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Cinema and Media Studies Major

Introduction | Prerequisites | Required Courses | Other Credit Options | Student Activities    

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Important Documents


The Cinema and Media Studies major allows students to develop their understanding of how film and media function as distinctive modes of transmitting and critiquing cultural values and practices. The Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media also hosts an array of CMS Faculty from a number of backgrounds.

In addition to a gateway course (CMS 301, 5 credits) and a senior capstone (CMS 480, 5 credits), the CMS major is structured around two history sequences and two critical concept sequences. Students are required to complete at least one course (5 credits) from each of the four sequences. The core is complemented by film and media elective courses taken from Cinema and Media Studies or any UW department in consultation with the undergraduate advisers.


  • Minimum 2.0 overall GPA
  • Completion of either the English Composition requirement or a W-course
  • Completion of one of CMS 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275 or the equivalent

Required courses – 60  credits from course groups listed below

30 credits from Cinema and Media Studies core courses:

(Choose one from each category) 


CMS 301 Film and Media Studies: Analysis (5 credits)


CMS 310 History of Film: 1895-1929 (5 credits)
CMS 311 History of Film: 1930-1959 (5 credits)


CMS 312 History of Film: 1960-1989 (5 credits)
CMS 313 History of Film: 1989 to Present (5 credits)
CMS 314 History of Television (5 credits)
CMS 315 History of New Media (5 credits)


CMS 302 Media Arts and Cultures (5 credits)
CMS 303 Genre Studies (5 credits)
CMS 304 Television Studies (5 credits)


CMS 320: Nation and Cinema (5 credits)
CMS 321: Oppositional Cinema/Media (5 credits)


CMS 480: Senior Capstone (topics vary; 5 credits)

Approved Electives

List of  CMS electives  

Remaining 30 credits to be earned in approved cinema and media studies elective courses offered by the Cinema & Media Studies program or other UW departments.  At least two courses (10 credits) of electives must be CMS courses.  A minimum of four of the required elective courses (20 credits) must be upper-division courses.  Any CMS course from the above Core Curriculum in excess of core requirements may count as electives.  See advisors for list of approved electives in other programs and departments.

No course presented toward fulfillment of the 60-credit major requirements may be taken on a credit/no credit or satisfactory/non-satisfactory basis. There is no formal application procedure for declaring the Cinema and Media Studies major; however, a minimum GPA of 2.0 is required in order to be admitted to the program.

A minor in Cinema and Media Studies is not available.

Other Cinema and Media Credit Options:

      • CMS 490, independent studies: students can develop special projects related to cinema such as research on a special topic in cinema studies for maximum of five credits towards the elective requirements.
      • CMS 491, internship:   If a student pursues an internship at the same site for two quarters in a row, they can get the first quarter counted as general electives (graded CR/NC). The second quarter can count towards the CMS major electives, with the approval of the supervising faculty member.

See our Advising page for more information.

Student Activities

CMS majors, check out our Facebook group for majors!  Please note this is a social page for majors to connect with other majors.

If you'd like to connect with other students to watch and discuss film, the UW Film Club may be for you!  The club organizes quarterly filmmaking competitions such as the UW Student Film Festival and the 36 hour Film Competition.  

Are you interested in film production?  There is a UW student film production club!  Check out  LUX film production club's page for more info or the LUX: Video Collaborative YouTube channel to see their recent projects.