Jun 02, 2023  
Undergraduate Record 2012-2013 
Undergraduate Record 2012-2013 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Media Studies

Requirements for the Major


Before being accepted into the major, students should take MDST 2000 (Introduction to Media Studies) and 2010 (Introduction to Digital Media Studies). Exceptions are made only at the discretion of the Media Studies Chair or Director of Undergraduate Programs and only when logistically necessary. In addition, during the first or second year of study, students should take introductory courses in the fields relevant to their broader interests in media (e.g., government, sociology, history of film, politics, English, anthropology). Students are accepted into the major, in the spring semester of their second year upon review of their applications. This is a competitive process that takes into account the applicant’s GPA and application essays, as well as other factors.

Application Information

Applications must be completed in the spring semester (normally the student’s fourth semester). Deadlines are posted in the Media Studies Department office and on the web (www.virginia.edu/mediastudies); the deadline will be on or about March 15. In exceptional cases, students who have not taken MDST 2000 and 2010 may apply for the major by petition to the Chair. If admitted, they are required to complete MDST 2000 and 2010. Students are generally expected to have a GPA of 3.400 at the time of application.

Students apply to the Media Studies major by completing a form available on the departmental website. Students list all MDST courses taken or in progress; discuss any career goals or aspirations, media-related extra-curricular activities, internships or experience; and complete two short essay questions. The essays invite students to reflect on their intellectual objectives in wishing to pursue the major and ask students to analyze a media event or phenomenon of significant social, political, or cultural impact. Applications are read and evaluated by the core faculty in Media Studies. All applicants will be notified of admission decisions by April 1.

Requirements for the Major

The completion of the major after securing admission includes a total of 9 courses (approximately 27 credits) comprised of two upper-level core courses (MDST 3000 and 3050). In addition, six more MDST courses (or courses officially cross-listed with MDST) must be taken to fulfill breadth requirements. Five of these elective courses must be at the 3000 level or above. One elective course must be at the 4000 level or above. Exceptions to this rule will be made after consideration by the chair of Media Studies. Finally, students must take one course in the practice of media from a list of approved courses maintained by the department.

Core courses include MDST 2000 (Introduction to Media Studies); MDST 2010 (Introduction to Digital Media Studies); MDST 3000 (Theory and Criticism of Media); and MDST 3050 (History of Media.

Media Studies students are strongly urged to choose the balance of their MDST courses according to an individual plan of study. Students should consider the broad range of topics relevant to a full understanding of media studies: media aesthetics (rhetoric and the shape of argument in media, formal analysis, media criticism, and theory of a specific medium); the history of media (film, photography, television, digital, and print media); the individual experience of media (psychology and sociology); the social experience and effects of media (political science and government, law, or public policy, ethics, anthropology, and sociology); and the economics and business of media.   

Students who wish to pursue internships and/or fieldwork in media for course credit may do so by applying to the department’s internship/fieldwork program. The Director of Undergraduate Programs oversees the program and approves and supervises students’ internship/fieldwork experiences.  The program is available only to Media Studies majors and allows approved students to enroll in a one-credit, repeatable course, MDST 3800.  Approved students may add MDST 3800 in the Fall or Spring semester concurrent to pursuing their internships/fieldwork.  For summer internships, students may defer adding MDST 3800 to the following Fall. MDST 3800 does not count toward credit in the major.

Specific courses offered by other departments but cross-listed with media studies may not always be available on a regular basis. The plan of study should be founded on intellectual goals and be flexible with respect to fulfilling them through course requirements. In all cases, students must develop their program of study in consultation with a faculty advisor. Media Studies’ majors are encouraged to study abroad, however, all majors must be present either in the fall or spring of their third year to take required courses for the major.

Every course that a student wishes to apply toward the major must be passed at a 2.0 grade or above.

Concentration in Media Ethics and Policy

Media Studies majors have the option of concentrating their upper-division study in the general area of media policy and ethics by selecting at least three of their five electives from a list of approved courses that consider major issues in media policy or media ethics. This list of courses includes Media Policy (MDST 3405), Privacy & Surveillance (MDST 4101), Media Ethics (MDST 3410), Copyright, Commerce & Culture (MDST 3102), Issues & Controversies in the Media (MDST 3403), Democratic Politics in the New Media Environment (MDST 3404), War & The Media (MDST 3402), News & the Construction of Reality (MDST 3104), Global Media (MDST 4300), History of U.S. Broadcasting (MDST 4104). Any other courses, including cross-listed courses, which a student might wish to have count toward the concentration, must be approved by the chair of Media Studies.

Distinguished Majors Program in Media Studies

Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the program’s Distinguished Majors Program in which they write a thesis or complete a substantial creative portfolio with appropriate documentation demonstrating independent study of high quality. This standards and processes for the Distinguished Majors Program in Media Studies are distinct from those of the College. The requirements for admission to the DMP are:

  1. Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in this Record with a GPA of at least 3.400 in all university courses;
  2. A GPA of at least 3.400 in all courses taken as part of the Media Studies major;
  3. Completion of at least 12 credit-hours of advanced work in the major (3000 level and above, with at least one 4000- or 5000-level course);
  4. Approval of the faculty committee in Media Studies, and willingness by one of the faculty to take on the responsibility of supervising the thesis or project.

Students must apply for the DMP with a proposal for their thesis or project. After obtaining approval of the faculty committee in Media Studies (generally proposals will be reviewed at the beginning of the Fall semester for students graduating at the end of the academic year) students must register for three credits of Media Studies 4000 (Fall) and may register for three credits of Media Studies 4980 (Spring). Students will produce either a thesis of approximately 10,000 words, which must be approved by two members of the faculty (one may be outside the Media Studies core faculty), or a portfolio project (film, digital work, or other media project) with appropriate intellectual accompaniment (an essay or research statement of 3000-5000 words). Copies of all theses and projects will be deposited in the Media Studies office and students will be expected to make a presentation of their thesis or project in a DMP symposium at the end of the spring semester. In awarding honors, the Media Studies faculty considers the quality of the student’s overall performance in the major as well as the work done on the thesis or project.

Students may receive distinction (but not high or highest distinction) if they have not enrolled in or have discontinued enrollment in the DMP but have completed their degree with a grade point average of at least 3.600. The award of high or highest distinction is at the discretion of the Media Studies faculty.

Minor in Media Studies

Students wishing to minor in Media Studies must complete a total of 6 courses, or 18 credits. These courses must include: MDST 2000; 2010; 3050; and three additional Media Studies courses at the 3000 level or above. Students pursuing a minor in Media Studies are not permitted to enroll in MDST 3000; 4000; 3800; 4960 or 4980, as these courses are restricted to majors. Unlike the Media Studies major, the minor does not require an application process. It is recommended that students complete MDST 2000 and 2010 prior to declaring a Media Studies minor, but it is not required. Students may declare the minor at any time. Every course that a student wishes to apply toward the major must be passed with a grade of 2.0 or higher.

Minor in Film Studies

Students wishing to minor in Film Studies must complete a total of 6 courses, or 18 credits. There is one prerequisite course required, one core course required and four electives. Any student may declare the minor upon successful completion of the Prerequisite course. Every course that a student wishes to apply toward the major must be passed with a grade of C or higher.

Prerequisite course:

One of the following courses must be completed prior to declaring the minor: MDST 2000 Introduction to Media Studies, AMST 2010 History of American Film, MDST 2200 Introduction to Film, MDST/DRAM 2810 Cinema as an Art Form, MDST/DRAM 3830 History of Film I, MDST/DRAM 3840 History of Film II, MDST/DRAM 3850 History of Film III. Media Studies majors may use MDST 2000 for both the major and the Film Studies minor.

Core Course:

One of the following core courses must be completed for the minor, but it may not be the same as the prerequisite course: AMST 2010 History of American Film, MDST 2200 Introduction to Film, MDST/DRAM 2810 Cinema as an Art Form, MDST/DRAM 3830 History of Film I, MDST/DRAM 3840 History of Film II, MDST/DRAM 3850 History of Film III.


Students must complete four additional electives at the 3000-level or above in which film is the main object of study. These may be chosen flexibly from offerings in Media Studies and the other UVa Departments that offer film courses. Only one course in film production may be included among the electives. In general, courses numbered 3000 and above for which film is a major topic can be counted toward the Minor; this includes courses offered in non-English languages provided the student has the relevant language competency. A list of approved courses will be maintained in the Department of Media Studies.

Additional Information

For more information, contact the department at, P.O. Box 400866, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4866; (434) 243-8855 Fax: (434) 243-8869; mediastudies@virginia.edu; www.virginia.edu/mediastudies.

Course Descriptions