All Media Arts & Culture students develop, realize, and publicly present a senior comprehensives project over the course of their senior year.


Media Arts & Culture comprehensives projects can take one of two forms: Media Production or Critical Media.

Critical Media Concentration:

Students pursuing the Critical Media concentration can produce projects that take a range of forms including research papers, websites, video essays, or other hybrid forms of research creation. Projects are typically either a 25-page essay or a 7-10 minute video essay and 5-page video statement.

These projects can address aspects of film and media history, visual culture, digital culture, topics in representation, or narrative analysis. We ask that those pursuing the Critical Media concentration think creatively about approach, archival research strategies, and methodology.

Critical Media students must have taken at least two critical or historical media studies courses at the 200- or 300- level by the end of junior year (these are in addition to the Junior Seminar). It is also recommended that students take as many additional critical or hybrid MAC courses as possible before senior year, and relevant coursework from other Occidental departments may be counted towards the major upon approval of the faculty advisor.

Critical Media seniors enroll in a year-long MAC 490 Critical Senior Pro-Seminar with 2 units conferred in the fall and another 2 units in the spring. They produce a draft of their critical paper in the fall and set specific deadlines to complete rewrites or any multimodal components in the spring by the late March submission date. Students publicly present work during Senior Comprehensives Week in April.

Media Production Concentration:

Students pursuing the Media Production concentration produce 7-10 minute video works across a range of fictional, experimental, or documentary-based forms.  Site-specific or web-based media projects are also possible with proper planning and approval. For those pursuing Media Production, we expect theoretical, cultural, and historical contextualization of the project’s form and function.

Media Production students must have completed MAC 240, MAC 355, and if producing fiction, MAC 220, by the end of junior year.

Media Production seniors enroll in a 4-unit MAC 491 Production Senior Seminar in the fall of senior year. Students are then required to enroll in the 2-unit MAC 492 Advanced Editing class in the spring to support the editing of their projects by the late March submission date. Students must also meet with the primary faculty advisor in the spring for three required benchmark assessments--First Assembly, Picture Lock, and Final Assessment. Students publicly exhibit work during Senior Comprehensives Week in April.

The 10-minute maximum time limit for media production projects will be vigilantly enforced regardless of form (even if a project loops, or is broken up into several separate media segments or vignettes). This is to ensure that all media contained therein is developed, pre-produced and planned, shot, and completed with satisfactory depth and rigor.

With this openness to form and content, remember there are some practical realities to consider. Those producing media components should review the Student Production Handbook policies as well as the specific information on Senior Media Production Comps guidelines before developing a project to ensure your project is in line with budgetary, logistical, and safety regulations.



Students will receive a letter grade in their MAC Senior Seminar(s) based on course expectations set by the instructor. Additionally, student comprehensives projects will be assessed in late March/early April by the primary faculty advisor and will be given a “Pass" or “Fail" designation that is provided to the Registrar as indication of whether or not the College Comprehensives Requirement has been fulfilled. Projects are evaluated on the following criteria:

For Critical Media Projects:

  • Does the work have an original central thesis or argument?

  • Does the work exhibit a mastery of scholarly research?

  • Does the work use film/media studies methodologies with depth, clarity, and skill?

  • Does the work articulate the cultural, historical, formal, and/or narrative significance of the research project and clearly identify its significance within the field?

  • Is the work well written, well organized, and grammatically flawless?

  • Does the work seek to explore or push notions of “writing" in relation to audiovisual media in some fashion?

  • Does the project directly address a vital issue—whether personal, theoretical, social, or political?

  • Has the student fully engaged with mentoring, collaborative opportunities, and met deadlines in the senior year while realizing the project?

For Media Production Projects:

  • Does the project express a compelling and original central idea or question and demonstrate a personal voice/vision?

  • Does the project exhibit distinct and evocative use of the formal, narrative, and rhetorical strategies of audiovisual language to convey its meaning?

  • Does the project demonstrate strong technical capacities in the service of its story or central idea?

  • Does the project engage real-world issues and concerns—whether personal, social, or political?

  • Has the student fully engaged with mentoring, collaborative opportunities, and met deadlines in the senior year while realizing the project?



A designation of “Pass with Distinction" may occasionally be granted to projects that departmental faculty agree surpass the standard expectations for the evaluative criteria above. This is completely separate from the “honors" process described below. “Distinction" accolades are not a given every year and are granted only when clearly merited.



A student with an overall GPA of at least 3.5 overall and 3.6 in the major who has demonstrated excellence in departmental courses can submit a proposal for an honors project in the fall of senior year for completion in the spring of senior year.

Honors is an optional route of greater critical rigor, in which a student works with a faculty committee of two members (one primary advisor from within the student’s emphasis and one secondary advisor from either another department on campus or within MAC with whom the student has taken or will take at least one course before the spring of senior year) and conducts a deeper level of research, writing, and presentation which extends their senior comprehensives project.

Students should self-identify to a primary MAC faculty advisor to discuss their honors project ideas. A formal proposal and application are developed with the primary faculty advisor in the fall of senior year and submitted for departmental assessment and approval/denial by end of the fal semester. If the proposal is accepted, students should enroll in MAC 499 (Honors Research) in the spring to complete the Honors project, which will be publicly presented to the College Community in April during Senior Comps Week.

Consult with your faculty advisor for specific application materials and guidelines.

Contact Media Arts & Culture
Weingart 109
Katarzyna Marciniak
Department Chair