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Film and Philosophy MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year Two days per week September 2017
Part time 2 years One day per week September 2017

Choose Kingston's Film and Philosophy MA

Film and Philosophy MAThe Film and Philosophy MA offers a structured analysis of the relationship between film and philosophy, be it in terms of philosophical treatments of film (as an art form or through particular films) or the power of film itself to create philosophy.

We offer a unique programme that provides the best interdisciplinary context in which to study film and philosophy – superior to those available elsewhere – on account of our comprehensive expertise in film and 'continental' philosophy. This differentiation highlights Kingston University as the best destination for this area of study.

What will you study?

It enables you to explore current and emerging discourses within the fields of film theory and philosophy, engaging with theoretical concerns at the forefront of visual culture, art theory, moving image media and critical theory.

The programme covers varied topics such as film as cognition, the philosophy of art history and cinema, film and feminism, the body and cinema, Freud and cinema, avant-garde film and philosophy, French philosophy and film, Derrida and adaptation, animals and the horror genre. There is also the opportunity to write a dissertation on your own topic of research.


Assessment is through essay, presentations and a dissertation.

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Core modules

  • Film and Philosophy explores the many ways in which philosophy and film can form a productive relationship. It looks at how cinema can be used to teach philosophy, to reflect philosophy and to create philosophy. It also looks at the way in which film can be placed within the context of philosophical aesthetics, forming a conceptual bridge with the philosophy lectures on the Philosophy of Art History, Art Theory and Recent French Philosophy, as well as the film studies lectures on the avant-garde.

  • The dissertation is an individual piece of work, supervised by a member of staff, in which you will undertake a sustained exercise in research and investigation into a film-philosophical topic of your own choice.


Option modules (choose three, with at least one from Group A and one from Group B)

  • Choose at least one from this list of modules:

    • Based on a study of artists' texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing students to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable students to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of their study.

    • This module focuses on the question ‘what is involved in a philosophical thinking of the history of art?’ This question devolves into two main parts. The first concerns the temporality proper to art’s history; the second concerns the way in which the individual work of art presents history and the operation of time. The module will concentrate on three figures central to a philosophical thinking of the work of art: Walter Benjamin, Alois Riegel and Aby Warburg. To conclude, we will examine, in detail, three works of contemporary art, traversing painting, sculpture and photography.

    • This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century French philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two related thinkers. Possible topics include: Sartre or de Beauvoir's existentialism, Levinasian ethics, Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodied perception, Foucault's theory of power, Derrida's practice of deconstruction, Deleuze's conception of difference, Badiou's concepts of the subject and truth.

  • Choose at least one from this list of modules:

    • This year-long module will provide the theoretical core to the MA Film Studies programme. It aims to explore a set of theoretical paradigms that have shaped the study of film and will approach the subject from an historical, formal, and theoretical perspective. It will introduce students to a range of cinematic examples that will provide the focus for discussion and analysis. Examples will be drawn from classical cinema, art cinema, and experimental cinema, and will encompass both historical and contemporary work. The module will be taught through a series of seminars that will give students the opportunity to explore both films and texts in considerable detail, allowing them to consider how the medium has engaged with a range of theoretical debates over the course of its history.

    • This module examines the way in which the genres of horror cinema splices animals and humans together to create frightening or comical visions of both. There is a long history in cinema of humanising the animal ('anthropomorphism') and animalising the human ('theriomorphism'), through hybrids of animal and human beings (werewolves, man-beasts from Greek myth), or animal and human behaviour, as when feeding (vampires, zombies) or in political behaviour (invading alien monsters). We will analyse the narrational methods, cinematic technologies, philosophy and politics of these films such as Red Dragon, Splice, X-Men, and District 9.

    • Alongside theory and clinical practice, psychoanalysis has also been applied, since Freud, to the study and interpretation of myth, the social bond and cultural forms such as art and literature. This module looks at how psychoanalysis has developed in conjunction with interpretations of psychoanalysis to 20th-century cinema and the development of film theory and analysis.

    • There is an alternative history of cinema to the one written by Hollywood; this module sets out to explore the tremendous range of films made by avant-garde and experimental filmmakers, and to give a sense of cinematic imaginations unconstrained by the vicissitudes of commerce and conformity. The module will provide both a broad survey of the historical avant-garde, and to explore contemporary developments in experimental film and video.


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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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Contact us

Admissions team


This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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