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Screen studies symposium at The University of Manchester
BA Film Studies and Middle Eastern Studies
Study film and media alongside Middle Eastern language and culture.

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BA Film Studies and Middle Eastern Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

BA Film Studies and Middle Eastern Studies aims to develop your understanding and awareness of the rich possibilities of this creative medium and encourages you to approach the study of film from a range of historical and theoretical perspectives.

You will also gain an in-depth understanding of the Middle East, a large region that is of central importance in the contemporary world.

Film Studies

You will expand your experience of film through taught units and screenings that focus on both classical and contemporary films, covering a wide range of film cultures from around the world. 

You will study mainstream and non-mainstream films in order to broaden your understanding of the history of film, as well as the debates and issues that are informing and generated by current practice in film and shaping its future.

As you enhance your skills of close analysis, you will also develop an understanding of how film engages with socio-cultural and political concerns, placing the films you study in their historical context as well as thinking about current debates and future challenges for cinema as a medium.

The course emphasises historical and theoretical approaches to studying film rather than practical production. 

Middle Eastern Studies

  • The course takes into account the fact that the study of the Middle East has grown into a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural academic phenomenon, attracting strong interest for political, cultural and social reasons.
  • It takes on board academic developments in fields such as globalisation, cultural identity, diaspora and migration studies, gender studies, and post-colonial studies, all of which are based on techniques in the analysis of evidence across several Middle Eastern languages, and uses original sources in English translation as well as secondary sources in English.
  • The interplay of disciplines and skills involved in achieving a balanced view of the history, literatures, cultures, and religions of the Middle East is broad and complex.
  • Language skills are useful in achieving an advanced understanding of this balanced view, but not the only route. This degree, therefore, allows the study of language(s) up to level 2, but does not make language study compulsory.
  • The course will equip you, through core course units and a wide range of optional course units, with the ability to acquire a thorough and sufficiently specific, but language-independent understanding of the Middle East, alongside key contemporary methods in the study of culture, religion, literature and history.

Special features

Placement year option

Apply your subject-specific knowledge in a real-world context through a placement year in your third year of study, enabling you to enhance your employment prospects, clarify your career goals and build your external networks.

Connect with likeminded students

Join The University of Manchester Filmmaking Society, which exists to provide a platform for aspiring filmmakers attending the university to meet, exchange ideas and create their own cinematic productions.

The University of Manchester Drama Society is for anyone with an interest in drama, be that acting, directing, writing, filmmaking, costume, set building, stage managing or just watching. One of the largest in the Student Union, the society has links with many of Manchester's award-winning theatrical venues, including the Contact Theatre and the Royal Exchange Theatre. Each summer the society showcases at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical group projects.

There's emphasis on attending film screenings, which are compulsory and designed to enable you to better understand the distinctive qualities of film as a medium.

There's also emphasis on close analysis which is designed to enable you to learn to interpret films and their discursive surround, including relevant paratexts (eg promotional material such as trailers and posters).

You will spend approximately 12 hours a week in formal study sessions. For every hour spent at University, you will be expected to complete a further two to three hours of independent study. You will also need to study during the holiday periods.

The individual study component could be spent reading, producing written work, or revising for examinations.

Coursework and assessment

You will be assessed in various ways, including:

  • written and oral examinations;
  • coursework essays;
  • research reports;
  • practical tests;
  • learning logs;
  • web contributions;
  • small-scale practical assignments;
  • seminar presentations and participation;
  • library research, linguistic fieldwork and data collection.

Many course units are assessed through a mixture of techniques.

In your final year, you can choose to write a dissertation.

Course content for year 1

The Joint Honours in Film Studies provide you with a thorough grounding in film history and key theoretical approaches to studying film as well as the opportunity to develop specialist areas of interest.

In your first year, you will take three compulsory course units that establish the conceptual `building blocks' of studying film as well as providing you with a thorough grounding in major developments in early and classical cinema before progressing into the various `new wave' movements and developments in contemporary cinema.

The Art of Film covers the core concepts and terminology in studying film. The unit addresses the distinctive properties of film as a medium and engages with debates about film's status as an art. Major tendencies in editing and cinematography are explored before the unit focuses on mise-en-scene and shot composition, classical and anti-classical approaches to narrative, major forms of genre, authorship and the role of the director, the importance of music, stars and the process of adaptation.

Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema covers the origins of cinema up to the 1950s. As well as pioneering figures and distinctive movements such as German Expressionism and Surrealist cinema, the course considers key technological innovations in sound and colour.

Introduction to World Cinema covers a range of film cultures from different countries with an initial emphasis on the various `new wave' movements which began to emerge around the world in the 1950s and 1960s. The unit addresses significant post-Second World War developments in the cinema of countries such as France and Japan.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
The Art of Film DRAM10031 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema DRAM13331 20 Mandatory
History and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa MEST10711 20 Mandatory
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Mandatory
The History and Sociopolitics of Palestine/Israel (1882-1967) MEST10042 20 Optional
Introduction to Islam MEST10061 20 Optional
Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa MEST10092 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

In your second year you take one compulsory unit - Screen, Culture and Society - which covers more advanced theoretical debates about the relationship between film and society. You will be able to select from a range of specialist study options on specific issues in Film Studies and focus on aspects of American, British, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian or Spanish and Portuguese language cinema with a particular interest in questions of identity and representation. How have films perpetuated or subverted notions of gender, sexuality, national identity, ethnicity and class?

Course content for year 3

Your remaining units in your final year are all optional and you can select from a wide range of units covering different countries, genres and issues. You can also choose to write a dissertation.

Facilities

Our comprehensive facilities include the Martin Harris Centre - home to 150-seater The John Thaw Studio and our main `lab' for exploring performance - and workshops and rehearsal rooms fully equipped with state-of-the-art sound-editing and video editing suites. Manchester also has the 2nd highest concentration of theatres in the UK.

Learn more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk