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BA Film Studies

Why we're great

  • We provide a global approach to the study of film in a distinctive and vibrant academic community.
  • We balance academic theory with practical production experience to make you a rounded filmmaker.
  • You have access to HD cameras, extensive editing facilities, a film library and a dedicated cinema.

Course options2017-18

BA Film Studies Full-time

UCAS code: W620
Duration: 3 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

UCAS code: P303
Duration: 4 years
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Fee (Home/EU): £9,250
Fee (International): £13,350
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Home and EU fee information
International fee information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 873666
Email admit@essex.ac.uk

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About the course

How does cinema affect us as individuals and as groups, as communities or nations? Do the moving pictures reflect our beliefs or help to change how we see the world? How powerful are visual media in shaping our interpretations of modern life? These are some of the most pressing questions cinema asks us. Our ability to read and interpret the images and stories that films deliver is crucial to how we understand contemporary life.

At Essex you combine studying the history and theory of cinema with practical film production, so you don’t just critically examine cinema – you create it. Your production modules enable you to develop and apply your academic knowledge and understanding of film, refining and enriching your own practical work.

We give you the opportunity to explore film across a broad range of genres, time periods, and regions, from Hollywood, world and independent cinema, to documentaries and television. Simultaneously, you gain hands-on experience in film production and production management, essential for careers in the film and television industry.

We nurture the creative talent for tomorrow, developing filmmakers, scholars, and thinkers with a dynamic worldview:

  • Gain hands-on experience of camera work, sound recording, editing, lighting, and scriptwriting
  • Explore the formal aesthetics of film composition and structure in relation to different contexts of production and reception
  • Discover the history and social significance of film as a global medium
  • Understand the links between critical analysis and creative practice
  • Produce both group films and personal projects

By graduation you will have built up a fully rounded portfolio of work, enabling you to showcase your experience, versatility and creative potential to future employers.

We offer a varied, flexible and distinctive curriculum, focused on developing your abilities in film, and also enabling you to take options from the other courses within our Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies including literature, creative writing, journalism and drama.

We are ranked top 20 in the UK (Times Good University Guide 2015)

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you extending your education by providing the option of an additional year at no extra cost. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year studying abroad or employed on a placement, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Our Department has an exchange scheme with universities in Denmark, France, Finland, Greece, Germany, Spain and Italy through the ERASMUS programme. This provides our students with the opportunity to view the world, and film, from another perspective.

Studying abroad can allow you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

Placement year

When you arrive at Essex, you can decide whether you would like to combine your course with a placement year. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.

Our expert staff

The Centre for Film Studies at Essex is part of a unique literary conservatoire 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 Nic Blower , who has over 20 years’ experience producing and directing documentaries and drama documentaries with the BBC.

Our other academic staff specialise in a range of areas including filmmaking, film theory, Soviet cinema, US cinema, films of the Asia and Pacific regions, modernism and the avant-garde, adaptation, silent cinema, screenwriting and production.

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 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 Studies 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, 200-seat 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
  • Participate in regular workshops at the Lakeside Theatre which help you to improve your performance skills
  • 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

You graduate from our course with key skills in writing close analysis, critical thinking, contextual research, time management, and hands-on filmmaking. The short film you will make as part of your studies serves as a calling card, showcasing your individual, creative potential to add to a portfolio of practical work developed during your course.

One of our students, Elena Dirstaru produced a film which won an Award of Merit at the IndieFest Film Awards 2013.

Our students are well-prepared to enter careers in film production, TV, journalism, publishing and teaching professions, amongst a host of other careers. Our recent graduates have gone on to work in various desirable roles including:

  • Celebrity booking for Cactus TV
  • Editor for BBC television
  • Subtitle writer for Sky TV
  • Teachers of English and Media Studies

Your tutors in our Centre for Film Studies recognise that any experience you can acquire in the industry will set you apart from the crowd when it comes to finding work after graduation. We are committed to an ongoing programme of establishing and coordinating a variety of placements and internships, both within and beyond our University.

We also 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

Studying at Essex is about discovering yourself, so your course combines compulsory and optional modules to make sure you gain key knowledge in the discipline, while having as much freedom as possible to explore 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 just a selection of those available. The opportunity to take optional modules will depend on the number of core modules within any year of the course. In many instances, the flexibility to take optional modules increases as you progress through the course.

Our Programme Specification gives more detail about the structure available to our current first-year students, including details of all optional modules.

Year 1

How do we analyse moving images? What innovations have transformed the cinema experience? What moments and movements have been key to film history? Study the development of international cinema, looking at all aspects of the form, including analysis of theoretical issues, film language, and a variety of important directors and genres.

Want hands-on experience of the film process, from pre to post-production? Keen to tackle technical aspects, such as framing, lighting, sound and editing? Work individually and in small groups on your own projects, covering topics like how shots are framed through to the different editing techniques that manipulate film narrative.

What is contemporary writing? And how is it characterised? Don’t just study known “traditional” genres of literature, what about the emerging new genres of writing that are challenging readers? Analyse contemporary English writing, published within the last ten years, looking at themes, forms, issues and language.

Which writers re-worked Homer’s Odyssey? Or borrowed ideas from Dante’s Inferno? Examine how key literary texts and genres have been used by successive generations of writers up until the present day. Shift from classical text to a more modern example, studying the long cultural traditions that exist.

Year 2

How can texts be read and interpreted using the thinking of Marx? What about Freud or de Saussure? Or Derrida and Said? Study literature, theatre, and film using these key thinkers. Analyse their approaches both historically and institutionally, and understand the importance of theoretical and methodological material to your studies.

Documentary film makers have been unveiling new and surprising truths to the masses since the 1920s, and the genre is as popular today as it has ever been. You examine different documentary forms through the work of practitioners such as John Grierson, Molly Dineen, and Agnes Varda, and gain key production skills, including the formulation of the idea, research methods, handling techniques, legal and consent issues, recording techniques and documentary editing. By the end of the module, you will have created your own individual documentary film.

Building on the knowledge and skills gained in the prerequisite Introduction to Film Production, you gain a variety of production techniques, from research, script writing, adaptation, location shooting and editing. You also address key management skills, from learning how to properly plan a project, to collaborating with actors. Working as part of a small group, you conclude the module by producing an imaginative and creative short film.

What are the practical aspects of screenwriting? And the theoretical? Explore the construction of a range of screenplays, investigating their shared structural elements. Write your own short films. Produce reports reflecting your understanding of screen writing. Participate in the creative pitching of ideas.

How do films tell their story? What narrative conventions do genre films utilise? How do filmmakers adapt original literature to create new stories? Explore meanings in different film narrative using classic, modernist and postmodern examples. Understand narrative conventions in genre films. Study screen adaptation, the cinematic remake and transmedia storytelling.

Final year

Want to acquire advanced practical skills in filmmaking? And get hands-on experience of producing a short film? Focus on the art of filmmaking by exploring technical approaches in practice. Work collaboratively and creatively to devise and realise two short films, investigating narrative, cinematography, music, sound, art design, and lighting.

Who makes animation? When and why? Who determines how animation should be viewed? Study film animation as both an art form and mode of social and political expression. Explore the history of film animation and gain an understanding of the basics technical aspects of animated filmmaking.

How do films tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? Or issues about surveillance and asylum? What about gender and violence? Explore the complex relationship between cinema and ideology through a diverse selection of international films. Analyse how cinema can be an ideological medium, both sustaining and interrogating our social and cultural values.

How powerful is Hollywood? How do directors construct an image of the USA? Examine how directors have created America in the popular imagination. Study Hollywood auteurs (such as Chaplin, Hawks, Hitchcock, Welles and Ford) alongside others (such as Scorsese, Allen and Lee) while covering the breadth of US film history.

What are the cultural capitals of modernism? How are modernist arts shaped by the metropolitan life experience? Examine literature, film, art and music, studying aesthetic practices and cultural contexts of modernism. Read and discuss cities with vibrant artistic and political activities: New York, Paris, London, Dublin, Vienna, Berlin and Petersburg.

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.

Teaching

  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • Hands-on experience of camerawork and film production
  • Explore film theory through use of film and literature

Assessment

  • Coursework includes essays, exhibition reviews and virtual portfolios, coursework reports, individual and group presentations, book reviews, viva voce examinations, and an independent research project (a dissertation)
  • Written examinations are also taken for the majority of modules at the end of each academic year

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Qualifications

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB, including one essay-based subject

IB: 30 points, including a Higher Level essay-based subject grade 5. We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDM (in relevant subject)

International and EU entry requirements

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

IELTS entry requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. (Different requirements apply for second year entry.)

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.

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications.

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Visit us

Open days

Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. In 2017 we have three undergraduate Open Days (in June, September and October). These events enable you to discover what our Colchester Campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates 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.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

Visit days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our visit days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your visit day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email visit@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

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Although great care is taken in compiling our course details, they are intended for the general guidance of prospective students only. The University reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University.

The full procedures, rules and regulations of the University are set out in the Charter, Statues and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.