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Discovering Cinema (FI 101)

Module Tutors:
Dr Matt Denny

Please note the materials for this course are currently being updated for the 2018/19 Academic Year. Course outlines for 2017/18 are availble for douwnload, but be advised that module content and timetable may be subject to change

*** Important Note for Week One ***
Please note there will be no seminars in Week 1 of the Autumn term. There will be time set aside in the lecture for you to record your availablity so that you can be assigned to a seminar group

This module is intended to introduce students to the techniques and skills of textual analysis and to develop their understanding and appreciation of cinema both past and present. It aims to introduce cinema through a range of critical lenses and frameworks, familiarising students with key formal strategies and critical concepts that are necessary for analysing films. It is designed to ensure that students are adept at examining the various visual, aural and narrative conventions by which they create meaning and how these meanings have been understood within the academic field of film studies.

The module is divided into two parts. During the first term the module offers students various methods for developing and applying the critical vocabulary required to analyse formal elements of cinema such as mise-en-scène, editing, staging, and composition Before moving to explore filmmaking across a number of historical, national, and stylistic modes in the final weeks. In the second term the module moves on to cover key theoretical concerns in film studies, such as authorship, genre, and stardom. The impact of the industry on filmmaking will also be considered.

Students will explore these ideas through a wide and engaging array of films from different countries and different periods in the history of cinema. By focusing on a range of narrative films, this module will ultimately equip students with the necessary analytical skills to discover cinema’s richness, its complexity and its expressiveness.

This course will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and weekly screenings. Attendance at lectures, seminars and screenings is compulsory.

 Aims and Objectives

  • This module aims to introduce and familiarise students with the principles of film form, narrative and style as well as the basic methodologies of film criticism.
  • This module will introduce students to some of the key theoretical concepts in film studies, including debates on genre, stardom, and authorship and the impact of the industry on filmmaking
  • It intends to equip students with a critical vocabulary for analysing films and will give them significant practice in discussing and writing about cinema.
  • It will allow students to develop a scholarly understanding of some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates in film studies.
  • It gives students the opportunity to study historical and contemporary cinemas from Europe, Asia and the Americas and enables them to explore a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to studying this exciting medium.

Intended Outcomes

By completing the module, including all its assessment components, students will be able to:

  • Analyse the formal properties of a narrative film, including its mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound and style.
  • Apply the principles of textual analysis to a variety of film texts.
  • Understand the basics of some of the main approaches in film studies such as mise-en-scène criticism .
  • Demonstrate competence in writing critically about film.
  • Demonstrate fundamental skills in the close formal, thematic, industrial, and theoretical analysis of different kinds of cinema

Reccommend Reading
The following books will be useful for reference throughout the course. It would be a good idea to be acquainted with them early on:
• David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (New York: McGraw Hill, 2013)
• Pam Cook, The Cinema Book (London: BFI, 2007).
• John Gibbs, Mise-en-scène: Film Style and Interpretation (London: Wallflower, 2002).
• V.F. Perkins, Film as Film: Understanding and Judging Movies (New York: Da Capo Press, 1993).
• Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience: An Introduction (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012).


Short Essay 1: Shot Analysis

1500 words due Monday 13th November (Autumn Term Week 7)

Short Essay 2: Sequence Analysis

1500 words due Monday 15th January 2018 (Spring Term Week 2)

Long Essay

3000 due Monday 23rd April 2018 (Summer Term Week 1)


Weekly Materials for Term 2

Module Outlines
Autumn 2017: Download  
Spring 2018: Download


Autumn 2017

Spring 2018 

Useful Documents

Student Hanbook

All the Heaven Allows

My Neighbor Totoro theatrical poster

Cleo from 5 to 7

The Skin I live in