Film Studies

Information for New Majors

Welcome to the major!  We know that you worked hard to get here, and now that you are officially part of our program we want to help make sure you navigate it successfully.  Please read this carefully, as it will highlight some of the major's important requirements and policies and save you a lot of confusion later on.

  • First, a note on our philosophy. Our program is a Film Studies major with a production component. We believe in the integration of history, theory, and practice, and this quality makes our program unique. Moreover, the Film Major offers students an unusually strong grounding in the fundamentals of film history and analysis. We work hard to create a unified curriculum that covers essential areas of study and teaches the art of cinematic thinking. To get the most of the major you need to take a mixture of Film Studies courses from the core department faculty: Basinger, Dombrowski, and Higgins.  You will do a disservice to yourself and your experience of the major if you avoid our courses. Take them, they are good for you.
  • Major Requirements: To successfully complete the major you need to have 10 credits in Film. This is how it breaks down:
Prerequisites (Film 304, and FILM307) 2 Credits
Six History/Theory Electives 6 Credits
Sight and Sound (required production class)
or Intro to Digital Filmmaking
1 Credit
Senior Seminar 1 Credit
  • Note that there is a LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF PRODUCTION CLASSES you can take. You MUST take an introductory production class: Sight and Sound or Introduction to Digital Filmmaking to complete the major. In addition to that you can take ONE additional production class (FILM 454:Screenwriting, FILM 453:Digital Animation, FILM 386:Documentary Filmmaking, etc.). If you intend to make a Senior Thesis, you can do that as well. A Senior Thesis will count as two more production credits (one Fall and one Spring of your Senior year). Altogether, you can take Sight and Sound or Introduction to Digital Filmmaking, an additional production class, and the two Sr. Thesis Film credits. You can NEVER take more than FOUR production credits, and the only production credit that counts towards completion of the major is your required introductory production course.
  • If you do NOT make a Senior Thesis production you may take three production courses in addition to the required class. You can NEVER take more than FOUR production credits.
  • Also note that the university’s oversubscription rules limit the number of courses you can take in any one department that will be applied to your Wesleyan degree. In Film Studies, you are limited to SIXTEEN total courses, two of which may be your thesis option if you undertake a two-semester senior thesis.  Courses cross-listed with Film Studies count in both Film and the cross-listed department.

           To clarify, you are allowed to apply the following to your Wesleyan degree:

Prerequisites (Film 304 and Film 307) 2 Credits
Six History/Theory Electives 6 Credits
Sight and Sound (required production class)
or Intro to Digital Filmmaking
1 Credit
Senior Seminar  1 Credit
10 credits required for major

Under University Rules you may also take:

Four additional courses 4 Credits
(1 may be a production class with a Senior Thesis. 3 may be production classes with NO Senior Thesis) 14 credits (optional)
A Senior Thesis Project  2 Credits
16 credits (optional
Six additional courses 6 Credits(Optional)
(1 may be a production class) 16 Credits (Optional)
  • As the number of students majoring in Film Studies increases, course access can be challenging. Film Studies has fewer faculty members than other departments/programs with an equal number of majors, and enrollment in productions classes is further restricted by equipment limits. You should not assume that you will be able to enroll in every course you desire in the semester you desire it without advance planning. Below is the tentative schedule for History/Theory electives set to be offered over the next two years (changes may occur):
Fall '13 Spring '14
Basinger Film Noir Senior Seminar
Dombrowski American Independent East Asian; Industry
Higgins Action & Adventure *Sabbatical
Lensing *Sabbatical New German; Newer German
Fall '14 Spring '15
Basinger TBA TBA
Dombrowski TBA TBA
Higgins TBA TBA
Lensing TBA TBA
Aleshkovsky TBA



Please consult Wesmaps regarding the process of enrollment in each course. For those courses that are POI, please contact faculty directly regarding enrollment ASAP. Enrollment lists for many of these courses will be filled even before pre-registration begins. Prof. Basinger’s courses often fill 1-1 ½ years in advance.                                        

We support study abroad, but in order to complete the major requirements it is imperative that you keep us informed of your plans and that you make arrangements early. We recommend a MAXIMUM of ONE SEMESTER abroad, preferably taken the spring of your sophomore year or the summer between sophomore and junior year. It is advantageous to be on campus the final four semesters of your undergraduate degree in order to maximize your access to courses. You may be able to count one History/Theory course taken abroad toward the electives required for the major. However, we make these decisions on a case-by-case basis, and we will need to review syllabi and coursework to determine if credit will be granted. Please meet with Prof. Basinger PRIOR to going abroad to discuss the specific classes you are considering and receive preliminary approval for transfer credit.  After your return, provide Prof. Basinger with a syllabus and the work you did in the course in order to confirm approval for transfer credit. This same process applies to transfer of any credit from institutions other than Wesleyan. No production credits from other universities can be applied to the major.

You may find information about summer internships in the Career Resources Center  Film Studies does NOT grant credit for internships. If you are interested in applying for an internship that appears to require the department to grant credit, a faculty member can write a letter on your behalf explaining our policy--this is all a company needs to confirm your status as an enrolled student.

If you need to ask a faculty member for a letter of recommendation, please contact him or her a minimum of 10 days prior to the due date.  Any faculty member receiving a request for a recommendation that is due more quickly may decline the request.

Finally, we want to stress that a Senior Thesis is NOT required for completion of the Film Major. If you are interested in completing a thesis, it is very important that you meet with us to discuss it the spring of your junior year. You will need the summer to think, research, and refine your plans. The Senior Thesis options are: a Screenplay; a History/Theory written Thesis; a 16mm Film; or a Digital Film. If you plan on attempting any of these projects, tell us soon, and schedule a meeting with us in the spring of your junior year. We NEVER allow combined theses for two different majors. If your other major requires a thesis, you shouldn't do one in film. All senior thesis projects are completed from the fall to spring semesters. If you are a December grad, you will need either to graduate a semester early, take a semester off, or add an additional semester to complete a thesis. We recommend considering a Senior Thesis only if you have completed a minimum of 7 of the 10 required major courses and 24 of the required 32 Wesleyan credits prior to entering your senior year.

We hope this clarifies the requirements that you will face in the next two years. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.

The Film Studies Faculty