BA Film Studies and Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Our BA Film Studies and Music joint honours course aims to develop your understanding and awareness of the rich possibilities of both 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.

Special features

  • 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.
  • You may also apply to spend one semester  studying abroad  during the second year of your degree. Exchange partners are offered in Europe, through the Erasmus Exchange scheme, or via the Worldwide Exchange scheme, in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong or Singapore.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Join The University of Manchester Filmmaking Society, which exists to provide a platform for aspiring filmmakers attending the university to meet, exchange ideas and create their own cinematic productions.

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 most 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 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 Cinema Histories 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
Drama and Film Study Skills DRAM11111 0 Mandatory
DRAM12220 - Drama and Film PASS DRAM12220 0 Mandatory
Introduction to Early Film Histories DRAM13331 20 Mandatory
Approaches to Musicology MUSC10511 20 Mandatory
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Mandatory
Tonality: Form and Harmony MUSC10011 20 Optional
Tonality: Theory and Analysis 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
Displaying 10 of 14 course units for year 1

Course content for year 2

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
Contemporary British Cinema DRAM20032 20 Optional
God at the Movies DRAM20631 20 Optional
A Score is Born: History and Ideology in Hollywood Film Music DRAM20711 20 Optional
Introduction to Documentary Film Practice DRAM21091 20 Optional
Audio Project 1: The Audio Feature DRAM21222 20 Optional
Horror Film: Genre, Periods, Styles DRAM21261 20 Optional
Virtual Reality (VR) Film Making DRAM21282 20 Optional
Television Drama DRAM21291 20 Optional
Introduction to Screenwriting DRAM21551 20 Optional
Introduction to Screenwriting DRAM21552 20 Optional
Discipline and Punish: The Modern Prison on Stage and Screen DRAM21902 20 Optional
Weimar Culture? Art, Film and Politics in Germany, 1918-33 GERM20261 20 Optional
Spectres of Fascism: Literature, Film and Visual Arts in Germany and Austria since 1945 GERM20902 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animated Film and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20132 20 Optional
Analysis MUSC20011 20 Optional
Music, Literature, and the Visual Arts MUSC20042 20 Optional
Fixed and Electroacoustic Composition MUSC20061 10 Optional
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 20 Optional
Instrumental Composition MUSC20321 20 Optional
Vocal Composition MUSC20362 10 Optional
Music and Consumption in the Digital Age MUSC20511 20 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 MUSC20721 20 Optional
Introduction to Participatory Music MUSC20802 20 Optional
Jazz Improvisation, Theory, and Analysis MUSC21501 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 33 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

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.

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
Dissertation in Drama/Film (Semester One) DRAM30001 20 Optional
Dissertation in Drama/Film (Semester Two) DRAM30002 20 Optional
Docufiction Filmmaking DRAM30061 40 Optional
Queer Bodies and the Cinema DRAM30331 20 Optional
Social Lives of Cinema DRAM30842 20 Optional
Extended Dissertation DRAM30990 40 Optional
From Documentary to Mockumentary DRAM31011 20 Optional
Falstaff and Gandalf go to the Movies: Adapting Fantastic Texts to Screen DRAM31042 20 Optional
Global Television Industries DRAM32012 20 Optional
Contemporary Documentary Film Making DRAM32102 40 Optional
Screen Acting & Stardom DRAM33301 20 Optional
History and Memory in Francophone Cinema FREN30832 20 Optional
Screening the Holocaust GERM30482 20 Optional
Advanced 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 Game Audio MUSC30542 20 Optional
Recital MUSC30600 40 Optional
Music Performance Studies MUSC30711 20 Optional
The Supernatural in Latin American Literature and Film SPLA31132 20 Optional
Diaspora and Displacement in Iberian Film SPLA31172 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 24 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: