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Film Studies with Philosophy

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Film Studies with Philosophy

BA
  • UCAS code W6V5
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

How do film and television interact with society? Do audio-visual media simply reflect the world around us, or do they help to make it what it is?  By combining Film Studies (75% of your course) with Philosophy (25%) you'll bring different and exciting approaches to the understanding of film.

Our unique 360˚ approach to cinema allows you to understand film from every angle: from stars to directors, historical origins to contemporary economics, socio-political contexts, to aesthetic achievements and from the dynamics of screenplays to the global cultures that shape production, reception and film form itself. You'll come away from the course speaking confidently about concepts and ideas, with the ability to deftly critique them, too – ideal skills for the communication industries, creative arts and beyond.

Taking this approach, you will study film and television from Hollywood and Europe, Bollywood, Asia and Latin America alongside a range of more experimental non-narrative film, television and digital media forms.

You'll get a comprehensive grounding in the history and theory of moving image media, including the opportunity to undertake courses in screenwriting.  After a grounding in the key theoretical and historical aspects of film in your first year, you can go on to explore those topics that intrigue you and capture your attention in film and television’s rich artistic, social and political traditions.

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • World-leading experts in Hollywood, Bollywood, European and world cinema.
  • Go beyond the norm, looking at experimental, non-narrative media.
  • Learn to question concepts and critically analyse media.
  • Gain a grounding in contemporary philosophy.
  • Fully optional third year lets you follow your interests.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of film, television and digital media history. You will look at how and where digital media intersect and converge with these moving image forms, examining media from the late 19th century through to the present. You will consider how even 'old' technologies were 'new' at some point, and analyse the relationship between technological, social and aesthetic developments in new media forms.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key debates in critical theory. You will look at a range of different methods in studying film, television and digital media, including artistic achievement and critical interpretation, close textual analysis, ideological analysis, national cinema, and psychoanalysis. You will examine the relationship between the intentions of individual film and programme-makers and wider processes. You will consider films and television programmes in close detail, analysing the relationship between how something is achieved and what it means.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of patterns of narrative in film, television and documentary. You will look at narrative structure, patterns and distinctions in storytelling methods and styles, the relationship between narrative and identity, and points of view. You will also examine the social and cultural context of narrative and consider adaptation, postmodern and open-ended narrative, issue-driven narrative and television drama narrative structures.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key tenets of film theory and learn to apply these to a selection of important pre- and post-war European and international films. You will look at aspects of film style, genre and national and international contexts.You will consider canonical works from a century of cinema history by filmmakers such as Joseph von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Pedro Almodovar, and examine significant examples of technique and style.

  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

Year 2
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

Year 3
  • Media Arts Dissertation

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.

Year 2
  • Film Theory: Hitchcock and Point of View
  • Post-Classical Hollywood
  • Television Histories
  • Modern European Cinema
  • Contemporary Chinese Cinemas
  • Exotic Cinema: Encounters with Cultural Difference
  • Modernism and Avant Garde Film
  • Beyond Bollywood: Indian Cinema in a Transitional Frame
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the core concepts of the digital age, looking at how today's computer networks, devices and infrastructure underpin nearly all forms of aesthetic, cultural social and political life. You will consider the concepts of technicity, affective turn, digital subjectivity and extended mind, creative expression and participation in the digital era, amateur production, free software, fun and politics, self-organisation, media archaeology and sonic architectures. You will examine the systematic challenges brought about by digital change and critically interpret and analyse digital phenomena.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how creativity is constrained and enabled by the industrial logics of the creative industries. You will focus on film, television and digital media, exploring issues such as economics and financing, pitching and commissioning, policy and regulation, copyright, formats and global trade, ratings and audience measurement, branding and marketing, digital production logics, and production cultures. You will also consider a number of important industry-oriented research skills, such as interviewing, market/demographic analysis, locating and interpreting legal documents, and archival research.

  • The module is divided into two parts, the first exploring crucial issues of filmmaking, film studies and the ‘transnational’ from the perspective of largely contemporary Latin American cinema, the second focusing on a range of European films from the 1970s to the present. The introductory two weeks of the module will introduce students to these concerns; the final two weeks of the module will bring both parts together and establish some conclusions (for example, what, if anything, constitutes a ‘European’ or ‘Latin American’ or ‘transnational’ film).

  • This year-long module examines key examples of French cinema from its beginnings to the present day, focusing on the avant-garde and surrealist films of the 1920s, social realist films of the 1930s, the New Wave which began in the late 1950s, and its ‘postmodern’ legacy in the 1980s followed by a return to realism in the new millennium. The module entails close, critical analysis of film style, though no prior knowledge of film theory is required.

  • Childhood and youth - the formative periods in our lives - are obviously crucial for individuals, society and culture. They are also contested and controversial concepts. Children and adolescents have long been the subject of social, familial and educational pressures against which they have often rebelled in an attempt to assert their individuality and develop their own identities. This module introduces you to a range of literary and cinematic responses to the lives of children and young people in the context of the German speaking countries from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing on a range of classic and recent texts and films, it explores the historical contexts of the theme and considers the social, political and ethical issues involved in the representation of young people and of institutions such as the school and the military.

  • During the module attention will be devoted to analysing samples from early Twentieth century Mexican visual arts. Students will study the Mexican Mural Movement and will analyse the work of its most prominent members. Attention will be paid to the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. The first part of this module will also cover the photographic works of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tina Modotti, Mariana Yampolski, Araceli Herrera and Graciela Iturbide. During the second part of this module students will be introduced to some of the most significant cinematic works from Mexico’s century of filmmaking. Students will analyse some of the most important filmic genres from a wide range of directors and periods in Mexican cinematic history. On this module students will be introduced to some areas of film theory and will learn how to apply theoretical concepts to a reading of Mexican visual arts and films.

  • In this module students will study films from the last twenty years in Spain. The films selected will in different ways express representations of identity in Spain. We will explore issues such as national and regional identities, linguistic diversity and national identity, Spanishness, cultural memory, history on screen, urban versus rural experience, cultural diversity, immigration and the portrayal of gender within new family paradigms.

  • On this module students will examine the ways in which critical historical moments in Latin America have been represented visually in a global context. We will explore how political unrest in Latin America has been memorialised by both filmmakers and photographers, with the aim of re-thinking how global imaginaries concerning the rebel and revolution have been constructed in film and photography.

  • Postwar Italian Cinema: the Auteur Tradition
Year 3
  • Contemporary British Cinema 1
  • Digital Cultures
  • Film Aesthetics 1: Issues of Interpretation and Evaluation
  • Psychoanalysis and Cinema
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the destruction of European Jewry by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 has been represented and responded to across a range of both fictional and non-fictional media. You will look at the specific theoretical debates surrounding how the Holocaust can or should (or should not) be represented in art and popular culture. You will consider the role of mass media in constructing both popular and elite relationships to historical experience, and in documenting history.

  • Media Technologies
  • See This Sound - Audiovisuology
  • Cinephilia
  • 360º Cinema
  • Political Cinema: From Eisenstein to Youtube
  • The Poetics of Contemporary Television
  • Contemporary British Cinema 2
  • Film Aesthetics 2
  • This module explores cinematic representations of the transnational encounter between people, cultures and institutions interconnected by the forces of globalization. The topics covered range from (anti-)colonialism and revolution to neo-colonialism, postcoloniality and migration. Attention is paid to the ways in which the films deal with the themes of emancipation, hybridity, displacement, global capitalism and politics, and cosmopolitanism. The module covers the development of transnational cinema from its origins with Third Cinema and then goes on to explore postcolonial and migration cinema covering areas ranging from South America and Africa to Europe.

  • Text and Image in France: from Cubism to the Present
  • The module examines murder and political uses of violence in twentieth-century French literary works and films, considering how far they can be explained or ever judged to be legitimate. The second half of the module studies some of the specific problems involved in understanding and representing the Holocaust.

  • This module will introduce you to one of the most crucial and controversial subjects in modern German history, society and culture. You will study a broad range of examples of the visual representation of National Socialism as an ideology, a political movement and a 'national' phenomenon, from the 1930s to the present day. You will think about the changing ways in which Germany has sought to deal with the legacy and memory of Hitler's regime.

  • The module brings together the study of the topics of fascism, organised crime and post-war and contemporary terrorism in Italy through film narrative. Students will be presented with the key ideological, social and political issues to be explored in films, that is, violence as a means to both assert and undermine State authority through dictatorial, criminal, and terroristic power. Students will study films such as Bertolucci’s Il conformista (The Conformist,1970), Bellochio’s Buongiorno notte (Good Morning, Night, 2003), Giordana’s I cento passi (The Hundred Steps, 2000), Garrone’s Gomorra (2008), Sorrentino’s Il divo (2008).

  • On this module students will explore the horror genre by exploring a broad range of films made in Spain and Latin America. Following an introduction to horror filmmaking, we will analyse texts in relation to horror’s numerous subgenres (gothic, physiological, psychological, science fiction, zombie etc.) and will learn both how to identify different types of horror film as well as to situate them in the history of horror filmmaking.

  • On this module students will learn how to identify some of the traits of contemporary Mexican cinema, a period of filmmaking which has been recognised as one of the most fruitful in cinematic history. The films selected for analysis on this module will be examined within the context of contemporary Mexico: an era rife with socio-political unrest. We will learn how political corruption, social violence and the recent Drug Wars have shaped the narratives of the films we will explore, and how these issues have dictated the emergence of new filmic genres. Students will learn about how youth culture and its manifestations are explored in film and will be able to place the films studied in their socio-historic contexts.

  • Seducing the Nation: Spanish Film 1940s to 1980s
  • Modern European Philosophy 1: Husserl to Heidegger
  • Modern European Philosophy 2: Critical Theory and Hermeneutics
  • The Varieties of Scepticism
  • The Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, small-group tutorials, screenings, practical workshops, media practice including location work, or using our purpose-built TV studio and multimedia labs, group work and guided independent research and study. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

Assessment is carried out by a combination of examinations at the end of your first year, and after that, written assignments (essays, scripts or production papers), extended essays, assessed coursework, and a portfolio of practical work.

Outside the tasks and assessments required by their curriculum, students are encouraged to take full advantage of our technical facilities which are available on a 24/7 basis to create a portfolio of individual creative work.

5th highest average graduate earnings

Source: 5 years after graduation, Longitudinal Education Outcomes, 2018 (Media Arts)

10th in the UK for Film Production

Source: Guardian University Guide, 2020 (Media Arts)

7th in the UK for research quality

Source: Complete University Guide, 2020 (Media Arts)

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