literature, music, the visual arts, architecture, the digital). Students are immersed in a research environment that emphasises work on geopolitics, early cinema, art cinema and the avant garde, theory, aesthetics, and gender and sexuality. The programme consists of a core course, taken in the first term, which provides the foundation for further study; two optional modules, taken in the second term, which combine the analysis of film and screen media with the analysis of their social and cultural milieus, or else undertake the study of these forms in a comparative context; and a dissertation. Although not all students may wish to progress to higher research, this MPhil programme is designed to prepare for continuation to PhD work. This preparation includes the academic and research training provided by the course content itself but also advice and support with PhD applications, funding applications and the drafting of a research proposal.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/mmmmmpsmc

Course detail

By the end of the programme students will have:

1. developed a deeper knowledge of the history and theory of film and other screen media in cultural context;
2. developed an understanding of the debates which have shaped that field of study, and of current research methods;
3. acquired and consolidated intensive specialist knowledge of their chosen research areas and skills appropriate to advanced study in those areas;
4. demonstrated independent judgement, based on their own research
5. participated effectively in seminar discussions and research events;
6. learnt how to plan independent research in order to produce written work of a high standard to a clearly defined deadline.


The Screen Media MPhil is a nine-month course that runs from October to June of any given academic year. It is classified as a research Master's. Students are expected to submit coursework and a thesis during the year, as follows:

Michaelmas Term: Core Course

During the first term of study, students attend weekly seminars and film screenings designed to give them a broad insight into moving image theory and culture. Half of the Core Course focuses on combining the study of classical and contemporary film and visual theory; the other half hones in on specialized historiographic and theoretical problems in the study of moving image media. The Course is, thus, both intensively grounding and intellectually expansive. At the end of this term, students submit one 4,500-word essay. The essay focuses on a specific theoretical framework or critical approach. Two hours of individual supervision are provided.

Lent Term: Modules

Screen Media students can choose from a range of module options. Some focus on the moving image, others are shared with different MPhils (e.g. European Literature & Culture, or Criticism and Culture) and other departments and Faculties within the University, such as Architecture & History of Art, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, English, and Latin American Studies, among others. (The list of modules can change from year to year depending on the availability of academic staff.)

During Lent Term, students attend weekly group seminars led by the module covenor, lasting around 1.5 to 2 hours per week per module. In addition, two hours of individual supervision (per essay) will be provided as students draft their module essays. Essays are submitted at the end of Lent Term.

Lent term modules may include:

- Modern and Contemporary French and Francophone Culture: Articulations of the Real
- Avant Garde and Experimental Cinemas
- The Modern City
- New Commitments: Literature, Cinema and Culture in Italy, 1960 to present
- Urban Cinematics
- Deconstructing Film
- Online Video: Creation, Consumption, Revolution
- Surveillance
- Latin American Film and Visual Arts

Assessment - Easter Term

During this term, students write a thesis. Theses must, according to the criteria laid down by the Board of Graduate Studies, 'represent a contribution to learning'. Theses must be written in English. The arrangements for their preparation are similar to those for the essays. Titles are chosen by students, in consultation with module convenors and/or prospective supervisors, and then have to be approved by the Faculty Degree Committee.

Topics and precise thesis titles must be submitted by a specific deadline in Lent Term. Up to this point the Course Director is the titular supervisor of MPhil students, but once the thesis topics are approved, a specialist supervisor is appointed for each student. Students are entitled to up to four hour-long sessions with their supervisor. (In the event that a thesis is co-supervised, a candidate may expect two hours of individual teaching from each supervisor. Only one supervisor should comment on the full draft of the thesis.)

Research Events

Students are expected to take part in fortnightly research events that take place across the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. Leading scholars in film and screen studies will deliver lectures and also meet with students in master class seminars. Students are asked to compile an (unassessed) dossier of critical responses to these events. Participation in these events allows students to engage intensely but also informally with innovative researchers.


For those applying to continue from the MPhil to PhD, the minimum academic standard is a distinction on the MPhil.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

Funding may be available from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Applications to the MPhil are automatically considered for AHRC funding, however you must apply by the relevant funding deadline.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

Visit the MPhil in Film and Screen Studies page on the University of Cambridge website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Emilija Talijan

The MPhil was an inspiring and intellectually stimulating programme that allowed me to develop and expand my research interests in an interdisciplinary context. Cambridge has a fantastic film community and a highlight of the course was the contact time it offered through lectures, seminars and supervisions with experts across various disciplines, both from within and outside of the university. I will be returning to Cambridge to commence a PhD in October 2015 to continue developing interests that were nurtured during the MPhil. The broad range of areas within screen media that were covered by the MPhil gave me the opportunity of working across various roles this year such as at the British Film Institute, within TV Production and writing film reviews.

(Student Profile)

Piotr Cieplak

The expertise and dedication of the teaching staff made the MPhil a fantastic experience. The course encouraged critical thinking about film and screen media from varied perspectives, and in a number of traditions. It also provided a tight-knit, supportive and stimulating intellectual environment. The MPhil was instrumental in preparing me for PhD research.

(Student Profile)

Dr Chris Brown

On the MPhil in Screen Media and Cultures, I was able to immerse myself in Cambridge's rich film culture, benefiting from a stimulating critical environment. It was when taking this MPhil that I first began to systematically consider the relationship between film theory and practice; this paved the way for my future PhD study, and was vital for my development as both a filmmaker and a film lecturer.

Dr Chris Brown, Senior Lecturer & Programme Leader, MA / MSc Film Production Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts University of Greenwich


Entry Requirements

Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK High II.i Honours Degree. Applicants with degrees in film or media studies and related disciplines are encouraged to apply, as are students with backgrounds in literary studies, art history and other areas.

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