Film and Screenwriting with a Foundation Year - BA (Hons) *

UCAS Code:
P3W8
Attendance:
Full Time (4 years)
Starting:
September 2018
Campus:

This cutting edge new BA programme will develop your skills across key film studies and screenwriting debates and conventions. You will be taught by noted film scholars and established practitioners, who will provide their knowledge of international film and screenwriting perspectives.

The course is part of Birmingham City University’s Film Futures suite, designed to develop graduates with the theory, practice and industry trends that will enable them to succeed in a rapidly changing film environment.

About foundation courses

This four year programme has been specifically designed to allow students who do not initially meet the entry requirements for a three year degree, to undertake additional level 3 study designed to ensure they are successful on their chosen degree programme.

After successful completion of your foundation year, you will have the flexibility to switch (should you wish to change direction) onto a number of related undergraduate degree programmes within Birmingham School of Media.

Why study a degree with a foundation year?

Foundation years are a great option if you have the talent, ambition and potential to thrive at Birmingham City University, but do not meet the entry requirements for your preferred course. It’s ideal if:

  • You want the flexibility of a year’s study on a more general course to find out the best degree choice for you.
  • You have changed your mind about your career since you chose your A-levels or BTECs and need to improve your skills in a different subject area.
  • You would like extra time and support to help you build your knowledge, skills and confidence before starting a full degree.

What's covered in the course?

The course considers of a wide range of script to screen traditions from theory, practice and industry perspectives. 

Not only will you gain an understanding of Hollywood cinema conventions (from silent cinema to modern blockbuster spectaculars), but you will apply these storytelling techniques to a variety of production scenarios. As well as looking at American film and screenwriting genres (such as rom-com, thriller, science fiction and horror case-studies), you will also be introduced to other international traditions of cinema that range from European perspectives of documentary to Bollywood film and beyond. 

A key focus of the course will be on the aesthetic and creative aspects of film and screenwriting, with consideration being given to techniques of storytelling, narratology and screen adaptation. Modern transmedia approaches to storytelling are also considered, while modules on film festival programming and film entrepreneurship provide core skills relevant to the film industry. 

How you will learn

You will be taught in a range of lectures, seminars, writing workshops and production sessions, while regular film screenings help you contextualise cinema traditions against your own script creations. 

Your formal studies will be enriched by the possibility to work on a range of external events, such as the Cine-Excess International Film Festival. This annual event attracts visiting international filmmakers, as well as hosting UK theatrical premieres on a regular basis. Having previously operated in London’s West End and Brighton, Cine-Excess has now relocated to BCU to operate as a central resource for the course.

Why Choose Us?

  • The course combines theory, practice and industry approaches to film and screenwriting, alongside training in both documentary film techniques and film festival programming.
  • You will be taught by noted film professors, cinema scholars and established screenwriters. Staff on the programme work together to ensure that you receive a balanced understanding of theory, practice and industry skilling relevant to the field.
  • You will be taught at the city centre campus, home to a £62 million suite of media resources, studios and edit suites.
  • You will have the opportunity to work on established film festivals that are associated with the BA. These include the annual Cine-Excess International Film Festival, which features visiting international filmmakers, UK theatrical premieres and industry mentoring sessions.
  • You will also have the opportunity to work on film projects completed as part of the Cine-Excess festival. One recent production completed by BCU students and staff was the award winning documentary Tax Shelter Terrors (2017).
  • You will have access to film collections that will enrich your course of studies. These include the Cult Film Archive, a collection of 4,000+ resources (including films, screenplays and promotional materials) that have been donated directly from leading filmmakers and distribution companies in the field.
This course is not open to International students

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of design and is due to be reviewed and approved to meet our quality standards.

Entry Requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.

UK students
Essential

At the point of enrolment, you must have GCSE at Grade 4 or above in English Language. Equivalent qualifications can be considered in lieu as long as the required subject is covered.

80 UCAS tariff points.

Typical Offers
UK Qualification Requirements 2018/19
A level  CDD. A maximum of three subjects are considered. Other 6-unit qualifications can be considered in lieu of one or two A-level subjects. Excluded subjects General Studies and Critical Thinking.

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

MMP
Access to HE Diploma 60 credits overall - 15 credits at level 2 and 45 credits at level 3
GCSE English language at grade 4 (C) or above or equiivalent qualifications must be achieved at application stage.

Scottish Higher

BBB. 80 points, minimum BBB from 3 higher level passes
Must include English Language at Standard Grade

International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

Total of 10 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects.
Successful completion of IB Diploma with minimum IB point score of 24 or more
English Group A - Grade 4 or above, or English Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5

OCR Cambridge Technical Certificate

Must be offered along with either two A-levels or two BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diplomas of 80 tariff points. Cannot be offered as a standalone qualification.

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma

MM. Can be offered along with either one A-level or one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Introductory Diploma qualification to achieve a minimum of 80 tariff points.

Scottish Advanced Higher

DDD. Must include English Language at Standard Grade
Maximum of three Advanced Highers can be considered together.
Other qualifications
If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.

Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
BA (Hons) Sep 2018 FT 4 years £9,250 per year Apply via UCAS

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Portfolio Guidance

You are not required to submit a portfolio for this course.

Additional costs

Your course fees include access to film and facilities at BCU’s city centre campus. You will also be able to access other specialist technical equipment, which can be booked for your personal projects as well as university coursework.

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements).

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. 

Sorry, this course is not available part-time

Foundation year

Cross-media Production 1
20 credits

This practical production module explores media production techniques in radio, audio production, online video, virtual reality and television. You will learn industry-level practical skills and develop your own professional practice through a range of production activities and workshops.

You will learn production techniques for broadcast and for online and hear from industry professionals on current and emerging best practice. By the end of this module you will be able to produce and distribute innovative media projects for specific audiences, delivered across a range of online and social networking platforms. 

Cross-media Production 2
20 credits

This practical production module explores media production techniques in journalism, public relations, and events management. The module draws together the skills needed for writing and producing content for print and online, and developing communications campaigns that connect with audiences dispersed across digital platforms. You will develop your own professional practice through a range of production activities and workshops.

You will learn new skills in multi-platform and mobile journalism and strategic communications, and hear from industry professionals on current and emerging best practice for the media and music industries. By the end of this module you will be able to produce and distribute innovative media projects for specific audiences, delivered across a range of online and social networking platforms.

Media Context and Production
20 credits

This module will familiarise you with key concepts aligned to studying media and communication. You will draw on your own production work in order to analyse issues relating to the organisation, ownership and regulation of the media industry. You will contextualise the work you have produced in the context of wider media production practices.

By the end of this module you will have undertaken research relevant to the industry sector you are seeking to develop your skills within and understood the value of seeing your own work as that which connects with specific audiences who create meaning from your and others media texts. 

Practice project
40 credits

This module is an independent study module during which you will produce a media practice project. You will present a proposal for a project, setting yourself a significant creative challenge, and work with a supervisory team to bring your work to fruition. You will draw on the production skills you have developed in earlier modules and use the project as the vehicle through which you showcase your creativity and your ability to work to professional standards.

Professional and Academic Skills
20 credits

This module will help you develop the academic skills needed to succeed in higher education, and the professional skills required to support your ambitions to be a media worker. You will build an online portfolio that will both evidence your growing skills developed across the course as a whole, and act as a showcase for the work you produce.

You will aim to build a community of interest around you and your work. You will be introduced to the wide range of academic and practical support that the university offers, and support from tutors will ensure you develop academic skills that will help you succeed as a student. You will keep an online learning diary that reflect on your development.

Year one

In your first year you will study the following modules:

Film and the Principles of Storytelling
20 credits

This module will introduce you to key approaches and perspectives related to the study of film narratives. It will consider cinematic approaches to storytelling, with a focus on the construction of story, plotting and codes of representation, as well as considering how characterisation is conveyed across a range of differing cinematic systems.

Screenwriting for Film Genres
40 credits

In this module you will explore the key film and screenwriting features drawn from a range of Hollywood genres. This broad reaching module will consider American film traditions from early silent cinema to contemporary blockbuster spectacles, with a focus on how Hollywood tells its stories.

The Language of Film
20 credits

This module looks beyond Hollywood cinema to examine other notable film movements from across the globe. You will examine the social, political and artistic drivers behind key works, and the mastery and innovation that they display in pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling at their time of creation. 

Documentary: Theory and Practice
40 credits

This module allows you to examine some of the key features and traditions of documentary that have developed within Europe, with a particular focus on the realist traditions of British cinema. You will be able to consider how key realist movements reflected wider social and cultural concerns of the day before being able to test out what you have learned through the creation of your own short documentary films.

Year two

You will study the following modules in your second year:

Adaptation for the Screen
20 credits

In this module you will consider the ways in which in storytelling methods alter as they change across differing mediums and cultures.  The module will consider a wide range of perspectives and case-studies of cinematic adaptation from cross-cultural versions of Shakespeare and romantic comedy, to Asian into American horror cycles alongside the considerations of comic book into Hollywood action cinema cycles. 

Festival Programming
40 credits

This module considers a wide a range of differing film festivals from the lavish, major international affairs through to DIY events. This module also looks at what it takes to create, manage and draw audiences to a film festival. The aim is to develop your appreciation of the complexities of event management from establishing goals and selection through to the logistics of programming, managing budgets and executing a marketing campaign.

Collaborative Practice
40 credits

The module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines.

Comedy and the Media (option module)
20 credits

On this optional module you will test and adapt theoretical approaches through your own development of a comedic text, and through academic research into the production, distribution, promotion, textual qualities or reception of comedy. We will interrogate the distinction between humour and seriousness, examine the ongoing developments of comedic forms and genres and discuss the relationship between humour and belonging, analyse the role of taste in our engagement with humour.

Fandom and Subcultures (option module)
20 credits

This optional module will introduce you to ongoing academic debates on media fandom, subcultures and cult media. Through readings, lectures, seminars and independent research, you will have the chance to engage with key theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches and case studies on issues such as gender in fandom, digital fandom and crowdfunding.

Foundations of Screenwriting (option module)
20 credits

This module will teach you the essential skills of, and principles behind, the writing and creation of short films. Although these principles apply primarily to screenwriting for film and television, this module will instead be concerned with the writing of micro-short films and the filming and editing of an actual short film through a creative group assessment. 

Year three

You will study the following modules in your third year:

Horror Narratives
20 credits

This module evaluates some of the key stylistic, historical and representational features that are essential to both horror fiction and horror cinema. During the course of these studies, you will be able to consider constructions of monstrosity across literature and screen arts, as well as analysing the ways in which all forms of horror come to reflect wider social fears and tensions. 

Bollywood Film (option module)
20 credits

In this module you will analyse both the historical and industrial factors that have helped create the world’s second biggest film market. Some of the issues discussed in the module include the analysis of differing Bollywood genres and cycles, as well as their constructions of stardom and links to other national film formats.

Global Cinema Narratives (option module)
20 credits

This module analyses the stylistic and culturally specific features of non-Western cinema.  It considers the emergence of a set of film patterns that lie outside of the dominant Hollywood canon, as well as contextualising these images against the cultures that have created them. In the course of your studies, you will be introduced to key debates around cultural identity and transnationality in film, whilst exploring global cinema patterns through a range of case-studies drawn from China, Africa and the Arab regions

Film Entrepreneurship (option module)
20 credits

Gaining a working knowledge of current film business trends and practices is at the core of this module. It combines taught seminars dedicated to current film employment practices with an industry guest speaker programme in order to provide a crucial toolkit that will assist in working within the contemporary film sector.

Technology and Transmedia Storytelling (option module)
20 credits

This module will allow you to critically examine the creative industries associated and focused on the development of transmedia storytelling and narratives across multiple forms of media (film, television, audio, comics, videogames, websites and also audience/user created content). The examples discussed on the module will range from Hollywood/US major productions to independent productions related to TV drama, documentary, journalism, interactive content and entertainment from across the globe. There will also be a significant focus on the use of social media in the development of narratives.

Writing Short Films (option module)
20 credits

This module will enable you to build upon your current reading and writing of short films, and to develop your range, technique and sophistication as a contemporary screenwriter, applying your knowledge to the writing of short film scripts of 5-10 minutes in length. You will focus on visual storytelling, layout conventions, the issue of writing to scale (budget) and will be encouraged to analyse but also critique dramatic construction in terms of character function, motivation and genre.

Final Major Project
60 credits

The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, theoretically and professionally-informed project, exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. This is your chance to align your practice with your specific career aspirations in the film industry. Dissertations are usually academic research papers, while production portfolios or industry oriented studies are tangible media assets. These options are for you to prove your learning to your tutors and showcase your talent, expertise and professionalism.

During the first year of the BA (Hons) Film and Screenwriting course, you will be introduced to core debates across film and storytelling techniques through modules such as Film and the Principles of Storytelling. This unit presumes no prior knowledge of either film studies or screenwriting techniques, and your introductory skilling in these areas will be further expanded through the Screenwriting for Film Genres module, which considers script to screen traditions across a range of Hollywood film formats. Further modules such as The Language of Film allow you to identify key film styles and techniques on screen, while Documentary: Theory and Practice offers you the opportunity to create your own short films based on documentary techniques in the field.

The second year of the course lets you expand your knowledge of the creative and literary practices of film through more detailed modules such Adaptation for the Screen. This module considers how fictions can change across differing mediums and cultures. As well as being able to undertake a range of optional modules around topics such as Comedy and the Media and Fandom and Subcultures, this second year of study also provides a dedicated module on Festival programming, which outlines the key industry skills required to stage cinema events.

During the final third year of study, your knowledge of film and screenwriting techniques will focus on both specific film genres and national cinema traditions. A module on Horror Narratives considers literary and cinematic versions of the fantastic, while optional modules on Bollywood Cinema and Global Cinema Narratives outline the importance of non-Western traditions of film. In addition to these national considerations, an optional module on Film Entrepreneurship allows you to assess key business practices that are relevant to the current cinema industry. As the culmination of your final year of study you will also undertake the Major Project module, which allows you to carry out an independent study of an aspect of cinema theory, film practice or an industry convention that has interested you as a result of your studies on the BA (Hons) Film and Screenwriting course.


Classroom hours

You will have up to 12 hours per week contact time, alongside additional practical activities and self-directed tasks.

Teaching breakdown

valuelabelcolor
29 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
71 Time in independent study RoyalBlue

Assessment breakdown

Classroom projects

During your studies there will be practice-based opportunities to engage with a regional film festival such as Cine-Excess, an annual international film festival and conference on global cult film cultures. You will also be able to access film collections such as the Cult Film Archive during the course of your studies.

The Birmingham School of Media also has an established and inclusive research culture that promotes dialogue and collaboration between staff and students. The Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR) in the School of Media welcomes visiting researchers from across the world and holds regular research seminars which mix presentations from staff, PG students and speakers from a range of our collaborative partnerships. BCMCR welcomes all students to research seminars, which are free to attend.

Further study

For successful graduates there is a natural progression from the BA Film and Screenwriting with a Foundation Year to the MA Film Distribution and Marketing, focused on nurturing entrepreneurial producers and distributors, or the MA and MSc Future Media focused on exploiting digital media and marketing opportunities through emerging technologies and advertising agency techniques.

Alternatively, Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University offers a wide range of MA courses, allowing you to specialise in such areas as Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism, Data Journalism, PR, Event, Festival and Exhibition Management and Media and Cultural Studies.

Details can be found on the postgraduate section of the website.

The BA (Hons) Film and Screenwriting course is located within the Birmingham School of Media, which has an excellent track record for graduate employment. Within the School, the majority of graduates going into media-related roles. The course builds upon the School’s employability driven reputation, by opening avenues for students interested in potential careers in screenwriting, film journalism, communications, marketing & PR, advertising and teaching film/media studies.

As well as gaining course-specific skills, you could also gain broader tools through our Graduate+ programme, which will help enhance your employment options by helping with careers development, employability activities, volunteering and part-time work experience.

Allied with this course-specific experience, you will also have access to a range of support staff and services from the University’s Careers Service, who can help with:

  • Reviewing CVs, covering letters and application forms
  • Career planning and decision making
  • Preparing for interviews and assessment centres
  • Developing portfolios
  • Networking with employers
  • Advice about self-employment and entrepreneurship

Placements

During your second year, you will have the opportunity to work as part of a mixed discipline team to respond to a brief, as part of an in-house placement element of the course.

In addition to this, there are regional opportunities for visiting and volunteering at film festivals, such as Cine-Excess, and Flatpack, and for networking with producers and distributors who function as guest speakers at such events.

More about our placement opportunities...

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £260 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

Birmingham School of Media is recognised as a key centre of excellence in interactive media training, television production and education by Creative SkillSet, the UK Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries.

State-of-the-art facilities

You will learn in our state-of-the-art facilities - including the £62m fully-digital Media Centre - located on the City Centre Campus. You will enjoy access to extensive studio and workshop space including four TV studios, six radio studios and broadcast-standard edit suites, as well as cutting-edge equipment and software.

Facilities include the largest TV floor of any university in the UK, a ‘green screen’ and the MILO motion control camera - we are one of just two universities in Europe to offer MILO technology.

External Parkside Building and Water Feature
Parkside building from Curzon building
Parkside Interior
VisCom Hires and Loans landscape
VisCom Hires and Loans CU

Our Staff

Our teaching staff comprises specialists in their respective fields, including academics and industry professionals, all of whom are perfectly placed to offer a wealth of experience and knowledge. Birmingham School of Media students also benefit from access to high-profile guest speakers from across the industry.

A dynamic community that is responsive to the changing face of the media industry, Birmingham School of Media is the perfect starting point to your media career.

Dr Xavier Mendik

Professor in Film/Director of the Cine-Excess International Film Festival

Xavier Mendik is Associate Professor in Film at Birmingham City University, from where he runs the Cine-Excess International Film Festival (www.cine-excess.co.uk). He has written extensively on cult film traditions, and some of his books (as author/editor/co-editor) include: Bodies of Desire and Bodies in Distress: The Golden Age of Italian Cult Cinema (2015), Peep Shows: Cult Film and the Cine-Erotic (2012), 100 Cult Films ([with Ernest Mathijs], 2011), The Cult Film Reader ([with Ernest Mathijs],2008), Alternative Europe: Eurotrash and Exploitation Cinema Since 1945 (2004), Shocking Cinema of the Seventies (2002), Underground USA: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon (2002), Dario Argento’s Tenebrae (2000) and Unruly Pleasures: The Cult Film and its Critics (2000).

Beyond his theoretical work in this area, Xavier Mendik has also completed 5 funded documentaries that explore the social importance of a range of cult film traditions. Xavier Mendik is currently completing the feature length documentary That’s La Morte: Italian Cult Film and the Years of Lead, which draws on research outlined in this current paper.

Read Xavier's full profile

Andy Conway

Lecturer in Creative Writing

Andy is a prolific screenwriter and novelist with 30 years’ experience of the writing industry. He’s worked as a screenwriter on many films, both produced and lost in development hell, for over 20 years, and runs the Shooting People Screenwriters’ Network, with 11,000 worldwide members. He also co-founded the West Midlands Screenwriters’ Forum, and the new independent publishing collective, New Street Authors.

His feature film, Arjun & Alison, a campus revenge thriller set in Birmingham, toured film festivals around the world and was released in UK cinemas in spring 2014. He currently divides his time between the three feature films he has in pre-production, writing his series of historical fantasy novels, Touchstone, co-writing a guide to the world of self-publishing, and lecturing in Screenwriting at Birmingham City University.

Read Andy's full profile

Dr Charlotte Stevens

Research Fellow

Dr Charlotte Stevens has published articles in Feminist Media Studies, CineAction, and on the Critical Studies in Television blog. She has also contributed chapters to an edited collection on Doctor Who, and the forthcoming Cult Media: Re-packaged, Re-released and Restored (Palgrave, 2017). 

Read Charlotte's full profile

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Contact the admissions team

+44 (0)121 331 6295