University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Berkeley offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in film. The program offers rigorous engagement with the entire culture of moving-images, teaching students to think historically, theoretically, and analytically about a wide range of cinematic forms. At the same time, it encourages students to look at moving images from the vantage point of other disciplines. To this end, the Department of Film and Media cooperates with a number of other departments and programs on campus. Students earning their BA in film may also choose to complement their study of the history and theory of moving images with the hands-on experience provided by production classes.

Declaring the Major

To declare a major in film, students must have completed a minimum of 30 units, and have satisfactorily completed FILM 25A or FILM 25B. For further information regarding prerequisites, please see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

Honors Program

To be eligible for admission to the honors program in film, a student must have attained senior standing with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher on all University work and a 3.5 GPA or higher in courses in the major. The levels of honors are as follows: honors, high honors, and highest honors. Students in the honors program are to take FILM H195 for a letter grade to complete a senior honors thesis. Although the production of a film may be part of the preparation of the thesis — and the film may be submitted as a documentation or example — it is expected that the thesis will be a substantial piece of writing on film criticism or film history.

Minor Program

There is no minor program in film.

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Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for graded credit. There are a few exceptions (See Major Advisor for details).
  2. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Language Requirement

Film majors have three options for completing their language requirement ( this will only apply to students admitted before Fall 2017 ):

  1. Students may complete the third semester of a college-level language course in a single language.
  2. Students may choose to complete the second semester of a college-level language course in two different languages. If a student has taken three or more years of a language in high school, that language can count as one of the two languages. In this case, students are required to only complete the second semester of one additional language.
  3. Native/Heritage Speakers of a language major may receive a waiver for the foreign language requirement by taking a proficiency test in the sponsoring department. International students will be required to provide a copy of a high-school transcript from home to verify coursework in native language at the high-school level.

Language courses which are strictly conversational are not acceptable. Students may enroll in the courses being used to satisfy the film language requirement on a Pass/No Pass basis. Students should be aware that if they are also using the course to satisfy the foreign language requirement, it must be taken on a letter-grade basis. Any natural language is acceptable. Students who are native speakers of a language other than English may demonstrate their language competency by satisfactorily passing a language proficiency exam administered by a language department at UC Berkeley or by taking an advanced course in the language (such as an upper division course which is taught in the language). Students are expected to demonstrate both verbal and written proficiency.

New Requirements beginning Fall 2017 ( All incoming freshman and newly admitted transfers will be held to the new language policy ):

  1. Students may complete the second semester or higher of a college-level language course in one language, which has to be taken at UC Berkeley (this means French 2, German 2, etc. or higher: French 102 or another upper division course taught in the target language). Students should take a course at the appropriate level. Student with no language background should take the first and second semester sequence in one language. 
  2. The class must be taken for a letter grade and with minimum of a B- grade or better.  
  3. There will be no waivers or credit given for courses completed in high school or at community college. Film majors have to take at least one language course at UC Berkeley, second-semester level or higher as appropriate to their background, in order to pass the requirement. The requirement cannot be completed at an outside institution (with the exception of UC-approved study abroad programs). This rule also applies for transfer students who took a four- semester sequence at community college, students must enroll in one further language course at Berkeley, preferably an upper division language. course. 
  4. Native/Heritage speakers are no longer exempt from the requirement to take a UC course, but they can take the heritage-speaker version of their native language or another language. International students will be required to provide a copy of a high-school transcript from home to verify coursework in native language at the high-school level.

Lower Division Requirements

FILM 20Film and Media Theory4
FILM 25AThe History of Film4
FILM 25BThe History of Film4

Upper Division Requirements 

FILM 128Documentary4
FILM 129History of Avant-Garde Film4
Select one of the following:4
Special Topics in Film Genre [4]
Auteur Theory [4]
National Cinema [4]
Select 16 units, from upper division film studies course offerings, or from the list of approved electives available every term. 4 units is acceptable as Pass/Not Pass

Student Learning Goals

Learning Goals for the Major

After completing the film major, a student will have a working knowledge of the film-making process from concept to exhibition and will be able to interpret films through a variety of aesthetic, cultural, historical, and theoretical frameworks. The critical thinking skills promoted in the film major involve seeing beyond one’s immediate reactions to a film by developing a repertoire of productive interpretive questions and approaches that lead to more complex understanding and appreciation of the filmic experience. Analytic reasoning is encouraged in both oral and written assignments that require students to perform systematic analysis of film sequences, to construct careful, step-by-step arguments in larger research projects, or to create a coherently constructed film or script. Communication skills are developed through participation in classroom discussions, in the effective writing of critical essays and research papers, and in the articulation of creative ideas through film-making and scriptwriting.

More specifically, the successful graduate from the film major must be able to:

  1. Do a shot-and-sequence analysis both orally in class and in a written form.
  2. Creatively re-edit a sequence from a silent film.
  3. Think beyond the surface impressions of popular films by developing a repertoire of critical questions and approaches that facilitate deeper understanding.
  4. Analyze and write about alternative kinds of moving images (silent, avant-garde, documentary, foreign-language, art films).
  5. Identify the major movements in film history.
  6. Talk and write about how an individual film fits within this history and the mode of production from which it emerges.
  7. Situate the major movements of cinema within a broader socio-historical context.
  8. Describe the major cinematic genres and analyze an individual film as an example of one or more of these genres.
  9. Summarize the arguments for and against the notion of film authorship, and talk knowledgeably about the work of at least one director.
  10. Describe a number of different theoretical approaches to film.
  11. Utilize this theoretical knowledge when analyzing a film, making a film, and writing a screenplay.
  12. Write essays and papers that are clear, well-researched and organized, and that mount an original argument.
  13. Organize ideas in oral presentations and general classroom discussions.


Film Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Weihong Bao, Associate 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

Natalia Brizuela, Associate Professor. Photography, film, contemporary art, critical theory and aesthetics of Spanish America and Brazil.

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

Jacob Gaboury, Assistant Professor. Digital media, visual culture, media archaeology, queer theory, 20th century histories of technology and computation, computer graphics, and the intersection of contemporary art and technology.

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 and 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. Digital media, global art cinema (with a focus on French and francophone), gender and sexuality studies, critical theory.


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

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Department Chair

Mark Sandberg

6408 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Major Adviser

Blaine Jones

7406 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-3522

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