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Course summary

The information provided on this page was correct at the time of publication (October/November 2021). For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via The MSt in Film Aesthetics equips you with the skills and knowledge necessary for analysing film as an art form. It concentrates on film criticism, detailed film analysis, film theory and philosophy insofar as they relate to film aesthetics. It teaches the history and the contemporary developments in the scholarly literature relating to these aspects. It encourages analytical, thoughtful and imaginative engagement with film as a medium and with individual films. The MSt in Film Aesthetics is a degree in the humanities run by the Humanities Division. The course concentrates on film from the point of view of aesthetics, including:

  • the detailed study of film style and form, and the articulation of it in writing - for example, narrative structure, use of camera, colour, performance, sound, music, editing and composition;
  • matters of philosophical aesthetics, and their particular application to film - for example, value and evaluation, appreciation, ontology, medium, intention, expression, meaning/interpretation, creativity, metaphor, symbolism, fiction, storytelling, convention, stylistic groupings and histories, emotion and the relation between ethics, morality and aesthetics; and
  • classic and contemporary film theory and philosophy as they relate to film aesthetics.
Many master's programmes concentrate on historical, cultural, geographical, or political approaches to film and may only contain an aesthetic component. This programme is dedicated to the specialist study of form, and film as an art form. The course runs from late September to June, from two weeks before the first term to the end of the last term. Two weeks before term officially begins, you will attend a practical film workshop for one week. Although the degree itself is not practical, this week acts as an introduction to film techniques and allows the group to work with each other before the degree begins. This part of the course is not assessed. In the first two terms the course is taught by seminar only, although there will be individual meetings with tutors to discuss essay preparation and feedback. In the third term the course is taught by individual supervision. The first term of the course will look at the analysis of film style and film form, train techniques of film analysis and look at key concepts in film form, film criticism, film theory and philosophy. The second term consists of four short segments, each covering a particular aesthetic topic. Each segment is compulsory and there are no optional components. This part of the course provides you with the opportunity to engage with four different areas of specialisation. The topics for the second term change from year to year but may include:
  • aesthetics of Italian cinema
  • spaces of American cinema
  • film and modernism
  • contemporary theories of spectatorship - embodiment, ethics and politics
  • cinema of the non-human
  • the film-philosophy of Stanley Cavell
  • contemporary Chinese cinema.
In the first two terms there will be two seminars per week. Seminars vary in length depending on the module. In the third term there will be individual tutorial supervision of the dissertation. You will be expected to read quite extensively for seminars and supervisions, and also view films. All the staff involved in delivering the course have doctoral degrees (most are at professorial or associate professorial level), in many cases are leaders in their fields and have extensive experience of teaching their area of film studies.

Entry requirements

For complete and up-to-date information about this course, please visit the relevant University of Oxford course page via

Fees and funding

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Executive MBA at University of Oxford - UCAS