Courses being offered in the current academic year can be found on the York Courses website. Under “Search by….” click on “Subject” and look for FILM courses (FA/GS). Graduate courses are numbered in the 5000, 6000, and 7000 series.

Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Courses

Courses Offered in Cinema and Media Studies

FILM 6210 [3.0] Theoretical Issues in Cinema and Media Studies:
Making Worlds: Crip, Queer and Decolonial Imaginaries
M. Bunch
Winter 2021

This course engages graduate students in the politics and aesthetics of cinematic and virtual worldmaking, running in its entirety in a virtual world platform.  We take an interdisciplinary approach to worldmaking as the construction of imaginary worlds for storytelling, an orientation toward the possibility of new and radically different possible worlds, and a form of socially transformative politics. Responding to current global crises, as well as a pervading fatigue and sense of disillusionment with liberal narratives of progress and the failed projects of 20th century utopianism, this course aims to spark and rejuvinate our activist and creative political imaginaries. Drawing on queer, disability, critical race, feminist and decolonial critical theory, students will work collaboratively to design imaginary alternative worlds for cinema and immersive storytelling that are responsive to course readings and contemporary global issues.  The course involves lectures, seminar discussions, presentations, research or research creation, and reflexive journals.

FILM 6215 [3.0] 21st Century Critical Theory and Film & Media Arts
M. Couroux
Winter 2021

This course provides an overview for Film/Cinema & Media Studies graduate students (MFA, MA, and PhD) of tendencies in contemporary critical theory covering a wide range of approaches, oriented towards multiple constituencies, and emphasizing the use of theory as a speculative agent within creative work with an emphasis on moving image and sonic practice. Students will become conversant with theoretical perspectives through presentations on selected readings, culminating in a speculative proposal leveraging theory in order to imagine the future of their artistic practice.

FILM 6220 [3.0] Methods and Research in Cinema and Media Studies
B. Longfellow
Fall 2020

A discussion of the various methodologies developed by film critics and historians to understand the moving image and its contextual relationship to the social world. Influential examples from the critical and historical literature are examined. The course also includes practical experience in bibliographical and research methods.
(required course for MA students)

FILM 6230 [3.0] Contemporary Cinema and Media Theory
T. Trifonova
Winter 2021

This course is intended as an in depth study of major theoretical schools and debates within contemporary film theory. The course is divided into three key units, each of which will focus on the historical development, methodological principles and philosophic underpinning of a specific school. This is a required course for all Critical and Historical Studies students.
(required course for MA students)

FILM 6253 [3.0] Representing Capital
J. McCullough
Fall 2020

Questions about how we represent capital and capitalist social and political relations have been part of radical and Marxist critiques since the publication of Das Kapital in 1867. More recently, the Occupy Movement, the Great Recession and the 150th anniversary of the publication of Marx’s foundational text, have renewed interest in the theme of “representing capital”. This course responds to these discussions by referencing contemporary scholarship, including work by Lauren Berlant, Mark Fisher, David Harvey, Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Žižek, that looks at the recession but also, more broadly, neoliberalism and postmodernism. The course also considers the history of representations of capital in cinema and media by including seminal works in the history of ideological and cultural critique, including the work of the Frankfurt and Birmingham Schools, Roland Barthes, Louis Althusser, Raymond Williams, and the Situationists.

FILM 6254 [3.0] Critical Visualization as Media Practice:
Connecting Data to Social Practice
P. Davila
Fall 2020

Critical visualization practice is a form of media practice that interrogates what constitutes data, how representations work, and how this can create possibilities for resisting forms of violence, organizing communities, and reframing established narratives. Two key ideas will be explored in this course as a way of analysing visualization as a social and technical process. One is the idea of meaningful participation and accountability in visualization assemblages. We take up the notion of “nothing about us, without us” as an important political and ethical dimension of representing histories, bodies, and territories within a consent framework. The other key concept that will be explored is the socio-technical network that is invoked through visualization. By viewing visualization as an assemblage, we can perceive how it can consolidate power, incorporate actors, and perform a number of processes that frame knowledges and enlist people. Necessarily, we will draw on a variety of scholarship in order to lay out the ways that visualization can be analysed and used critically.

FILM 6320B [3.0] Selected Topics in History & Criticism:
Chinese Cinema
S. Young
Fall 2020

This course invites a critical consideration of film as (auto)ethnography by focusing on the ‘New Wave’ cinemas of the three Chinas – The People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. These films might be examined as “border narratives” for, in their scrutiny of normative cultures, they represent a critical ontology, existing on the borders and at the cusps—between generations, classes, and political systems—equally unsure of revolution as they are of tradition. Students interested in discourses on ‘exile’ and ‘testimony’ may find their concerns explored in the cultural theories in the course.

FILM 7000 [3.0] Key Concepts in Cinema and Media Studies
S. Hayashi
Fall/Winter 2020-21

The course will explore key concepts, texts and debates in the field of contemporary cinema and media studies. While maintaining a focus on the intellectual and material histories of cinema studies and media studies as disciplines (and their recent convergence), including epistemological and ontological frameworks, methodological approaches, and institutional and technological supports, the course will emphasize recent developments in cinema and media studies. Three broad areas of study will structure the course: cinema and cultural theory; national and transnational cinema; cinema and technologies of the image.
(required course for PhD students)

FILM 7020 [3.0] Advanced Methods & Research in Cinema & Media Studies
J. Marchessault
Winter 2021

Surveys and critically examines advanced research methods and methodologies in Cinema & Media Studies and cognate disciplines to support doctoral students in their preparation for dissertation proposals and dissertation research.
(required course for PhD students)

Other courses include:

  • FILM 6231 [3.0] Canadian Cinema: Production, Distribution, Exhibition & Marketing
  • FILM 6232 [3.0] Contemporary Documentary
  • FILM 6234 [3.0] Documentary Personalities: Werner Herzog and Errol Morris
  • FILM 6235 [3.0] Issues of Film Authorship: The Case of David Cronenberg
  • FILM 6240 [3.0] City as Cinema: Film and City Space
  • FILM 6241 [3.0] The Architecture of Cinema: Theories of Urban Space, Architecture and Film
  • FILM 6245 [3.0] Future Cinema
  • FILM 6246 [3.0] Future Cinema II: Applied Theory
  • FILM 6247 [3.0] Feminist Film & Cultural Theory
  • FILM 6248 [3.0] Red Hollywood: Marxist Cultural Politics and Popular Film
  • FILM 6249 [3.0] Still/Moving: Cinema and Photography
  • FILM 6250 [3.0] First Nations in Film and Television
  • FILM 6251 [3.0] The Essay Film
  • FILM 6255 [3.0] Canadian Documentary
  • FILM 6310 [3.0] Selected Topics in Canadian Cinema
  • FILM 6320A [3.0] World Cinema Around the Millennium
  • FILM 6320B [3.0] Media Archaeology: Science, History, and Method
  • FILM 6320C [3.0] History & Criticism: Cinema Vérité
  • FILM 6320D [3.0] History & Criticism: Cinema Vérité in Canada
  • FILM 6320G [3.0] Special Topics: Classical Hollywood
  • FILM 6320H [3.0] Race & Gender in Digital Technology
  • FILM 6320J [3.0] Marxism, Culture and Film
  • FILM 6320K [3.0] Selected Topics: Film & Sexual Deviancy
  • FILM 6320L [3.0] Discourses of Race/Racist Discourses
  • FILM 6320M [3.0] Film in Canada
  • FILM 6320P [3.0] Documentary Narration
  • FILM 6320Q [3.0] Early Cinema to 1915

Production Graduate Courses

Courses Offered in Production

FILM 5010 [3.0] Production
L. Green
Fall 2020

One option of the required core courses in film and video production techniques includes both lectures and studio practicum. Practical experience in production and production management is covered as is the language of production.

FILM 5080 [3.0] Directing New Short Narratives
T. Barta
Fall 2020

The other option for a core course graduate production course will focus on the learning, comprehension and creation of the signs and codes of new narrative cinema, understood as an exploration of psychological and societal breakdown through unconventional narrative structures.

FILM 5081 [3.0] Directing Actors for Screen Performance
Winter 2021

Directing Actors is a studio course that critically explores the theory and practice of directing actors on screen. Each week in a hands-on workshop setting, graduate students study diverse methods for scene study, auditioning, rehearsing, visualizing relationships, blocking for the camera, directing and re-directing actors in a variety of filmed scenes.

FILM 5021 [3.0] Process Cinema
P. Hoffman
Winter 2021

Process Cinema explores a creative tradition in alternative filmmaking that is improvisational and interactive. Through this process-driven methodology, the screenplay as governing document is replaced by a fluid integration of writing, shooting and editing, not necessarily in that order. Drawing upon a range of readings and screenings, students will explore this method of working through practical exercises and research projects.

FILM 5050 [3.0] Documentary Workshop
B. Evans
Winter 2021

Advanced production techniques and production management skills are practised through short workshop projects designed to prepare students for thesis work.

FILM 5070 [3.0] Hybrid Fiction
J. Greyson
Winter 2021

This hands-on studio course explores the meanings and methods of hybrid fiction techniques, as utilized by contemporary film/video artists working across a variety of genres. Students investigate a broad range of realist and non-realist dramatic modes: dogme and melodrama, improv and mockumentary, re-enactment and split screen.

FILM 5020 [3.0] Selected Topics in Production
M. Becker
Winter 2021

This first-year collaborative workshop course will provide guidance to students to focus on the thesis development in the conception, writing, and anticipated execution of their thesis projects.

Other courses include:

  • FILM 5030A [3.0] Cinematography
  • FILM 5020B [3.0] Activist Video-making
  • FILM 5031 [3.0] Technical Workshop/Advanced Production
  • FILM 5040 [3.0] Documentaries Without Borders
  • FILM 5041 [3.0] Technical Workshop/Advanced Post–Prod.
  • FILM 5060 [3.0] Editing
  • FILM 5290 [3.0] Principles & Practice of Digital Stereoscopic 3D Cinema

Screenwriting Graduate Courses

Courses Offered in Screenwriting

FILM 5110 [3.0] Screenwriting
H. Wiseman
Fall 2020

This course analyzes the writing of fictional and non-fictional scripts from the perspectives of script idea, story, character, dialogue and background atmosphere and includes practical assignments in scriptwriting and student presentations of work in progress.

FILM 5120 [6.0] Feature Screenwriting II
Fall/Winter 2020-21

Develops the student's existing story outlines into full feature-length screenplays and through several rewrites. The course will also examine the realities of working as a writer in the Canadian and international film industries.

FILM 5122 [6.0] Writing for Television
Fall/Winter 2020-21

This course is an intensive introduction for aspiring screenwriters to the subtle but encompassing problems they may expect to encounter when writing for series television. Students will study the form and format of half-hour and one hour episodic comedies and dramas intended to be encompassed as part of a television series. They will also undertake the pitching, outlining and drafting of a single episode; the creation and development of a series proposal; the make up and function of a story department; plus an overview of the industry as a whole. Long form drama including television movies and mini-series will also be examined.

FILM 5130A [3.0] Selected Topics in Screenwriting
M. Rickard
Winter 2021

A continuation from FILM 5110: Screenwriting, where the students will be developing their thesis proposals.

Other courses include:

  • FILM 5112 [3.0] Graduate Acting for Writers
  • FILM 5123 [3.0] Screenwriting and the History of Ideas
  • FILM 5125 [3.0] Scene Writing Workshop
  • FILM 5126 [3.0] Story Editing
  • FILM 5127 [3.0] Reading in the History of Screenwriting
  • FILM 5128 [3.0] Screenwriters' Cinema I
  • FILM 5129 [3.0] Screenwriters’ Cinema II
  • FILM 5320E [3.0] Selected Topics: Script Editing

Miscellaneous Film Graduate Courses

FILM 5400 [3.0]  Graduate Seminar
M. Becker
Fall/Winter 2020-21

Seminars include presentations by faculty and visiting lecturers and presentations by students of thesis proposals and thesis research. This is a full-year course that meets every other week, and it a required course for MA/MFA students.

FILM 5600 [3.0] / FILM 5600A [3.0] Field Placement
Students may have an opportunity to seek out internship opportunities either on their own or apply for one offered during the school year. Any field placements taken must be approved by the Graduate Program Director(s).

FILM 5700 [3.0] / FILM 5700A [3.0] Student Initiated Collaborative Inquiry
Students may design, in collaboration with other students in the Cinema and Media Studies, Production, or Screenwriting programs, a particular course of study with a faculty member(s) provided it is not available in the current curriculum and does not overlap significantly with a course previously taken. All Student Initiated Collaborative Inquiry courses must be approved by the applicable Graduate Program Director(s).

  • Download form for FILM 5700: Student Initiate Collaborative Inquiry

FILM 5800 [3.0] / FILM 5800A [3.0] Directed Reading
Students may design an individual course of study with a faculty member provided it is not available in the current curriculum and does not overlap significantly with a course previously taken. Students are normally allowed two half reading courses during their Master’s tenure in the Program. All Directed Reading courses must be approved by the Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Program Director(s).


Our successful applicants are typically working filmmakers who find ways to continue their careers while attending classes and getting their degree. Within reason, our faculty make accommodations for absences due to professional conflicts, which can include: attending festival screenings of your work; directing-gigs-for-hire or equivalent; travel for film shoots; etc.

Workload Per Term

The program is flexible and self-directed, so you can shape how light or heavy your load is, term by term. Here are some planning guidelines:

  • Term 1 (Fall): You'll have your core courses, Grad Seminar, Friday workshops, and probably one other course, plus thesis development. Plan on 3-4 days per week.
  • Term 2 (Winter): You'll continue with Grad Seminar, and probably take 1-2 more courses, plus thesis development with your committee. Plan on 2-3 days per week.
  • Term 3 (Summer): Very flexible. You can take courses (including intensive Institutes) or not. You should plan on shooting your thesis project in this term, when grads have priority access to our studios and equipment.
  • Terms 4 + 5 (Fall & Winter): Very flexible. You'll be editing your thesis project, plus possibly TA-ing, plus possibly taking a course or two. Plan on 1-2 days per week.

Support Paper

In addition to your thesis project, you'll write a 35-50 page scholarly support paper about the ideas, research, inspiration and production of your thesis project.


When your committee signs off on the picture lock of your thesis project and the final draft of your support paper, then your defence is scheduled by the GPD, usually 5-6 weeks after your committee sign-off. A defence is open to the public, and typically consists of your committee plus an outside reader (usually a full-time York professor from another department). A defence consists of a screening (or equivalent) of your thesis project) and then a 2-hour session of dialogue on all aspects of your thesis. The defence weights the thesis project at 75% and the support paper at 25%.