BA Film Studies and Arabic / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Issues in Portuguese and Spanish Film

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA30642
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit introduces students to aspects of the cinematic representation of key social issues in the late 20th/early 21st century, in particular as they relate to contemporary Portuguese and Spanish cultures.  As well as for students of Spanish and/or Portuguese, this unit is also suitable for students of World Cinema.  All films are in Spanish or Portuguese, with English subtitles available.


Using a range of documentary, docufictional, and feature films, the unit will provide a critical awareness of the relationships between social issues and cinematic representation. Issues under analysis include: marginalization and social exclusion through economic hardship; domestic violence; drug addiction; colonial war; racism; displacement of communities through land exploitation; collective and family identities and subjectivity; the impacts of crisis.



Available on: All programmes related to Spanish and/or Portuguese.


To consolidate the cross-cultural and interdisciplinary skills and knowledge of students in their final year of study.

Knowledge and understanding

Students will be expected to:

  • Draw on an appropriately wide knowledge of the social issues listed in the Course Unit Overview
  • Relate them cogently to their treatment in films of different genres


Intellectual skills

Students will be expected to:

  • Develop informed analyses of film form in context
  • Develop an appreciation and critique of different forms of filmic representation
  • Form judgments and opinions based on detailed cross-cultural knowledge


Practical skills

Students will be expected to develop skills in:

  • Working towards conclusions from the basis of case studies
  • Conducting effective issue-based research


Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students will be expected to develop skills relating to:

  • Transactional interaction with their peers
  • Clear communication of complex ideas
  • Empathy
  • Social responsibility

Employability skills

Students will be expected to develop skills relating to: - Intercultural understanding - Social scientific understanding of the effects of policies, practices and institutions on the individual citizen - Colloquial, everyday and community-specific language use in Portuguese and Spanish respectively

Assessment methods

Assessment task Formative or Summative Weighting within unit (if Summative)
Written assignment Formative and Summative 50%
Written examination Summative 50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method  

Formative or Summative 

written feedback on written assignments 

Summative and Formative 

oral and/or written feedback on exam answers 

Summative (and Formative if scheduled in Semester 1) 

additional one-to-one feedback (in office hours or by appointment) 



Recommended reading

  1. Jo Labanyi and Tatjana Pavlovic (eds) A Companion to Spanish Cinema (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). 
  2. Alberto Mira, Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2012)
  3. Carolin Overhoff-Ferreira, Identity and Difference Postcoloniality and Transnationality in Lusophone Films (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2013) 
  4. Graeme Turner, Film as Social Practice. 4th edn (London: Routledge, 2007)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Bailey Unit coordinator

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