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Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management (MA)


Film and photography preservation has been redefined by digital technologies. Responding to these dramatic changes, Toronto Met's F+PPCM program provides a rigorous and intensive professional education of applied and theoretical courses in the history, technology and intellectual organization of image and audiovisual collections. The only program of its kind in the world, F+PPCM offers a curriculum developed and delivered by a range of specialists, from historians and practitioners of photo- and film-based media to museum, library and archive professionals. The two-year course of study includes an internship and a second-year residency in a growing list of international partner museums and institutions.

Degree awarded: MA

Administered by: The Creative School

F+PPCM graduate program website

 (PDF file) F+PPCM graduate program calendar 2023-24


Course Code Degree Requirements: Master of Arts Credits
  Major Research Project/Thesis           Milestone
  Field Placement           Milestone
PP8001 MRP Development Seminar 1
PP8010 Internship 2
PP8102 Research Methods 1
PP8107 Digital Appl for Collectn Mgmt 1
PP8110 Cataloguing & Registrn Methods 1
PP8207 Digital Preservation 1
  And one of the following specializations:  
PP8100 History of Photography I 1
PP8103 Photographic Collections 1
PP8104 19th Cent Photo Mater/Proc 1
PP8106 20th Cent Photo Mater/Proc 1
PP8108 History of Photography II 1
PP8109 Photographic Preservation 1
PP8111 Exhibition and Publication 1
  Film Preservation  
PP8150 History of film 1
PP8151 Film Materials and Processes 1
PP8153 Mgt of Film Collections        1
PP8154 Early Film and its Preservation 1
PP8155 Film Curation & Exhibition         1
PP8156 Film Production Processes        1
PP8206 Orphan Films 1
  Students in the second year of the program may choose to remain in Toronto for their institutional residency or join partner institutions across Canada, US and Europe. Institutional partners include the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Image Centre, Library and Archives Canada, Cinémathèque Quebecois, the National Gallery of Canada, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Musée Nicéphore Niépce, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Swedish Film Institute  


Major Research Project/Thesis

The MRP/Thesis provides the opportunity to explore an aspect of film or photographic history, its preservation, or a collection management practice. The project is a sustained investigation, either an applied project, an academic argument, or a combination of the two that includes a discussion of a research question, situates that research within the appropriate intellectual and historical context, draws upon the relevant literature, and provides a technical or methodological analysis. This is a Milestone. Pass/Fail

Field Placement

The six-month Field Placement provides the opportunity to gain professional experience at one of the F+PPCM programme’s partner institutions. It allows students to apply the theoretical, practical, and historical knowledge gained in the academic component of their studies to procedures and practices in collecting institutions, to acquire professional, collections management and research skills, to participate in institutional projects, and to secure career-appropriate experience. This is a Milestone. Pass/Fail

PP8001 MRP/Thesis Development Seminar

This seminar is designed to assist students with the development of their MRP/Thesis through the proposal, preliminary bibliography, outline, timetable, and oral report stages. The course is based on the premise that the successful conception, execution, and completion of an MRP/Thesis is a systematic process, one that is developed over a period of time in identifiable stages, each building upon the previous one. The course is practical in its orientation and is tailored to the needs of each student.

Antirequisite: PP8000. 1 Credit. Pass/Fail

PP8010 Internship

For a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve consecutive weeks, students will participate in the current activities or long-term plans of an institution. Students are strongly encouraged to undertake their internship during their third term and are required to present their internship experience in their fourth. 2 Credits. Pass/Fail

PP8100 History of Photography I

Using primary sources, this course provides a survey of the medium's history from early experiments to the present. It provides an overview of photography's development and its impact on society as both a cultural and sociological phenomenon. It familiarizes students with canonical and alternative histories of photography. 1 Credit

PP8102 Research Methods

This course aims to improve students’ research skills in the histories of photography and film. Students will learn how to organize and execute historical research, and to understand the ethical collection, dissemination, and ownership of research data. With appropriate exercises, they will learn how to determine a research subject, how to build a bibliography, how to summarize scholarly papers and books, how to make oral presentations, and how to write a research essay. 1 Credit.

PP8103 Photographic Collections

This course studies photographic collections as specialized repositories of historical knowledge and cultural value. It identifies different types of public and private photographic collections as reflections of governmental, commercial, cultural, and community needs and describes their histories, purposes, intellectual organization and physical management. The course includes presentations by field specialists and/or visits to different sites and types of collections, their purposes and practices. 1 Credit

PP8104 Photographic Materials and Processes: The Nineteenth Century

This course provides a detailed investigation of the history and practice of major nineteenth-century photographic negative and positive processes, including photogenic drawings, calotypes, cased images (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes), wet-plate collodion negatives, and albumen prints through lectures, practical demonstrations, darkroom and studio experimentation, and relevant historical literature. 1 Credit

PP8106 Photographic Materials and Processes: The Twentieth Century

This course provides a detailed investigation of the history, practice, and the social and cultural implications of major twentieth century photographic negative and positive processes. These include platinum prints, gum bichromate prints, gelatin silver negatives and prints, chromogenic printing, instant photography, and digital printing. Students will learn through lectures, practical demonstrations, darkroom and studio experimentation, and relevant literature. 1 Credit

PP8107 Digital Applications for Collection Management

This course will investigate current theories and practices for the digitisation and representation of film and photographic archival materials. It will provide students with practical experience using digital technologies that facilitate the preservation of and access to both private and public collections. Workflow, management software and automation are explored in detail. 1 Credit

PP8108 History of Photography II

Using the collection of The Image Centre and the Art Gallery of Ontario as its basis, this seminar provides the forum for students to investigate specific historical, cultural, political, or artistic issues arising out of the histories of photography. Students will gain a greater understanding of the medium and its social uses through a detailed examination and interpretation of original materials. Collecting and curating issues are also explored throughout the course. 1 Credit

PP8109 Photographic Preservation

This course provides an overview of the history of the philosophy, ethics, concerns, and methods of preservation. It covers the materials, tools, sources of supply, and ways of providing protection for photographs through proper mounting, housing, and stabilization procedures. It also covers the purposes and procedures for collection management. Students will also be introduced to conservation procedures in order to facilitate their interaction with conservators and their practices. 1 Credit

PP8110 Cataloguing and Registration Methods

This course provides an overview of the purpose and function of film and photography collection cataloguing and registration. It includes an overview of the function of registration and cataloguing staff, developing cataloguing systems and vocabularies, the roles and usage of collections management database technology, collections management procedures, shipping and receiving, insurance and condition reports. Analogue and digital collections management methodologies are discussed. 1 Credit.

PP8111 Exhibition and Publication of Photographs

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of issues and policies related to the exhibition and publication of photographs. It covers preservation issues involved in preparing, installing, monitoring, and circulating photographic exhibitions, as well as copyright and reproduction issues. Digital applications and issues are also discussed. The course culminates in a Public Exhibition. 1 Credit.

PP8150: History of Film 1

This course provides a historiographical overview of canonical and alternative film histories from the advent of sound to the present. It surveys the evolution of film genres, and considers the impact of film on society as both a cultural and socio-political phenomenon. The course will also explore topics in Canadian film history, including Indigenous and regional films. 1 Credit

PP8151: Film Materials and Processes

This course provides an overview of the diverse histories and practices of motion picture film processes as they are related to preservation. Archival film handling and inspection practices will be taught and supported by an investigation of the technical aspects of motion picture film including bases, gauges, element types, edge marks, soundtracks, and various forms of damage. Technical skills will be grounded in film preservation principles and ethical concepts. 1 Credit

PP8153 Management of Film Collections

This course is concerned with moving image (film, videotape, audio-visual digital materials) collections as specialized repositories of historical knowledge and cultural values. It examines issues surrounding the management and the accessibility of moving image materials, apparatus and ephemera in specific contexts. It studies different types of public and private moving image collections and describes their histories, purposes, intellectual organization and physical management. 1 Credit

PP8154 Topics in Early Film and its Preservation

This course aims to interrogate the social and cultural context of the first decades of motion pictures and analyzes the developments which helped shape the cinema’s subsequent form as popular entertainment. The course critically examines the capitalist, colonial contexts for the global circulation of early cinema up to the advent of sound film, and questions the priorities of archival preservation. 1 Credit

PP8155 Issues in Film Curation and Exhibition

This course provides an overview of the ethical issues and policies related to the critically-engaged curation and exhibition of film. It covers collection appraisal and preservation issues involved in preparing, handling, monitoring, and circulating films for viewing, as well as copyright and reproduction issues. The course explores the practices around film exhibitions at galleries, museums, artist-run centres, community archives and specialty film societies. Film print projection will be stressed. 1 Credit

PP8156 Film Production Processes

This course will survey film and media production processes from the perspective of film archivists. Course content includes an analysis of the social and cultural implications of motion picture technology, colour processes and sound formats. Students will learn advanced film handling and repair, lab work procedures, print evaluations and how to inspect the unique physical qualities of the object during projection. 1 Credit

PP8206 Topics in Film Preservation: Orphan Films

Orphan films are unprotected, often without clear copyright, and include almost any non-commercial genre, from newsreels, regional documentaries, avant-garde and independent productions, to amateur works and scientific and ethnographic footage. To a large degree, the preservation of these films has fallen to non-profit and public organizations. This course will examine the role of orphan film preservation in protecting cultural and historical documents of disparate communities. 1 Credit

PP8207 Digital Preservation

This course investigates current theories and practices for the preservation of digitized and born-digital materials. Students learn how digital repositories work, the infrastructures, systems, policies and procedures needed for long-term preservation and access, including the identification of file formats and knowledge of relevant software and preservation-related metadata. The interaction of archivists and patrons with repositories and the ethics of digital procedures are emphasized. 1 Credit