MA Contemporary Film Culture

Entry year
Course code
Creative and Cultural Industries
City Campus
One year full-time; two years part-time
Full-time; part-time
Programme leader
Dr Kathrina Glitre

Please note we are no longer offering this course to new applicants

Page last updated 20 February 2020


This unique course combines critical, professional and cultural approaches to film. Its unrivalled location at <a href="">Watershed</a>, industry engagement and field trip to the Berlin Film Festival clearly set it apart from other Film MAs.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Explore your passion for out-of-the-ordinary film, and immerse yourself in Bristol's thriving, eclectic film culture on our specially-designed MA in Contemporary Film Culture. Delivered in partnership with Watershed, the South West's leading film culture and digital media centre, the course offers a unique opportunity to study this subject from both professional and critical perspectives.

It is particularly relevant for those with a strong interest in independent cinema, world cinema, documentary, cult film and archival retrospectives.

Gain first-hand industry experience

The course is taught at Bristol's Watershed, a vibrant and influential hub for film culture and its associated industries. You will gain direct experience of the cinema's operations; attend weekly screenings of the latest releases; and join an inspiring digital media community within the Pervasive Media Studio.

Specific modules will deepen your knowledge of professional practice within film distribution, exhibition and production and you'll also have opportunities to work closely with industry professionals at Watershed and other cultural film organisations.

A distinctive regional focus

This course examines audiences, diversity and the community functions of film, as well as looking at the role of festivals, archival retrospectives and other film-related events. Much of this work examines Bristol's own film culture industries, providing a strong regional focus compared to other film MAs.

The course places these issues into national and international contexts as well and you will attend the Berlin Film Festival as an integral part of the course.

Learn about film criticism

Alongside the strong industry focus, you will gain professional insights into the role of film criticism. You will develop the skills to be able to think critically about films and to understand the creative and commercial forces shaping contemporary film culture.



The course is made up of five modules taught over three semesters:

  • Film Criticism and Cinephilia
  • Professional Practice 1: Exhibition, Distribution and Production
  • Professional Practice 2: Festivals, Events and Communities
  • Issues in Contemporary Cinema
  • Final Project.

Please note this structure is for the full-time course delivery only. For part-time delivery, the same modules will be studied. However, the structure will differ.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

This course is taught through a mix of lectorials, seminars, tutorials, presentations, film screenings, independent study and project work. Classes are co-taught by academics and industry professionals, with regular contributions from Watershed staff.

You will be encouraged to engage with extra-curricular events and festivals, and to take advantage of Watershed's wider programme of industry talks and networking events. You will gain valuable insights into contemporary film and media culture, and have opportunities to network with potential employers.

For more details, see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

The MA lasts one year full time or two years part time, running from September to September in each case.

Full-time students will have a three-hour class twice a week in terms one and two, plus a weekly film screening. In term three, the final project will be supported by regular tutorials.

In addition to this, you will need to dedicate substantial time to independent study and engaging with relevant events, festivals and organisations.

Part-time students usually complete 90 credits a year. In some cases, students may prefer to complete 60 credits in year one and 120 credits in year two (including the final project).


Our flexible assessment methods combine professional practice, critical thinking and research. If you are seeking a professional career in the film culture industries you can tailor most assignments towards their specialist field, culminating in a work-related final project. Those wishing to focus on academic research can take more critical and historical approaches to assignments, ending in a dissertation as their final project. Assessment also includes case studies, essays, pitches, presentations and portfolios.

For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.



You will attend the Berlin Film Festival in February, experiencing the European film market first-hand and gaining excellent networking opportunities. Tuition fees cover flights, accommodation and entry to selected festival events. You will need to cover the cost of meals, local travel expenses, visas (if needed) and any other events you want to attend.

Study facilities

As part of the UWE Bristol City Campus, Watershed provides a distinctive learning environment with outstanding cinema facilities. You will join a vibrant digital media community, made up of other postgraduate students, academics and creative professionals, working within the Pervasive Media Studio.

The University library at Frenchay provides 24/7 access to books, study spaces and computer facilities. The library has extensive online resources, including e-books, e-journals, film and television streaming services, and online training videos.

Students will also have access to PC and Mac labs on the main campus sites.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.

Staff Expertise

The course is co-taught by leading academics and industry professionals, including Professor Andrew Spicer (UWE Bristol) and Mark Cosgrove (Watershed Cinema Curator). 

A fantastic place to study film culture

Bristol is the ideal place to deepen your knowledge of contemporary film culture. Watershed is the South West's leading film culture and digital media centre and Bristol is home to numerous other cinemas, as well as festivals, expanded cinema events and a thriving film and television production industry.

Watershed's role as a hub lead organisation for BFI's Film Audience Network places students at the heart of the region's creative economy and you will have the opportunity to put your course knowledge into practice by volunteering with organisations and events such as Afrika Eye, Bristol Radical Film Festival, Cinema Rediscovered, Compass Presents and The Cube Microplex.


Careers / Further study

The unique combination of academic study and professional practice makes this MA highly relevant for anyone looking to move into the film culture industries or academia. You will work towards your own specific career goals, developing experience and detailed knowledge of your chosen specialism.

You may look to go into a career in film distribution, programming and exhibitions, curation, festivals and event management, film and arts criticism, or academic research and further study.  Postgraduates might also consider careers in audience development, creative production, community arts and education. Others may contemplate freelance and portfolio career options, and choose to set up their own enterprise.

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.


There is currently no published fee data for this course.

Supplementary fee information

Further information about fees and funding.


Entry requirements

There is no interview requirement, but applicants will be contacted by the course leader for an informal discussion about the course. We can accommodate visits to UWE Bristol, Phone or Skype conversations.

We accept applications throughout the year. However, as there is a high demand for this course and no formal interview process, we would recommend that you apply at least one month before the start of the course. The course starts on the third week of September, so applications received close to the start maybe rolled over to the following year.

Please note, we are unable to allow applicants with offers to defer their entry to subsequent years.

For further information