Our credits tell the story.

A ground-breaking new MA delivered in partnership with the BFI to prepare students to build successful careers in film exhibition, programming, criticism or archival work.
‘I wholeheartedly support courses like the NFTS Film Studies MA. Finding and developing talented individuals who can programme unforgettable content is priceless.’ - Efe Cakarel, Founder, MUBI 
 
  • The course is delivered in partnership with the BFI (the leading body for film in the UK) who will also provide hands-on placement opportunities across a range of curatorial and critical activities.
  • The course is delivered by film professionals in film exhibition and distribution, festivals, archives and film criticism, alongside academics and film makers
  • Students on the course will attend film festivals.
  • Students learn how to conceptualise film work in terms of idea, form and style, as well as understanding the relationship between film and audience.
  • Students will learn about the practicalities of film exhibition, distribution and preservation in the changing digital landscape.
  • Students will study the practice of film criticism and comment, including reviewing and critical writing about films, filmmakers and the broader culture.
  • Students have the opportunity to mount festivals, pop up screenings and other events.
  • Access to NFTS's Masterclasses led by major creative figures from film, television and games.

We welcome EU/EEA Students. Those accepted onto the course starting in 2018 and 2019 will have their fees guaranteed at the UK rate for both years of the course. Postgraduate students can apply for a loan to help with their studies via the Student Loans Company Loans. A £10,240 loan is available to contribute to course and living costs. The Postgraduate Loan is only open to EU/EEA and UK Students who normally live in England.  It is not currently available to Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland Students. Find out more here.

Course Overview

This course commences at the end of January each year. 

The National Film and Television School’s Film Studies Programming and Curation Masters delivered in partnership with the BFI is designed for students who wish to make a career in the wider film and media culture, whether in the fields of curation, exhibition, criticism, archives, preservation or restoration.  The course provides a detailed understanding of the concepts, contexts and critical thought that have shaped the production and reception of film as a basis for engagement with rapidly changing contemporary film and moving image culture.  A rigorous academic framework is combined with real world applications enabling each student to develop their own skills, knowledge and understanding to provide a strong basis for a career in film and media.

The philosophy of this course is to give students a theoretical, historical and critical understanding of film, which they will apply practically in the fields of film curating and programming, distribution and archiving.

With all the resources of the National Film and Television School available to them, students on this Master’s programme benefit from working alongside a new generation of filmmakers, encouraging creative dialogue between makers and curators/critics.

'NFTS curating students are so full of energy and passion. I'm full of admiration for the NFTS which nurtures the talent that will build a future for film exhibition and filmmaking.' Clare Binns, Director of Programming & Acquisitions, Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd

Curriculum

Students on this course gain a thorough understanding of the process by which a film moves from a creative idea to an audience experience. They will explore the history, theory and critical contexts of film. In addition they will look at a variety of critical writing on film, to give them access to the major ideas that inform film.             

Optional units and a professional placement allow a more specialised focus on industry practices in programming, curation, archives and film criticism through project work and research portfolios.

Conceptualising Film: Idea, Form and Style

The unit provides an introduction to key ways of conceptualising film that underpin approaches to critical, theoretical and creative practice. The main topics include:

  1. The Evolution of the moving image – from scientific experiment to mass entertainment and beyond
  2. Ways of seeing: approaches to studying film
  3. The development of an industry and its audience. Film and Commerce
  4. Film and Realism: Cinema as a Mirror of Society?
  5. The Subconscious Art: Dream Cinema and the language of film
  6. Historical movements in Cinema: Influential developments, including the early avant-garde, Italian neo-realism, the Nouvelle Vague, Third Cinema
  7. Contemporary and British World Cinema: approaches development and trends
  8. Film Forum: the evolution of film criticism and comment
  9. Film and Digital Media (technology, and the impact on form and style)
  10. Expanded cinema: Film as a gallery experience, film as a live event

The unit draws on a wide range of illustrative film examples, and explores each concept with in-depth analysis of one or more key films. Each topic will be introduced by a film and media practitioner and/or an academic.

Students will write an essay in order to explore one of the key concepts.

Identifying the Audience: The Practice of Cinema from Idea to Exhibition

This unit looks at the changing sites and forms of film viewing, providing a detailed exploration of the cultural, economic and technological contexts that structure the processes and pathways by which films reach an audience. Whilst primary examples will largely be drawn from Europe and the USA, these will be considered in a global context.

  1. Audiences: bringing people together to watch films: who, why and how, from fairground attraction to movie palace to pop-up and online.
  2. The relationship between production and audiences: creativity, development journeys, film finance and funding.
  3. Contemporary patterns of distribution: buying and selling films in a multi-platform world; from conglomeration and globalisation to independence and self-distribution
  4. The business of contemporary exhibition: the ‘majors’ and the alternatives; the digital revolution
  5. Cultural cinema in the UK and Europe; the status of ‘specialised cinema’, including repertory and archive film
  6. Film Festivals and markets: cultural and economic impact; models of programming;
  7. Programming for diverse audiences
  8. Programming beyond the single screen: event cinema, alternative content, installation and on-line platforms
  9. Marketing and promotion: identifying, reaching and developing audiences
  10. Critics and criticism in the age of the internet and social media: continuity and change
  11. Reception: case studies

In addition to regular lectures and seminars by NFTS tutors, the teaching programme includes a wide range of talks by cinema and festival directors and programmers; industry executives working in exhibition, distribution, sales and marketing; venue and event managers; filmmakers and critics.

Students will prepare and present a case study one of the subject areas.

Programming Film & Cultural Events and Film Preservation and Restoration

This unit is broken into two strands with students participating in both.

Informed by the study in Parts A and B, there will be in-depth sessions on programming, including researching programme and event ideas, developing themes, selecting work to meet cultural and commercial imperatives, copywriting and devising marketing strategies. Practical issues regarding rights and availability, projection and technical presentation, producing publicity materials and on-stage introductions and Q&A hosting will all be covered.

The film preservation and restoration strand will cover understanding film materials, the impact of digitization on film preservation, and its limits; sessions will also explore issues of curatorial practice with regard both to collecting and exhibiting work and will consider the presentation and reception of archive material across a range of exhibition platforms. Students will also have the opportunity to visit archives, a specialised film collection, film laboratory or digital media centre.

During this part of the course students will attend the London Film Festival

Dissertation

As part of the dissertation module a number of specialised workshops will be arranged to enable students to explore a strand related to their dissertation in greater detail.

The dissertation may take the form of an extended piece of film criticism or an original exploration of aspects of film culture, genre or cinema history.

Graduation Project

The Graduation Project will be both a theoretical and practical exploration of their chosen subject and specialist areas. For example if a student wishes to explore sites and forms of cinema they will organise a pop-up cinema experience and deliver a written or video essay that explores the themes and concepts. 

Professional Placement

During the process of developing the graduation portfolio each student will also undertake a 1-2 month professional placement. 

Meet The Industry

A series of familiarisation visits to venues and projects with a variety of curatorial and critical approaches, to help provide students with a further sense of possible career options.

METHODS

In addition to a wide range of screenings and seminars, the course provides hands-on approach to teaching and learning through workshops, group projects, field trips, personal research, portfolio as well as professional placements (at Festivals, Cinemas etc). For example, students work in small groups to develop portfolios (e.g. promotional strategy for a film) and workshops (e.g. peer review in film criticism). 

For the outline programme specification and MA course student agreement, please view the documents available on our entry requirements page for more information.

Tutors

The course is run by Sandra Hebron, Head of Screen Arts. Senior tutor is Lindsey Moore. Academic Tutors include: Professor Ian Christie, Dr. Lucy Reynolds, Professor Annette Kuhn, Dr. Maria Delgado and Sophie Mayer.

Industry Professionals include: Clare Binns (Programming and Acquisitions Executive, Picturehouse Cinemas, Louisa Dent (Managing Director, Curzon Artificial Eye), Nick James (Editor, Sight and Sound), Jonathan Romney (freelance film critic, programmer and filmmaker), Tricia Tuttle (BFI Festivals), Jane Giles (Head of Content, BFI), Alex Hamilton (Managing Director EOne), Jonathan Rutter (Director of Film, Premier Communications), Mark Webber (freelance curator and publisher), and Edward Lawrenson (writer, filmmaker and festival programmer).

Entry Requirements

This course invites applications from students with a BA (Hons) degree (or equivalent) in arts, humanities or science. Film and media related degrees, while welcome, are not essential for admission.

Applicants without a degree but with professional experience may also be considered for admission. In these cases an appropriate piece of written work will be required, along with details of professional qualifications. The application will then be referred to the NFTS concessions committee for consideration.

Apply With

  • Please submit a brief essay on either a) The preservation of film culture, through archiving, exhibition and restoration
  • Or b) Discuss the changing forms of cinema distribution and exhibition.
  • Write a review of either: a) A contemporary film that has impressed you, or, b) an earlier film that you believe to be of artistic or historical importance. The review should not exceed 1,000 words.
  • Choose a movement in cinema or one particular national cinema that is important to you. Briefly discuss your personal response to it. This should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Discuss one author or film critic, or one book of critical writing on film that has influenced you. Discuss why you have found this author/book of value to you.

How to Apply

Last few places remaining! Please contact registry via email stating your name, course of interest and contact details to be considered for one of the last remaining places on this course: info@nfts.co.uk
  • 2 Year Course
  • Full-time
  • Course runs Jan-Dec each year
  • Next intake: January 2018
  • NFTS Scholarships available for UK Students