MA Film Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Film Theories, Debates and Approaches

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM71331
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit introduces students to the key tenets and approaches in film studies, theories and debates over the past fifty years or more. It offers a survey, grounded in close film textual analysis, of established approaches such as the debates on formalism, aesthetics and authorship, as well as broader contextual questions of identity and representation, the advent of reception and audience studies into the discipline and the value of working with archives.  The unit also offers an exploration into more recent developments in the discipline, such as practice as a mode of research and will provide students with the opportunity to develop and implement practical skills in non-linear digital video editing in order to present their own research. The unit will encourage students to practice the analysis of film from perspectives they might not normally consider so as to broaden the range of analytical tools they will have at their future disposal.





Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Film Cultures: Research, Industries and Practice DRAM71442 Co-Requisite Compulsory


1. To have an overview of the key tenets and debates in the discipline of Film Studies

2. To learn to read film texts critically and historically 

3. To engage critically with key theoretical debates and practices in Film Studies



Teaching and learning methods



Knowledge and understanding

  1. Deepen and advance their analysis of film form and aesthetics and engage critically and comprehensively with wider theoretical debates about the medium and its history
  2. Contextualise films and filmmaking within broader theoretical and industrial developments and understand their various interrelationships
  3. Explore film practice as research in dialogue with more traditional forms of research
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of good practice in film-related pedagogical material evident in the virtual learning environment (VLE)

Intellectual skills

  1. Demonstrate advanced independent thinking
  2. Apply relevant cultural and theoretical concepts to film texts
  3. Undertake precise close film textual analysis with specialist knowledge
  4. Engage with theoretical texts and concepts critically

Practical skills

  1. Make effective contributions to group work and discussions
  2. Present advanced ideas and intellectual arguments orally in class discussions
  3. Demonstrate advanced critical writing skills
  4. Undertake research design and presentation at Master’s level
  5. Employ non-linear digital video editing skills in order to convey advanced and persuasive arguments audio-visually

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  1. Exercise independence in self-directed learning
  2. Demonstrate advanced critical thinking
  3. Demonstrate advanced ability to articulate ideas and argument cohesively, comprehensively and effectively
  4. Develop individual leadership and collaborative working skills in a group setting

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Research Proposal



Written Essay or Video Essay




Feedback methods

How and when feedback is provided

Formative feedback provided during ungraded class presentations and discussions; and office hour consultations.


Summative feedback provided via Turnitin on Blackboard.




Recommended reading

Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen, eds. (1999) Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.


Cook, Pam and Mieke Bernink, eds. (1999) The Cinema Book. 2nd ed. London: BFI.


Dix, Andrew (2008) Beginning Film Studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Harbord, Janet (2007) The Evolution of Film: Rethinking Film Studies. London: Polity.


Hayward, Susan (2012) Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts. 4th ed.


Stam, Robert (2000) Film Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.


Turner, Graeme, ed. (2002) The Film Cultures Reader. London: Routledge.


Wood, Robin (2006) Personal Views: Explorations in Film. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 267

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maohui Deng Unit coordinator

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