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 

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. The senior requirement requires both critical writing and writing in images. Those undertaking creative senior projects should be expected to produce a paper of approximately fifteen pages in which the student discusses such questions as the genre to be used in the project, existing precedents for the topic, and his or her strategy in working on the project. Those undertaking to fulfill the senior requirement by writing a senior essay should additionally take a course in which they are expected to do, minimally, a small production assignment.

Majors graduating in December must submit their senior essays or senior projects to the DUS by Friday, December 8, 2023; those graduating in May, by Friday, April 26, 2024. A second reader assigned by the DUS participates in evaluating the essays and/or projects.

Preparation for a senior project Those students hoping to produce a film script or video as their senior project should make sure that they have taken enough courses in video production and screenwriting to be accepted into an advanced course in screenwriting or production. Senior creative projects in Film and Media Studies must be produced in conjunction with one such upper-level course. Students 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 FILM 483, 484 in their senior year. Those students interested in screenwriting often begin with FILM 350. Students interested in filmmaking should also take courses in screenwriting, and vice versa. Some production courses are available in the summer program in Prague.

Senior project Students who wish to complete a senior project as an alternative to an essay must petition the Film and Media Studies Committee for approval of their project at the end of the junior year. Projects might include writing a screenplay in Advanced Screenwriting (FILM 487, 488) 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 483484) or the Documentary Film Workshop (FILM 455456), and receive three credits for their projects (two credits for FILM 483484 or FILM 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 483484 or FILM 455, 456. Students may undertake a production project outside the workshops if (1) the Film and Media Studies Committee 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.

Preparation for a senior essay  Students in their senior year may prefer to write a senior essay rather than work on a creative project. To prepare, they should take advantage of the variety of courses in film and media history, criticism and theory offered by the program, including such topics as American independent cinema, film theory, and African American cinema.

Senior essay 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. 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. Whichever option is chosen, the essay should be written on a topic informed by the student’s previous coursework at Yale College. The student intending to write a senior essay should submit a brief prospectus, approved by the proposed faculty adviser, to the DUS by the end of reading week in their junior year. If this petition is approved, the student should plan to submit an updated and elaborated prospectus for final approval by the DUS during the first two weeks of the first term of senior year. In researching and writing the essay, the student should consult regularly with the seminar instructor or adviser, supplying preliminary drafts as appropriate, and may consult with other faculty members as well.

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.