BA in Cinema & Media Studies

From the invention of the movie camera in the late 1800s, cinema has grown into one of the most complex art forms, popular entertainments, and powerful social forces in today’s world. It is also the primary focus for an interdisciplinary field of study, established in the 1960s, that now employs historical, aesthetic, theoretical, and cultural frameworks to deepen understanding of television and other moving-image media as well as film.

At Boston University, students can pursue the BA in Cinema & Media Studies (CIMS) while enrolled either in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) or in the College of Communication (COM). BU’s major draws on a combined CAS/COM faculty with expertise spanning American film and television, the national and regional cinemas of Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and the transnational flow of electronic and digital media. Options within the major include study abroad, a local internship, senior honors research, and/or courses in the crafts of film production and screenwriting.

On completion of the BA, students are able to:

  • 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 U.S.
  • Analyze and write about alternative kinds of moving images (silent, TV, avant-garde, documentary, etc.)
  • Describe the major cinematic genres, and analyze individual films as examples of one or more of these genres
  • Summarize the virtues and limitations of the concept of film and television authorship, and speak knowledgeably about the work of at least one director (screenwriter, producer)
  • Describe a number of different theoretical approaches to film and utilize this theoretical knowledge when analyzing a film, making a film, and/or writing a screenplay

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

Requirements for the Major

The major requires a total of 11 courses (44 credits), all completed with a minimum grade of C. At least three of those 11 courses must be taken at the advanced (CI 400/500) level; and each student’s program of CIMS electives must include courses in at least three of the following national/regional cinemas: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Mideast and North Africa, U.S.

Requirements are distributed as follows:

  • A five-course CIMS core, comprising two courses in film history, one in aesthetics of film, one in television studies, and one in film theory
  • Two focused CIMS electives chosen from offerings with focus on 1) a film genre or movement, or non-narrative film; and 2) one or several filmmakers or major figures in the creation and production of other moving-image media
  • Four unrestricted CMS electives (students should, however, consider how they will meet requirements in national/regional cinema and advanced coursework.)

Specifically required are the following:

  • Two courses in Film History:
    • CAS/COM CI 101 History of Global Cinema 1: Origins through the 1950s (fall)
    • CAS/COM CI 102 History of Global Cinema 2: 1960s to the Present (spring)

These two courses may be taken in either order. CI 101 is not a prerequisite for CI 102.

  • One course in Aesthetics of Film:
    • CAS CI 201 Literature and the Art of Film or COM CI 202 Understanding Film

CAS students normally take CI 201, and COM students normally take CI 202.

  • One course in Television Studies:
    • CAS/COM CI 303 Understanding TV or with prior approval of student’s CIMS advisor, another course in television studies
  • One course in Film Theory:
    • CAS/COM CI 510 Film Theory or with prior approval of student’s CIMS advisor, another course focusing on film theory
  • One course in a film genre (the western, the musical, film noir, the horror film, etc.) or movement (Italian neo-realism, the French New Wave, etc.) or in non-narrative film (the documentary, avant-garde cinema, and experimental media) chosen from CAS/COM CI 320-339, 420-439, or 520-539.
  • One course focused on one, two, or several directors (or writers, cinematographers, producers, actors, etc.), taught with an auteur approach and numbered CAS/COM CI 340-59, 440-59, or 540-559.
  • Four cinema and media studies electives, chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor from the following:
    • CI courses in theory, auteur cinema, genres, movements, or non-narrative film not used to fulfill requirements 5-7 above, or CI courses in film and media history and aesthetics beyond CAS/COM CI 101-102 and CI 201-202
    • Other cinema & media studies courses taken, with advisor’s prior approval, including as part of Boston University Study Abroad (BUSA) or other external programs
    • Courses approved for the major that examine film in relation to other arts or humanities disciplines
    • Maximum of one course in film production  (COM FT 353)
    • Maximum of one course in screenwriting (COM FT 310)
    • Maximum of one approved 4-credit academic internship (CAS/COM CI 493 or 494) or directed study (CAS/COM CI 491 or 492) in cinema and media studies
    • For qualified CAS students: one of the two semesters of Senior Honors Work (CAS CI 497 or 498) required for graduation with Honors in the Major

The following courses, in addition to those listed above, may be taken as electives toward the major’s requirement of four:  CAS/COM CI 260-299, 360-399, 460-499, and 560-599.

Honors in the Major

CAS students with a GPA of 3.30, overall and in CI courses, may apply to pursue Honors in the Major. Required are a total of 12 CIMS courses, with five at the 400-level or above, including two semesters of mentored senior honors work (CAS CI 497/498) that result in an original research paper (thesis) and defense of the paper in an oral examination with a committee of faculty readers. A grade of B+ or higher in both semesters of senior honors work is required for graduation with Honors in Cinema & Media Studies. Qualified students who are interested in this option should discuss it with their academic advisor no later than March of their junior year.