BA Drama

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Black on Screen

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM20092
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course introduces students to the study of Black representation in screen culture. The course will focus on selected films and television programmes, including from the US and UK. Students will be encouraged to consider key areas of debate, including race, culture and politics, intersectionality, multiculturalism and post-coloniality. A key concern running through the course will be self-representation. ‘Blackness’ as defined by the course is an inclusive term to refer to individuals and communities of African and Caribbean heritage. 


Pre-requisite units

DRAM10031: The Art of Film or DRAM13332: Introduction to Early and Classical Cinema or SALC11002: Introduction to World Cinema


Co-requisite units

Any L2 core Drama module – Theatres of Modernity; Screen, Culture and Society



  • To consider the historical and contemporary representations of people of African ancestry on screen, predominantly in the US and the UK 

  • To consider the social, cultural and political contexts of Black representation and self-representation in screen media

Teaching and learning methods

The lectures for this course unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Contextualise the history of Black representation primarily in US and British screen media
  • Analyse the aesthetics of Black representation
  • Demonstrate a developed understanding of how Black representation can be considered as part of the struggles for Black settlement and advancement in the Western worldancement in the Western world

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate independent thinking in analysis
  • Demonstrate cultural, historical and theoretical understanding of screen texts and related sources (posters, trailers, reviews etc)
  • Demonstrate an enhanced ability to undertake close screen textual analysis
  • Extrapolate socio-cultural concepts from close analysis and reading

Practical skills

  • Work effectively in group work contexts
  • Present ideas and intellectual arguments in class discussions
  • Demonstrate critical writing skills
  • Research academic and non-academic materials, and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials as supporting evidence for assessments
  • Produce a group poster 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively with others about intellectually demanding concepts, topics, materials

  • Demonstrate an ability to draw with accuracy, focus, detail and precision on complex materials in independent and group work

  • Demonstrate an ability to effectively present – through discussion and in writing – complex topics, drawing convincingly on oral, written and visual media as appropriate to the topic

Employability skills

Group/team working
ability to work productively as part of a group and independently in learning environments that present complex challenges
Project management
an ability to develop detailed, planned and multi-layered approaches to tasks
Oral communication
an enhanced ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to different audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics
Problem solving
a good level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Assessment methods

Group poster Summative A mixture of visuals and words as appropriate for a poster. 40%

Assessed essay Summative 3000 words   60%

Feedback methods

 Feedback method


Group Poster – oral and written


Essays – oral and written

Formative and summative

Consultation on essays and presentation - oral



Recommended reading

  • Bogle, Donald. (1988). Blacks in American Film: Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies and Bucks. New York: Garland
  • Diawara, Manthia. (1993). Black American Cinema. New York: Routledge
  • Dyer, Richard. (1997). White. London: Routledge
  • Everett, Anna. (2001). Returning the Gaze: a Genealogy of Black Film Criticism, Durham, NC: Duke
  • Fanon, Frantz. (1986).  Black Skin, White Masks. Translated by Charles Lam Markmann. London: Pluto
  • Guerrero, Ed. (1993). Framing Blackness: African American Image in Film. Philadelphia: Temple University Press
  • Hall, Stuart. Ed. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage: OUP
  • hooks, bell. (1992) Black Looks: Race and Representation. London: South End
  • Ross, Karen (1996) Black and White Media: Black Images in Popular Film and Television. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Shohat, Ella and Robert Stam (1994) Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. London: Routledge
  • Young, Lola (1996) Fear of the Dark: `Race', Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema. London: Routledge



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Darren Waldron Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Plus one film screening per week

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