Undergraduate Program

In the Spotlight

“Finding Happiness as a Transfer Student in Film and Media”

by Katherine Grayson, published in Humanities and Fine Arts Blog

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In the Spotlight

Congratulations to our alum Scott Ferguson,
Associate Professor, University of South Florida,

on the publication of his book
Declarations of Dependence: Money, Aesthetics,
and the Politics of Care

(University of Nebraska Press, 2018)

Scott will be delivering a talk at UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center on Thursday, November 15, 4pm (HSSB 6020).

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The UCSB Department of Film and Media Studies offers one of the longest standing and most successful undergraduate critical studies majors in the country. Founded as a small interdisciplinary program in 1973, Film and Media Studies now enrolls roughly 500 undergraduate majors in a multi-faceted humanities curriculum with broad coverage of the history and theory of film and media practices around the world. The research of our distinguished faculty has helped to define the fields of film studies, television studies, and cultural and media studies, and is at the forefront of new work on digital and emerging media.

We understand education to be a process of discovery, in which students develop a capacity to generate new knowledge. Our goal is to provide students with comprehensive training in film and media studies as an academic discipline, breadth of exposure to cutting-edge scholarship on contemporary culture and the arts around the world, and opportunities for creative and other professional work informed by the skills and knowledge acquired through critical studies. The curriculum is structured to foster intellectual growth in four key areas: (1) core knowledge of film and media texts, theories, and institutions; (2) critical, analytical, and interpretive skills; (3) research skills; and (4) writing and production skills. Most courses in the major require extensive reading, screening time, and writing. Undergraduates have an opportunity to interact closely with faculty during class hours and office meetings, and on research and production projects. Film and Media Studies students also benefit from classroom and public screenings in the Pollock Theater, and from conversations with visiting artists and media professionals, who speak and present their work in this beautiful space, as well as engagements with a wide array of film and media archivists and scholars from around the world.

The Film and Media Studies Department supports the pursuit of high academic achievement in a variety of ways. For students who have been accepted into the College Honors program, we offer Honors Sections in most of our core lecture courses. Undergraduate majors approaching their final year of study may also apply to work closely with a faculty mentor on a capstone Seniors Honors Project. Students who complete this project are granted Distinction in the Major at the time of graduation. Our students also regularly apply for and receive Undergraduate Research and Creative Awards from the College of Letters and Science in support of independent research or production projects supervised by faculty. Film and Media Studies majors also manage, design, and edit Focus Media Journal, which has been published annually by the department for more than thirty years.

Working within the framework of a critical studies curriculum, many of our undergraduates have produced remarkable short films and other creative projects in our specialized and advanced production courses. Our most active majors are involved with departmentally sponsored student filmmaking and screenwriting clubs and take advantage of local and industry-based internships, including participation in the annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The rigorous academic standards established by our undergraduate curriculum has provided a foundation for the emergence of a new generation of highly-informed and engaged film and media visionaries who have taken an active role in shaping and understanding emerging audiovisual forms and modes of storytelling. Our prestigious alumni have achieved global accolades as writers, producers, directors, editors, cinematographers, creative executives, marketers, agents, programmers, archivists, journalists, and educators.


Application is through the UCSB Office of Admissions. Applicants may declare a Film and Media Studies major on the UCSB admission form. The Film and Media Studies Department does not review undergraduate applications.

For information about UCSB admission policies and deadlines, click here:

For information about UCSB quarterly fees, click here:


If you are a current UCSB student and would like to declare Film and Media Studies as a major, or add it as a double-major, you are eligible to do so after (1) passing FM 46 or FM 70 with a grade of C or better, and (2) successfully completing at least one other course in the preparation for the major.

Forms are processed by the Film and Media Studies Undergraduate Academic Advisor. For applications and additional information, click here: http://www.admissions.ucsb.edu/ 

Bachelor of Arts – Film and Media Studies

All courses used to satisfy major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

You must complete your lower-division requirements with a grade of C grade or better in order to enroll in core upper division courses. More specifically:

  • You must receive a grade of C or better in FM 46 and FM 70 order to enroll in FM 101ABCD or E.
  • You must receive a grade of C or better in FM 46, FM 70, and FM 96 in order to enroll in FM 192AA-ZZ

To graduate with a B.A. degree, you must maintain a grade-point average of 2.0 (C) or better across all of the courses you have taken in the major.

We advise you to consult with the department’s Undergraduate Academic Advisor to plan your course of study. Note that the core classes are offered in rotation and that some core classes may be offered only once a year.

We also advise you to consult with the College of Letters and Science staff regarding general university requirements, including Academic Residence, Grade Point Average, General Education, and Unit requirements.

Students who wish to declare the major must complete FM 46 or FM 70 with a grade of C or better, and at least one other class in the preparation for the major.

Pre-Major Requirements

Major Requirements

One of the noted elements of the Department is the rich sense of community that grows out of the wide selection of extracurricular activities. Many of these have a history that reaches back to the foundation of the major, but there are always new groups, workshops, screenings and journals to get involved in.


A three-day cinematography camp brings together students and working DPs, operators, grips and other members of the camera team. Over the weekend students will interact with professionals on workshop exercises and take part in in-depth seminars on lighting for motion pictures and television.

Delta Kappa Alpha:


Delta Kappa Alpha is a national, gender-inclusive, professional cinematic society. We pitch, produce, and edit films in house each quarter, giving students the opportunity to test out many positions in the film industry- from writing and producing, to acting, directing, and so much more. We also participate in philanthropy events on and around campus as well as support our national philanthropy, Serious Fun, a charity started by DKA alum Paul Newman. On top of production experience and giving back to the community, we are focused on forming a tight knit community of students within our colony and friendships that last long past graduation.

Filmmakers’ Co-op:

A club that organizes workshops to foster technical training and equipment checkout for hands on experience, festivals and talks to build a network of peers and professionals and launches fundraising events for support of equipment purchase and upkeep. 

Focus Media Journal:

An undergraduate publication that spotlights some of the best UCSB student writing in the field of critical studies. Students comprise the editorial and publishing elements of the journal. A great stepping stone into graduate school or journalism.

Graphic Voices:

Graphic Voices is UCSB’s premier animation and game design conference with great speaker events and workshops hosted by students for those of all disciplines who are looking into a career in either of these exciting fields. Every year, we bring YOU the eager student, into an intimate setting where you can learn from the talented creators and executives producing the latest pop-culture media. We’ve had guests who have worked on everything from The Simpsons to Adventure Time, and heard stories from veteran Konami game developers and new VR developers alike.


A weekly Saturday night presentation of stand-up comedy in Isla Vista’s Embarcadero Hall. Students book, promote and participate in the show

Magic Lantern Films:

Each week students assists and promote presentations of blockbusters, independents and foreign films. There is a classroom component to provide the students with the broader spectrum of understanding second-run theatrical presentation and art house retrospectives.

Reel Loud:

Perhaps the highlight of spring quarter at UCSB, this festival combines contemporary student-produced silent films with live stage accompaniment. This can take the form of musicians, actors, and other live elements that break down fourth wall of film presentation and create a highly entertaining night that harkens back to old vaudeville.

Women in Media:

Women in Media (WIM) is an inclusive campus organization focused on empowering and educating students interested in media and entertainment. Our goal is explore women’s roles and issues within this industry while preparing the next generation of women media-makers to enter into the professional world. Through year-round workshops, discussions with guest speakers, and more, WIM hosts exclusive professional development opportunities to help students jump-start their future careers.

Each spring, WIM organizes the annual UCSB Women in Media Conference featuring distinguished women in roles from across the entertainment industry. At this weekend-long event, students have the chance to hear insight directly from our speakers and build a lasting network of professionals and peers. Previous guests include Sahar Vahedi (Director of Development & Programming at Blumhouse Television), Lindsay Liles (producer on ABC’s The Bachelor), Kit Steinkellner (writer on Facebook’s Sorry For Your Loss), Dilcia Barrera (feature programmer at Sundance Film Festival), and more.”

Writers’ Room:

Creative projects grow out of weekly meetings where students present and critique their writing. The club hosts contests, guest speakers and the annual screenwriting camp, Word Farm.

Word Farm

This year Word Farm, one of the most exciting events at UCSB and perhaps one of its best kept secret will celebrate its tenth anniversary. Word Farm is a student-run screenwriting workshop with working professionals from the television and film industries. Open to student across the campus, the intensive weekend will include five to seven intensive sessions working on the craft and business of writing. This year Word Farm will take place January 18-20th. 


Student Works

Head of Production – Chris Jenkins

Studio Professor, Senior Archivist – Dana Driskel

Lecturer – Sven Holcomb

Lecturer – Ian Kellett

Lecturer – Wendy Jackson

Lecturer – Sara Caldwell

Production TA: Weihao Qiu

Senior Producer Director – Keith Boynton


Crew Camera Check-Out Sheet

Crew Sound Check-Out Sheet

Crew GRIP Check-Out Sheet

Film and Media Studies Scene Breakdown Sheet

Film and Media Studies Budget Template: .xls

Awards, Prizes, and Scholarships


Alexander Sesonske Prize for Best Scholarly Essay

is given annually for papers on topics ranging from film and television history to criticism and theory. The award was named after one of the founders and designer of our department. Submissions can be papers from your classes or new material written specially for the contest. Students should also consider submitting their work for publication in the Focus Media Journal. Download the application

Italian Heritage Prize

is sponsored by The Italian Heritage Foundation of Santa Barbara recognizing critical work focused on Italian film or television. This competition is open to both undergraduate and graduate students but the work must come from a course taken during the current school year.

Distinction in the Field of Critical Studies

is presented each year at graduation to recognize promise in the field and acknowledge work of a student who may be bound for graduate school.

Distinction in the Major

is presented each year at graduation to recognize the completion of a senior honors project. This is a two-quarter process and is completed under the mentoring of a department faculty advisor.

Dorothy and Sherrill C. Corwin Awards

have a long history within the department. Each year the Corwin Awards present prizes for screenwriting in both short format and feature work and for producing short films. Applicants must be enrolled at UCSB during the current academic year for at least one quarter.
Download the application and information packet

Paul N. and Elinor T. Lazarus Scholarship

was established in memory of Paul Lazarus who taught screenwriting at UCSB for over 20 years. Many of his former students have gone on to write, produce, and direct major Hollywood films and television shows. The scholarship is designed to foster and develop a student’s focus on writing. It is open to Film and Media majors in their junior year. The scholarship recipient spends their senior year working in connection with an instructor to develop a new film or television screenplay.
Download the application and information packet

Television Writing Award

is made possible by a donation from Rick Rosen (William Morris Endeavor). It is given out in three categories: The Half-Hour Sitcom, The Hour-Long Drama, and Webisodes. Both spec scripts of existing shows and original pilots are considered. Webisodes must be at least 20 pages in length. Applicants must be current UCSB students. Download the application

Best Director Award

is made possible by a donation from the Scott Wells Memorial Foundation. Scott was an alumni who passed away in 2012. This award recognizes student projects created during the academic year.

David F. Siegel Award

is named in memory of one our alumni who lost his battle with Leukemia just a month prior to graduation. As a student David made every effort to put his energy into his classes while he was healthy. His determination in the face of his illness has served as an inspiration for this award and it recognizes graduating seniors in the Film and Media department who have shown “exceptional drive, tenacity, and courage in the face of adversity”. Download the application

The Spirit Award

is presented at graduation and is given to a student who embodies the dynamic spirit essential to the collaborative environment of the department.

Outstanding Graduating Seniors

is given to students who have contributed to the life of the department in and out of the classroom through their intellectual generosity, vitality, and enthusiasm.

Awarded by Faculty (no application needed)

Department Production Awards

are given each year for work in students’ films in the areas of cinematography, sound, editing, and short produced screenplays.

If you would like to know how to contribute to developing scholarships and award opportunities please contact Kathy Murray.

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