Bachelor of media studies program launches this fall

UBC's bachelor of media studies program will launch September 2015, intending to train its newly accepted applicants for a variety of careers.

The idea for a media studies degree at UBC arose approximately three years ago, according to Janet Giltrow, senior associate dean in the Faculty of Arts. The BMS program essentially repackages existing courses that involve both practice and theory.

“We have combined hands on technical practice, creative practice, research methods and critical theory to produce graduates we hope will be able to step into jobs in the digital and cultural industry,” said Giltrow.

According to Giltrow, there are many things that graduates will be equipped for but a common theme among the various interdisciplinary courses is granting students a better sense of what’s new and what’s to come.

“I think our students will emerge with a much more sophisticated sense of what counts as new and they’ll emerge with a much sophisticated sense of how to look back too, in order to predict changes for today and for the future,” said Giltrow.

At this point, no additional professors have been hired to teach the program nor have many new courses been developed for the degree, according to Giltrow.

“We have some new course names and numbers … but mainly they describe curriculum that have already been being delivered by a department participating in this program,” said Giltrow. “There was some refinement and development here and there in the curriculum but mostly it was a matter of putting the curriculum together in this new configuration.”

Similar programs exist at other institutions across British Columbia and Canada, such as the communications school at Simon Fraser University. UBC Okanagan is in the process of creating a media studies program that Giltrow calls “more technological than ours.”

Students can apply to the program directly out of high school. According to Giltrow, UBC accepted 60 applicants into the program for the fall term.

“We found lots of students who are really creative, really interesting and accomplished in what they’ve already done with media…. We looked for that kind of creativity but we also looked for the intellectual readiness,” said Giltrow.

Students will have the option of completing a term of their degree abroad, either at the University of Copenhagen or the Free University of Berlin. According to Giltrow, both universities have certain features that stood out; Berlin for its specialization in political communications and Copenhagen because of its aptitude for video production.