Writing and Film Studies BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

September 2016

code: WP83

The entry requirements below are for students starting in September 2016.

Overview

Want to write for film, or write about film? Get expert advice from published writers and professional film-makers. Share your writing with other students, and work together to create films from your screenplays. Develop critical and practical skills that will impress publishers, studios and other employers.

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Full description

Careers

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Our past students now enjoy successful careers in film and video production, film criticism, cinema/film festival administration and management, film education and teaching, broadcasting, journalism, publishing, advertising and public relations.

Our work-based modules, such as 'Working in English, Communication, Film and Media' in Year 3, will give you vital experience of related professions like publishing, the media industries, teaching or arts administration.

If you’re hoping to get published, you can seek advice from our writing tutors, many of whom are published authors, as well as our Royal Literary Fund fellow.

You’ll also benefit from our links with industry and professional bodies, including Cambridge University Press, Windhorse Publishing, Writers' Centre Norwich, WriteOn!, Sayle Literary Agency and CB1 Poetry.

Or you might enjoy your studies so much that you decide to take a Masters course, like our MA Creative Writing or MA Publishing.

We work closely with our University’s Careers and Employability Service to make sure you get all the support and advice you need to develop your professional skills. We also host employability events that bring together professionals and practitioners from a variety of disciplines including publishing, modern languages, printing and art design, writing and poetry, media consultancy, teaching, events organisation and festival direction.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Film Reviewing
    The module will introduce you to film reviewing, beginning with an exploration of the nature and purpose of reviewing films, then working through the various steps of the reviewing process. You'll learn to write original reviews for a variety of different readerships. You’ll also explore aspects of genre, dramatic structure, performance and the technical background of film production, with examples from mainstream, independent and foreign language films.
  • Introduction to Imaginative Writing
    This module will introduce you to techniques for developing and sustaining creative writing and teach you how to practice these in your own work. Your studies will be split equally between analysing texts to see what makes them effective for different audiences and practical writing exercises. As the module progresses, you will explore the techniques and conventions of writing short fiction, poetry and dramatic writing and will present your work to your fellow students, simultaneously building a portfolio of imaginative writing to be submitted at the end of the semester, along with a critical commentary evaluating the creative processes you’ve pursued and identifying areas for future development.
  • Introduction to Film Studies
    This introductory module will show you an analytic and creative approach to the study of films and film practices, introducing you to some of the key features of film language and theory. As well as contemporary and classical Hollywood, you'll study experimental practices and products, films and film-making contexts from a range of cultures. You’ll look at film as an ideological tool and learn to identify and debate the relative merits of different films, developing the critical judgement skills crucial to the subject. You’ll visit cinemas and film festivals and seminar activities such as shot analyses and oral presentations will help you understand the links between conceptual and practical approaches.
  • Introduction to Video 1
    Through a series of briefs and exercises that investigate the principles of filmic conventions, this module will introduce you to the language of film and video from the point of view of a practitioner. The projects will encompass the investigation of principles such as: composition and lighting, shot/reverse-shot sequences, matching on action and the rhythmic editing of picture and sound. The aim is not necessarily for you to perfect conventions, rather to experiment and gain an understanding of how they work. No prior technical experience of film and video is required - you'll receive inductions into camera operation, sound recording and editing. Your work will be regularly screened in a critical forum, allowing you to gain invaluable feedback from your peers and tutors.
  • Language and Criticism for Writers
    You'll learn the essential skills for working with language, for participating in workshops and for undertaking critical evaluation of creative work. The main areas you'll cover are: grammar and style; producing critical commentaries for creative and professional writing assignments; giving and receiving constructive criticism; making language choices in relation to audience expectations and working with drafts. You'll be introduced to key critical and analytical terms and taught how to use these to develop your own writing practice.

Year one, optional modules

  • Screenwriting: Introduction to the Screen
    This module will equip you with the skillbase needed to make an entry-level submission in the industry, both in schemes for new writers and relevant competitions. You'll analyse a range of television dramas, learning how story ideas are generated and developed into a workable template. You'll then progress to developing your own original idea, producing a short treatment and the first few pages of a television script as well as some supporting material. Your final submission will be divided between an analysis of a TV series of your choosing, as well as the creative practice component.

Year two, core modules

  • Writing Short Fiction
    On this module, you'll learn the techniques of effective short fiction writing, beginning with the literary short story and moving on to explore short fiction for younger readers and some areas of genre fiction. You'll be introduced to the scope and the conventions of short fiction in English through an analysis of a diverse range of classic and contemporary examples, examining the creative process from the collection of ideas at notebook stage to the production and editing of a finished narrative. Authors studied on the module may include Anton Chekhov, Katherine Mansfield and Edgar Allen Poe. Your writing exercises will focus on practical writing techniques for effective work, with key elements such as characterisation, setting, structure, movement in time and space, observation, point of view, opening and closing, voice, dialogue, cliché, description and dialogue. For assessment, you'll submit the best work you produce during the module, along with a critical commentary that'll include a contribution to your Personal Development Planning file.
  • Screenwriting: The Feature Film
    This module will build on the skills you learned in the short fiction film module. Having understood the short film format, you'll now apply your skills to the more demanding task of understanding the feature film. You'll produce a portfolio including the first act of a screenplay with evidence of analytical story structure skills, including a focused analysis of genre in a series of self-managed presentations. As a key element of this module, you'll study the work of well-known screenwriters, in particular Kaufman, Schrader, Mamet and Ball, whose work will be critically discussed as potential models. You'll also study established film-makers, including the Coen Brothers, Darren Aronofksy, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Charlie Kaufman, Paul Thomas Anderson and Gus Van Sant, as examples of writer directors.
  • Theorising the Specular and Classical Hollywood Cinema
    You'll address issues of spectatorship and representation through a range of theoretical approaches including psychoanalytic theory. You'll also explore the intersection of pleasure and terror in our encounters with the image, considering the ways in which film taps into our unconscious, and the role of the body, the senses, and emotion in shaping our responses to moving image culture. You'll look at the future of film studies by addressing the changing conditions of spectatorship in the age of digital cinema. In the second part of the module, you'll focus particularly on the practices, products and institutional frameworks of the classical Hollywood period, exploring the narrative conventions that continue to shape the majority of mainstream commercial cinema. This will include a consideration of the formal and stylistic features of the 'realist' text, its ideals and ideologies.

Year two, optional modules

  • Writing Drama
    This intensive reading and writing module will introduce you to the techniques and conventions of dramatic writing, with an emphasis on writing for stage performance. You'll study the skills and knowledge required to create effective performance texts through a combination of reading, critical analysis of diverse examples from the genre, practical writing exercises and readings of students' own work in progress. You'll also explore elements of dramatic writing such as monologue, dialogue, narrative, character and physical and vocal connection, learning the conventions of presentation for dramatic texts. In later sessions, you'll workshop sustained pieces of dramatic writing, confronting the challenges of audience and staging. Your finished dramatic text will be assessed in the form of a ten-minute script. You must also submit a critical commentary addressing specific aspects of the writing process, including questions of staging.
  • Animation
    To study this module you must have already taken the Introduction to Video module. You’ll become more familiar with the discipline of animation, emphasising the creative possibilities of the frame-by-frame manipulation of time. You'll be introduced to a range of conventional and experimental works that will develop your understanding and practice of animation. You'll watch a series of screenings covering a range of key figures and movements in animation, from the geometric abstraction of Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling to the early films of the Disney studio, the camera-less films of Len Lye and Stan Brakhage, the reflexive strategies of Chuck Jones and Robert Breer, and the pioneering work of Lotte Reiniger. You'll take part in a number of practical workshop projects that will develop various skills, from camera-less filmmaking to collage and pixilation, encouraging you to take an idea-driven and experimental approach to the medium. Your final project can be completed individually or in a pair.
  • Documentary Film Theory
    On this module you'll explore the world of contemporary documentary film. How do we watch documentary films in the digital age? What is behind the recent documentary boom? Through a close analysis of contemporary documentaries such as Standard Operating Procedure (2008), Waltz with Bashir (2008) and 5 Broken Cameras (2011), you'll consider a range of critical discussions and debates surrounding the historical, technological, aesthetic and socio-political developments of the documentary approach to film and video-making. You'll also address the historical and theoretical contexts of the study of documentary film, and engage with topical debates regarding the relationship between reality and representation, documentary ethics, structured reality TV programmes, and the role of the internet in disseminating documentaries.
  • Intercultural Encounters in Global Cinema
    On this module, you'll examine how the effects of increasing globalisation and the expansion of the European Union have been closely monitored and discussed not only in political discourse but in media as well. Cinema and TV are no exceptions, and such media portrayals are of key importance, be it as potential reflections of popular attitudes, ideas and preoccupations towards migration, or their likely impact on popular views and opinions on the topic. You'll investigate how the global perspective goes beyond the exploration of individual films in their national frameworks, and is therefore better equipped to address questions linked to the legacy of globalisation and international migration.
  • News and Feature Writing
    This intensive reading and writing module will introduce you to the techniques of print journalism, focusing on news reports and feature articles. The skills required for effective news and feature writing are a key component of writing craft in any genre of fiction or non-fiction. It's a discipline that improves the imaginative work and communicative power of those who practice it. You'll explore the significance of journalistic writing in contemporary life using examples from a range of British tabloid, broadsheet and local publications. You'll practise sourcing news reports, developing feature articles and sub-editing for style and content. In seminar workshops, you'll combine analysis of journalistic techniques with practical writing exercises, covering topics that include: researching and pitching a story; interviewing; puns and rhythm; and economical use of language. Early on, you'll produce a set of briefs that must be approved by the seminar leader, then produce copy for these briefs and, in editorial teams, giving and receiving constructive criticism.
  • Screenwriting: Script to Screen
    On this module, you'll explore creative and technical processes involved in devising and developing a short narrative film, from script to screen. It differs from other screenwriting modules in that you'll turn your scripts into video. In particular, you'll learn the importance of visualisation, communicating narrative through image, sound and action. Although films are created in a collaborative way, you'll learn about and discuss the distinct roles of producer, director, writer and editor, to form an understanding of the interrelationships between each of them, ensuring the most effective realisation of your script ideas.
  • Non-Fiction Filmmaking
    To take this module you must already have taken Introduction to Video. You'll explore the nature and practice of documentary filmmaking, addressing the aesthetics of documentary in relation to expository, poetic, observational, performative, and reflexive modes of practice. You'll consider, reflect and implement appropriate responses to the range of issues that might arise in your work, including the ethical, creative, methodological, theoretical, and technical concerns relating to documentary. To rationalise the subject of non-fiction film and video in terms of forms and conventions of documentary language, you'll examine in detail various examples of contemporary, historical, independent, and mainstream documentary.
  • Writing Historical Fiction
    On this module, you'll study the skills and techniques needed to create successful historical fiction for a range of media (prose, TV, film radio, and other). You'll consider the issues which arise while trying to create a fictional 'historical past', and experiment with different techniques of conjuring the past, with reference to place, voice, character, food, manners and mores. You'll also consider the needs of different audiences and different platforms from the demands of a staged or radio play through to the differences between the scope of a short story and novel. Your assessment will be a 2,000-word piece of fiction (for any media or platform), and an accompanying 1,000-word critical portfolio.

Year three, core modules

  • Film Journalism
    Starting with an exploration of the various modes within which film journalism functions, this module will guide you through the world of professional film journalism, giving you the skills and knowledge to create original features for a variety of readerships in a range of media. You’ll look at working with editors; planning and structuring interviews; developing, drafting and revising reviews and features; and developing a personal style. Your explorations will be reinforced by regular formative assignments, leading to the creation of your own portfolio of work.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.
  • Screenwriting: Adaptation
    On this final year module, you'll produce a portfolio that includes adaptations of existing material, such as short stories, poems, graphic novels or cartoon strips. You'll be encouraged to focus on theme, character and structure, plus other imaginative ways of transferring from a textual to a visual medium. This may involve changing aspects of the written story, such as point-of-view, number and nature of characters, location, duration, use of flashback, establishing shots, montage effect, and so on. You'll first discuss extracts from a number of adaptations from fiction to film and then go on to produce your own final short screenplay, adapted from a short story, poem or graphic novel of your choice You'll submit your final adapted screenplay as part of your portfolio, together with supporting material and a critical commentary and evaluation of all your work.

Year three, optional modules

  • Film Art
    On this module, you'll examine film as an art form and the relationship of film to other forms of art. You'll consider the peculiarities of cinema's formal languages, focusing on those visual practices and strategies specific to narrative film and considering the aesthetic singularities associated with the moving image. You'll study the dialectic relationship between film and other forms of art and visual and textual culture, such as painting, comics, videogames and literature, as well as diverse narrative and non-narrative rhetorical devices and modes of address. In particular, you'll consider non-Western filmic codes of representation, such as those in Japanese and Indian cinemas. You'll look at the role of the moving image in the context of the art gallery, critically examine selected theorists of art and film form and study seminal moments of European aesthetics and art criticism, critically applying them to film - particularly the writings of Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.
  • Film, Modernity and Postmodernity
    On this module, you'll examine the emergence of film as one of the key technologies of modernity, and hence consider the role of film in helping to express and consolidate ways of thinking and feeling about modern times. You’ll look at cinema’s impact on memory identity and subjectivity and also contemplate to what extent cinema is bound up with the nature of reality, and our attempts to know and understand it. Defining modernity and postmodernity as a period of history, but also as a set of ideologies and representational strategies, and as a set of epistemological conditions and ontological concerns, you'll look at problematic distinctions between modernity and postmodernity, and consider ways in which they intersect, overlap, or bleed into one another. You'll also study a range of theorists associated with modernity and postmodernity, including Tom Gunning, Bela Balasz, Antonin Artaud, Anne Friedberg, Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson, and Gilles Deleuze, amongst others.
  • Independent Film Practice 1
    This module will allow you to develop your own mode of creative film practice. Whether your projects are informed by considerations associated with drama, documentary, animation or experimental work, you will be expected to show a critical and reflective attitude towards your practice. Early in the module, you'll present your project proposal to tutors and the rest of the group, then, at a later stage, show and discuss your work in progress in the context of individual tutorials and class seminars. To develop your proposed project, you'll undertake preliminary practical projects, conduct research, begin pre-production and openly discuss your ideas, with advanced technical workshops being organised as required. You can work individually or in small groups. After completing the module, you'll attend a screening and a crit, at which every student will show at least one finished piece of work. The film that you show in the crit constitutes the first element of your assessment. You'll also submit a commentary and evaluation, discussing the intentions behind your project and the formative features of your work.
  • Multiplexed: Contemporary Popular Cinema
    On this module you'll explore trends in the aesthetics and production practices of Hollywood movies, and their contexts of distribution and reception, based on a representative selection from the last four decades. You'll discover how the style and output of American popular cinema in this period has responded to changing socio-political, economic and cultural circumstances. Alongside close readings of a number of films (bookended by the box-office record breakers Jaws and Avatar), you'll consider some of the broader tendencies they represent: What lies behind the so-called 'blockbuster syndrome' supposedly initiated by Spielberg's monster movie? What is the impact of new locations or technologies for viewing on the aesthetics of popular cinema? Did the blockbuster destroy or save Hollywood? These are just some of the questions you'll answer over the course of the module.
  • Portfolio
    Like a final exhibition, this module allows you to 'showcase' your writing, preparing it for presentation to publishers or employers. You'll need to review the development of your work and achievements over the duration of the course, and select examples of your imaginative and professional writing to form a portfolio that best reflects your work. You may redraft where appropriate and, in a critical overview, can explain your choices and progress as a writer. This overview will contribute to your Personal Development Planning. You'll arrange meetings, up to a maximum of 2 hours, with your own personal supervisor for individual advice. You'll also attend two seminars, which will support you through the process of selecting work and writing the critical overview. At the end of the year, you'll be encouraged to perform or read work from your portfolios to an audience of staff, students and invited guests.
  • Working in English, Communication, Film and Media
    This module, with a focus on work experience, will help prepare you for targeted entry into the world of multimedia, film, television, cinema, radio, video, teaching, publishing, arts administration and related creative and cultural industries. You'll identify, negotiate and carry out a work placement, or produce a commissioned product, in a chosen area, with guidance from the relevant Course Leader and Module Leader, who will provide ongoing consultation, supervision and support in association with the University's Careers Service. You'll develop a portfolio and write a critical essay, both of which you'll submit at the end of the semester. Your portfolio should include: your CV; copies of a range of academic work (including a DVD showreel, where appropriate); evidence of extra-curricular activities; evidence of work experience. Presentation is crucial to your portfolio, and you should make use of all available multi-media when refining your work. This module will form part of your ongoing programme of Personal Development Planning.
  • Writing Poetry
    Through critical examination of modern and contemporary poems, you'll learn to explore important developments in technique and appreciate the benefits of close reading to open up possibilities for language use. You’ll develop sophisticated approaches to the relationship between form and content. You'll engage in advanced workshop treatment of your poems, moving beyond explanation of sources and meanings to explore process, form and audience. The seminar topics may include modelling, seeds and sources, working with journals, presentation of poetry on and off the page, working with sound and visual material, and redrafting. Your assessment will be a selection of poems accompanied by reflective writing that explores key issues of process.
  • Scriptwriting
    This module will introduce you to the scope and conventions of scriptwriting across three forms – film, television, and radio – through analysis of a diverse range of classic and contemporary examples. You'll examine the creative process and engage in this process by maintaining a reading journal and writer's notebook. The feature screenplays you'll study may include screenplays by Charlie Kaufman, Sophia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, and Aaron Sorkin, while television series may include Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Returned. Audio material may include selected Afternoon Plays and radio comedy series. Your writing exercises will focus on practical writing techniques such as writing an effective treatment or outline, and exploring the different techniques needed for different broadcast mediums. For assessment, you'll submit the best work you produce at the end of the year, along with a critical commentary that'll include a contribution to your Personal Development Planning file.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Assessment

You’ll show your progress by writing portfolios, critical commentaries, presentations, performance, proposals, reading journals, case studies, critical essays, log books, evaluation reports, film reviews and analyses, internet, print and video production, commissions, and in 'crits', where you’ll present and defend your work. 

Each year you’ll prepare a Personal Development Portfolio, which includes a CV and personal statement. This will give you the chance to reflect on your progress to date, the skills you’ve developed and any extracurricular activities that will help you when looking for work. 

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of English and Media is a community of more than 800 students, exploring subjects that further their understanding of culture and communication in the global age, from film studies to applied linguistics. We focus on skills and knowledge valued by employers, and provide our students with valuable industry insight through our links with creative partners.

Our students take part in many activities to help prepare them for the future, like work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by internationally acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences. They even have the chance to get writing advice from our Royal Literary Fund Fellow.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Study abroad

You can apply to spend one semester in Years 2 or 3 studying at Universidad de Huelva, Spain or Valparaiso University, Indiana, USA.

Work placements

We encourage you  to build relationships with film-related organisations through work placements and commissions. Our recent students have undertaken work experience with Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge Film Festival, Red TV, ITN, London Weekend Television, BBC, CBBC, MTV, Zenith Productions, London Studios and the New York Film Academy, among others.

Cultural activities and events

We organise many extra-curricular activities, like the annual three-day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, theatre, poetry and writing evenings, and research symposia and conferences. You’ll also be able to join the Anglia Ruskin Literary Society, which organises trips to local plays and poetry readings, organises workshops, and hosts guest speakers and performance evenings; or Cambridgeshire Ink, a writing website run by graduates from the course.

Specialist facilities

We’ll give you access to industry-standard film equipment, including Super 8 Nizo cameras, 16mm Bolex film cameras, and a number of rostrums for traditional animation. Our digital facilities feature Panasonic and JVC HD cameras, and Macintosh computers with Final Cut Pro software for editing and post-production. Our campus also houses film and television studios, multimedia studios and screening theatres.

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2015/16 (per year)

£9,000

International students, 2015/16 (per year)

£10,300

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)

£9,000

International students, 2016/17 (per year)

£11,000

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email admissions@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

Entry requirements are for September 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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