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Film Studies course units


Film Studies has a modular structure, which means you take 12 course units across your degree. You’ll study four units a year with a one-term course typically valued at 0.5 units while a two-term course counts as a full unit. Some of these units are compulsory but you can choose the other units you study giving you choice and flexibility.

All units are assessed when they have been completed. Your final degree classification is determined by your performance in the eight units you’ll take in your second and third years. You must pass your first year to progress to your second and third years. Assessment is carried out by a combination of written papers, extended essays and unseen examinations.

We use a range of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. In your first year you’ll be given strong foundations for more advanced study over the rest of your degree.

Take a look at the course units you could study.

Throughout your degree you’ll have more opportunities to individualise your units allowing you to pursue your particular interests.

A foundational first year offers all students a comprehensive grounding in the history of Hollywood, European and world cinemas, global television and avant-garde and experimental film. You’ll also learn central theoretical questions and approaches in the study of moving image media and film narrative.

Our production workshop also enables you to explore the ways in which theoretical understandings of filmmaking arise out of, and are put to the test by, a practical production environment. 

Typical course units:

MA1051-Film and Television History  - This will introduce you to film and television history spanning the past 100 years from the advent of cinema to modern technologies.

MA1052-Introduction to Critical Theory and Textual Analysis – You’ll cover Theories of Ideology,  Television, National Cinemas, Gender and Psychoanalysis as well as Film and Analysis on this two-term course. 

ML1101 -Reading European Film I – This introductory film course will give you knowledge on how European cinema developed along national and regional lines, an appreciation of the different styles and genres of cinema and key filmmakers and the fundamentals of classical film theory.

ML1102 -The Birth of European Film – You’ll be introduced to the early phase of European Cinema, with the course being concerned with the period between 1895 and 1930.

MA1054 -Introduction to Narrative – This will give you an introduction to narrative structures and strategies in film and television.

MA1053 -Production Workshop – You’ll explore the ways in which theoretical understandings of filmmaking arise out of, and are put to the test by, a practical production environment.

All second year students take a core course in research skills. Your remaining courses are chosen from a range of options that build on the core competences developed in the first year. These options typically look in closer detail at one historical period, genre and/or national tradition in film or television.

In addition, subject to numbers, timetabling and the approval of your home department, you may include a relevant or complementary option from courses available in similar departments (e.g. English, Music, Classics, History, Modern Languages).

MA2051-Women's Cinema - On this course you’ll be introduced to women’s cinema, what it is, and the importance of gender politics to an understanding of film. The focus is on films from the 1980’s until the modern day.

MA2052 -Documentary - Each week, you’ll examine a single film whose construction highlights a particular issue and will discuss it in conjunction with a selected written text. This course examines the ideas that both audiences and filmmakers use to discuss documentaries. 

MA2054 -Psychoanalysis - This course outlines key Freudian concepts and uses these to analyse individual films.

MA2055 -Inter-war Modern European Cinema - You’ll be introduced to the most important movements of European film history between 1914 and 1939 including Soviet Montage and Surrealism.

MA2056 -Media and History: Holocaust - This course aims to see how the Holocaust has been represented and responded to across a range of both fictional and non-fictional media.

MA2057 -Film Theory: Hitchcock & Point of View - The central concern of this course is point of view in narrative films, using Alfred Hitchcock films as case studies.

MA2059 -European Modernism and Avant-Garde Film - On this course you’ll be introduced to the neglected field of Avant-Garde film making and its development in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.

MA2061 -Hollywood Star Performances - You can study acting and performance in popular cinema, including that of stars in Hollywood films, on this course.

MA2064 -TV Genre - This course introduces you to theories of genre in television, such as sitcoms, soap operas and news, as well as different approaches that have been used to study genre in television.

MA2065 -Modern European Cinema - You’ll explore the development of modern cinema in post-war Europe, with a focus on major directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkosvy.

MA2066 -Post Classical Hollywood - This course gives you the opportunity to study the American commercial film industry since 1945, with emphasis on the change in mode of production after the collapse of the studio system in the 1950s.

MA2069 -Video Art - On this course, you’ll study video as film, contemporary video’s relation to mass culture and fear of television, to name just a few topics.

MA2070 -TV Identity - This course will help you understand the relationship between TV and identity, whether personal, social/cultural or national.

MA 2072-The Culture of Celebrity - On this course, you’ll acquire an historic, psychodynamic and sociological understanding of the production and consumption of celebrity through mass media.

MA2076 Contemporary Chinese Cinema - You’ll be introduced to the history, formal complexities and cultural politics of the contemporary cinemas of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

MA2077 Beyond Bollywood - This course provides a critical overview of the history, aesthetics and cultural politics of cinema in India, which produces the highest number of films in the world. You’ll focus on the Hindi cinema of Bombay (Mumbai) known as Bollywood.

FR 2106-Cinema in France: Modernism to Postmodernism - On this course you’ll examine key examples of French cinema from 1920 to the present day. 

IT2340-Postwar Italian Cinema - You’ll study art house films released in Italy between the 1940s and 1960s. The films selected are key expressions of Neorealism and cinematic modernism in Italy. 

GM2115-History & Politics Reflected in German Cinema 1930s-1990s  – This course examines the way in which cinema not only reflects reality but also manipulates perception and helps to constitute historical and political consciousness using ten films that reflect particular political images of German history. 

SN2103-  Constructing Identity in Modern Spanish Film - In this course you’ll study Spanish film from the last 20 years, with each expressing a Spanish identity in a different way.

SN2111-Contemporary Spanish Film

ML2101-Reading European Film II - What makes a film European? This course aims to define this tricky term as well as its negative – ‘non-European’ - by looking at some of the most exciting modern and contemporary films made in the last 40 years across Europe and Latin America.

In your final year, you’ll combine advanced coursework with independent study. For 75 per cent of your assessment you’ll choose from a range of course options, mostly two-term full-unit modules. These are taught exclusively in small seminar-style groups and relate closely to the research specialism of the course tutor.

Subject to numbers, timetabling and the approval of the department, you may include a relevant or complementary course option from a similar department (including English, Music, Classics, History or Modern Languages). All students also write a dissertation – a 10,000 word essay on a topic of your choice. You’ll be supervised by an individual staff member with relevant research expertise.

MA3054 -Modern European Cinema - In the first term of this course, you’ll look at East and West German cinema from 1945 until the present day covering the rubble films of the 1940s, East Germany’s anti-fascist films and reunification comedies. During the second term, you’ll examine the response of radical French and French-language film makers to the political and social transformations in France.

MA3056 -Avenues & Alleyways: Representations of the City  – On this course, you’ll study how the city is represented in silent films, how cities are built in films, how urban desires, fears and phobias are presented in films between 1945 and 1980 and fantasy cities.

MA3058 -TV Fictions - This course focuses on forms of television fiction over the 50 year span of surviving material. Programmes from both the UK and US will be studied, including Dynasty, NYPD Blue and Footballers’ Wives.

MA3059 -Self-Representation - You’ll explore the conception and representation of self-identity in filmic media (including video) since the invention of the camera.

MA3061 -Dissertation - The course will start with a five-week lecture course introducing you to more advanced research methodologies and consolidating the theoretical approaches already learnt throughout your degree.  You’ll then be expected to write an 8,000 to 10,000 word dissertation, with guidance from a supervisor.

MA3062 -Research Project - Again, you’ll have a five-week introduction about compiling a research project. You’re assessed by a 500 word proposal (5 per cent), a Critical Study of 5,000-6,000 words (85 per cent) and an Evaluation of 1,000 words (10 per cent).

MA3063 -The Gothic, Gender and Sexuality - This course explores issues of fantasy, gender and identity in the context of ‘Gothic’ media texts. While the course concentrates on horror films, you’ll also get the chance to study television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

MA3064 -Television Histories - On this course, you’ll take a historical approach to the analysis of television programmes. It asks how and why television has changed historically and introduced various ways in which television’s history has been written.

MA3065 -Film Aesthetics - This is a course for the advanced study of film, film interpretation and evaluation as well as the philosophical and theoretical issues that relate to these issues. Questions, such as can films be works of art? and how do we apply ideas about individual creation to a mass art form? will be answered. 

MA3069 -Material Procedures: Paradigms/Parameters 1960 - 1980

MA3070 -World Cinema - You’ll be introduced to cinemas from outside the West and this course enables you to apply theory to them. Films from Africa, Asia and South America will be studied.

MA3071 -Contemporary British Cinema - This course critically examines key issues and themes in contemporary British cinema, including its relationship with Hollywood, representations of the past, costume drama and representations of class, gender and race, to name just a few.

IT3860-Fascism/Mafia Fiction/Film - On this course, you’ll study the topics of fascism, organised crime and post-war and contemporary terrorism in Italy through film narrative. 

SN3111-Contemporary Mexican Cinema - You’ll learn how to identify some of the traits of contemporary Mexican cinema, a period of film making recognised as one of the most fruitful in Mexican cinematic history. The films will be examined in the context of 1990s Mexico.

MA3072-German Cinema: from the post-war era to the present - During this course, you’ll learn about the rebuilding of the German film industry after the Second World War, rubble films and New German Cinema, to name just a few. You’ll also visit the London Film Festival.

MA3073-Critical Problems in Modernisms and Modernity - This course examines ideas of time and space and new media  (film and radio) in high modernism. 

MA3074-Cinephilia (from 1915 to the present) - Cinephilia is the name given to a particular kind of love for cinema, notably that of the Cahiers du Cinèma critics in the 1950s and 1960s – many of whom would go on to become the major filmmakers of the French New Wave.



Pre-term reading list

John Berger Ways of Seeing (Penguin, 1990)

Pam Cook and Mieke Bernink The Cinema Book (BFI, 1999)

*John Gibbs Mise-en-Scène: Film Style and Interpretation (Wallflower Press, 2001)

*Jostein Gripsrud Understanding Media Culture (Hodder Arnold, 2002)

Eric Hobsbawm Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991 (Abacus, 1995)

Sidney Lumet Making Movies (Bloomsbury, 1996)

Walter Murch In the Blink Of An Eye – A perspective of Film editiing (Silman James Press 1995)

A.L. Rees A History of Experimental Film and Video (BFI, 1999)

Deborah Thomas Reading Hollywood (Wallflower Press, 2001)

Lynn Truss Eats, Shoots and Leaves (Profile Books, 2004)

Please also try to watch as many films as possible before starting your degree. Try to watch one silent film, one black and white film, one European film and one film from outside Europe and North America.


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