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Department of Visual & Media Arts

Documentary Production (BA, BFA)

This specialization is designed for students interested in telling stories from “real” life. In addition to learning how to produce documentary work/films, students in this specialization will also gain important perspectives on the history of documentary, the business of making documentary productions, and the debates concerning the legal, ethical, and theoretical questions related to representing others.

Credits: 44 for BA, 60 for BFA (both degrees also include 8 additional upper-level liberal arts credits)


I. Visual and Media Arts Foundations (12 credits)

The Visual and Media Arts Foundations offer students a broad theoretical, historical, and practical introduction to the visual and media arts.

Required Courses

VM 100 History of Media Arts I
VM 101 History of Media Arts II

one of the Following:

VM 102 Dimensions of Creativity
VM 120 Foundations in Visual and Media Arts Production

II. Introduction to Disciplines (16 credits minimum)

At the Introduction to Disciplines level, students explore one or more of the department’s main discipline areas.

Required Courses

VM 200 Media Criticism and Theory

At least one of the following:

VM 202 Critical Listening
VM 220 Writing the Short Subject
VM 221 Writing the Feature Film
VM 222 Writing for Television

At least two of the following:

VM 204 Topics in Media Arts: Practice
VM 230 Introduction to Film Production
VM 231 Intermediate Film Production
VM 240 Introduction to Video Field Production
VM 241 Introduction to Studio Television Production
VM 250 Introduction to Sound Principles and Audio Production
VM 251 Location Recording
VM 260 Introduction to Interactive Media
VM 261 Computer Animation
VM 331 Topics in Visual and Media Arts: Practice

III. Specializations

Required Courses

VM 304 History of Documentary
VM 370 Business Concepts for Modern Media

At least one of the following:

VM 377 Documentary Production Workshop
VM 465 Documentary Photography

At least one of the following:

VM 402 Seminar in Media Arts Topics
VM 409 Seminar in Western Art
VM 410 Seminar in Non-Western Art

In addition to the General Education and major requirements, all students are required to complete at least two courses at the 300 or 400 level from the following Liberal Arts areas:

  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Ethics, Philosophy, or Religion
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Science
  • Sociology
  • TH 304, 313, 315
  • VM 315, 409, 410

Recommended Electives

VM 251 Location Sound Recording
VM 375 Advanced Interactive Media
VM 477 Producing for Television and Non-Broadcast Media

Advanced Visual and Media Arts Workshop

Students may apply to take the Advanced Visual and Media Arts Workshop. Two semesters are mandatory for BFA. Optional for BA.

For specific course prerequisites, please consult the Undergraduate Catalogue.

Telling Their Story

It’s a story about the post-genocide generation in Cambodia. For her documentary project Angkor’s Children, Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor Lauren Shaw followed young Cambodians as they worked to support their country and better its future. After recently receiving the LEF Foundation grant, Shaw can return to Cambodia and resume work. 

Listen to her talk about the project »

A New Public Art

It may have been her first public art commission, but it certainly had meaning. Emerson Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor Claire Andrade-Watkins recently installed a graphic panel on the Providence Harbor Walk at Fox Point, depicting the history of Fox Point Cape Verdeans.

Read more »

TRF - Equipment Distribution Center Video

Equipment Distribution Center

The Equipment Distribution Center's State-of-the-Art Equipment

The Emerson College Equipment Distribution Center (EDC) loans professional, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to faculty and students to fulfill class assignments. Professional staff and student employees are available to provide technical support when needed. It includes the Film Equipment Center and the Video, Audio, New Media Equipment Centers.