UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Programs / Undergraduate

Student Learning Initiative

General Information

The Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI) is a campus-wide initiative designed to articulate the logic of the undergraduate curriculum in each major by identifying the competencies obtained through that course of study. Some of these competencies will be specific to the field of study; others are shared features of the undergraduate learning experience more generally.

The Film Studies faculty has identified the knowledge areas, competencies, and skills expected of all students graduating with a Film B.A., and we make them available here in order to aid both prospective and current students in understanding the learning goals of our undergraduate program. These goals are intended only as a conceptual aid to understanding the major, and should not be understood as separate or additional requirements.

Introduction

UC-Berkeley offers an innovative, interdisciplinary undergraduate program leading to a B.A. in Film. This rich and diverse program seeks to explore the most popular art form of the twentieth century in the larger context of humanistic studies. It offers rigorous engagement with the entire culture of moving images, teaching students to think historically, theoretically, creatively and analytically about a wide range of cinematic forms. It also offers elective courses in scriptwriting and film-making that give our students a deeper understanding of the craft of film, and permit them to translate what they have learned in their other courses into new sounds, images and stories. The Film program also has a close affiliation with the Pacific Film Archive, an internationally celebrated cinematheque that screens films six nights a week and often brings filmmakers to campus. Our students do internships both there and at many other local film and video institutions.

Learning Goals

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.

Curriculum Map

Some of these learning goals are addressed consistently throughout our curriculum; others receive particular emphasis in certain courses. The following breakdown will allow students to see the interrelationship of Film courses in terms of the learning goals promoted in each course (the letters following each course refer to the above-named goals):

Lower Division Requirements

  1. Film 25A (History of Film, I), 4 units. The origins of cinema, beginning with nineteenth century visual culture, through the silent era, and the conversion to sound. A, C, D, E
  2. Film 25B (History of Film, II), 4 units. Film from its “classical” period through the New Wave, and the emergence of the new ethnic and national cinemas. A, B, C, D, E

Upper Division Requirements

  1. Film 100 (Film Theory), 4 units. The history of film theory from the beginnings to the present. H, I, J, L, M
  2. Film 128 (Documentary Film), 4 units. An analysis of the development of the documentary film, including examples by Flaherty, Riefenstahl, and Wiseman. A, C, D, E
  3. Film 129 (Avant-Garde Film), 4 units. A survey of experimental film, including examples by Vigo, Duchamp, Leger, Bunuel, Brakhage, Kubelka, Snow and Rainer. A, C, D, E

plus one of the following:

  1. Film 108 (Genre), 4 units. Focus on a particular genre, e.g., western, horror film, animation, melodrama, film noir. F, H, I, J, L, M
  2. Film 151 (Auteur), 4 units. Focus on the work of a single director or small group of directors, e.g. Griffith, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Fellini, Three French Women Filmmakers. G, H, I, J, L, M
  3. Film 160 (National Cinema), 4 units. Focus on the cinema of a particular nation or region. C, D, J, L, M

Film Electives

16 units are required to complete the total of 32 upper division units in the major. These courses permit students to consolidate their knowledge and skills in one or more of the areas mentioned above.

Film 108 (Genre), F, H, I, J, L, M
Film 140 (Special Topics), B, C, F, H, G, K
Film 151 (Auteur), G, H, I, J, L, M
Film 160 (National Cinema), C, D, J, L, M
Film 180 A and B (Screenwriting), H, I
Film C185 (Digital Video), H, I
Film C186 (Moving-Image Production), H, I, K
Film C187 (Advanced Digital Video), H, I, K

(Film 108, 140, 151 and 160 may be repeated for credit with a different topic.)

Language Requirement

In order to help us realize C, D, and G, we require our majors either to complete the third semester of a college-level language course in a single language (e.g., French 3), or have an equivalent competence in one foreign language; or to complete the second semester of a college-level language course in two different languages (e.g., German 2 and Swahili 2), or have an equivalent competence in two foreign languages.

The Capstone Experience

We encourage students majoring in Film to consolidate their training in these areas by choosing a “capstone” experience in their senior year. Students can choose one of three types of capstone experience, depending on the emphasis of their program of study. Those interested in research typically choose an honor’s thesis project; others interested in filmmaking or screenwriting will create a short film or a script; and those interested in curating or industry work will often pursue a supervised internship at Pacific Film Archive, Pixar, or other local film institution. Each of these culminating experiences brings together the training students have received in critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and communication skills.