Single Honours Film Studies
Single Honours Film Studies was an embarrassingly good experience. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found out the Department were offering us the chance to fill our entire honours modules with just Film Studies. It felt like freedom.
Film Studies in St. Andrews always felt more cutting edge. They talked about things I was actually interested in, focusing on the artform I believe to be the defining one of the last century. There is a tremendous scope of subjects to explore here, and I relished the opportunity of ‘doubling my money’ as it were. This allowed me to take courses in Stars, Sexual Identities, War and Cinema, Digital and Science Fiction Cinema, as well as writing a dissertation entitled ‘The Remediation of Cinematic Codes in Virtual Reality’. The breadth of subjects in cinema is only limited by your imagination, and there really is still meaningful work that needs to be done. It is incredibly invigorating to be part of an emerging discipline that is constantly re-defining its frontiers.
The wide variety of courses and teaching styles in St. Andrews really lets you spread your academic wings. All of the writing and theories you study feel relevant and alive, instead of the dusty, drummed in canon of other disciplines. Teachers here encourage you to feel part of the discourse, and there is a very real chance – if you work hard and are passionate enough – that you will be able to meaningfully contribute to the discourse on a given topic.
Assessments are strenuous but fair, and you can tell the tutors care about their feedback and your progression as a writer/researcher. They are always on hand to help you develop ideas, and point you in the way of work you might find interesting and illuminating.
If you’re on the fence about whether to keep Film as a joint honours course, it really depends where your passion is. If you think you can’t live without your second subject, then by all means keep it on. But if, like me, Film was always the class you looked forward to most in those first few years, then I would say definitely take the plunge. There’s no point carrying something on if your heart isn’t in it. If you’re lucky enough to be invigorated by a subject you should whole heartedly throw yourself in. It’s better for everyone involved: you get more out of your course, the teachers enjoy mentoring enthusiastic students, and the world is better off for having genuinely passionate people matched with work they love.
A coda might be in order here: if your ambition is to enter the practical side of film, then I would strongly recommend supplementing your degree with extra-curricular experience in filmmaking. St. Andrews offers plenty of this: Bubble TV always needs editors/camera staff, LightBox employs quality photographers, and the 60 Hour Film Blitz gives you some adrenaline-pumping experience in the short-film making business. Remember to bolster your CV with these activities so that your theoretical degree can be put to use.
Liam Morgan (graduated 2016)