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MA Film Studies

Why we're great

  • Essex is top ten for student satisfaction (English mainstream universities, NSS 2016)
  • Develop your skills using our industry-standard film screening and editing facilities
  • View classic films weekly in Cine10 – our dedicated 120-seat cinema in the heart of campus

Course options2017-18

MA Film Studies Full-time

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £6,125
Fee (International): £15,450
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Part-time

Duration: 2 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £3,065
Fee (International): £7,725
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719
Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

Explore and make creative connections between film analysis and film practice.

Our course has a distinctive focus on international, alternative, and documentary cinemas, while also providing a solid foundation in key elements of film history and theory, including Hollywood. This critical appraisal of such a wide range of genres gives you a solid understanding of what makes film work well, enabling you to improve your own production skills in camerawork, editing, lighting, screenwriting and production management.

You gain a strong sense of independent filmmaking practice, and learn to apply your academic knowledge of film through exploring topics including:

  • The formal, social, cultural and political dimensions of films from both within and beyond Hollywood
  • Fiction film production, including pre-production, camera, lighting and sound
  • Classics of the documentary form , docufictions and mockumentaries
  • Collective and individual filmmaking projects
  • Storyboarding and editing

You also benefit from a series of masterclasses conducted by invited industry professionals which focus on the craft of filmmaking: developing your technical understanding of cinematography, directing and editing/postproduction.

These also introduce you to potential employment routes and industry career pathways, from setting up your own production company, to identifying and tapping into distribution networks, and preparing and marketing your completed films.

We are ranked Top 20 in the UK (Times Good University Guide 2015), and three-quarters of our research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Our expert staff

Our intensive modules are taught in small groups by expert academic film specialists and professional filmmakers.

The Centre for Film and Screen Media at Essex is part of a vital departmental unit that offers talented students the support and confidence to respond both critically and artistically to the study of film. This distinctive environment is possible because we are a community of award-winning film-makers, scholars, and media specialists; our staff over the years have included Oscar winners and BAFTA winners.

This course features academic staff who specialise in a wide range of production and critical areas, including producing, screenwriting, documentary, film theory, Soviet cinema, US cinema, films of the Asia and Pacific regions, modernism and the avant-garde, adaptation, and silent cinema. Production staff have extensive experience with organisations such as the BBC.

Our Department has a distinguished history of combining critical and creative work, and we have long been home to poets, novelists, translators, dramatists and actors, alongside literary critics, drama scholars, filmmakers and film theorists.

Specialist facilities

For your film production modules, you have priority use of industry-standard editing facilities, two state-of-the-art studios, and a range of cameras and other filmmaking equipment. You also gain experience using professional film production software including Avid and Final Cut; everything you will need to produce films to an expert standard.

You also have access to our other departmental facilities:

  • Show off your work on our Vimeo channel
  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre, equipped with digital HD projection facilities and surround sound
  • Borrow DVDs from our substantial departmental collection
  • Join student film societies and the Centre for Film and Screen Media film series, which screen and discuss both recent blockbusters and less mainstream arthouse films
  • Hear writers talk about their craft and learn from leading specialists at weekly research seminars
  • Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
  • Improve your playwriting skills at our Lakeside Theatre Writers workshops
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested
  • Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show

Your future

We actively encourage and assist you to find appropriate internship and work placement opportunities during your studies, allowing you to practice and develop your skills and experience as well as enhancing your graduate employment prospects.

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, filmmakers, film editors and translators.

We also offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by Dissertation 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 University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

For many of our courses you’ll have a wide range of optional modules to choose from – those listed in this example structure are, in many instances, just a selection of those available. Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current postgraduate students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

Your dissertation is the culmination of your time at Essex. Focusing on one particular topic in great depth, you formulate an urgent research question to be subsequently addressed, either critically or creatively. Your dedicated supervisor will be on-hand to guide you through the process, and our pre-requisite module on research methods will ensure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.

Are you ready for your dissertation? Examine a variety of research methods and methodologies, building the research skills and understanding needed to complete your postgraduate-level research project.

Want to produce fiction films? Eager for hands-on experience, plus an understanding of the theoretical concepts? Our script-to-screen module covers conceptual research, script development, visual language and practical realisation. Work on a group film, receiving technical training on auditioning and directing, lighting for camera, art direction and film editing.

How do we talk about films? What impact do Marxist, psychoanalytic and semiological approaches have? Examine historical and contemporary debates about film with weekly screenings and discussions. Analyse the formal, social, cultural and political dimensions of films from both within and beyond the Hollywood studio system.

How have relations between literature and film changed over the years? Is it a hostile relationship or mutually enriching? How have they adapted to each other? Study the relationship between literature and film from the nineteenth-century to today, where books, movies and comics continually feed off and into each other.

Want to work in film? Keen to perfect your technical skills? Want to understand the business of film production? Attend master classes by industry professionals that focus on the craft of filmmaking. Develop your technical knowledge of cinematography, directing and editing/postproduction. Realise where you want to be in the industry.

What do we mean by documentary? How does documentary feed into our ongoing fascination with reality? Examine non-fiction films and more recent hybrids, such as mockumentaries, reality TV and real-life programming. Examine avant-garde filmmaking approaches in relation to how we perceive and question reality and real-life stories.

Teaching

  • Five modules are followed over the autumn and spring terms
  • Weekly film screenings and discussions of key cinematic texts
  • Practical film production workshops
  • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
  • Masterclasses conducted by invited industry professionals

Assessment

  • Four essays of 4,000-5,000 words, usually combining a creative piece and critical commentary
  • There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays
  • A reflective piece on research methods

Dissertation

  • You produce a creative practice or theoretical dissertation project

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email pgadmit@essex.ac.uk for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

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.

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Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

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