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Film Studies: Popular Cinema

MA or PGDip or PGCert

Key facts

Start dates

September 2022 / September 2023



Course length

Full time: MA: 12 months, PGDip: 8months, PGCert: 4 months

Part time: MA: 24 months, PGDip: 3 semesters, PGCert: 2 semesters


School of Arts


Establish a historically-informed and critically aware understanding of popular cinema and how it reflects and shapes the world we live in. 

You’ll develop strong working knowledge of analytical and theoretical contexts. We take an innovative, academically rigorous approach to the analysis of film culture. Areas of study include: 

  • Digital humanities - analysis of big data to explore cultural responses to cinema
  • Scriptwriting and story development
  • Narration in classical Hollywood
  • Popular European and East Asian cinema.

In your final semester, you will undertake a dissertation on an area of your choice utilising the research skills you’ve gained. 

You’ll be taught by an academic team who are leading researchers and widely published across a range of specialisms. Oxford Brookes is home to a rich film culture research community. Industry experts, from technical specialists to leading directors and journalists, contribute directly to the course. 

Students watching a film

How to apply

Entry requirements

Specific 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.

International qualifications and equivalences


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.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£8,350 (Masters); £7,350 (Diploma); £4,175 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time
£8,700 (Masters); £7,700 (Diploma); £4,350 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2022 / 23
Home (UK) full time
£8,350 (Masters); £7,350 (Diploma); £4,175 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£8,700 (Masters); £7,700 (Diploma); £4,350 (Certificate)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 483088

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year your fees will increase each year.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

The cost of the optional field trip varies, and is not included in tuition fees.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements

Learning and assessment

Master's students must complete the following:

  • two compulsory modules
  • two optional modules
  • dissertation.

Students taking the postgraduate certificate must complete the following modules:

  • Narration in Classical Hollywood Cinema
  • Research Methods in Film
  • one optional module.
Student working with a camera

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip and PGCert awards your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

Narration in Classical Hollywood Cinema (40 credits)

'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 (40 credits)

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

Popular European Cinema (20 credits)

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.

Story Development (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 and/or work experience

Optional modules

Professional Film Cultures (20 credits)

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. 

Independent Study (20 credits)

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.

Final project

Compulsory modules

Dissertation (60 credits)

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.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Teaching is centred around:

  • film screenings
  • seminars
  • individual tutorials
  • intensive writing workshops (in the case of story development).

Field trips

MA students have the opportunity to go on an optional Film trip. In past years, trips have included:

  • New York in 2010
  • the Berlin Film Festival in 2011-12
  • Since 2013, students have been attending the Cannes film festival.

The cost of the trip varies, and is not included in tuition fees.


Assessment methods used on this course

To help you develop core academic skills, assessment methods are varied and include:

  • academic essays
  • dissertation
  • presentations
  • book reviews and feature articles
  • pitches
  • treatments
  • screenplays.


All Film Studies staff are active researchers publishing widely on subjects such as:

  • Italian films and their audiences
  • puzzle films
  • film theory
  • film policy
  • film tourism
  • visual anthropology.

PhD supervision

Our Film Studies staff have research strengths in:

  • film history (with an emphasis on European and British cinema)
  • film theory
  • Hollywood and independent American cinemas
  • film policy
  • gender politics.

We can offer PhD supervision in all these areas.

After you graduate

Career prospects

Having a master's qualification helps you to stand out from the crowd, whether you are joining the MA straight after graduating or returning to study after a break of several years.

Our MA will provide you with the skills and knowledge to embark upon a career in the creative and media industries or to improve your current position. However, an MA in Film Studies can also lead to careers in many other sectors, including:

  • teaching
  • lecturing
  • publishing
  • arts administration
  • journalism
  • museum work
  • fundraising
  • higher education management.

The transferable skills you acquire through studying for an MA also open up wider opportunities in business and law. Many MA students continue onto further research and careers in academia, and our course provides the necessary research training required for doctoral work. Graduates of this course will be well placed to pursue a range of careers within the film industry and academia. Many go on to PhD study, in the UK and abroad. Other examples include cinema programming and marketing, animation, teaching, journalism.

Programme Changes:

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

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