BA Film Studies and Portuguese / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to the Cultures of the Lusophone World

Course unit fact file
Unit code SPLA10130
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit provides a cultural and historical introduction to the Lusophone world, paying particular attention to the diverse cultures that emerged from Portugal’s maritime expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries.  It focuses on foundational texts and films from across history that define cultural identities in Portugal, Brazil and Lusophone Africa, analysing the representation of colonial and anti-colonial experiences in these works.  It also introduces students to some key literary and cultural figures in the Lusophone world. 


This course is not available as a free-choice option and can only be taken by students who are also taking SPLA52010 (Portuguese Language 1) or SPLA52020 (Portuguese Language 2). Co-requisites for post A-Level: SPLA52030 (Portuguese Language 3).


  • To introduce students to the diverse cultural expression of the Lusophone world, including key writers and artists 
  • To emphasise changes to the logic of Portuguese colonialism in different places and at different times 
  • To provide a background for contextual study of modern colonial and postcolonial cultures 
  • To afford insights into the ways in which literature worked to reinforce, resist and rewrite the dominant ideas and practices that emanated from Portuguese colonialism and Brazilian nationalism at different points in history

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge of Portuguese maritime and colonial history and its legacies
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the processes that led to Brazilian independence and to its post-independence search for national and cultural identity 
  • Relate this knowledge to key texts and films from the Age of Discoveries to the present day 

Intellectual skills

  • Develop close reading skills and the ability to contextualise historically 
  • Engage with and analyse literary and cinematic texts 
  • Improve reading knowledge of Portuguese 

Practical skills

  • Communicate more effectively orally and in writing 
  • Organise time efficiently and prepare work in advance 
  • Present work well and use referencing systems correctly 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Work in a team 
  • Show enhanced intercultural understanding 
  • Evaluate material critically 
  • Work to deadlines 

Employability skills

Students will develop their communicative skills by writing and debating ideas in a clear, concise and coherent manner. They will also cultivate their ability to analyse, evaluate and critique a wide range of material. They will improve their knowledge of the Portuguese language and be able to demonstrate a broad understanding of Lusophone culture and history.

Assessment methods

Assessment Task Formative or Summative Weighting within unit (if summative)
1 Essay Summative 25%
1 Essay Formative and Summative 25%
1 Exam  Summative 50%
Oral Presentations Formative 0%


Resit Assessment

Assessment Task
1 Exam

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback on group presentations

Formative and Summative

Written feedback on both coursework essays, and a one-to-one feedback session (during office hours/by appointment)

Formative and Summative


Recommended reading

David Birmingham, A Concise History of Portugal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). HD.  

Boris Fausto, A Concise History of Brazil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1999).  HD 

Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke and Lars Jensen, eds. A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures. Continental Europe and its Empires (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008)  

Patrick Chabal et al., A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002). HD 

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Bailey Unit coordinator

Return to course details