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.