MA Cinema & Media Studies

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Since 1984, UBC’s Department of Theatre and Film has granted MA degrees in Film Studies. The MA is a two year program with thesis. We’re looking for recent and upcoming graduates of undergraduate film and media studies programs.

Moving pictures dominate today’s world. Whether accessed via the internet, home media systems, or the traditional theatre, the reach of the moving picture industry is truly global, and its impacts are felt on every level: locally, nationally, and internationally. The study of moving images provides a major way of thinking about our approach to reality. In this context, it is essential to analyze film forms, theories, aesthetics, receptions, and policies and to thoroughly understand cinema in relation to history and culture.

In our MA in Cinema & Media Studies programs, our mission is to educate students in the diversity of cinematic practices, and in their historical and contemporary formats. We aim to provide a supportive environment in which students can discuss the role that moving pictures play in various societies, and how they mediate our perceptions of the world. Our aim is to teach students in a liberal arts context that will help to prepare them for a wide range of careers, including teaching, curating, policy-making, programming and distribution, preservation, filmmaking, writing, consulting, and arts administration.

UBC Vancouver is a remarkable place to study film. In addition to the resources of the university, we benefit from the fact that the Vancouver region has the largest film industry activity in Canada, popularly known as “Hollywood North”. The city also hosts several high-profile festivals and dedicated institutions that program independent international and Canadian cinema.

The Cinema & Media Studies faculty members are renowned experts in the various specialties of film studies. They are actively engaged in researching and publishing on cinema in its diverse forms. They chair academic conferences, and they maintain a public profile as intellectuals concerned with the heritage and future of moving pictures. Their dedication provides a stimulating intellectual environment for students.

The Cinema & Media Studies faculty founded and operate The Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at UBC, which aims to advance the scholarly study of film and film culture. Graduate students in the MA in Cinema & Media Studies program edit and publish a free journal of film studies, entitled Cinephile. Our Visual Resources Centre houses over 9,000 film titles in various formats, and is an essential research resource for students and faculty.

Please contact the appropriate Academic Advisor for the program.

Requirements for the M.A. Degree in Cinema & Media Studies: Residence and Time Limits

The Department of Theatre and Film adheres to the standard M.A. policies and requirements of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at UBC.

  • Students must enroll in full time studies, there is no part time MA. Full time students must be in residence for at least one year.
  • All Master’s degree students, whether full time, part time or provisional, must complete their program within five years on initial registration. Under exceptional circumstances, a leave of absence or an extension for up to one year may be granted.
  • All students are required to register in successive years of their candidacy. A student who fails to register as required will forfeit his or her candidacy.
  • All Students will be assigned an initial supervisor on entry to the Program.

Course Work

The Program consists of 30 credits, including a 12-credit thesis, and at least 12 credits of graduate seminars related to film topics, selected from FIST 500, 531, 532, 534, 547. A maximum of 6 credits may be taken at the 300- or 400-level. Students who want to take credits offered outside the Department of Theatre and Film need to seek approval of the graduate advisor.


A twelve credit M.A. thesis normally comprises an introduction, three to four chapters, and a conclusion. Most M.A. theses are between 80 and 100 pages. M.A. students should submit to their Supervisor early in the fall of their second year a ten-page prospectus with a bibliography. This prospectus should indicate what previous work has been done in the area of the student’s interest and how the thesis will develop chapter by chapter. The topic should reflect the student’s particular interest, and is chosen in consultation with the thesis advisor. The student in consultation with the supervisor will convene a thesis committee of two or three faculty members. Incoming students may familiarize themselves with previous theses written at UBC by checking the Departmental Thesis Library.

The final form of the thesis should be prepared in accordance with the regulations set down in the brochure entitled Instructions for the Preparation of Graduate Theses available from Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

A two-hour oral thesis defence will follow completion of the work. The student makes a 20-minute presentation of his/her thesis to the committee, situating it in its disciplinary, theoretical, and historical contexts, followed by questions and comments about the thesis by each member of the committee. The student is informed of the thesis grade upon completion of the defence. Students should consult the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for thesis submission deadlines each academic year.

Annual Review

All MA students will prepare an annual review of their progress through the degree program at the end of the spring term (normally the second week of April).

The Annual Review is intended to:

  • Monitor a student’s progress
  • Evaluate that progress
  • Establish an agenda for subsequent work
  • Provide an opportunity for student feedback on the program

Review Process:

The Graduate Chair will circulate a memo to all Film Studies Masters students requesting that they prepare for their annual review. Normally, the annual review will take place at the end of the second term, on a date designated by the Graduate Committee, except in cases where review is necessary before the annual date.

To prepare for the Review, each student should:

  • prepare the necessary statement (see below);
  • meet with the Graduate Chair to discuss the Review, if necessary;
  • circulate that statement to the Graduate Committee one week in advance of the Review.

At the Review, Graduate Committee members will discuss with each student individually the student’s statement and any issues which arise from it, plus any other issues related to the student’s progress in the Program.

Review Agenda

Courses Completed or In Progress: Review of course results and performance; firm dates for completion of incompletes; contribution of course work programme to personal intellectual development; courses completed; and program requirements.

Courses Planned: Rationale for the list of courses planned for the summer and ensuing year(s); program requirements and necessary training.

Thesis: Outline of Thesis research plans; potential committee members; feasibility of thesis plans; timetable for proposal/chapters.

Financial Support: Assistantship, fellowship, etc. for summer and following year; special needs for field or archival work; sources of support; and adequacy of support.

Status report: which language(s); opportunities for study

Oral Defence:
 Planning for the internal oral defence of Master’s Thesis

Any Other Business

Graduate Funding Opportunities

All domestic and international students who are accepted and registered full-time in our department’s graduate programs (Ph.D., M.F.A., M.A.) will be eligible for financial assistance from teaching assistantships, research assistantships and Graduate Support Initiative (GSI) funding allocated as entrance awards, multi-year funding awards, tuition awards and/or scholarship top-up awards.

Please visit our Graduate Funding Opportunities page for details.

Financial Information:

Students who apply by the January 15 deadline, and who are accepted will normally be offered a financial package combining a Graduate Entrance Scholarship and a Teaching Assistantship.

The Program currently has teaching assistantships which are open to incoming and to currently registered graduate students. The TAs assist with our large courses. Final decisions on these assistantships are made in early September. Applicants who wish to be considered for one of these positions should include a separate letter indicating their interest and provide information on any previous teaching or equivalent experience.

Only students enrolled in their first year of Masters study will be considered for nomination for a University Graduate Fellowships. Please see Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for an online application form. Graduate program deadlines vary from mid-September to early October.

There are a number of sources of financial aid and awards available to the film student. The student should consult UBC’s Annual Awards and Financial Aid. This publication may be obtained in writing from: UBC, Awards and Financial Aid, Brock Hall 1036 – 1874 East Mall, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z1. Phone 604-822-5111, Fax 604-822-6929.

International Students

For entry into Canada please see The Department of Foreign Affairs website at or alternatively go to UBC’s website for prospective students, at where much more information about admission requirements and coming to Canada can be found.

For more information about the nuts and bolts of obtaining a Canada Student Permit contact International House at 604-822-5021 or visit their website at

Further Information