Art, Performance & Cinema Studies (APCS) is the only Bachelor of Arts degree offered by the School for the Contemporary Arts: it is a program devoted to the historical, theoretical and critical study of the contemporary arts, with a focus on visual art, performance and cinema. APCS takes full advantage of its place within a lively art school offering BFAs in Dance, Film, Music & Sound, Theatre Performance & Production, and Visual Art. In addition to having several opportunities to enrol in studio-based courses, students in our program are exposed to the most recent and exciting developments in the contemporary arts.

APCS offers two streams, one focussed on art and performance and one focussed on cinema studies. In the first two years of study, all APCS students gain a grounding in the histories and theories of visual art, performance, and cinema. In their third and fourth years, students further specialize in one of the two streams, and choose from a host of courses that include historical and thematic topics in visual culture, cinema, performance and sound studies, as well as critical theory, interdisciplinary research methods, critical writing in the arts, and curating. Many of the course offerings draw on the specific expertise of individual faculty members in the School.

APCS students have many opportunities for professional development, including a popular internship course that offers hands-on training at local arts organizations.

Art, Performance & Cinema Studies prepares students for careers such as arts writers, arts administrators, curators, and festival programmers. APCS also prepares students well for graduate study in a number of fields, and our students have gone on to pursue masters and doctoral degrees in art history, cultural studies, performance studies, critical and curatorial studies, English, liberal studies, library science, studio arts, and other fields. In addition, our students gain confidence and competency in a host of transferable skills that are useful in all fields of employment and study, including the ability to write and think critically, to research complex topics, to communicate effectively in multiple media, and to grasp the complexity of the contemporary world and the cultural and social issues that animate it.

For information about applying to the program, please follow the links at the Future Students section of our site.

Program Information

To discuss Art, Performance & Cinema Studies courses or a major or minor in the area, contact Professor Eldritch Priest, the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies area coordinator.

P: 778-782-9829 (ext 5)

To see detailed descriptions of the program options in the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies area, please visit the Academic Calendar.


What is special about APCS?

Our approach to the arts is unique: APCS is the only undergraduate degree at SFU, and one of only a handful in Canada, that studies the fine and performing arts from an integrated and comparative perspective, teaching students about the history, theory, and critical analysis of visual art, film, music and sound, and theatre and dance, among other artistic disciplines. Progressing as a cohort, and taking a mix of lecture and seminar courses, students get to know and work closely with their peers, as well as area faculty, all of whom are experts in their fields.

We are small, but we are big: APCS and the School for the Contemporary Arts as a whole offer every advantage of a small art school and all the opportunities of a large, comprehensive university. You get to know your professors and work with them very closely; you also have endless opportunities to meet other students in myriad settings outside the classroom at performances and exhibitions, screenings and talks. The Woodward's campus feels like a small town; it is comfortable yet exciting; it is knowable but very diverse. But you also have access to the dozens of nationally and internationally recognized departments and programs at all three of SFU's campuses. You can take classes in the sciences, in interactive technologies, in the arts and humanities, in business and economics and more, and you can put together an undergraduate program of courses that is rich and exciting. When you come to SFU you can get a fantastic art education at the same time that you can get a rewarding and challenging comprehensive university education. Few, if any, other universities offer such a context for learning.

What’s it like to do a BA in an interdisciplinary art school?

Unlike in other undergraduate programs focused on the study of a single art form (e.g., a BA in film studies, or theatre studies, or art history), APCS majors are immersed in a pedagogical culture that sees artmaking and its analysis not as siloed by discipline or medium. Instead, you will be part of an environment of doing and thinking that sees collaboration and critique across disciplines as inherently generative: for both art makers and art theorists (i.e., you). To that end, you will be taking classes alongside the next generation of emerging contemporary artists in all disciplines, trying your hand at studio courses of your own, and attending and writing about an exciting range of exhibitions, performances, and screenings in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. Seeing art made and exhibited while you are learning how to talk about its formal properties and conceptual and historical lineages is invaluable add-on training.

What will I study?

Students learn the histories and aesthetics of world cinema, modern and contemporary art movements, theories of performance, sound studies, critical writing in the arts, curation, and more.

Can I specialize in a given area?

Yes. The APCS major offers two streams: one in art and performance studies, and one in cinema studies. Lower division requirements for both streams are the same, with students thereafter having the option to tailor their degrees according to the upper division requirements for each stream.

I see that there are quite a few special topics classes. What's the advantage of that and what will their topics be?

A core feature of our curriculum is indeed the elective and special topics courses that you see in the course catalogue. These courses change from year to year, allowing students to take on a broader variety of topics that a static curriculum cannot provide. These courses also allow faculty to teach to their areas of current intellectual exploration, so you often get courses on the most exciting new areas of research.

Some recent topics of these courses have included:

  • Ghosts and the Supernatural in Contemporary Cinema
  • Creative Ecologies
  • The Cinema of Iran
  • Sound Art

Some upcoming topics include:

  • Fall 2021:
    • Magic and Cinema
    • The Art of Activism Today
  • Spring 2022:
    • Visual and Material Culture of 19th century Britain and Canada
    • Introduction to Filmmaking for APCS majors

Do students get practical and experiential training?

Yes. Students have the opportunity to pursue internships with local arts organizations that give them valuable skills in arts management, communications, archiving, and production. Additionally, many APCS students choose to participate in Field Schools that are regularly offered in Berlin and London, two of the major art capitals of Europe.

What can I do with this degree?

The APCS BA prepares students for a range of careers in the arts: curating and programming at festivals, galleries, and artist-run centres; working in arts administration, arts advocacy, and arts policy-making; writing arts criticism; and teaching arts education. It gives students all the skills you gain from a liberal arts degree, such as strong writing, argumentation, analysis, and oral communication skills; on top of that, APCS majors learn skills in acute audiovisual, art historical, curatorial, and performance studies analysis. The degree also prepares students for Master’s degrees in studies of the arts, including our own MA in Contemporary Arts.

The Comparative Media Arts Journal (CMA Journal)

The CMA Journal is a newly established open-access, student-run, peer-reviewed journal, publishing the best of graduate and postgraduate essays, artworks and experimental content, created and run by MA students.



APCS Catalogues

APCS Catalogues gather and present some of the best essays and projects from across the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies area.  

CA314: The Politics of Art and Visual Culture in Romantic-Era Britain

In CA314: The Politics of Art and Visual Culture in Romantic-Era Britain, students curated a series of exhibitions of rare books, prints, and postcards, from the Special Collections division of the W.A.C Bennett Library at Simon Fraser University. The exhibitions, which took the topics discussed in the seminar in new directions, were held in March in the glass display cases on the 3rd floor of the library until it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few of the physical exhibits, "In Pursuit of the Picturesque: Decolonising Perspectives on Land," and "Resistance: ain't I a woman? A History of Black Female Representation and the Aesthetics of the Female Body in Western Art History," have been adapted for online access as downloadable PDFs. 

Denise Oleksijczuk, April 2020

CA314: The Politics of Art and Visual Culture in Romantic-Era Britain

Alumni Stories

MA grad and alumnus Andrea Valentine-Lewis shares her experiences within the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies program.

MA graduate student Moroti Soji-George shares his experiences within the Art, Performance & Cinema Studies program.


Art, Performance & Cinema Studies


Visit our Undergraduate information page to find out about the application process and timeline for the SCA Art, Performance & Cinema Studies area.