BA Film Studies and Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course description

Our BA Film Studies and Music joint honours course aims to develop your understanding and awareness of the rich possibilities of both of these creative media, encouraging you to approach your study from a range of historical and theoretical perspectives. 

Film Studies

At the heart of our Film Studies courses is a commitment to expanding your experience of film through modules and screenings that focus on both classical and contemporary cinema, covering a wide range of film cultures from around the world.

You will study mainstream and non-mainstream films in order to broaden your understanding of the history of film, as well as the debates and issues that are informing and generated by current practice in film and shaping its future.

As you enhance your skills of close analysis, you will also develop an understanding of how film engages with socio-cultural and political concerns, placing the films you study in their historical context, as well as thinking about current debates and future challenges for cinema as a medium.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and smaller seminar discussion groups, with the vast majority of course units supported by a programme of relevant film screenings, taking advantage of cinema-standard digital projection facilities.

The course emphasises historical and theoretical approaches to studying film, rather than practical production modules. You will be encouraged to develop as independent critical thinkers able to work in a diverse range of assessment scenarios, taking in solo written assignments, presentations and, on certain units, group work and creative projects that enable you to put theory into practice.

One of our core aims is to deepen your enthusiasm and understanding of film and equip you with the skills and confidence to be able to convey your knowledge in a diverse range of settings and employment situations. The course seeks to develop and enhance your transferable skills so that you will be able to look to making meaningful contributions to relevant fields, including careers in film education, distribution, exhibition and curation.


We admit students of a high calibre, with graduates who go on to work in the music profession, the creative industries and beyond. We offer excellence in Performance , Composition and Musicology , incorporating specialisms in Music Theory & Analysis and Ethnomusicology.

Underpinned by our excellence in research, regular updates in the course content reflect the latest findings in music scholarship. With a range of course units to choose from (see the lists below), the course is diverse and flexible, enabling you to build upon existing interests, while allowing you the room to discover new ways of understanding, performing and creating music.

With our mix of academic and practical experience, you will be taught by internationally recognised academics and a roster of professional instrumental and vocal tutors, drawn from Manchester and the North West.

Our teaching and music-making takes place in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama. You will rehearse, take masterclasses and perform in the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall and can get your hands on the latest digital-audio technology in the award-winning NOVARS studios for electroacoustic music and interactive media.

You will also benefit musically, academically and socially from the extensive music-making and management opportunities provided by the Music Society and the 100+ concerts and events that the department sponsors each year.

And this is to say nothing of the diversity of music to be experienced in cosmopolitan Manchester, a global city for the performing arts with a rich heritage of professional and amateur music-making.


  • Develop your understanding and awareness of the rich possibilities of both of these creative media.
  • Encourage you to approach your study from a range of historical and theoretical perspectives.

Special features

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Variety of topics

You have a huge range of course units to choose from, with a range of theoretical and practical methodologies to discover, develop and innovate. You will also have access to a range of course units beyond Music or Drama, from modern languages to the Manchester Leadership Programme.

Staff specialisms span all aspects of film and screen studies, theatre and performance studies, musicology, composition and performance.

Professional tuition

You will receive 18 hours of one-to-one practical tuition, by professional specialist performers, on your first-study instrument/voice with 20 hours in the final year (when solo performance courses are taken for credit).

Performance opportunities

Many of our students get involved in extra-curricular performances and productions presented by one of our Music, Drama or Filmmaking student societies, offering opportunities in direction, production and management, as well as performance, new writing, direction, editing, sound design and composition.

Study abroad

The Study Abroad programme provides an option to study at a partner institution during your second year of the course.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a flexible combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials (both group and one-to-one), e-learning techniques and practical group projects, designed to maximise opportunities for personalised learning within the course. 

You are placed in tutorial groups for first year course units and allocated a personal tutor who will monitor and advise on progress throughout your academic career. 

The most significant and distinctive features of the methods used include the following.

Film Studies

  • The emphasis on attending film screenings, which are compulsory for all students and are designed to enable you to advance your interpretive skills of close analysis and better understand the distinctive qualities of film as a medium.
  • The emphasis on close analysis which is attached to the majority of courses and which is designed to enable you to learn to interpret films and their discursive surround, including relevant paratexts (eg promotional material such as trailers and posters).
  • You will take a variety of lecture-based units on historical and contextual themes. These units are supported by a related programme of films on the big screen, projected via cinema-standard facilities. 
  • We also have a substantial film library, as well as access to online film streaming sites featuring releases by major DVD labels, and encourage students to expand their film knowledge through independent study and viewings.


  • All students who study solo performance as part of their degree programme receive one-to-one tuition on their first instrument, enabling learning goals and long-term targets to be tailored precisely to each student. This individual approach is enhanced by the fact that, in most cases, you will continue to learn with the same instrumental teacher throughout your degree.
  • Every course unit is underpinned by online resources supporting your active study. Online resources range from downloadable lecture handouts to blogs, discussion pages, digitised copies of key reading, links to broadcasts and webcasts. Most course materials for electroacoustic course units are delivered using the studio-wide networking facility.
  • Teaching and learning in Participatory Music and Making Art Public includes lectures from guest speakers, site visits and volunteering opportunities designed to help you engage with the city's broad range of artistic provision and with local communities.
  • You will attend lectures and small group seminars for some course units, while others are taught entirely through seminar groups with workshops. You are also encouraged to study independently.  
  • Students taking solo performance courses for credit also receive private tuition for instrumental or vocal lessons. You have ample opportunity to test run your pieces as a performer or composer in informal lunchtime concerts.

Coursework and assessment

Coursework is regularly assigned and assessed either continually or at the end of the semester, depending on the course units taken.

Film Studies

Assessment methods include assessed essays and other written coursework, written examinations, group and individual presentations, poster presentations and small-scale practical assignments (eg video essays, storyboards, screenplay extracts, concept art and sound design) combined with self-reflexive analysis on your creative process and the theory informing your practice.


Assessment methods range from assessed essays and other written coursework, written examinations, group and individual presentations, analytical assignments, technical exercises, practical tests, aural tests and studio projects, to composition portfolios, individual and group recitals (many of our students choose to present a formal music recital for assessment on their instrument) and the Level 3 dissertation.

Composition courses are assessed through submission of scores of compositions, which (in the case of instrumental or vocal works) have been performed by fellow students.

Course unit details

The course provides you with a thorough grounding in the two subjects and key theoretical approaches to the study of each, as well as the opportunity to develop specialist areas of interest.

In your first year, you will take three compulsory units in Film Studies and one in Music, plus a choice of optional units in Music, giving a 60/60 credit split between Film Studies and Music.

In your second year, you will take one compulsory Film Studies unit. The remaining units in your second year are all optional and you can select from a wide range of Film Studies units (covering different countries, genres and issues) and Music units in musicology, performance and composition (including electroacoustic composition).

In your third year, all of your Film Studies options are free choice; in Music, you must choose at least one 40-credit unit from Composition, Dissertation or Recital. The remaining Music units are free choice.

You can decide at Levels 2 and 3 whether you wish to have an equal 60/60 credit share between Film Studies and Music, or a 40/80-credit split, weighted towards either subject.

Course content for year 1

In Year 1, you will take three compulsory course units that establish the conceptual building blocks of studying film before progressing into the various new wave movements and contemporary cinema.

The Art of Film covers the core concepts and terminology in studying film. The unit addresses the distinctive properties of film as a medium and engages with debates about film's status as an art. Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema covers the origins of cinema up to the 1950s. Introduction to World Cinema covers a range of film cultures from different countries with an initial emphasis on the various new wave movements, which began to emerge around the world in the 1950s and 1960s, addressing significant post-Second World War developments in the cinema of countries such as France and Japan.

This is alongside the core and optional Music units, enriching your understanding of the art form, allowing you to build upon existing interests and discover new forms and traditions of music.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
The Art of Film DRAM10031 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema DRAM13331 20 Mandatory
Approaches to Musicology MUSC10511 20 Mandatory
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Mandatory
The Art of Film DRAM10031 20 Optional
Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema DRAM13331 20 Optional
Tonality: Form and Function MUSC10011 20 Optional
Tonality: Motive and Meaning MUSC10022 10 Optional
Techniques of Tonal Harmony MUSC10112 10 Optional
Musical Notation MUSC10212 10 Optional
Sonic Invention A MUSC10311 10 Optional
Sonic Invention B MUSC10312 10 Optional
Music and Its Contexts MUSC10512 20 Optional
Solo Performance 1 MUSC10600 20 Optional
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 15 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

In Year 2, you take one compulsory unit - Screen, Culture and Society - which covers more advanced theoretical debates about the relationship between film and society. You will be able to select from a range of specialist study options on specific issues in Film Studies and focus on aspects of American, British, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian or Spanish and Portuguese language cinema with a particular interest in questions of identity and representation. How have films perpetuated or subverted notions of gender, sexuality, national identity, ethnicity and class?

This is alongside your core and optional Music course units, which will expand on your first year learnings allowing you to dive into specialisms.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Screen, Culture and Society DRAM20041 20 Mandatory
American Film Studies AMER20072 20 Optional
Visual Cultures in China and East Asia CHIN22521 20 Optional
Contemporary British Cinema DRAM20032 20 Optional
Black on Screen DRAM20091 20 Optional
A Score is Born: History and Ideology in Hollywood Film Music DRAM20711 20 Optional
Introduction to Documentary Film Practice DRAM21091 20 Optional
Horror Film: Genre, Periods, Styles DRAM21262 20 Optional
Introduction to Screenwriting DRAM21552 20 Optional
Gender and Sexuality in French Cinema FREN21332 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animated Film and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20131 20 Optional
Analysis MUSC20011 20 Optional
Fixed and Electroacoustic Composition MUSC20061 10 Optional
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 20 Optional
Harmony and Counterpoint MUSC20112 10 Optional
Music post 1900 MUSC20222 20 Optional
Instrumental Composition MUSC20321 20 Optional
Vocal Composition MUSC20362 10 Optional
Solo Performance II MUSC20600 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (10 credits) MUSC20611 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance A (20 credits) MUSC20621 20 Optional
Ensemble Performance B (10 credits) MUSC20650 10 Optional
Ensemble Performance B 20 Credit MUSC20660 20 Optional
Conducting MUSC20670 10 Optional
Music Cultures of the World MUSC20722 20 Optional
Introduction to Participatory Music MUSC20802 20 Optional
Early Opera MUSC20931 20 Optional
Jazz Improvisation, Theory, and Analysis MUSC21501 20 Optional
God at the Movies RELT20631 20 Optional
Visual Culture in Modern Spain: Film, Painting and Photography SPLA20062 20 Optional
Empire and its Aftermath: The Making of Modern Portugal in Literature, Art and Film SPLA20141 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 31 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

Your remaining units in your final year are all optional and you can select from a wide range of units covering different countries, genres and issues. You can also choose to write a dissertation.

The Year 3 Film Music Composition course requires advanced skills, and is only open to students who have completed the Year 1 and Year 2 composition courses.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
From Documentary to Mockumentary DRAM31011 20 Optional
Falstaff and Gandalf go to the Movies: Adapting Fantastic Texts to Screen DRAM31042 20 Optional
Screening the Holocaust GERM30482 20 Optional
Political and Cultural History of Italy ITAL30342 20 Optional
Analysis MUSC30011 20 Optional
Composition Portfolio MUSC30300 40 Optional
Dissertation MUSC30400 40 Optional
Aesthetics MUSC30502 20 Optional
Advanced study in Musicology A MUSC30510 20 Optional
Advanced Study in Musicology B (40) MUSC30520 40 Optional
Composition for Film and Game Audio MUSC30542 20 Optional
Recital MUSC30600 40 Optional
God at the Movies RELT20631 20 Optional
Making Art Public SALC30062 20 Optional
Social Issues in Portuguese and Spanish Film SPLA30642 20 Optional
Modern Spanish Music: A Cultural History SPLA31082 20 Optional
The Supernatural in Latin American Literature and Film SPLA31132 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 17 course units for year 3


The Martin Harris Centre is equipped with superb technical facilities, including sound-editing and video-editing suites. 

You also have access to the University's Media Services facility, which houses additional editing suites and camera kits which can be hired for student projects.

The Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall seats 350 spectators, and is the primary venue for the concerts and recitals of our fellow staff and students in Music. It also sometimes hosts interdisciplinary events, with staging of works such as Brecht/Eisler's The Mother , Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda and Harrison Birtwistle and Tony Harrison's Bow Down .

Generously endowed by Ian Lenagan, the Lenagan Library is a reference library that complements the extensive facilities of the John Rylands University Library, and houses collections in Drama and Music.

These consist of book holdings, multiple play texts, CDs, audio tapes, videos and DVDs. A viewing suite (sponsored by the Granada Foundation) and listening facilities are available, as well as an online catalogue.

Learn more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: