The Department of Film and Media Studies was founded in 1978 and is one of the earliest centres dedicated to the study of film and media. It has since grown into the largest of its kind in Scotland and one of the leading departments in the UK. It has good relations with media organisations and senior media practitioners regularly contribute to the various programmes.
At undergraduate level the Department offers programmes in both Film and Media Studies and Journalism Studies.
The Department aims to enhance the employability of its graduates by ensuring that they have a solid academic training in which the ability to carry out research, analyse information, synthesise argument and present findings is central to the curriculum. This is fostered by the traditional academic essay and by a variety of other methods such as group presentations, which, together with seminars, promote oral communication skills. The optional final semester dissertation gives students an opportunity to step beyond the library in carrying out their research by enabling them to survey and interview external individuals. This helps to enhance 'people' skills, as well as giving insights into the working lives of those in the wider community.
Audiovisual production modules also encourage interaction with the wider environment, particularly in modules in radio and television which are factual in mode. The research, organisation, execution and editing of interview material is, for example, a key skill in the audiovisual and journalism industries and is an important aspect of several production options. Also offered across all production modules is initial training in key skills areas such as scriptwriting, recording, camerawork, editing and directing, as well as the overall planning and execution of complete programmes to set deadlines. Web design is also taught on the Journalism Studies programme.
The mix of academic study, which provides a broad understanding of the media industries, together with production work, which allows students to build a portfolio of practical experience and skills, has been cited by many graduates as particularly useful in gaining employment. Although the Department offers no formal work placement scheme, gaining work place experience is encouraged and, whenever possible, facilitated by members of the Department. This is done by making use of contacts with industry as well as offering guidance to students. Some of the latter is formal (eg lectures on gaining work experience and employment or visiting speakers from industry talking about employability strategies) whilst some of it consists of advising students how best to approach particular companies, how to tailor CVs and so on. Visiting speakers are employed on most production modules to provide specialist information and, occasionally, to run specialist workshops.
Journalism Studies also teaches a range of skills from researching through to producing journalistic material for a variety of media platforms such as the web. As with other programmes offered by the Department, visiting speakers from the journalism industry – including former students of the Department – are a regular feature of the Journalism Studies programme. This fostering of networks and contacts offers opportunities for students to establish initial contacts with employers in the industry.
Many students of Film and Media Studies have established successful careers in the media. These include broadcast and print journalism, television, radio and film production, media management, advertising and public relations. For specific examples, check the Graduate News section of the departmental website: www.fms.stir.ac.uk
The Department has developed an internationally-renowned portfolio of taught MSc/Diploma programmes. These have been designed to have a direct relevance to the needs of the media industry and attract students from all over the world. This has helped produce a flourishing postgraduate community alongside a wider cohort of students via distance learning. The programmes available are: Media Management, Media Management by Online Learning, Public Relations, Public Relations by Online Learning, and Media Research
The Department also hosts the Stirling Media Research Institute (see below), which is internationally recognised as a leading centre for media research.