for BA (Hons) Liberal Studies (Film Studies)

Introduction to Film Studies

This module is designed to introduce students to the key techniques, methods and theories associated with the analysis of films and other forms of audiovisual media. You will learn to deconstruct film language with a view to understanding how filmmakers attempt to tell stories, convey meaning and impact on their audiences. 

Students will also learn to analyse film in the context of a broader media landscape, engaging with media debates about the perceived value of cinema as a form of art, entertainment and culture. You will be expected to engage with a wide range of possible approaches to audiovisual analysis, and apply theoretical ideas to diverse examples of contemporary, historical, familiar and less familiar films.

Introduction to Media Production

The course will allow students from a broad range of disciplines to gain a level of media production literacy. It will combine both theory and practical experience in planning, pre-production, video & audio recording and post-production. The course should be viewed as both an introduction to the more technical aspects of media production as well as grounding for further production related courses within the school.

Current Issues in Film Genre

This module offers students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of a specific genre of cinema, covering both its historical development and current state. Through the study of key films that represent the whole range of the genre, you will learn how and why the genre established certain characteristics and how these characteristics evolved over time based on and in response to audience expectations. Ultimately, the module aims to expand student awareness of the history of certain genres, generic markers of filmic expression, prominent artists in the field and the academic discourse about these artists and their work, as well as to help students develop a critical appreciation for those workings of the film industry that allow film genres to thrive and occasionally to be neglected during particular eras.

Film History

This module is designed to provide students with an overview of key developments in the history of film, from the late-19th Century short films through to contemporary blockbusters. In doing so, you will be introduced to a diverse range of films, and taught to analyse them in relation to the industrial, technological, economic, cultural, and/or social contexts in which they were made. Throughout the course, students will be taught to think critically about the nature of (film) history itself, with some emphasis on the methods employed by film historians in conducting their research and analysis.

Media Analysis and Literacy

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to theories of media analysis. The module will investigate media literacy in multi-platform journalism, film and television studies, news and political communications, the internet and gaming. Theoretical foundations will include approaches like semiotic analysis, behavioural development models, mass communications models (such as the work of Marshall McLuhan) and specific philosophical perspectives (such as rhetoric studies). Students will learn the context of each theory and will learn to apply these theories to analyse existing media texts. In addition, students are expected to develop their own theoretically informed information campaigns, demonstrating understanding media analysis techniques and theories.

Media and Ethics

This module introduces the descriptive and normative philosophy of ethics to students in relation to media including journalism, photography, film, video, digital and social media, public relations and advertising. This module focuses on current and influential cases where difficult ethical decisions must be made based on professional, social and legal standards. Students evaluate the logic and ethical reasoning informing media professionals within rapidly changing industries. Based on a mix of practical review of specific cases and ethical theory, students learn to analyse core ethical issues and consequences in contemporary media practices. This course prepares students for understanding and practicing applied ethics in professional and applied media contexts.

Filmmaking: Cinematography and Post Production

The course is designed to build upon the student’s previous experience and knowledge of Media Production, but now specifically within the field of Film Production. Students will research and practice some of the cinematography (and post-production) techniques filmmakers use to create mood, adjust tone and influence or frame how a films audience views action and dialogue.

Students will gain an understanding of the reality and limitations of digital film production, will broaden their existing film terminology and gain practical experience of lighting and camera-work and taking script from the page to the screen.

The post-production aspect of the course will include but not be limited to non-linear digital editing. We will delve into post-production colour grading and grow the student’s awareness of this widely unacknowledged art/profession.

Film Journalism and Criticism

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to multi-platform film criticism and its current and potential future role within the entertainment industry. Students will be introduced to key movements in film theory such as genre fandom in relation to filmic texts themselves. In turn they learn the key distinctions – both in terms of format and usage – between different styles of film journalism ranging from social-media based practice to those found within broadcast and print outlets and will, with guidance, develop their own journalistic abilities to culminate in the production of their own portfolios. Industry professionals from publication editors to specialist and mainstream journalists will deliver mini-lectures concerning their own perspectives and working practices. Current industry practice is embedded in the module and the ethics and business practices of film journalism from home entertainment packaging through to freelance working will also be investigated.

Script analysis

The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the fundamental elements of screenwriting and the key skills relating to script reading, script analysis and the role of the script reader and script editor in the development process. Through reading screenplays for produced and unproduced work, and by watching films and TV episodes, students will gain confidence assessing and critiquing scripts and also writing script coverage to include loglines, synopses and comments. By becoming familiar with the screenwriter's craft, students will explore giving notes to writers and how script editors can guide and support writers in the rewrite process. Through classroom presentation and discussion, students will gain confidence verbally exploring ideas and critiques.

Understanding World Cinema

This module offers students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of cinema beyond the norms of global Hollywood. Through the study of films and film cultures from around the world, you will learn how and why stylistic, thematic variations in world cinema have emerged from different national, historical, social and political contexts. Ultimately, the module aims to expand student awareness of ‘alternative’ forms of film production, distribution and exhibition, and to develop a critical appreciation for the spaces and circumstances that allow these to flourish.

Current Issues in Film Authorship

This module offers students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of a specific author in the world of cinema. The term “author” is broadly defined here so that it can include individual artists (like Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Campion or Quentin Tarantino), groups of artists (the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM) or whole production companies (like Pixar, Disney or Studio Ghibli) that have developed what is regarded as a “house style”. 

Through the study of key films representative of the artistic output of the author, you will learn to identify major characteristics of their oeuvre as well as discuss the importance of collaboration in the world of filmmaking. Questions of authorship and artistic responsibility for the production of movies and their impact on the overall quality, look and marketing of a film will be explored. Ultimately, the module aims to expand student awareness of the contribution of the various arts and crafts that go into the making of any film as well as to acquaint them with important classic and current academic discourses on how movies are created and individual contributions are to be evaluated including the auteur theory, the biographical approach as well as theories about the effects of globalisation as evidenced by the ongoing growth and increasingly international outlook of the major media corporations.

Media Audiences and Reception

This module explores the nature and significance of media audiences within the context of media and cultural studies research more broadly. It emphasises all the ways we can gain access to how audiences themselves understand what they are doing as they watch, listen, read or use different media. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about the traditions of audience and reception research through direct engagement with examples of the research. Students will also experience the challenges of designing and conducting a small-scale research project of their own.

Film and Ideology

This module aims to introduce students to film ideologies and the cultural contexts that have produced them. Students will examine filmic texts from across the world in light of ideologies including the politics of ideology, ideologies and change in the multi-platform age, filmic modes of representation, academic and mainstream pedagogies, critical race theory, feminism, histories of masculine representation, queer theory and Marxist perspectives and examine how films are used both as reflections of culture and also as mechanisms to encourage further filmic and social debate around their subject matter.

Reel to Reel: Documentary Theory and Practice

This module examines documentary film and television in a way that requires students to bring together analytical and practical skills developed over the course of their degree. Through a combination of screenings, lectures, seminars and practical exercises, key aspects of and approaches to documentary form will be explored. Ultimately, the module aims to develop student understanding of different kinds of documentary and their distinctive modes of address to their audience(s), while simultaneously providing a grounding in practical and ethical issues surrounding the representation of reality in film and television.

Major Capstone (Dissertation)

The purpose of this module is to bring together the breadth of a Liberal Arts student’s learning and experience to bear on a major project. Starting from the student’s major area of study the project will reach out to incorporate elements from the totality of learning on the programme and the realisation of the breadth that a Liberal Arts graduate has achieved. The Capstone can take the form of a reflective practice-based project or a traditional written dissertation subject to meeting the word-length equivalencies below. The Capstone will run over two semesters and will be supervised by a minimum of one supervisor although two may be allocated depending on the nature of the work.