Film Studies MA

Why choose this course?

This Film Studies MA is an innovative programme which situates film at the centre of a range of critical and historical debates. The course covers a wide variety of classical and contemporary cinemas, including examples from British, American, European, and global traditions, exploring them through a range of theoretical approaches. The course enables you to develop your skills of critical and textual analysis, leading to greater appreciation and understanding of the central role cinema has played – and continues to play – in shaping our world.

This MA offers the opportunity to carry out research into a variety of areas, including gender and sexuality on screen; philosophy and film; industry and independents in New Hollywood; contemporary British, European and transnational traditions; and experimental and avant-garde cinema.

If you are interested in further research, this course provides an excellent foundation for MPhil/PhD study.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • You will study a wide variety of classical, contemporary and emergent cinemas including examples from British, American, European and global traditions.
  • Kingston's location is ideal for accessing the many film-based resources in London, such as the British Film Institute (the largest film archive in the world).
  • You will be able to attend Kingston's specialist film conferences on wide-ranging topics, from gothic voyages to Stanley Kubrick and Iris Murdoch to Literary London.

What you will study

You will study all that is new, vital and innovative in contemporary and emergent cinemas. As well as evaluating and critically analysing a range of perspectives on cinema in light of contemporary developments, shifting cultural alliances and patterns of cross-fertilisations, you will be introduced to the main areas of debate in the history of film criticism.

Your dissertation will demonstrate your detailed research into a topic of your choice, including current theoretical and methodological debates relevant to the subject area, as well as an understanding of the historical and cultural context.

Current modules focus on European and transnational cinematic traditions, post-1960 British cinema, film and philosophy, film and adaptation, avant-garde and experimental cinema, and cinematic animals. You'll be expected to complete 180 credits altogether and can choose two optional modules worth 30 credits each.


Professional placement year

You will be introduced to a range of ways of understanding cinema and encouraged to undertake original research into a wide variety of cinematic case studies. The course will equip you with the knowledge and skills to understand film from an historical perspective and to recognise its continued relevance in shaping contemporary debates.

Core modules

Film History Theory and Analysis

30 credits

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.

Film and Philosophy

30 credits

Film and Philosophy explores the many ways in which philosophy and film can form a productive relationship. Beginning in TB1 with a set of preliminary discussions of film aesthetics, it then looks at how cinema can be used to teach philosophy, to reflect philosophy, and to create philosophy. In teaching philosophy (weeks 3-4), we will look at recent 'high-concept' cinema as a teaching tool for philosophy. The films chosen will be mostly mainstream ones such as The Matrix, Memento, Total Recall, AI, Crimes and Misdemeanours, and Gattaca, and will look at the efficacy of film to teach topics such as time, personal identity, freedom, reality and appearance, the existence of God, and good and evil. Weeks 5 to 9 move beyond the mode of illustrating traditional philosophical arguments to examining some philosophical interpretations of filmic representation itself, be it as a physical medium (Deleuze), a metaphysical narrative (Cavell) or an unconscious symbol (Žižek). We subsequently look 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 and the film studies lectures on the Avant Garde.

The lectures in TB2 will focus on how film-art can create philosophy through its narrative, visual, and auditory structure: here we will discuss whether film itself can philosophise about the world without reducing itself to extant textual forms of philosophy. Concepts discussed include film ethics, phenomenological film of the body, gender and feminism, adaptation, Freudianism, and Comedy. We will also have lectures that build conceptual bridges with lectures ongoing in philosophy (Art Theory, Recent French Philosophy).

Major Project

60 credits

The Major Project is the capstone module of the Masters programme. Focusing on skills of critical research, analysis and presentation, the capstone project enables you to synthesise and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the course. It provides them with the opportunity to craft their own approach to the field through critical-theoretical and/or creative, practice-based research, supported by a series of taught sessions, enabling a depth and breadth of engagement with research methods. The Major Project can accommodate research projects developed through a range of academic and professional contexts depending on the motivation and interests of the student. It can be presented either as a dissertation or as a creative project, such as a portfolio comprising a chosen medium or media, accompanied by a critical commentary. The intensity of the workload increases across the three teaching blocks, allowing increasing focus in line with the level of your expertise.

Optional modules

Cinematic Animals: Monsters, Beasts, and Humans on Film

30 credits

This module examines the way in which the genres of Horror and Cartoon Comedy splice 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, ethics, and politics of these films by looking at contemporary examples including Twilight, Daybreakers, Red Dragon, The Island of Dr Moreau, Splice, X-Men, Up!, Antz, Happy Feet, District 9 and Alien.

British Cinema 1960s to Today

30 credits

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.

Special Study: Avant-Garde and Experimental Cinema

30 credits

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.

Vamps, Divas, Tramps, Lolitas

30 credits

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.

Freedom, Censorship and Subversion

30 credits

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.

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a Master's programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject specific professional skills in their chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for their subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform their decisions about future careers.

Optional modules

Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject-specific professional skills in your chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for your subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform your decisions about future careers.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

A second class degree or above in a humanities subject (Film, Media Studies, Languages, History, English, etc) or in the History of Art, Fine Art or other studio-based subjects which include an art historical or contextual studies component, or another area appropriate to the degree.

Consideration is also given to non-standard entrants with relevant work experience that demonstrates the necessary skills and intellectual achievement required to undertake the course.

We warmly welcome mature students.

Additional requirements


We normally invite applicants for an interview with the course director or another senior member of the teaching team. International students based overseas can arrange for an interview by email or telephone.

Teaching and assessment

You'll be assessed through a range of essays, presentations, research projects, and a dissertation.

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy document and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your workload

Year 1: 11% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 161 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1312 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation/major project). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 10-12 students and lecture sizes are normally 8-15. However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

The Faculty's combination of academics and practitioners makes it a unique environment in which to further your studies and your career. The Faculty provides a vibrant and forward-thinking environment for study with:

  • courses designed in collaboration with industry professionals – keeping you up to date with the latest developments;
  • established connections with the London arts and media scene – with a range of guest speakers, professors and lecturers visiting the University; and
  • committed and enthusiastic staff – many of whom are expert practitioners as well as leading academics and researchers.

The Faculty's combination of academics and practitioners makes it a unique environment in which to further your studies and your career.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £7,500
  • MA part time £4,125

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £15,500
  • MA part time £8,525

Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:


There is a wide range of facilities at our Penrhyn Road campus, where this course is based. You will have access to a modern environment with the latest equipment, including our specialist film and media labs, equipped with iMacs running software including Final Cut Studio Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite.

Students also have access to a film studio facility with backgrounds and green wall, as well as a fully equipped audio recording facility running Logic Pro and Pro Tools.

General facilities

The library, based in our fantastic new Town House, offers:

  • subject libraries, plus a free inter-library loan scheme to other libraries in the Greater London area;
  • online database subscriptions; and
  • a wide selection of resource materials.

Resources in London

Kingston is just a 30-minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access a wealth of film-related resources, including:

  • specialist cinemas – such as the National Film Theatre and the IMAX cinema;
  • organisations such as the British Film Institute (BFI); and
  • film festivals – including the annual Raindance Film Festival and events run by the BFI.

What our students and graduates say

It is difficult to imagine a film studies course with more to offer... The wide and varied range of notable guest lecturers is just one aspect of this course that demonstrates the care and planning taking place behind the scenes. You'd be hard pressed to find a better course in this particular field.

John Sells

After completing the Film Studies MA I went to work at the BBC as a broadcast media co-ordinator, in its Information and Archives Department.

I really enjoyed the course at Kingston as it was so varied and very focused on world cinema, which I am particularly interested in. I found the tutors very supportive, especially whilst I was researching my dissertation. The University also has a wealth of resources to support various research interests.

Sonja Gabriel

As well as helping me to continue developing my academic writing skills and personal interest in the diversity of cinema, this course gave me the opportunity to study and contribute within an intimate, mature working environment with a group of like-minded people week after week, which made a welcome change from previous years of being part of a crowd. The tutors in particular were always accommodating and willing to help me shape essay ideas and understand initially difficult theoretical concepts. They consistently struck me as being knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their respective subjects.

Andrew Rutherford

My year as a film student at Kingston University has been a very positive experience. We studied a wide variety of interesting modules, from European Film to Asian cinema, and I enjoyed every single one of the classes throughout the year. The fact that we were such a small class allowed us to fully participate and made the modules even more interactive and interesting. To sum up, this masters has been a very interesting and enjoyable experience that I would not hesitate to repeat.

Patricia Pérez Álvarez

The MA is a rigorous academic programme that offers a great deal of intellectual stimulation. I've really enjoyed the research element and getting together with fellow students for discussions. Many of the students are younger than I am, and are aiming to use the MA to progress their careers. I was not planning a career change, but it was always fun working with the younger students. As I work full-time, studying in my spare time was quite onerous. But after two years' hard work I've achieved an MA and it was worth it.

Mari Zadeh

I came to Kingston as an international student from America. During the course and after graduation, I worked for the British Film Institute, assisting the facilities manager at the National Film Theatre and IMAX Cinema in Waterloo. I also had the opportunity to work on location during the filming of '28 Weeks Later' under the supervision of the location manager.

I very much enjoyed my experience at Kingston, which has given me the background in film theory that I didn't have before, being on the technical end of filmmaking.

Michelle Carr

After you graduate

Graduates from the MA in Film Studies have gone on to a variety of roles within industry and education. This includes work in film marketing and distribution, film programming, journalism, and editing, and a variety of roles in archiving and curating. Several students developed ideas first encountered on the Film Studies MA into successful PhD projects, and have gone on to pursue careers in education and research.

Many of our Film Studies postgraduates have progressed to exciting roles as:

  • Film Programmer/Exhibitor
  • Film Journalist
  • Lecturer/Academic
  • Archivist/Curator

Research areas

Many of the staff in the Kingston School of Art are research active. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies. Research in film aims to:

  • explore the expanding points of intersection between these three areas;
  • examine the new cultural forms that will emerge from them, especially in the field of digital media culture; and
  • create innovative and cross-disciplinary projects from these developments.

Research in film has a particular expertise in:

  • Contemporary cinema;
  • Spanish and Latin American cinema;
  • British cinema;
  • Film philosophy;
  • Feminist film theory;
  • Digital cinema; and
  • Space and place in cinema.