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Film Studies MA

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2017
Part time 2 years September 2017

Choose Kingston's Film Studies MA

Bringing together those with a passion for contemporary cinema, this course focuses on a range of current approaches to film studies and provides an in-depth study of specific areas such as American independent, European, British and Far East cinema. It will enable you to develop a critical understanding of the importance of theory, method and analysis to the study of film, and you will be encouraged to test out original approaches, both in seminars and written work.

Find out more about this course:

Key features

  • This MA offers the opportunity to carry out research into a variety of areas, including gender and sexuality on screen; religion, philosophy and film; censorship and ideology; industry and independents in New Hollywood; and cinema and media in the global context. You may also carry out research at the British Film Institute (the largest film archive in the world).
  • If you are interested in further research, this course provides an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD study.

What will you study?

You will study all that is new, vital and innovative in contemporary and emergent cinemas. You will evaluate and critically analyse a range of perspectives on cinema in light of contemporary developments, shifting cultural alliances and patterns of cross-fertilisations. In addition, you will be introduced to the main areas of debate in the history of film criticism. Current modules focus on American cinema (mainstream and independent), post-1960 British cinema, European cinema (with specialist studies on gender and sexuality, and place and identity) and world cinema (with case studies on South-east Asia, Latin America, India and Iran).

In writing your dissertation, you will demonstrate your ability to research a topic of your choice in depth, gaining a rigorous grasp of current theoretical and methodological debates relevant to the subject area, as well as an understanding of the historical and cultural context.


Essays, presentations, research projects, and dissertation.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Core 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 for the MA in Film Studies consists of supervised independent research and writing and enables the student to conduct detailed and extensive research into a distinctive area of enquiry and to present that research in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.

  • Globalization has been one of the most popular buzzwords of our times, attempting to explain why and how the contemporary world seems to be changing at such speed and how we, as individuals are caught in this whirlwind of change. Media and cinema, more than any other industries, have been seen as inherent and constitutive parts of globalization, both contributing to and shaped by different processes of globalization. Taught jointly by staff from postgraduate programs of media and communication and film, this module explores the debates around media and cinema’s inherent and constitutive roles in globalization. It particularly attempts to examine the political, social, cultural and moral issues that arise around the global circulation of media and film texts, images and formats.


Optional modules

  • This module examines the hybrid and diverse nature of British cinema from the early 1960s to the present day. The central focus of this course will be the relationship between British cinema and national identity. Students will not only investigate the ways in which British cinema reflects national consciousness, but examine the ways in which it has shaped and contributed towards it. In so doing, students will explore the multiple ways in which British cinema has both reflected and produced sociohistorical, cultural and political change. This module will focus on a diverse range of key British film genres (related to British national identity), auteurs and movements, examining the socio-historical, cultural and cinematic not only their relationship with society, but the industrial and economic factors that have determined their production and reception.

  • This one semester module is an elective primarily offered to students taking an MA in Media & Communication or an MA in Film but it is also relevant to those taking postgraduate degrees in politics, political communication, human rights and conflict. It deals with some of the most hotly debated issues in different societies about how to balance core freedoms (expression, press and protest) with the state protecting what and who may be potentially harmed by certain forms of expression through censorship.  Even then these remain open debates as new forms of subversion and resistance emerge with new technologies or through the use of the body to express protest. The module explores these at two levels. The first outlines different approaches to and principles governing censorship depending on whether expression is through images; words, ideas and beliefs; information; and action. These are then explored in more depth in sessions that draw on staff specialisms here, for instance, in film, news, information-privacy, protest movements, etc.

  • This module invites students to reflect on changing constructions of gender and sexuality in contemporary cinema. Theoretical approaches to gender and sexuality in film will be explored, with particular reference to notions of spectatorship and the body. Students will have the opportunity to analyse the construction of gender and sexuality in a range of contemporary films, taking account of the role played by their particular historical and cultural contexts.

  • This Special Study module uses David Bowie's life (1947 onward) and work (1965 onward) to the present as a focus for the exploration of key theoretical concepts around national and location, gender and identity, narrative and intertextuality, authorship, audience and performance. Through an extended case study, it encourages an exploration of the relationship between theory and practice, an engagement with theory and an application of that theory to the analysis of primary texts.

  • This module focuses on the controversial subject of the depiction of drugs in the world of cinema. In it, we will attempt to examine the nature of drug films in the context of both gender and genre. From 50s classics like Preminger’s Man with the Golden Arm(1955) to recent ground-breaking features like Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996) and Justin Kerrigan’s Human Traffic (1999), we will be asking questions like ‘Do the films under discussion represent drug taking as a gendered experience?’ (i.e. Do they depict a difference between men and women taking drugs?). Also, ‘Can the drug experience film be categorised as a distinctive genre in itself, with its own recognisable thematic and narrative elements?’ The exploratory nature of this module invites students to contribute to, and to fully participate in, a ground-breaking new area of academic research - the analysis of contemporary ‘drug experience films’, that goes beyond establishing whether these glamorise or condemn the ingestion of illegal substances.

    We will pay particular attention, when exploring these films, to the depiction of visual, auditory, sensual and corporeal experiences of characters who are ‘under the influence’—in an attempt to explore the range of drug films from social commentary to ‘body genre’ – a term coined by Linda Williams with reference to the genres of horror, pornography and melodrama. We will critically examine a range of theoretical perspectives, including Julia Kristeva’s concept of the ‘abject’ to Gilles Deleuze’s theories on the nature of cinematic perception.

  • This module will explore the relationship between filmic and televisual horror through a global, transmedia and transnational perspective. While the beginning of cinematic horror can be traced back to the cinematic adaptation of stage plays of literary classics including Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, contemporary horroris as much televisual as it is filmic with television series based upon films and vice-versa as the recent success of Bates Motel, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Hannibal on the small screen and the X-Files films on the large screen demonstrate. In addition, cult Japanese films including Ring and Ju-On were preceded and anteceded by television series, while One Missed Call (Nakata: 2002) gave rise to a short-run series in 2005. Furthermore, the success of K-horror on the global stage revitalised the television series Hometown Legends/Korean Ghost stories in 2009 which is based upon traditional myths and folk tales. Finally, the Master of Horror television series which ran for two seasons (2005-2007), had episodes by Dario Argento (Jenifer & Pelts), Miike (Imprint) and Nsuruta (Dream Cruise). As such, this module is concerned with modern horror as both a global and local product and a televisual as well as cinematic genre.

  • This module will provide an insight into the classic Hollywood cinema’s approach to issues relating to female sexuality. It will investigate the studio star industry with case studies of female stars, including Mae West, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. It will trace the development of the depiction of gender and sexuality on screen within their socio-political contexts (such as the Hays Code).

    The module will explore the principal features of some of the archetypal ‘bad’ women on screen, investigating the ideologies and aesthetics which have shaped the  cinematic representations of femininity. The module will also map the development of specific female archetypes on screen from the screen ‘goddess’ or diva  (and her appeal for the male and female fans), through the stereotypes of the man-eating vamp and the female tramp to the child woman or ‘Lolita’ type.


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.

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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