BA Film Studies and History / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Contemporary British Cinema

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM20032
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


The course will critically examine issues and themes in contemporary British cinema from 1996 onwards. We will initially explore how ideas of the national and post national are implicated in a study of British cinema and then examine the characteristics of the British film industry and British film policy in the last 25 years, assessing their relative strengths and weaknesses. We go on to explore genre and representation in contemporary British Cinema, looking at heritage cinema, ‘art’ cinema, social realism, race, gender and sexuality. We look at the auteur in the context of British cinema production and consider the effects of devolution on regional film production in the period under consideration. Directors studied include, Mike Leigh, Andrea Arnold, Ken Loach and Michael Winterbottom. Students will be encouraged to consolidate and extend their use of concepts and critical methods involved in film studies in order to assess and analyse the main features of British film over the past 25 years. 


Pre-requisite units

Any L1 core Drama Study or Film module


Co-requisite units

Any L2 Core Drama or Film module - Theatres of Modernity; Screen, Culture & Society




  • To give students an overview of British cinema from 1990s to the present day
  • To familiarize students with the main features of contemporary British film
  • To acquaint students with the social, cultural and political context of key British films
  • To equip students with the tools to analyse a range of British films and critically assess the aesthetic and representational strategies deployed by film-makers.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Define well established critical approaches to British cinema in terms of  industry, genre, aesthetics and representation.
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate and interpret British cinema according to these frameworks.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and understanding of 2 areas of significance to British cinema and how they might be applied to an analysis of film/films under consideration. 

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate an ability to make connections between concepts, and apply these relationships in analysis and argument
  • Demonstrate an ability to synthesise material from diverse sources, consider multiple and competing lines of argument, evaluate arguments of others, and revise approaches in response to feedback
  • Demonstrate an ability to initiate and undertake critical analysis of contemporary British film and to develop a line of argument in response

Practical skills

  • Communicate understanding of course materials effectively in both speech (as evidenced through seminar participation) and writing (as evidenced by summative assessments)
  • Effectively deploy persuasive techniques when ‘pitching’ a proposal for funding in class seminar exercise.
  • Demonstrate an ability to take personal responsibility and take initiative in decision-making in group work.

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
an 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 presentation 40%
Essay 60%
Consultation on presentation and essay  NA (formative)


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Essay - written


Presentation – written

Formative and Summative

Consultation on presentation and essay plans - oral



Recommended reading

  • Ashby and Higson (2000)British Cinema –past and present London and New York:Routledge
  • Barrow and White (eds) (2008)  Fifty Key British Films London:  Routledge
  • Blandford Steve (2007) Film Drama and the Break up of Britain  Bristol and Chicago: Intellect.
  • Bourne, S. (2001). Black in the British frame¿: the black experience in British film and television . [2nd editon]. London: Continuum.
  • Dave, Paul, (2006) Visions of England- Class and Culture in Contemporary Cinema Oxford and New York:Berg.
  • Leggot, James, (2008), Contemporary British Cinema- From Heritage to Horror, London, Wallflower.
  • Nwonka, C.J. and Malik, S. (2018). Cultural discourses and practices of institutionalised diversity in the UK film sector: ‘Just get something black made’. The Sociological Review, 66(6), pp.1111–1127
  • Murphy, Robert, (2009) British Cinema of the 90s, London, BFI.
  • Young, L. (1996). Fear of the dark¿: ‘race’, gender and sexuality in the cinema . London: Routledge


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Victoria Lowe Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Plus screenings as appropriate.

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