BA Music and Drama / Course details
Year of entry: 2020
Course unit details:
From Documentary to Mockumentary
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 2|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
The course will explore documentary film history and theory. The first block of study will focus on the documentary as a genre, presented through a historical perspective and exploring key documentary film directors and producers, such as the Lumiere brothers, Robert Flaherty, Dziga Vertov, John Grierson and Jean Rouch. The second block will focus on documentary film approaches that have given new meaning to the traditional documentary genre, including television documentaries, ethnographic film, participatory video, reflexive documentaries, dramatised documentaries and mock-documentaries.
Available on which programme(s)?
L3 Drama, Drama and Screen, Drama and English, Music and Drama; Film minor programmes
Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)?
Any L1 Drama Study or Practical core option
Any L2 Drama Study core option - Practitioners in Context 1; Practitioners in Context 2; Screen, Culture and Society
• To explore a range of aspects of historical and contemporary documentary film approaches through critical analysis and research.
• To stimulate and broaden students’ intellectual curiosity in relation to documentary film
• To provide students with an engaging point of access to understanding, exploring,
interrogating documentary film theory and history
• To introduce students to and develop students ability to apply key methods, technical terms, analytical approaches in the area of documentary film studies
Indicative syllabus (representative only – all of the topics listed below may not be covered every year):
Week 1: “Let there be Lumière”: The Origins of the Documentary Film Genre
Week 2: “…to distort a thing to catch its true spirit”: Robert Flaherty and the ‘Documentary’
Week 3: “…a fresh perception of the world”: Dziga Vertov and the ‘Kino Pravda’
Week 4: “….the drama is on your doorstep”: John Grierson and the British Documentary
Week 5: “…a filmic truth”: Jean Rouch and Cinéma Vérité
Week 6: Reading Week
Week 7: Introduction to Television Documentaries
Week 8: Ethnographic Films
Week 9: Participatory Videos
Week 10: Reflexive Documentaries
Week 11: Dramatised Documentaries
Week 12: Mock-documentaries
Teaching and learning methods
The course will be taught via:
· Discussion exercises
· Creative tasks as appropriate
The course unit will be complemented by a Blackboard site that conforms to minimum requirements including a course handbook, weekly course breakdown, provision of reading material, reading lists. Supplementary material from workshops will be added as appropriate. The blackboard site will be prepared and available to students at least one week prior to the beginning of the first teaching week each semester.
Knowledge and understanding
• demonstrate a systematic understanding of key aspects in the area of documentary film studies
including alternative documentary film approaches
• demonstrate the acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge in the area of documentary film
studies informed by research at the forefront of defined aspects of the research
• describe and comment on aspects of current research or advanced research in the area of
documentary film studies
• demonstrate their awareness of key areas of contestation in relation to documentary film
• demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate arguments, concepts and documentary films through
close textual analysis of documentary film
• recognise the limits of knowledge, and its influence on analysis and interpretations, and to
use this to develop sustained responses to presented documentary films and related
research, as well as identify areas for on-going learning in documentary film studies
• synthesis complex material in order to frame questions about documentary film and media
• develop articulate, convincing arguments about documentary film, especially about topic
areas that are complex, uncertain and ambiguous, including media objectivism and
• manage own learning, including making use of advanced research scholarship in the area of
documentary film studies, at least some of which was identified independently
• communicate complex, multi-layered arguments and counter-arguments effectively, in
written and verbal form
• grasp and effectively apply ethical principles in the area of documentary film studies
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- demonstrate an advanced ability to self-manage learning – to ask questions independently, identify relevant research material, take initiative, make decisions, and develop independent and sustained responses to complex problems
- demonstrate an advanced ability to develop sustained arguments and present these effectively in written and oral form
- Analytical skills
- ¿ advanced critical thinking, problem-solving and planning skills
- Group/team working
- ¿ working productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex and unpredictable challenges
- ¿ advanced ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
- ¿ ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to difference audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics
|Written assignment (inc essay)||60%|
Formative or Summative
Essay 1 and essay 2 - oral
Essay 1 and Essay 2 - written
Barnouw, E. 1993. Documentary: a history of the non-fiction. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barsam, R. 1992. Nonfiction Film: a critical history. Bloomington Ind.: Indiana.
Hockings, P. 2009. Principles of Visual Anthropology. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Kilborn, R. and J. Izod. 1997. An Introduction to Television Documentary. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Rosenthal, A. and Corner, J. (Eds.) 2005. New Challenges for Documentary. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
White, S. (Ed) 2003. Participatory Video. Images that Transform and Empower. New Delhi : Sage Publications.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Practical classes & workshops||33|
|Independent study hours|
|Johannes Sjoberg||Unit coordinator|