BA Film Studies and History of Art / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

BA Film Studies and History of Art 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.

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. 

History of Art

  • You will receive grounding in European and North American art and architecture; from the Ancient Greek world to the present day, as well as subjects in global art history.
  • Our curriculum includes a pathway devoted to curating and gallery studies. Topics covered include the museum as institution, collecting, practical aspects of curating and making exhibitions, and art writing.
  • A work placement module in Year 3 allows you to gain credits towards your degree whilst getting hands-on gallery experience at the Whitworth or other cultural institutions in the city.

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.

Overseas opportunities

We offer two unique summer internships at the world-famous Venice Peggy Guggenheim Collection. In your second year you'll go on a five-day field trip to a European city, such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Berlin. The trip combines guided tours and talks with independent research and culminates in an extended essay on your return to the UK.

You may also apply to spend one semester  studying abroad  during the second year of your degree. Exchange partners are offered in Europe, through the Erasmus Exchange scheme, or via the Worldwide Exchange scheme, in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Extracurricular opportunities

Join our student society, the Manchester Art Group, which curates events, talks, exhibitions and trips, and aims to link up with contemporary art practice in Manchester and across the North West.

You could also join Arts Emergency, which aims to encourage the production of a new generation of thinkers by highlighting the reversal of decades of social and educational access to arts and humanities, or the Whitworth Young Contemporaries Student Society, which brings together students who have an interest in the arts, culture and creativity.

The University of Manchester Filmmaking Society provides a platform for aspiring filmmakers to meet, exchange ideas and create their own cinematic productions.

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes place in a variety of formats, including lectures, small seminar groups, workshops, gallery visits, and one-to-one tutorials.

Seminars are normally very interactive - you may be given reading in advance that will form the basis of a class discussion and you will be expected to contribute occasional oral presentations, building your skills and confidence in presentation techniques.

Some course units feature group projects culminating in online content development or a physical exhibition/display.

Classroom time is frequently supplemented by new media, such as the virtual learning environment, Blackboard. You will also have access to other digital resources to support your learning.

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).

Many of our courses include fieldwork visits to galleries or special exhibitions throughout the UK. This means regular classes in Manchester at places like HOME, the City Art Gallery and the University's own Whitworth Art Gallery.

You'll also have the opportunity to experience credited placement opportunities as part of your learning. We offer a number of travel bursaries through the Lady Chorley Fund to assist final-year students with their dissertation research.

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.

Written feedback is provided in the form of essay and exam cover sheets and, in the case of orally delivered seminar papers, a verbal report from the tutor. We provide feedback on both the content of your writing and the construction and clarity of the argument posed.

As a student here you'll gain both academic writing skills and insight into the development of arts-specific composition, such as catalogue entries, gallery interpretation, exhibition reviews and journalistic articles.

Course tutors are available without appointment in their office hours twice a week outside scheduled teaching hours, allowing you to gain advice and feedback on your work.

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
Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History SALC10041 20 Mandatory
Rococo to Now: Artworks in History SALC10042 20 Mandatory
Introduction to World Cinema SALC11002 20 Mandatory

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 units for year 2

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
European Art History Fieldtrip AHCP20701 20 Mandatory
Screen, Culture and Society DRAM20041 20 Mandatory
Collecting, Museums, Display: The Afterlife of Objects AHCP20112 20 Optional
Art in Theory AHCP20431 20 Optional
Van Eyck, Bosch, Bruegel: The Arts of Northern Renaissance Europe AHCP20991 20 Optional
Before the Black Death: The Golden Age of Siena AHCP21102 20 Optional
Autonomous Objects: Sculpture Since 1900 AHCP22511 20 Optional
The Neo-Avant-Garde and the Crisis of Medium, 1945-1974 AHCP22812 20 Optional
Surrealism, Gender, Sexuality AHCP23711 20 Optional
American Film Studies AMER20071 20 Optional
Transnational Chinese Cinemas DRAM20021 20 Optional
Contemporary British Cinema DRAM20031 20 Optional
Black on Screen DRAM20092 20 Optional
Video Project 1: Documentary DRAM21091 20 Optional
Horror Film: Genre, Periods, Styles DRAM21262 20 Optional
French Cinema to 1980 FREN20142 20 Optional
Core Themes in Animation and Visual Culture of Postwar Japan JAPA20131 20 Optional
Hispanic Cinemas SPLA20841 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 18 course units for year 2

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.

Course units for year 3

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 English Baroque: Architecture and Society 1660-1730 AHCP30011 20 Optional

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.

The rich cultural heritage and attractions of Manchester and the north-west are within easy reach.

The Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery offer unique access to the environment of the working museum and art gallery, as well as to important works of art. The Whitworth is a major resource, and its outstanding collections of paintings, prints, textiles and wallpapers are used extensively in our teaching.

You can also explore original art in the city's famous galleries, such as the Lowry, Manchester Art Gallery and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.

Within Art History, there is a very large and well-organised slide, video and computer-based image collection, which is an essential learning and teaching resource.

The main library provision is the University Library, one of the UK's top university libraries with arguably the best access to electronic resources of any library in Europe. This is one of the largest academic libraries in Britain and houses a Special Collections Department on Deansgate which contains a superb and diverse collection of manuscripts, illustrated books and other material relevant to Art History. 

Art History also shares a disciplinary library with Archaeology in the same building as our department. It provides a pleasant and quiet working environment for students, with access to the most commonly used publications.  In a convenient and well-ordered work environment, it also houses a very large, well-organised slide, video and computer-based image collection.

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