Film Studies: An Introduction (EAS1034)

StaffDr Lisa Smithstead - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To introduce you to the study of film, allowing you to analyse diverse modes of film form and style. It shows you cinema through a range of critical lenses or frames, introducing you to the key critical and theoretical concepts in film studies. The module offers students practice in developing and using a vocabulary to analyse film elements such as editing, framing, staging, camera movement, composition and sound; storytelling and point of view; acting and performance. It then moves on to cover key theoretical

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a critical appreciation of some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates informing the study of film and the cinema
  • 2. Demonstrate an ability to analyse the form and content of particular films
  • 3. Demonstrate an awareness of the variety of ways in which films can be compared and contrasted with one another
  • 4. Demonstrate an understanding of how different traditions of filmmaking can differ from those of Hollywood

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate a basic ability to analyse film of different periods and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context
  • 6. Demonstrate fundamental skills in the close formal, thematic, generic, and authorial analysis of different kinds of films
  • 7. Demonstrate fundamental skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical and historical materials for the study of film
  • 8. Demonstrate a basic ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 9. Demonstrate a basic ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to films

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Through seminar work, demonstrate basic communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 11. Through writing assessments, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a basic capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 12. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

BLOCK 1: The Film Studies Toolkit 

  • Cinematography and mise-en-scene 
  • Approaches to Editing 
  • Narrative and Narration 
  • Contemporary Narrative Styles 
  • Film Sound 
  • Group Presentations

BLOCK 2: Debates and Approaches in Film Theory

  • Transnational cinemas
  • Spectatorship and the Gaze
  • Authorship
  • Genre
  • Star Theory

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching1111 x 1 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching1111 x 1 hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching3311 x 3 hour film viewings
Guided independent study20Study group meetings and preparation
Guided independent study42Module preparation (individual)
Guided independent study33Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
500 word sequence analysis500 words1-9, 11-12Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up
Small group critical analysis15 minutes1-9Instant feedback from tutor, supplemented by feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay901500 words1-9, 11-12 Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up.
Module participation10Continuous1-10, 12Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay1500 word essay1-9, 11-12 Referral/Deferral period
Module participationRepeat study or Mitigation1-10, 12 Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative Viewing:

  • Gravity (Alfonso Cauron, 2013).
  • Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR, 1925)
  • Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, UK, 1960)
  • Hugo (Martin Scorsese, US, 2011)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, US, 1946)
  • Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959).
  • Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1954)
  • Maleficent (Robert Stromberg, US, 2014)
  • Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, US & Mexico, 2006)
  • Charade (Stanley Donen, USA, 1963)

Indicative Key Reading:

  • David Bordwell, The McGraw-Hill Film Viewer's Guide.
  • David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art, chapters entitled 'The Shot: Mise en Scene', 'The Shot: Cinematographic Properties' and 'The Relation of Shot to Shot: Editing'.
  • Vance Kepley Jr. 'Spatial Articulation in the Classical Cinema.' Wide Angle 5:3 (1983), pp.50-8.

Indicative Secondary Reading:

  • Dan North, 'The 180-degree Rule' (
  • David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (various editions).
  • David Bordwell, The McGraw-Hill Film Viewer's Guide (McGraw Hill, 2001).
  • Barry Keith Grant (ed.) Auteurs and Authorship (Blackwell, 2008).
  • John Hill & Pamela Church Gibson, The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (Oxford UP, 1998).
  • James Monaco, How to Read a Film (OUP USA, 2000).
  • Steve Neale, Genre and Hollywood (Routledge, 2000).
  • Robert Stam, Film Theory: An Introduction (Blackwell, 2000).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum collections

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Film, English