BlogUniversityPros and Cons of a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Film Studies at USYD

Pros and Cons of a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Film Studies at USYD

So you might know a fair bit about what it’s like studying a Bachelor of Arts Majoring in Film Studies at USYD, but don’t you want to know about the nitty gritty of this degree?

You’re in luck! We’ve talked to Patrick, a current Film Studies student at USYD to hear all about the pros and cons.

Let’s find out!

Why should you study a Film Studies major at USYD?
Top 3 Pros of a Film Studies Major
Top 3 Cons of a Film Studies Major
Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
Things to Know Before Starting USYD Film Studies
What Makes this Degree Different
Motivations for Studying USYD Film Studies
Potential Career Paths

Why should you study a Film Studies major at USYD?

If you’re someone that loves movies, seeing Film Studies on the list of majors would probably catch your eye. And whilst Film Studies gets you to look into a whole range of films from documentaries to fiction, historical and silent films, it can also be a very theoretical subject area.

USYD Film Studies - Quote

If you’re someone that enjoyed English, English Extension, Visual Arts, History or Drama, you would probably enjoy Film Studies. That doesn’t mean you need to have studied these subjects, but it’s a good guide interest-wise!

Top 3 Pros of a Film Studies major

#1: You’re exposed to all sorts of films

One of the cool things about Film Studies is that you become really aware of the different types of films out there. It’s like being widely-read, but rather widely-watched!

Getting exposed to new movies, new ideas and new kinds of films! It [Film Studies] broadens your horizons in terms of that,” Patrick said. 

You might also find yourself interested in a different genre to what you’d normally watch, and you’ll start to look at films from another perspective. 

#2: You become a critical thinker

As Film Studies is all about looking into films and understanding it at a deeper level, you become quite the critical thinker, where you consider the production, context and messages of the film.

Academically speaking it’s helped my critical thinking, writing and analysis as well in drawing concepts together. Film Studies is like the intersection of art, drama, media and English, and all the theory that comes from that,” Patrick said. 

“So you’re reading stuff from scholars all in different fields, and it’s quite multidisciplinary in that kinds of way.” 

#3: You get to watch movies!

Of course it’s a given, but getting to watch movies is definitely a huge pro for this major, especially as you’ll be surrounded by film lovers. 

One of the weekly classes is going in and watching a movie! You rock up to the lecture theatre and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this is a uni class room’”, Patrick said. 


Top 3 Cons of a Film Studies major

#1: You won’t enjoy all the films you watch

This first con ties in with the first pro. Although you get to watch a whole range of films, many of which you’ll probably really enjoy, that also means there will be some films that you won’t like. 

Patrick said, “Because of how diverse the content is, it might not always be interesting… I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of the movies that we watched, I found a bit boring.”

#2: Theories can be difficult

Film Studies at USYD involves a fair share of theoretical studying and applying these to films. Whilst this is great for developing critical thinking and also analysing the film at another level, it can be mind-bending.

Patrick said, “Sometimes theory can be difficult to understand, it can be dense and difficult to wrap your head around.”

#3: Very essay heavy

Although Film Studies at USYD essentially has zero exams, it becomes very assignment heavy, and more specifically, essay heavy. You can expect to do a lot of academic writing from first year, and especially in third year. 

“It’s very essay heavy — that said, I would be underselling it if I didn’t mention that there were a few subjects that had interesting assignments,” Patrick said.

This isn’t to say that there are no other assignment forms, however it is predominantly essay based. So if you like essays, then Film Studies is definitely for you!

That being said, if you’re passionate about films, the load of essays should not define your choosing of this major.

Any regrets? 

“Part of it was like, I went into Film Studies thinking this might give me some practical experience with film — it didn’t but Media and Communications did. I guess I didn’t realise that it was very theoretical and it’s not 100% what I expected it to be,” Patrick explained. 

If you are looking for more practical experience in film making and media production, perhaps you can consider the combined degree at USYD — a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications).

Find out more about this degree here!

What do you wish you had known before starting Film Studies at USYD? 

It does require a lot of reading, and I assumed that it would be identical to high school English where you’re looking at texts, drawing out themes and discussing characters and techniques.

“So I wish I knew there would be other ideas and methods explored, like history, philosophy and art history elements. It’s not necessarily a negative thing, but you just look at films in a different way,” Patrick said. 

Even if you haven’t studied these subjects at high school, if you’ve got a general interest in them, it’s a good indicator that this major is suited towards you! 

What makes this major different from the ones offered at other universities? 

The teaching faculty for Film Studies at USYD is considered incredibly helpful and encouraging!

Patrick said, “I found that the professors and tutors in Film Studies were really good. They were very knowledgeable and passionate, they made difficult concepts easy to understand. 

Although there aren’t a lot of staff, the staff that do teach it are so supportive as well. You can always ask them questions!”

Further, there’s a great amount of flexibility in the electives that you can select within your Film Studies major at USYD. You could choose an elective from a completely different faculty if there is an element of film in it, for instance, areas of study like Philosophy or History. 

What inspired you to choose Film Studies at USYD?

“I chose Film Studies because I was really into films and I was keen to see what was out there beyond the movies and streaming services… 

“You watch plenty of stuff that doesn’t have the same level of exposure and I feel like it paired well with Media and Communications while still providing some variety,” Patrick shared.

What are the possible career paths?

USYD Film Studies - Careers

If you complete a major in Film Studies, there are a whole range of careers that you can pursue. 

This includes:

    • Film director
    • Post-production editor
    • Media producer
    • Arts manager
    • Film archivist
    • Film writer
    • Scriptwriter
    • Film critic
    • Journalist 
    • Screenwriter

If you also choose to complete a Bachelor of Arts in a double or combined degree, you’ll broaden your horizons even more!

Nandini Dhir is a Content Writer at Art of Smart and is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Marketing) and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications), as a Dalyell Scholar, at Sydney University. She enjoys covering local issues in her area and writing about current events in the media. Nandini has had one of her pieces published in an article with the Sydney Morning Herald. In her free time, Nandini loves doing calligraphy, ballet, and sewing, or is otherwise found coddling her cats.   


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