MA in Film Studies Popular Cinema

Oxford Brookes University, Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Program Description

MA in Film Studies Popular Cinema

Oxford Brookes University, Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

MA in Film Studies Popular Cinema

This course offers a film education for the 21st century. You are encouraged to develop a broad portfolio of writing and research skills by combining academic and professional writing projects. We cover the history and theory of popular cinema in the US (classical and contemporary Hollywood), Europe and East Asia (especially Japanese cinema), as well as offering a module in advanced screenwriting.

You will develop skills for a career in either academia or the media industries. You will be taught by a diverse team of film specialists with different national and cultural backgrounds, as well as by industry professional guest speakers.

Why choose this course?

  • The School of Arts offers a unified hub for the arts in the Richard Hamilton Building, with state-of-the-art technical facilities and 24-hour studio access.
  • All Film Studies staff are active researchers. The research culture in the Film Studies course also benefits from the active involvement of our advisory panel of film industry experts, including leading directors, producers and technical specialists.
  • Innovative cross-disciplinary and socially engaged creative practices.
  • An advisory panel of leading directors and professionals from the film and media industry who regularly contribute to the programme and our annual series of Film Studies events.
  • Research and teaching programmes linked to some of Oxford’s premier cultural organisations such as Modern Art Oxford, Oxford Contemporary Music, and locally held Film Festivals.
  • A stimulating environment where creative practitioners and writers about the arts and culture work closely together to form specialist research units and interdisciplinary research clusters in areas including the 19th century and modernism.

This course in detail

Compulsory modules

Students studying for the MA in Film Studies are required to complete the following two compulsory modules:

Narration in Classical Hollywood Cinema

'Classical' film narration evolved in Hollywood during the 1920s and became the standard way to tell a story through film in the succeeding decades. This approach has been particularly successful and has had a strong influence on 20th-century storytelling. In this module we analyse the rhetorical, narrative and visual devices that make up the classical Hollywood model and consider the contexts for the rise of this system of narrative conventions. Topics to be explored include continuity editing, use of lighting, screen acting, genre and convention.

Research Methods in Film

In this research module, you learn the research conventions and practices of humanities scholarship. It is specifically organised to guide students in developing a successful research topic for their MA thesis in Film Studies.

Optional modules

MA students can then choose any two of the options below:

Popular European Cinema

This module analyses the history and organisation of European popular film production and the role of audiences within the broader context of national identity in European cinema. You will gain an understanding of the European film industries as well as insight into notions of national cinemas. You will also study critical and historical approaches to the idea of European Popular Cinema and its relation to the field of film audiences.

Professional Film Cultures

At a national level, the term 'film culture' is used to encapsulate debates around film as art or commerce, media literacy and screen heritage to name but a few. You can elect either to design and implement a research project which builds on these elements, or undertake a professional placement or short internship within the film industry which aims to help you understand the varied career opportunities available within the UK's professional film cultures. Examples include cinema management, festival administration, archives and museums, distribution companies or local multimedia production houses. Story Development

This module focuses on the creative aspects of writing for the screen and working with scripts. The module is split into two parts spanning the first and second half of the semester:

  • Part 1: Based on tutorials and case studies including film screenings, readings and analyses of screenplays, you will learn about narrative aspects (themes, plot, structure, sequences and scenes, characters, dialogue) and technical skills (tone, style, dynamics) of scriptwriting, reading and editing, drawing upon both traditional and alternative models (with particular emphasis on popular film genres, such as the romantic comedy, the film noir and melodrama).
  • Part 2: You can choose either to develop your own script from an original concept, or to analyse, edit and doctor existing scripts considered for development.

Popular Cinema in East Asia

This module offers a comparative study of contemporary Japanese cinema with cinema from China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand. It explores popular genres such as horror and gangster films, focusing on their themes and styles, and examines how cultural and national issues are portrayed. You will also have the opportunity to examine gender representation, visual analysis, and the question of national versus transnational cinema.

Independent Study

This module gives you the opportunity to design a course of research and writing to suit your own interests and concerns; organise and carry out a work schedule set by yourself; and determine a set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Support will be provided by a module leader and a supervisor. Registration on the module requires the production of a Learning Contract, to be completed no later than six weeks in advance of the start of the semester in which the study is to be undertaken.


MA students are required to complete an advanced work of independent research on an approved topic, appropriate to the MA in Film Studies. The dissertation is taught via individual tutorial support. The module follows on directly from the Research Methods Seminar, in which you will develop advanced skills in research skills and techniques. You are asked to work on your initial proposal during Semester 2. The main work on the dissertation will normally take place from June to early September.

Students taking the postgraduate certificate are required to complete ‘Narration in Classical Hollywood Cinema’, ‘Research Methods in Film’ and one optional module from the list above.

As our courses are reviewed regularly, course content and module choices may change from the details given here.

Teaching and learning

Teaching is centred around film screenings, seminars, individual tutorials and, in the case of Story Development, intensive writing workshops.

Assessment activities include writing academic essays and a dissertation, plus professional writing activities - book reviews, feature articles, and screenplays.

Specialist facilities

Brookes' Film Studies course has recently set up a specialist cinema room, with a state of the art surround sound system. Graduate students are welcome to book this room to watch films for their research, or just for their interest.

Field trips

MA students have the opportunity to go on an optional Film trip. In 2010, Brookes film students visited New York and in 2011-12 a group of students attended the Berlin Film Festival with their Film Studies lecturers. Since 2013, students have been attending the Cannes film festival. The cost of the trip varies, and is not included in tuition fees.

Attendance pattern

Because many of our graduate students are in part time work, we schedule all of our classes on Thursdays, leaving the rest of the week free for students to arrange their work and study timetable around what suits them.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a good honours degree (2.1 or above), or its equivalent, in an Arts and Humanities subject or similar discipline. Previous study of film is desirable but not essential. Selection will be normally made following an interview.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a good honours degree (2.1 or above), or its equivalent, in an Arts and Humanities subject or similar discipline. Previous study of film is desirable but not essential. Selection will be normally made following an interview.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS requirement of 7.0 overall with 6.0 in all components.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements.Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated August 28, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
12 - 24 months
Part time
Full time
2,710 GBP
Start date Sept. 2017
United Kingdom Oxford, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 12 - 24 months
Price 2,710 GBP
- UK and EU; £12,870 - Non-EU