BA History and French / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Gender and Sexuality in French Cinema

Course unit fact file
Unit code FREN21331
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


As host to the largest national film industry in Europe, and one of the most important globally, France has played a pivotal role in the history of cinema. French film has also provided a privileged medium through which representations of gender and sexuality have been constructed, articulated, and contested. Through its exploration of the intersections between these areas, this course helps students acquire detailed knowledge and understanding of French cinema, while also equipping them with analytical means to problematise and challenge notions of gender and sexuality, particular regarding the uses of cinematic genre (e.g. thriller, comedy). By providing an introduction both to French cinema and notions of how gender and sexuality have been represented by filmmakers across time, this course will appeal to students pursuing studies across French, film, history, politics, sociology, and the visual arts.


  • to familiarise students with the broad history of French cinema in relation to gender and sexuality;
  • to introduce students to concepts of gender and sexuality in order to enable the analysis of French film;
  • to provide an overview of the different issues of cultural representation with specific reference to the perception of ‘difference’ in terms of gender and sexuality;
  • to provide students with key concepts related to genre in film;
  • to encourage and enable students to verbalise and intellectualise their emotional response to representations of gender and sexuality in cultural production;
  • to equip students with intellectual and analytical tools to consider the stakes of representation with regard to gender and sexuality in French film.


Teaching and learning methods

Some of the lectures for this unit will be delivered online.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of some of the major aspects of gender and sexuality as represented in French cinema.

Intellectual skills

Contextualise, analyze and discuss audio-visual material in a structured fashion; apply critically terminology and conceptual frameworks derived from film theory and relevant cultural theories on gender and sexuality.

Practical skills

Demonstrate the ability to carry out individual research for coursework essays, and express ideas and arguments coherently and convincingly in time-limited constraints, using an appropriate level of academic writing and exemplification.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Demonstrate powers of analysis; manage word-count effectively when writing coursework; manage time effectively when planning coursework; participate in seminars; work as part of a group; assess the relevance of existing literature through independent research; seek advice and feedback and develop confidence.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Intercultural awareness
Group/team working
Responding to instructions
Project management
Time management
Independent research; initiative
Written communication
Coherent expression (orally and in writing)

Assessment methods

Assessment task  

Formative or Summative 


Weighting within unit (if summative) 

Sequence analysis 




Coursework draft plan 




Individual assessed coursework 




Feedback methods

Individual written and oral feedback on a sequence analysis

Individual written and oral feedback on a coursework essay plan

Individual written feedback on coursework essay performance

Recommended reading

Hughes, Alex, and James S. Williams, Gender and French Cinema (Oxford: Berg, 2001)

Perriam, Chris, and Darren Waldron, French and Spanish Queer Film: Audiences, Communities and Cultural Exchange (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016)

Rees-Roberts, Nick, French Queer Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008)

Tarr, Carrie, and Brigitte Rollet, Cinema and the Second Sex: Women’s Filmmaking in France in the 1980s and 1990s (London: Bloomsbury, 2001)

Waldron, Darren, Queering Contemporary French Popular Cinema: Images and Their Reception (New York: Peter Lang, 2009)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joseph Mcgonagle Unit coordinator
Barbara Lebrun Unit coordinator

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