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Course Finder

MA Film Studies

Location: Colchester Campus
Qualification: Master of Arts
Mode of study: Full-time
Duration: 12 months
Tuition Fee: Home/EU, Overseas
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder Department: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Facebook: University of Essex
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days.

About the course

MA Film Studies offers a unique opportunity to explore and make creative connections between film analysis and film practice. Our course has a distinctive focus on international, alternative, and documentary cinemas whilst also providing a solid foundation in key elements of film history and theory, including Hollywood.

Taught by academic film specialists and professional filmmakers, students gain a strong sense of independent filmmaking practice and the ability to apply their academic knowledge of film to collective and individual filmmaking projects. Our course is eminently suitable for you if you wish to pursue or develop a career in the film/media industry or if you seek to go on to study film at PhD level.

Please note that this course is also available on a part-time basis.

Why study MA Film Studies at Essex?

Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at Essex is a unique literary conservatoire that offers talented students the support and confidence to respond both critically and artistically to their academic study. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning writers, film-makers and theatre-makers, as well as leading academic specialists. Our courses span the globe: our expertise is geographical as well as chronological, practical as well as theoretical. At Essex you don’t just study English Literature, you study world literature in English. This breaks down barriers and liberates us to take you on a comparative journey of discovery across literature, screen and stage.

Our facilities

If you are studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, then you will have access to a range of exceptional facilities to enhance your learning and research, including a dedicated 120-seat film theatre, fitted with a digital HD projector and surround sound.

For your film production modules, you have priority use of professional editing facilities, two state-of-the-art studios, and a range of cameras and other filmmaking equipment. Our Department also houses a substantial collection of videos and DVDs for student borrowing, in addition to the extensive audio-visual holdings in the University’s Albert Sloman Library.

Our Department co-ordinates many film-related activities at the University. We sponsor special screenings, organise conferences, and host speakers and filmmakers from around the world. In addition, the University has many excellent film societies, which screen both recent blockbusters and less mainstream, arthouse films.

Our film students also benefit from our Lakeside Theatre which, over the past three decades, has been established as a major venue for good drama. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays here but there has been a wealth of new work produced by our own staff and students. An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it has given our students to write or direct new plays, as well as re-define classics and re-discover neglected masterpieces.


A Masters course is an academically rigorous programme during which you explore your subject in depth, reaching a high level of specialist knowledge. You draw on knowledge and skills from your undergraduate study or your professional life to produce work of a high academic standard, informed by current thinking and debate.

A Masters course lasts for twelve months (full-time), starting in October, and consists of taught modules during your autumn and spring terms, and normally a research-based dissertation or other project-based work submitted in September. Typically your research (dissertation) counts for 80 credits and there are 100 credits of modules, each individual module worth 20 credits. (If you are from the EU, then our Masters courses are regarded as ‘second-cycle’ qualifications under the Bologna Declaration and consist of 90 ECTS credits).

Please note that module information on our course finder provides a guide to course content and may be subject to review on an annual basis.


Core modules must be taken and passed.
Core with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken and passed.
Compulsory modules must be taken.
Compulsory with options modules selected from limited lists must be taken.
Optional modules are selected from course specific lists.


Your postgraduate study at Essex gives you an opportunity to develop your own ideas and interests, and to engage with thinking at the leading edge of your subject, as part of the research community in our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, and our wider academic and professional community.

As you are studying a non-science subject, then your teaching mainly takes the form of lectures and classes.

Your assessment is solely based on written coursework. During the summer, you will work on a dissertation or individual project included in your final grade.

Teaching methods and styles

Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, all our MAs can be taken either full-time for one year or part-time over two years. Five modules are followed, over the autumn and spring terms, and generally consist of ten two-hour seminars, the format of which may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you and discussion based on a programme of reading.

Your dissertation

If you are studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, then you produce a dissertation (of approximately 20,000 words) written between April and September. Where appropriate, films, plays or pieces of creative writing can be submitted as your dissertation.

There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays and dissertation. You will be issued with our MA guide giving detailed advice on writing at MA level and your written work will be supervised by appropriate specialist staff.

Please note that if you are taking a Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma, you do not need to do the dissertation.

Methods of assessment

Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, your assessment is by four essays of 4,000-5,000 words, a reflective piece on research methods and a dissertation (of approximately 20,000 words) written between April and September. Where appropriate, films, plays or pieces of creative writing can be submitted as your dissertation.

Seminars and conferences

Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, our regular staff-graduate seminar provides a forum, both intellectual and social, at which our students may give papers about their work in progress. Visiting scholars are invited to speak about their research and interdisciplinary seminars are also offered by other departments in our School of Humanities and Comparative Studies.

Career destinations

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers.

Other past MA and research students are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

Your employability

A postgraduate qualification is a major achievement and greatly valued by employers. Recent surveys show that higher degree graduates are more likely to obtain jobs at professional or managerial level and less likely to be unemployed. For some jobs a postgraduate qualification may be essential, for others it offers a competitive edge. Our graduates go into a variety of jobs, where the key employability skills and knowledge they have gained through postgraduate study are put to good use.

Our Languages for All programme lets you study a language, alongside your course, at no extra cost. You can take one of 50 taught language modules on a part-time day-time basis, or undertake flexible web-based learning, or opt for a language module taught in the evening. As employers can struggle to find graduates able to speak more than one language, Languages for All places Essex graduates in a very advantageous position.

If you achieve your Masters, you may wish to extend your knowledge with a research degree and many who graduate from Essex choose to stay here for research study. Some of our Masters may be taken as the first part of an Integrated PhD, leading to your PhD after a further three years of full-time study.

Support for postgraduates

Our University has a range of support services designed to help you to achieve your full potential and get the most out of your studies. These form a co-ordinated network of support, and are an important part of your overall student experience at Essex.

Our staff operate an 'open door' policy so are available to discuss any concerns with you throughout the year.

Research study opportunities

Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, we offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation. Our staff offer a wide range of expertise in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.


Our applicants should have a 1st, 2:1 or high 2:2 degree, or equivalent, in a relevant area.

If English is not your first language, then we require IELTS 7.0, or equivalent, with 6.5 in writing.