Film and Media

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

PhD in Film and Media

Students in the Film and Media PhD are encouraged to situate moving images within the larger theoretical and analytical frameworks of a range of other disciplines. They integrate the traditions of history, law, literature, religion and political theory to the newer disciplines of film studies and digital media, applying the tools of post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, new historicism, Frankfurt School, feminist theory, queer theory, post-colonialism. and deconstruction. Many combine their degree study with a campus designated emphasis (graduate “minor”) in New Media, in Critical Theory, or in Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Designated Emphasis in Film Studies

PhD students at Berkeley may add a Designated Emphasis in Film Studies to their major fields. The designated emphasis provides curricular and research resources for students who want to concentrate on film within their respective disciplines and have their work formally recognized. Designed to bring together faculty and students from different departments, the program provides a unique context for rigorous cross-disciplinary thinking and promotes innovative research in the theory and history of cinema.

Visit Department Website


Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
    • courses in English as a Second Language,
    • courses conducted in a language other than English,
    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests.

Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Designated Emphasis Program

Applicants must be enrolled in a doctoral program at Berkeley and must have completed FILM 200, offered each fall semester.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


FILM 200Graduate Film Theory Seminar4
FILM 201Graduate Film Historiography4
FILM 203Film Studies Proseminar2-4
Film Elective: Graduate seminar4
Outside Field Elective 2

Designated Emphasis Requirements


A minimum of three graduate seminars in Film and Media must be taken at Berkeley. Independent study courses are not acceptable to fulfill this requirement.

Required courses
FILM 200Graduate Film Theory Seminar4
FILM 201Graduate Film Historiography4
FILM 240Graduate Topics in Film (or a graduate seminar cross-listed with Film and Media)4


A member of the Graduate Group in Film and Media must be a formal member of the PhD qualifying examination committee. Under most circumstances, the Film Graduate Group member in the student’s home department will serve in this function. A member of the Graduate Group may also serve as the outside member of the qualifying exam committee. A Film and Media topic must be included as a subject on the qualifying examination.


A member of the Graduate Group in Film and Media must be a formal member of the dissertation committee. The dissertation must contribute to the study of film and moving-image media.

Degree Conferral

Upon completion of these requirements and the dissertation, the student will receive a designation on their transcript to state that they have completed a “PhD in [major] with an Emphasis in Film and Media.”


Film and Media

FILM 200 Graduate Film Theory Seminar 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2015
This seminar will examine both traditional and recent critical approaches to a systematic and historical study of film. Although we will emphasize contemporary structuralist-semiotic, psychoanalytical, and socio-critical methods, we will also study the classical debates in film theory about representation, filmic vs. literary signification, sexual difference, and the social function of images in modernism and postmodernism. Illustrations will be
taken from film history from 1910 to 1980.
Graduate Film Theory Seminar: Read More [+]

FILM 201 Graduate Film Historiography 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
The theoretical and methodological issues raised by the recent practice of film history are the focus of this seminar. Intended primarily for first-year film studies graduate students and other students interested in starting work on film history, the seminar provides both a theoretical overview of film historiography and an introduction to the practice of historically oriented film research. The first part of the course uses both overtly
historiographic readings and film history examples to raise historical questions of technology, institution-formation, exhibition, cultural history, and spectatorship.
Graduate Film Historiography: Read More [+]

FILM 203 Film Studies Proseminar 2 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Fall 2017, Fall 2016
A seminar introducing Film Studies graduate students to the field, the profession, and the faculty practicing film studies. Envisioned as a way for new students to learn what is expected of them and for more advanced students to pass through the all-important last years of their training in an atmosphere of helpful camaraderie. Introduces students to the intellectual and physical resources of the Berkeley campus as well as the Bay Area. By the
end of the semester students should gain an understanding of the expectations of their performance in graduate school, have identified the major goals on the way towards getting a Ph.D., and, depending on where they are in their studies, have begun to achieve those goals.
Film Studies Proseminar: Read More [+]

FILM 204 Compact Seminar 2 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2010
A compact seminar features a distinguished, short-term visitor with expertise in Film and Media. During the stay, the visitor meets intensively with graduate students, who then continue to work on research topics for the remainder of the semester. The seminar meets eight times one hundred and twenty minutes, not including screening time, and a substantial (twenty-five page) research paper is required at the end of the semester.

Compact Seminar: Read More [+]

FILM 220 Film Curating 4 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2011, Fall 2006
An introduction to the theory, history, and practice of film curating taught by Pacific Film Archive curators. What do curators do? How do they decide what to show? What is the role of film archives and film exhibition in the field of film and moving image study? Using the Pacific Film Archive and its programmers as a laboratory, students will go behind-the-scenes of the Archive's curatorial, print traffic, publicity, and editorial departments and learn
how to program by doing. The course will culminate in a proposal for a comprehensive film series.
Film Curating: Read More [+]

FILM 221 Film Curating Part 2 2 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2007
Students will develop and present a film series for presentation at the Pacific Film Archive. Possibly refining a series proposed in 220. PFA curators will have final approval of the series topic and the film/video selection. Students will locate and book all films, write program notes, do outreach, and introduce programs. Guest speakers will include local press, writers, and artists. Local film and videomakers will trace the history of a work from production through
Film Curating Part 2: Read More [+]

FILM 230 Graduate Production Seminar 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2013, Spring 2013, Spring 2012
Intensive study of the basic elements of film and digital video production and post-production. Graduate students will develop a working knowledge of film and video making through hands-on production experience that will enable them to film and edit their own productions. They will also acquire training to teach basic video and film production classes. The uses of specific technologies and formats will be discussed in relation to aesthetic
and theoretical questions. Training includes pre-production-scripting and storyboarding, production elements including image capture, and post-production strategies and aesthetics for non-linear digital editing programs. The course will also introduce problems of how to format video/films for exhibition and approaches to distribution, exhibition, and funding. Classes will consist of technical lectures and hands-on workshops, creative exercises, seminar-style discussion and critique, film screenings, assigned readings, and visiting artists and speakers.
Graduate Production Seminar: Read More [+]

FILM 240 Graduate Topics in Film 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2017
Selected topics in the study of film.

Graduate Topics in Film: Read More [+]

FILM 298 Special Study 1 - 4 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Summer 2016 First 6 Week Session
Designed to allow students to do research in areas not covered by other courses. Requires regular discussions with the instructor and a final written report.

Special Study: Read More [+]

FILM 299 Directed Research 1 - 12 Units

Terms offered: Spring 2018, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
Open to graduate students who have passed their Ph.D. qualifying examinations.

Directed Research: Read More [+]

FILM 602 Individual Study for Doctoral Students 1 - 6 Units

Terms offered: Fall 2017, Spring 2017, Spring 2016
Individual study in consultation with faculty director as preparation for degree examinations.

Individual Study for Doctoral Students: Read More [+]

Faculty and Instructors


Weihong Bao, Assistant Professor. Film theory and history, media archaeology, critical theory, visual and performance culture, Chinese language cinema, transnational genre cinema, comparative media history and theory.

Mark Berger, Adjunct Professor. Film studies, film production, film sound.
Research Profile

Mary Ann Doane, Professor. Feminist theory, semiotics, cinema, media, cultural theory, archaeology of media technology, poststructuralism.
Research Profile

Anton Kaes, Professor. Film studies, modern literature, literary and cultural theory, cinema, interdisciplinary and comparative aspects of Weimar culture, contemporary literature and film, literary theory, theory of cultural studies, film history, film theory, history of cinema.
Research Profile

Russell L. Merritt, Adjunct Professor.

Anne Nesbet, Associate Professor. Culture, film studies, Slavic languages, early Soviet culture, Sergei Eisenstein, silent film, Soviet film, GDR history, children's literature & Stalinism, the Soviet Union, American minority movements.
Research Profile

Mark Sandberg, Professor. Silent film, late nineteenth-century visual culture, theater history, comedy, Scandinavian design, serial television, film historiography, Scandinavian film history, Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian literature, Nordic literary history.
Research Profile

Miryam Sas, Professor. Comparative literature, 20th century avant-gardes, Japanese literature, film, theater and dance, contemporary art, critical theory, gender theory.
Research Profile

Jeffrey A. Skoller, Associate Professor. Film history, theory and practice of documentary, avant-garde film, film as art, activist media, Third Cinema., film/video production.
Research Profile

Kristen Whissel, Professor. Cinema and technological change, computer-generated images and contemporary cinema, digital visual effects, the history and theory of special effects, cinema in transition, American film history, silent American cinema, modernity and early cinema.
Research Profile

Damon R. Young, Assistant Professor.


Emily Carpenter, Lecturer.

Eileen M. Jones, Lecturer.

J. Mira Kopell, Lecturer.

Contact Information

Department of Film and Media

7408 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1415

Fax: 510-642-8881

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Mark Sandberg

7408 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-6485

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Marcus Norman

7407 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-1416

Back to Top