The major in Film and Media Studies focuses on the history, theory, criticism, and production of cinema and other moving-image media. Courses examine cinema and the broader landscape of audiovisual media as significant modern art forms, and the contributions of moving-image media as cultural and communicative practices of enduring social significance. As an interdisciplinary program centered in the humanities, Film and Media Studies offers students latitude in defining their course of study within the framework established by the Film and Media Studies Committee. With this freedom comes the responsibility of carefully planning a coherent and well-focused program. Because of the special demands of Film and Media Studies and the diversity of its offerings, potential majors are encouraged to consult the director of undergraduate studies early in their academic careers.

The Film and Media Studies major consists of twelve term courses, including the prerequisite. A maximum of one course taken Credit/D/Fail may count toward the major with permission of the director of undergraduate studies.  Required courses should not be taken for Credit/D/Fail


Students normally take FILM 150, Introduction to Film Studies, in their freshman or sophomore year. This course is useful preparation, and in some cases a prerequisite, for many other courses in the major.

Required courses 

Students are required to take FILM 160, Introduction to Media Studies, preferably in their freshman year, and FILM 320, Close Analysis of Film, preferably during their sophomore year. In addition, students take at least one course, preferably an upper-level course, devoted to the study of representative films or media from a nation or culture other than that of the United States (German expressionist cinema, Italian cinema, World cinema, etc.).

Students must take at least one term course on the creative process in film or media. Appropriate courses are listed under “Production Seminars,” but other courses in art, theater studies, or creative writing may be substituted with the permission of the director of undergraduate studies.

Distribution of Courses 

Students hoping to work on a production or screenwriting project in their senior year are advised to begin taking relevant courses early in their Yale careers so that by their final year they will be qualified to undertake such a project.  They often start by completing FILM 161, 162 by the end of their sophomore year, and continue with FILM 355, 356 by the end of their junior year, to prepare for FILM 455, 456, or 483, 484 in their senior year. Production students pursuing screenwriting often begin with FILM 350. They must take at least five non-production courses in the major. FILM 150, 160 and 320, and the required course on a national cinema may be counted among the five. Students with a concentration in filmmaking should also take courses in screenwriting, and vice versa.

Senior requirement 

During the senior year, each student takes one or two senior-level seminars or the equivalent and submits a senior essay or senior project, which should represent a culmination of work in the major and in Yale College. For the student writing a senior essay, several options are possible. First, the student may enroll in two terms of relevant senior-level seminars (usually courses numbered in the 400s) and write a substantial term paper of twenty-five pages, double-spaced, for one of these courses. Second, the student may do independent research on a yearlong senior essay (FILM 491, 492). This option is intended for students with clearly defined topics that do not relate closely to a senior-level seminar. During the first two weeks of the first term of senior year, a petition for permission to do independent research should be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies in the form of a brief prospectus, approved by the proposed faculty adviser to the essay. Such research receives two terms of credit; the product of a two-term research essay is a work of at least fifty pages. Third, the senior requirement may be completed by combining one single-term senior-level seminar with one term of an independent research project (FILM 491 or 492), resulting in a paper of thirty-five pages. In researching and writing the essay, the student should consult regularly with the seminar instructor, supplying preliminary drafts as appropriate, and may consult with other faculty members as well.

Students who wish to complete a senior project as an alternative to an essay petition the DUS for approval of their project at the end of the junior year. Projects might include writing a screenplay or producing a video. Students electing such an alternative should note that the project must be undertaken and accomplished over two terms. A limited number of students making films or videos are admitted to either the Advanced Fiction Film Workshop (FILM 483, 484) or the Documentary Film Workshop (FILM 455, 456), and receive three credits for their projects (two credits for FILM 483, 484 or 455, 456, and one for FILM 493 or 494). Such a choice effectively commits students to one extra course in addition to the twelve courses required for the major, because FILM 493 or 494 does not count toward the twelve required courses when taken in conjunction with FILM 483, 484 or 455, 456. Students may undertake a production project outside the workshops if (1) the DUS approves their petition, (2) they have found a primary adviser qualified and willing to provide the necessary supervision, and (3) they have identified the equipment necessary to execute the project. Such students may count FILM 493 and 494 toward the twelve courses required for the major.  Each student must produce, in addition to the production project, a fifteen-page paper that discusses his or her approach in tackling the project and its theoretical underpinnings.

Majors graduating in December must submit their senior essays or senior projects to the director of undergraduate studies by December 11; those graduating in May, by April 29. A second reader assigned by the director of undergraduate studies participates in evaluating the essays and/or projects.

Admission to senior-level seminars is at the instructor’s discretion, but the Film and Media Studies program will ensure that every senior major gains admission to the required number of seminars.

The intensive major 

Students of substantial accomplishment and commitment to film and media studies are encouraged to pursue the intensive major. Students in the intensive major complete a senior project in production and also write a senior essay. The intensive major in Film and Media Studies is intended for students who are not pursuing two majors. Students must request approval from the DUS at the end of their junior year by submitting a proposal that outlines their objectives and general area of study.

All majors 

Study of relevant foreign languages is urged for all Film and Media Studies majors. Students considering graduate work should become proficient in French or another modern language. Those choosing to study film in relation to a foreign culture must have good listening and reading abilities in that language.

Requirements of the Major


FILM 150

Number of courses 

12 term courses, including prerequisite and senior requirement

Specific courses required 

FILM 160, FILM 320

Senior requirement 

2 terms of senior-level seminars, or 2 terms of senior essay (FILM 491, 492), or 1 term of each; or 2 terms of senior project in FILM 455, 456, or 483, 484, and either FILM 493 or 494, for a total of 13 term courses; or 2 terms of senior project in FILM 493, 494 with approved petition

Intensive major 

Both senior essay and senior project

Course for Summer Interns 

Those students who have interned with a film or media production company over the summer and who have not been paid for the internship are eligible to take a special course, which is in effect a section of Film 471, Independent Study.  The course meets several times during the Fall Semester and students are required to contribute a class presentation on their experience and produce a course paper.