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Oxford University Film Studies

MSt in Film Aesthetics

Film Studies

The MSt in Film Aesthetics is degree in the humanities run jointly by the faculties of Modern Languages, English, and Philosophy.

The course concentrates on film from the point of view of aesthetics, including:

  • the detailed study of film style and form, and the articulation of it in writing - for example, narrative structure, use of camera, colour, performance, sound, music, editing and composition;
  • matters of philosophical aesthetics, and their particular application to film such as value and evaluation, appreciation, ontology, medium, intention, expression, meaning/interpretation, creativity, beauty, metaphor, symbolism, fiction, storytelling, convention, stylistic groupings and histories, emotion, imagination, and the relation between ethics, morality and aesthetics; and
  • classic and contemporary film theory and film-philosophy as they relate to film aesthetics: film specificity, spectatorship, modernism, phenomenology, affect, and the work of film philosophers such as Hugo Munsterberg, Rudolph Arnheim, Gilles Deleuze and Stanley Cavell.

Many master's programmes concentrate on historical, cultural, geographical, or political approaches to film and may only contain an aesthetic component. This programme is dedicated to the specialist study of film aesthetics.

The course runs from late September to June, from two weeks before the first term to the end of the last term.

Two weeks before term officially begins, you will attend a practical film workshop for one week. Although the degree itself is not practical, this week acts as an introduction to film techniques and allows the group to work with each other before the degree begins. This part of the course is not assessed.

In the first two terms the course is taught by seminar only, although there will be individual meetings with tutors to discuss essay preparation and feedback. In the third term the course is taught by individual supervision.

The first term of the course will look at the analysis of film style and film form, train techniques of film analysis and look at key concepts in film form, film criticism, film theory and film-philosophy.

The second term consists of four short segments, each covering a particular aesthetic topic. This part of the course provides you with the opportunity to engage with four different areas of specialisation.

The topics for the second term change from year to year but may include:

  • film and phenomenology
  • aesthetics of Italian cinema
  • spaces of American cinema (eg the invaded home)
  • film and modernism
  • contemporary theories of spectatorship - embodiment, ethics and politics
  • cinema of the non-human
  • the film-philosophy of Stanley Cavell
  • contemporary Chinese cinema

In both the first two terms there will be four different modules each lasting four seminars (eight modules in total across the terms). In both these terms there will be two seminars per week. Seminars vary in length depending on the module (90 minutes to three hours). In the third term there will be individual tutorial supervision of the dissertation. You will be expected to read quite extensively for seminars and supervisions, and also view films. All the staff involved in delivering the course have doctoral degrees (most are at professorial or associate professorial level), in many cases are leaders in their fields and have extensive experience of teaching their area of film studies.

Assessment is by two 6, 000-word essays, one 3, 000-word essay and a 10, 000-word dissertation. The dissertation, written in the final term, provides an opportunity to work with a tutor in your chosen area of specialisation.

Graduate destinations

The analytical skills taught in the course are applicable in a wide range of jobs concerned with film and visual media, for example film programming, film reviewing, film production, design and teaching. The course is especially suitable as a foundation for further scholarly research into film.

Oxford University Press The Oxford History of World Cinema
Book (Oxford University Press)
  • ISBN13: 9780198742425
  • Notes: 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
Oxford University Press The Oxford History of World Cinema
Book (Oxford University Press)
  • ISBN13: 9780198742425
  • Notes: 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!


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