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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Film and Media Studies

Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
Social Sciences & Media Studies 2433
Telephone: (805) 893-2347
Department Chair: Peter Bloom


The Department of Film and Media Studies is a vibrant, rapidly growing department whose faculty members include specialists from across the field of contemporary media studies. The department’s strengths are fiction and nonfiction film history and theory, television and broadcasting, digital media, the Internet, video art and activism, cultural studies, political economies, and media globalization. Interdisciplinarity is encouraged by coordinating courses and program research projects with other departments such as Art, Communication,
Environmental Studies, Sociology, Black Studies, Feminist studies, and Anthropology, History, History of Art and Architecture, Comparative Literature. Production is not emphasized, but all majors become familiar with the basic tools of filmmaking. Interested students may also take courses in screenwriting and advanced film production.

With a strong base in the liberal arts, the film and media studies major is designed to prepare students for careers in the media industry and media education, as well as archival preservation and research, entertainment law, publishing, and journalism.

Additional language courses are recommended for students interested in spending their junior or senior year with the Education Abroad Program. Students may consider studies from more than 150 programs in 33 countries.

Beyond the core requirements of the film and media studies major, the student may develop an individual program centered around special interests and goals. Students who wish to know more about the film and media studies major are invited to talk with an advisor in the film and media studies office.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in film and media studies who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible.

Grants, Awards, Prizes

Several universitywide fellowships, awards, and prizes are available to the undergraduate film and media studies major: the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) grant, the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards, and the UCSB Foundation Honors Awards, and Genesis Research Awards provide grants for students working on research and creative projects.

Students are also eligible for department-sponsored awards. The Paul N. and Elinor T. Lazarus Endowed Scholarship in Film Studies is awarded annually to a film and media studies major of exceptional enthusiasm, dedication, accomplishment, and demonstrated talent and promise in film or television writing covering partial registration fees. The Alexander Sesonke Prize is given annually for the best scholarly essays on film and media history, criticism, or theory, with prizes up to $1,000. The Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Awards are given annually for best screenplay short film in awards up to $1,300. The David F. Siegel Award is made annually to a film and media studies major who has demonstrated drive, tenacity, and courage in the face of adversity, in the amount of $1500. The Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Screenwriting Award for Best Short Screenplay is given annually, with prizes up to $500.

Graduation with Distinction in Film and Media Studies (The Senior Honors Program)

The honors program in film and media studies provides the opportunity for qualified majors to undertake advanced film research or creative work. Through successful completion of the honors program, a student will achieve the degree award of Distinction in the Major.

Majors who have completed two quarters of the junior year with a minimum grade-point average of 3.30 will be  eligible to apply for admission to the honors program. The application includes: (1) a 500-word prospectus, outlining the nature and scope of the project and the plan for carrying it out; (2) An endorsement by the faculty member who will supervise and evaluate the project. Applications are due no later than the tenth week of classes for admission to the program in the following quarter.

The project is a research or critical essay of not fewer than 40 pages or a completed short film, or completed  feature-length screenplay, accompanied by a critical self-assessment of the project. The program is comprised of two related courses (4 units each) to be taken in two quarters of the senior year. These must be taken consecutively. The first course is Independent Studies (Film Studies 199), which must be taken for a letter grade and will not count as a film and media studies elective. During the quarter the student, guided by the sponsoring faculty member, completes the required research and submits for formal evaluation a draft of the essay or creative work. The second course is a senior honors seminar (Film Studies 196) during which the student completes the honors project.

Other Opportunities

Students can acquire valuable experience during their study at UCSB. They may find work with Instructional Resources, a campus service department where film and video equipment is used daily. Also, students are often able to intern at local commercial or cable television stations, production companies, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the CineMedia Festival, and the county film commission office. Summer internship opportunities in the Los Angeles area are plentiful. Academic credit of 2 units is normally granted for intern work. Undergraduate research assistantships with faculty are also available.

Students are encouraged to take full advantage experiential learning by getting involved with the many clubs and organizations that are hosted by the department. Creative, organizational, and leadership skills can be gained by participating in Reel Loud, the annual spring film festival, the Filmmakers’ Co-op, the Screenwriters’ Co-op, the Film Salon, the Freshmen Film Club or working on our annual student driven workshops, Word Farm (focused on screenwriting) and Cam-Con (focused on cinematography).  

The film and media studies journal, Focus Media Journal, an annual publication by and for undergraduate film and media studies students, publishes exceptional work including student writing on film, interviews with filmmakers, and book reviews.

Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, a publication devoted to the study of women and representation in the visual media and arts, is considered to be a foremost journal of film and cultural theory and offers editorial internship opportunities. Based in the Department of Film and Media Studies, the journal is edited by Constance Penley (UCSB).

The department also houses Screening Noir, the publication of the African and African-American caucus of the Society for Cinema Studies under the editorship of Anna Everett (UCSB) and the American Film Institute Film Reader Series under the editorship of Edward Branigan and Charles Wolfe.

Career Opportunities. Career opportunities go beyond the motion picture industry (production, distribution, and exhibition). The expansion and interrelation of media industries opens up other areas: home entertainment, including television writing and production, interactive media, game design, commercials, industrial films, trailers, and mixed media. Nonprofit and educational media are yet other career paths.