The 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.