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BA Film Studies and East Asian Studies / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Art of Film

Unit code DRAM10031
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course will introduce students to the principles and major areas involved in the study of film. The course will familiarise students with essential theoretical concepts and technical terminology in order to enhance their powers of close analysis and understanding of film form.  The course will detail the audio-visual properties of film through a discussion of cinematography, montage, mise-en-scène, narrative, genre, music, the role of the director and star and the process of adaptation. 

A range of select films from different cinemas will be used and placed in their cultural and historical context, including British, German, Hollywood, Italian, Japanese and Soviet cinema. Key films include Metropolis, Man with a Movie Camera, Citizen Kane, The Red Shoes, Punishment Park, Blue Velvet, Yojimbo, Battle of Algiers, Rear Window and The Fellowship of the Ring.


Available on which programme(s)? All Drama programmes at Level 2
Available as Free Choice (UG) or to other programmes (PG)? No
Pre-requisite units None
Co-requisite None



  • To develop students’ critical and technical vocabulary for the analysis and discussion of film.
  • To enhance students’ ability to evaluate films, both from aesthetic perspectives and as social documents.
  • To develop students’ understanding of how a film’s formal properties (e.g. Elements of audio-visual style and narrative structure) can have ideological and socio-political connotations.
  • To expand students’ awareness of both mainstream and non-mainstream film cultures including significant examples of non-Anglophone cinema.
  • To nurture an enthusiasm and appreciation for film as an art form

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:



Indicative syllabus (representative only – all of the topics listed below may not be covered every year):


Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Cinematography and montage

Week 3: Mise-en-scène

Week 4: Narrative

Week 5: Genre

Week 6: Reading Week

Week 7: Authorship

Week 8: Music

Week 9: Stars

Week 10: Audiences

Week 11: Adaptation

Week 12: Revision advice


Each week’s lecture topic will be supported by two relevant film screenings

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching hours: 1hr lecture +3hr introduced screening + 90min seminar*

*This teaching structure has been approved in conjunction with other programme level activity as meeting the School’s 3hr contact hour requirement 

Knowledge and understanding

  • display an understanding of the craft of filmmaking
  • locate a film in its historical and social context
  • demonstrate an understanding of how films communicate ideas with a particular emphasis on a film’s audio-visual properties
  • display a broad understanding of major developments in film history
  • assess critically a film in terms of narrative, genre, authorship, photography, mise-en-scène, editing, music and performance 

Intellectual skills

  •  Critically analyse and interrogate films and related sources (posters, trailers, reviews and industry documents)
  • Learn how to historically contextualise films and practitioners, and to draw on contextualisation to develop understanding
  •   Critically evaluate a series of films, practitioners and theoretical debates in relation to key moments of socio-political change in relevant territories
  • Synthesise theoretical and technical terms and concepts and apply these to analysis and argument 

Practical skills

  • Research academic and non-academic materials, and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials as supporting evidence for individual essays and presentations
  • Plan, undertake and evaluate independent critical work
  • Use relevant software to collect, compile and present audio-visual material for presentations
  • Communicate research material both verbally, audio-visually and in writing

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Ability to analyse concepts, techniques, methods, study materials (et cetera) independently and with others
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Ability to draw on individual research preparation to engage in discussions in learning environments
  • Ability to present self effectively – through discussion, presentation and in writing (including adherence to academic conventions)

Employability skills

Analytical skills
¿ Ability to engage productively with intellectual challenges
Group/team working
¿ Working productively as part of a group and independently
Project management
¿ Basic time management skills - working to deadlines and under pressure
Oral communication
¿ Enhanced communication skills ¿ verbal, written, prepared/rehearsed, improvised
Problem solving
¿ Basic critical thinking and problem-solving skills
¿ Basic planning skills ¿ developing a planned approach to tasks

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%

Feedback methods

Feedback Method Formative or Summative
Verbal in-class feedback on seminar presentation Formative
Written feedback on final essay Summative
Written feedback on exam Summative
Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hours or by making an appointment). Formative and Summative


Recommended reading

Arnheim, Rudolf. 2007. Film as Art. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bazin, André. 2005. What is Cinema? Volume 1. Translated by Hugh Gray. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bordwell, David, Thompson, Kristin and Smith, Jeff (eds). 2017. Film Art: An Introduction (Eleventh Edition).  New York: McGraw Hill.

Braudy, Leo and Cohen, Marshall (eds). 2009. Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (Seventh Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dix, Andrew. 2016. Beginning Film Studies (Second Edition). Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Geiger, Jeffrey and Rutsky, R.L. (eds). 2005. Film Analysis. New York and London: W.W. Norton.

Hayward, Susan. 2013. Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts (Fourth Edition). Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Thompson-Jones, Katherine. 2008. Aesthetics and Film. London: Continuum.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 27
Practical classes & workshops 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 140

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Victoria Lowe Unit coordinator

Additional notes



  • Weekly lecture and seminar, plus two weekly screenings (27.5 hours + screenings [2 film screenings per week – duration variable but approximately 3-4 hours per week i.e. 33-44 hours])
  • One dedicated consultation hour per week (1 hour a week)
  • Dedicated consultation on written assignments (for planning and feedback), mid-way through the course and in preparation for final essay



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