Screen has its origins in the Society of Film Teachers, a voluntary subscription body founded in 1950 with the aim of promoting the teaching of film appreciation in schools, colleges and youth clubs. In Summer 1952, the SFT launched a journal, The Film Teacher, in whose first issue editor Derek J. Davies noted 'the day when film appreciation was either unknown or regarded as the province of cranks is fast receding'.
The high production costs of a printed journal meant that publication of The Film Teacher was irregular, and two years later it was replaced by a mimeographed SFT Newsletter edited by Jan B. Hoare. The Newsletter continued to appear in this format for five years, with a change of title in 1955 to Film Teacher and the appointment in 1956 of a new editor, H. R. (Ray) Wills.
In 1959 the SFT changed its name to the Society for Education in Film and Television and in October of that year the first issue of SEFT's printed journal Screen Education was published under the continuing editorship of Ray Wills. Between 1959 and 1968, forty-six individually numbered issues of Screen Education were produced.
At the beginning of 1969, the journal was relaunched as Screen (vol. 10, no. 1). By this time SEFT had become a grant-in-aid body of the British Film Institute with offices in the BFI's Education Department in Central London. The journal's new editors, Kevin Gough-Yates and Terry Bolas, announced that Screen would provide a forum in which controversial issues relevant to the study of film and television could be examined and argued, adding that it was by no means clear what the nature of Film Study should be. In the event, Screen was to assume a key role in defining the field.
SEFT continued to receive grant funding from the BFI until 1989, during which time Screen was edited successively by Sam Rohdie, Ben Brewster, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Mark Nash and Mandy Merck. During this period SEFT launched a second journal, Screen Education, which focused on film and television pedagogy and published forty-one issues between 1971 and 1982 under the editorship successively of Manuel Alvarado, James Donald and Angela McRobbie.
In 1989, SEFT was disbanded and Screen moved its production base to the John Logie Baird Centre at the University of Glasgow. Oxford University Press took over as publisher of the journal, which was now co-edited by a group of Glasgow-based academics: John Caughie (University of Glasgow), Alan Durant (Strathclyde University), Simon Frith (Strathclyde University), Sandra Kemp (University of Glasgow), Norman King (University of Glasgow) and Annette Kuhn (University of Glasgow). Caughie, Frith, King, Kuhn had previously been officials of SEFT and/or editorial members of Screen.
The current editors are based in universities across the UK, and are supported by an international Editorial Advisory Board.