University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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Film Studies

The Film Studies Program is a program of study hosted by the School of Letters, Art and Media and taught across the faculty by a network of film scholars with wide-ranging disciplinary expertise.

About the major

Studying film draws on both our intellect and our imagination. As an accessible and even ubiquitous transnational cultural form, film opens us to other worlds, other lives, other ways of seeing.

People have been making, watching and writing about movies for just over a century. In a culture that increasingly relies on visual information, an understanding of the moving image is essential to understanding society. The major in Film Studies is a vibrant interdisciplinary program that develops this critical visual literacy. It equips you with a range of skills for understanding and analysing cinema as a vital and yet everyday part of modern life. Through close familiarity with a range of case studies, you will come to understand the social, cultural, aesthetic and political dimensions of cinema in different contexts and at different times.

In Film Studies you will learn scholarly terms that will enable you to describe what you see on screen in relation to, for instance, camera movements and editing techniques or traditions of screen performance. You will develop rich understandings of concepts such as national cinema, genre and spectatorship through a diverse range of case studies. And you will study the historical development of film as a cultural and technological form and analyse its transformations across the 20th century to the present day.

The Film Studies major is a well-designed balance of compulsory structure and guided student choice. Across your major you enrol in three compulsory units: one 1000-level unit, one 2000-level unit and one 3000-level unit. You select your remaining units from a diverse range of core and elective units.

Pathways through the major

A major in Film Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points including ARHT2656 Film Genres and National Cinemas and ARHT3601 Cinematic Transformations and with a maximum of 12 credit points taken from elective units of study.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Film Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the Film Studies website.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You complete ARHT2656 and at least six credit points taken from 2000 level core units of study before enrolling in 3000 level units of study. You complete at least 18 credit points taken from senior core units of study including ARHT2656 before enrolling in ARHT3601. A maximum of 12 senior credit points can also be taken from elective units of study.

ARHT2656 Film Genres and National Cinemas will advance your understanding of national/transnational cinema and genre studies.

ARHT3601 Cinematic Transformations will develop your historical appreciation of the contemporary digital moment by analysing the digital turn as the most recent in a series of technological developments in cinema across the 20th century.

Sample student pathway through the Film Studies major
Sample Pathway - Film Studies major
First Year S1

Junior prerequisite unit

Junior prerequisite unit Junior unit Junior unit

Junior Film Studies unit


Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1

Senior-intermediate compulsory unit


Senior-intermediate core or elective unit

eg ENGL2638

Senior unit Senior unit

Senior-intermediate core unit


Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1

Senior-intermediate core unit


Senior-intermediate core or elective unit

eg ASLT2616
Senior unit Senior unit

Senior-advanced compulsory unit

Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit


According to your interests, you have the opportunity to select from a wide range of core and elective units that offer different perspectives on the history of cinema as a medium, on the nature of cinematic experience and on specific approaches to and debates within contemporary Film Studies.

The following are some examples of the themes that you can pursue as part of a Film Studies major although there is no requirement to focus on a theme.

Cinematic spectatorship:

  • ARHT2655 Modern Cinema: Modes of Viewing
  • ICLS2637 Watching Stars
  • MUSC2663 Survey of Film Music
  • ENGL2627 Screening Sexuality

National cinemas:

  • ARHT2656 Film Genres and National Cinemas
  • EUST2020 Screening Europe: After 1989
  • FRNC2681 French Narrative Cinema
  • JPNS3675 Japanese Cinema
  • SPAN2641 Filmmaking in the Latin American Context

Literature and Cinema:

  • ENGL2638 Literature and Cinema
  • ITLN3679 Filming Fiction: The Italian Experience
  • ASLT2616 Australian Gothic
  • ENGL3604 Cinematic Modernism

Admission to Film Studies honours requires completion of 48 senior credit points taken from Film Studies with an average of 70% or above. The honours year comprises two semester-long units of study and a thesis of 18,000–20,000 words in length.

Refer to the degree resolutions in this handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours:

Contact/further information

Film Studies program website:

Undergraduate Coordinator: Dr David Kelly

Phone: +61 2 9351 2214

Honours Coordinator: Dr Richard Smith
Phone: +61 2 9351 4208