Major in Cinema & Media Studies

The major in Cinema & Media Studies (CIMS) offers students a rigorous and comprehensive education in the history, aesthetics, theory, formal practices, and sociocultural dimensions of moving-image media. Through structured engagement with film, television, and digital media in relation to literature and other liberal arts, the major aims to develop sophisticated understanding of the moving image (and its sound accompaniments) both as a multifaceted art form and as a pervasive, influential product of popular culture.

BA in Cinema & Media Studies

From the invention of the moving-picture camera in the late 1800s, cinema has grown into one of the most complex art forms, popular entertainments, and powerful social forces in contemporary life. It is also the primary focus for an interdisciplinary field of study that now employs historical, aesthetic, theoretical, and cultural frameworks to deepen understanding of film, television and other moving-image media.

At Boston University, students in the College of Arts and Sciences can pursue the B. A. in Cinema & Media Studies (CIMS). BU’s major draws on faculty from across the college with expertise spanning American film; the national and regional cinemas of Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia; and the transnational flow of televisual, electronic and digital media. Options within the major include study abroad, a local internship, and senior honors research.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the BA, students are able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of films and other media forms from the
    silent era to the present, drawing on the multilayered histories informing how that material
    has been created and received.
  • Demonstrate visual and verbal literacy by analyzing and writing with clarity and
    terminological precision about various kinds of moving images.
  • Understand how the material constraints of different moving-image media impact the basic
    ability to tell stories about human life and communicate ideas in audio-visual terms
  • Identify and comprehend key issues relating to the converging aesthetics and overlapping
    media histories linking film, television, video and digital media.
  • Conduct research on topics in cinema and media studies, formulating apt questions,
    identifying sources, and using them appropriately to support an argument or interpretation.
  • Discuss the applicability of scholarship from cinema and media studies to the other visual
    arts, literature, technology, culture, commerce, and politics.
  • Identify the major movements and turning points in cinema and media history, and situate
    them within a broader socio-economic and cultural context, including national, regional, and
    global contexts beyond the US.
  • Analyze and write about alternative forms of moving image practice, particularly those
    outside traditional narrative (documentary, the cinema of attractions, avant-garde cinema and
    video art, etc.).
  • Identify and comprehend the virtues and limitations of the concept of authorship for film,
    television and other moving-image media, and speak knowledgeably about the work of at
    least one major figure (director, showrunner, screenwriter, producer).
  • Describe a number of different theoretical approaches to film and utilize this theoretical
    knowledge when analyzing a particular film, genre, filmmaker, or topic in cinema studies.

Graduates with deep knowledge of cinema and visual media are particularly sought after in fields such as curating, film and media programming and exhibition, screenwriting, arts journalism, film reviewing, education, communication, entertainment law, and the media industries.