Behind the scenes with an MA Film student - what does a typical day look like?

by James Scowcroft

Hello there! If you’re reading this, you have somehow stumbled upon the debut of my blog for my role as Digital Content Ambassador at Lancaster University. In this entry, I’ll be describing to you what it is like to study Film at MA level. I’d like to preface this blog entry by stating this is the very first year that Lancaster has offered an MA in Film, and you may have a different experience to me! Especially since this year, all studies have been moved online. Hopefully, by the time you are reading this because you’re interested in studying Film as a Postgraduate, things are back to normal. Without further ado, let’s get started!

08:00 – wake up

At the time of writing this, it is a very bright but cold Thursday morning in Lancaster. However, the early bird catches the worm! One of the main things that is helping me get through lockdown is an early start, so I’m prepared for the day to come.

I have attached an image of the view from my accommodation – not a bad start to the day, right? The first seminar of the day is later on this afternoon, and I’ve still got a lecture and a few pages of course reading to look at before it starts. Best get on with it! (after I’ve had my coffee).

09:00 – lecture

Thursday mornings are always dedicated to preparing for one of my core modules – Transnational Cinemas. The main focus of the MA in Film Studies is to take you away from your comfort zone of American or British-made films and broaden your horizons, introducing you to beautifully made films from all different cultures and reaches of life. This module does just that. This week, we’re looking at Wong Kar-Wai’s melodrama In The Mood For Love (2000), and how it exemplifies the poetic nature of Hong Kong cinema. I’ve been tasked with watching both the lecture and the film before the seminar this afternoon, which I usually manage to finish in plenty time so I can familiarise myself with the notes I have made throughout. Whilst online learning has taken some getting used to, I much prefer being able to watch lectures in my own time and rewinding whenever there’s a point I didn’t quite grasp the first time round. After all, this is postgraduate level – there’s bound to be some things you need to hear twice.

12:00 – lunch

Usually, this would be the point I take a walk from my lecture theatre to the Gregg’s on campus. However, all teaching is being done from home this year, so this isn’t the case. Instant noodles it is.

14:00 – seminar

The moment I have been preparing all day for... the seminar! This has got to be my favourite part of the day, as it allows me to talk to my course mates and find out what they thought of this week’s film. Film Studies seminars are usually quite varied – you get a lot of people who enjoyed the film, a lot who were indifferent, and a lot who didn’t care for it (and a few who didn’t watch the film at all!). This makes for some extremely engaging discussion – something I am grateful for, especially whilst in quarantine. Hong Kong Cinema was also touched upon during the Undergraduate Film Studies course at Lancaster, so I am quite familiar with its mechanics, and it is for that reason I found this week’s film to be excellent.

One of the perks of studying a humanities subject like Film is you sometimes get given the opportunity to write your assessed essays on a subject of your choice (as long as it was taught on the module). So, more often than not, you get to write about a film you especially enjoyed. This is the case for my Transnational Cinemas course, so I’m leaning toward discussing how the features of melodrama in Wong Kar Wai’s In The Mood for Love attract a Western audience. But, who knows, I might talk about something from the prior weeks too – the course has offered so many rewarding subjects to pursue.

16:00 – evening

Well, that’s it! Thursday’s classes successfully complete. All that I have left to do today is complete some course readings before my seminar tomorrow for one of my optional modules, Silent Cinema. Once that’s finished, I’m off to have dinner and catch up on the best Star Wars we’ve had since 2005, The Mandalorian!


James is studying MA Film Studies at Lancaster University.

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