A Guide to Comps in Cinema & Media Studies 

The senior integrative exercise, popularly known as “Comps,” is an individual or group self-directed student project.  Students will produce a work of substantial accomplishment that builds on and synthesizes their coursework in the major, and demonstrates maturity and mastery as an emerging scholar or artist. 

Students are assigned a primary and secondary faculty advisor. You are required to meet with your primary advisor three times: at the beginning of term for a check-in, in the middle of the term, and for a final feedback meeting. Your secondary advisor will also offer feedback at the midterm meeting.

Comps projects consist of five major components:

*Proposal: A 4-5 page project proposal with accompanying bibliography.

*Project: A scholarly paper, screenplay or television pilot, or media production project (typically a short film)

Note: students making media production projects will enroll in CAMS 370 the fall of their senior year and must enroll in CAMS 371 the winter of their senior year, concurrently with CAMS 400.

*Methods Essay: A 4-5 page methods essay with accompanying bibliography formatted in MLA style. 

*Symposium Presentation: Participation in Comps Symposium the third weekend of winter and spring terms.  In addition to presenting their own work the term following their comps term, students are expected to respond to the work of their peers.

*Process: Students are expected to follow the syllabus, attend to details, meet deadlines, etc.

See below for information about the Comps Exams option.

Comps Courses

CAMS 400: Integrative Exercise (a.k.a. Comps).  Students enroll in CAMS 400 fall or winter term of their senior year. The workload for CAMS 400 is equivalent to that of a typical six-credit course. Passing CAMS 400 entails the successful and timely completion of all required components of Comps as listed above.

CAMS 370 & CAMS 371: Advanced Production Workshop Sequence. Students making media production projects enroll in CAMS 370 the fall of their senior year and CAMS 371 the winter of their senior year, concurrently with CAMS 400.


Successful proposals demonstrate preparation for the project as reflected in CAMS coursework. For example, students proposing to write a scholarly paper should have taken, at minimum, CAMS 110 and a 200-level course in which they have developed the necessary skills in analysis and/or research. Students proposing a screenplay should have completed, at minimum, CAMS 111 and CAMS 264, 278 or 279. Students proposing production comps will have taken CAMS 270 (for those pursuing projects in Nonfiction modes) and/or 271 (for those pursuing projects in Fiction modes). Students are encouraged to think creatively about their Comps topics but to avoid proposing topics that are not supported by their coursework in CAMS. 


Scholarly papers are typically a development or furthering of a previous course paper or related topic.  Recommended length for scholarly papers is 25-30 pages, double-spaced, not to exceed 35 pages.

Feature length screenplays will  be 70-120 pages. Television pilots will be 20-35 pages (half-hour pilot) or 50-70 pages (one-hour pilot.)  Short screenplays will be 10-25 pages and require a detailed story outline. 

Short films will be a maximum of 10 minutes; recommended duration is 5-7 minutes. Please discuss the parameters for other potential media production projects with faculty.

Comps Exam

Exams will consist of three long-form essay questions drawn from a student’s CAMS coursework and will be open book. Students may elect to take the exam instead of completing a project. Note that the exam option will require extensive studying, writing, and revision. Please discuss the timeline with CAMS faculty to determine the best term to take the exam (deadlines in this syllabus are for papers, screenplays, TV pilots, and media productions). Students with three strikes will take the exam the term following their initial Comps term. 

Expenses associated with the research, production, exhibition, and archiving of a Comps project are the sole responsibility of the student. Students are encouraged to research and apply for funding that they are eligible for–including from the college and the department. 

Methods Essay

The Methods Essay is a 4-5 page (double-spaced) reflection on the historical, theoretical, and artistic contexts for the project, as well as an account of the process of creating your project. The essay must include a works cited page formatted in MLA style. Because the methods essay is meant to inform the development and unfolding of a Comps project, it will be developed early and nurtured frequently.

Comps Symposium

Comps Symposium is the public forum in which students present their work and respond to the work of their peers.  It is held the third weekend of winter and spring terms. Students present the term following their comps term.


CAMS 400 grades will be recorded with the Registrar late spring term.  Students will receive a letter of notification from the faculty at that time, indicating that they have satisfactorily completed all requirements for Comps.  Distinction in the major may be awarded based on a combination of overall academic excellence in the major (having a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 in CAMS) and in all components of Comps.  Distinction is awarded for exceptional work at the discretion of the faculty.

A final grade of S (C- or better) is required to pass CAMS 400 and graduate. Should you fall below the C- threshold, you will need to re-enroll in CAMS 400. CAMS 400 is not offered spring term.