Free Online Film Studies Courses

Through free online film courses, you can study and analyze films through historical, theoretical, and artistic points of view. There are also courses available where you can study screenwriting and the business of film. Schools offering Film degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Free Online Film Studies Courses

Are you considering a degree program or a career in film? Or are you just interested in making your own film projects, but you need some direction? You can find several free online courses in film studies to aid you in understanding the theory and practice of film. Film studies is a multi-faceted subject that involves creative writing, artistic interpretation, technology, and business. Free online courses can help you develop the tools to critique these aspects of films and to work in creating films.


Through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) OpenCourseWare (OCW) system, you can access free online film studies courses across numerous departments, including Literature, Linguistics and Philosophy, Urban Studies and Planning, Global Studies and Language, Comparative Media Studies, History, and Anthropology. Courses generally include a syllabus and other materials, such as a list of reading materials and videos, lecture notes, assignments, and discussion questions.

Let's examine what material is included in a few of the fundamental courses, all at the undergraduate level.

  • Studies in Film: This class examines the craft and artistry of film by comparing key works in cinema with major works in literature. You can access three assignments and discussion questions for each unit.
  • The Film Experience: This course involves a more in-depth analysis and critique of films throughout history, including works from the silent era, Hollywood, and international cinema. This course includes lecture notes and a collection of 23 lecture videos. There's also a list of essay topics, plus links to important films in the public domain.
  • Philosophy of Film: Each week of the course involves a reading and a film, with links to trailers of all the films. Accessing the full materials is up to you, but you can view four video lectures and read sample papers written by students.
  • Film as Visual and Literary Mythmaking: This course examines film through a philosophical perspective. There are two video lectures available, plus links to the film trailers.

If you're already familiar with film studies, you also have opportunities through MIT OCW to take advanced film studies courses in culture areas, such as Hispanic, German, and Japanese film. Free courses are also offered in avant-garde film, feminist film studies, queer film studies, and more.

University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia (UEA), based in Norwich, England, offers several free Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that anyone can join by registering with the FutureLearn platform.

Its An Introduction to Screenwriting course is for professional writers, creative writing students, and film enthusiasts alike. It is designed to be a two-week course in which you'd dedicate three hours each week. You can orient yourself with the vocabulary used in screenwriting, analyze scripts and films, and gain the tools needed to write a screenplay.

This MOOC is led by one of EAU's professors, and it includes written study content as well as videos and discussions. Some of the topics covered are: character, cinematic story, structure, cinematic form, dialogue and voice, and writing screenplay drafts.

For a fee, you can receive a Certificate of Achievement.


OpenLearn, a division of The Open University, offers a free online course titled The Business of Film. It's rated as a Level 1: Introductory course, and it requires an estimated 12 hours of study to complete. The curriculum is spread out over six weeks, and each week includes several chapters of content with video clips to download and a quiz, plus references and links to additional reading materials.

This course is not about the technical aspects of film but about the financial decisions made when creating films. You can learn about public funding and marketing as well as topics like intellectual property and copyright.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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