Film Studies: Theory and Practice

Postgraduate Certificate, MLitt, Postgraduate Diploma

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Film Studies: Theory and Practice
  • Type Part-time, Full-time
  • Start date September

Professor Elizabeth Ezra & Professor Karen Boyle School of Arts and Humanities
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland UK
+44 (0) 1786 467538 & 466221

The MLitt in Film Studies: Theory and Practice equips students with both theoretical and practical skills within film studies. Taught by film specialists who are leaders in their fields, the course provides students with an interdisciplinary framework for critical engagement with film studies at the level of theory and practice.

University of Stirling is home to the archives of filmmakers Lindsay Anderson, Norman McLaren and John Grierson, as well as to the Musicians' Union Archive which contains a wealth of material about film and, in particular, the coming of sound to UK cinemas. Students have the opportunity to work with archive materials in the first semester core course and can choose to pursue a Research Placement in the Archives - or with our other partners in the film and creative industries - in their second semester. 

This degree will thus benefit not only those seeking to pursue an academic career, but also those for whom an understanding of cinema or of the historical or cultural dimensions to film production, distribution and exhibition would be advantageous in developing a career path in the creative industries. 

Course objectives

Students will learn various strategies for analysing films and will learn to apply those strategies not only in academia, but in the context of film-based arts institutions as well. Students will consider the influence and wider implications of film history, ideology, form, aesthetics and policy, while examining a broad area of concerns within film studies that may include: genre, authorship, national and transnational cinemas, stardom, Hollywood, early cinema, digital cinema, film representation, audiences, music and sound on film, youth cinema, experimental and cult cinemas.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

MLitt: 12 months
Diploma: nine months
Certificate: three months

MLitt: 27 months
Diploma: 21 months
Certificate: six months

Course start date


Structure and content

Through the core modules, students are exposed to a range of critical approaches to the study of film. Students learn various strategies for analysing films, while considering the influence and wider implications of film history, ideology, form, aesthetics and policy. Taking advantage of the unique facilities on the Stirling campus, students also make use of the University Archives - home to the archives of filmmakers Lindsay Anderson, Norman McLaren and John Grierson - in their core classes, and have access to special events at the on-campus macrobert Filmhouse. Students have the opportunity to take a Research Placement module, giving them direct experience of using their research skills in a film or arts organisation. There is also the opportunity to undertake a creative project in place of the conventional dissertation in the summer.

Semester 1

  • Film Studies: Form and Analysis
  • Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities
  • One option

For 2013-14 the options on offer are:

  • Postcolonial Cinema
  • Scriptwriting
  • Media Environment
  • Global Creative Industries

Semester 2

  • Film Studies: History, Theory, Criticism
  • Reading for the Screen
  • One option  

For 2013-14 the options on offer are:

  • Film Studies: Research Placement
  • Transnational Cinema
  • Media Rights
  • Media Policy and Regulation


  • Dissertation / Creative Project

We are particularly well-placed to supervise work in feminist film studies; French, Spanish, Latin American, British, African, Quebecois, Nordic and Asian cinemas; early cinema; film sound; experimental cinema; film archives; and queer cinema.

Delivery and assessment

Assessment in each semester will be based on coursework and essays; there are no formal examinations. Methods of assessment for each of the non-core modules will vary, but will often consist of a single essay. Teaching will take the form of regular tutorials in small groups. The aim in all cases is to foster student-led learning in expert, stimulating and congenial company.

Module titles

2015/16 Structure


Autumn Researching Film (20) Option (20) Option (20)
Spring Currents and Debates in Film Studies (20) Film Research in Practice (20) Option (20)
Summer Dissertation/Creative Project (60)


Autumn Researching Film (20) Option (20)
Spring Currents and Debates in Film Studies (20) Film Research in Practice (20)
Summer If Semester 1 option not taken, option of Advanced Readings in Film Studies (20)
Autumn Option (20)
Spring Option (20)
Summer/Autumn Dissertation/Creative Project (60)

Option Modules as follows:

Postcolonial Cinema Autumn
Scriptwriting Autumn
Global Creative Industries Autumn
Media Environment Autumn
Transnational Cinema Spring
Digital Cultures Spring
Screen Genres Spring
Memory and Archives in the Digital Age Spring
Media Regulation and Policy Spring
Media Rights Spring
Feminist Film Theory and Practice Spring
Film Studies Research Placement Spring
Advanced Readings in Film Studies Summer
Production: Content Development and Research
(current UG module – lectures to be shared with PG students.PG students will have additional PG seminars and undertake PG assessment.

Why study Film Studies: Theory and Practice at Stirling?

Course Director

Professor Elizabeth Ezra and Professor Karen Boyle


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.

More information

RAE rating

Communications, Media and Culture at Stirling is ranked top in Scotland in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, and the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling has an internationally renowned research profile in film and cinema studies.

Our students

Where are our graduates now?

Our recent graduates have gone on to a wide variety of jobs in the UK and abroad including: arts, education and film production.

Our staff

We have a wide range of expertise in Film Studies with specialist staff in both Communications, Media & Culture and Literature & Languages. The staff profiles below provide a sense of the range of areas in which we are able to offer supervision at both taught and research postgraduate level. Within the team, we have particular strengths in gender, sexuality and feminist studies (many colleagues are affiliated to the Centre for Gender & Feminist Studies), and also in a diverse range of trans/national cinemas, including African, Asian, Nordic and Latin American cinemas. We have links with the University Archives, University Art Collection and the on campus macrobert Filmhouse, all of which open up unique and exciting possibilities for research and film programming, especially around experimental cinema, documentary and British cinema. 

Karen Boyle

Elizabeth Ezra

Jason Hartford

Cristina Johnston

Bill Marshall

Maria Soledad Montanez

Ann Davies

David Murphy

Guillermo Olivera

Antonio Sanchez

David Rolinson

John Izod

Greg Singh

Pietari Kappa

Philippa Lovatt

Sarah Neely

Katharina Lindner

Career opportunities

This degree will appeal not only to those seeking to pursue an academic career but also to those for whom an understanding of cinema or of the cultural dimensions of film production, distribution and exhibition would be advantageous in developing a career path in the creative industries.

Skills you can develop through this course

As you progress through your MLitt in Film Studies, you will have the opportunity to develop the following practical skills and attributes that are much sought after by prospective employers:

Written communication – these skills are developed through the various essays and reports required for each of your modules

Oral communication – learn to get your point across effectively in a group setting through seminar work, and to communicate your research effectively to external partners through the Research Placement

Global awareness — options in Global Creative Industries, Postcolonial Cinema and Transnational Cinema offer particular opportunities to gain an understanding of the variety of cultures and national identities that shape the world today, as well as an awareness of the role of cultural practices and cultural institutions in society

Time management – you will learn how to manage your time more effectively through your active involvement in a range of activities, participating in School research seminars and in events at the macrobert Filmhouse as part of your research training.

Self-confidence – participating in every aspect of your degree will help build your confidence, both personally and professionally, as you develop working relationships with peers, tutors and external partners.

Chances to expand your horizons

Film Studies students will benefit from a vibrant, cross-cultural environment in which they will have the opportunity to attend guest lectures and events which will allow them to reflect on both research and practice in film studies. In Autumn 2013, for example, our students attended a directorial masterclass with Newton Aduaka as part of the African in Motion film festival and our students are encouraged to make year-round use of the facilities at the macrobert.


2016/17 Overseas £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU £4,500
2015/16 Overseas £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU £4,500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


information on possible sources of funding