Almodovar's Spain: Cinema and Society (MLS3066)

StaffProfessor Sally Faulkner - Lecturer
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Gain a detailed understanding of the work of Spain’s foremost artist since the coming of democracy
  • Engage with key questions in Film Studies, including cinephilia, ‘National’ and ‘Transnational’ Cinemas
  • Explore the genres of comedy and melodrama, and analyse the use of film form, such as mise en scène (including casting), sound, editing and cinematography
  • Analyse shifting and intertwined historical and theoretical contexts
  • Study films that range from the heady days of the Spanish Transition to democracy, to contemporary films that address the challenges faced by the contemporary nation
  • Consider production contexts to arrive at an understanding of how a films gets made (its financing, distribution and exhibition as well as the ways the director and creative teams were trained)
  • Explore the cultural theory that surrounds the richly suggestive questions that arise when considering Almodóvar’s work

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the chosen films and an understanding of their significance in the broader historical and cultural contexts in which they were produced

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 2. After initial input from the course tutor, apply and evaluate critical approaches to the material under analysis independently
  • 3. Argue at length and in detail about an aspect of a selected topic, supporting the argument with evidence from the film(s) and with opinions from secondary literature
  • 4. Use a range of film-critical terminology, applying it to independently researched material as well as to material introduced by the course tutor
  • 5. Access and use critically printed and, where appropriate, electronic learning resources identified as useful by the course tutor; find independently and evaluate critically other relevant resources
  • 6. Analyse films from a variety of genres and styles, showing an awareness of their relation to the historical and cultural context in which they were produced, and present the results orally and in writing
  • 7. Demonstrate advanced skills of visual literacy, e.g. an understanding of the role of film genre and an ability to distinguish and evaluate techniques of mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing and sound editing

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Negotiate individual assessment tasks and/or topics with course tutor, identifying own areas of strength and interest
  • 9. Using bibliographical material provided, select, plan and carry out a programme of study leading to an essay / presentation on a chosen topic, to a specified length and deadline
  • 10. Undertake independent research tasks on the basis of a taught course
  • 11. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of a large body of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a written or oral argument of some complexity

Syllabus plan

This module takes four key examples from Almodóvar’s body of work, and innovatively reads each film against a contrasting example from world cinema and from Spanish cinema history. We will pay particular attention to genre, film form, historical contexts and cultural theory. Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The Franco dictatorship
  • The Transition
  • Democracy
  • National cinema
  • Transnational cinema
  • Cinephilia
  • Auteur studies

Our four key films and their comparator films may vary depending on availability, but might typically include four of these ‘sets’:

  • ¿Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?! (What have I Done to Deserve This!? 1984) and El mundo sigue ( Life Goes On Fernán Gómez 1963) and Bicycle Thieves (De Sica 1948)
  • Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios ( Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 1988) and Los abrazos rotos (Broken Embraces Almodóvar 2009) and How to Marry a Millionaire (Negulesco 1953)
  • Volver (2006) and El sur ( The South Erice 1983) and Two Women (De Sica 1960)
  • Julieta (2016) and La tía Tula ( Aunt Tula Picazo 1964) and The Hours (Daldry 2002)

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 Teaching5Lectures. Lectures will be used to provide a framework within which key ideas, events and selected films will be studied and to outline the mean themes and techniques employed by directors.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Seminars. Seminars will give students the opportunity to explore the points raised in the lectures and develop their own ideas about them through group presentations and close textual analysis. Group presentations will be based on specific topics and tasks, the latter ranging from analyses of critical material to interpretations of selected scenes from the films. These will be followed by question and answer sessions leading to discussions in which all students will be expected to participate
Scheduled Learning and Teaching84 Film screenings
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Conclusion
Guided Independent Study128Private study. This is the majority of a students' time. It will be spent in private viewing of the films; reading; planning and writing essays and revising, where relevant. Students will also be assigned a Study Group with which they will prepare a presentation for one of the films studied on the module

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan7501-11Written comments from convenor; meeting with convenor.

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
Essay1003000 words1-11Essay feedback sheet

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11Referral/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

  • Bentley, Bernard, A Companion to Spanish Cinema, Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2008
  • Delgado, Maria and Robin Fiddian (eds) Spanish Cinema 1973 - 2010: Auteurism, Politics, Landscape and Memory, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013
  • Dennison, Stephanie (ed), Contemporary Hispanic Cinema: Interrogating the Transnational in Spanish and Latin American Film , Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2013
  • Faulkner, Sally, A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010 , New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013
  • Jordan, Barry, and Mark Allinson, Spanish Cinema: A Student's Guide ,  London: Hodder Arnold, 2005
  • Labanyi, Jo and Tatjana PavloviÃ?�� (eds), A Companion to Spanish Cinema , Malden: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013
  • PavloviÃ?��, Tatjana and others, 2009, 100 Years of Spanish Cinema , Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009 
  • Triana-Toribio, Núria, Spanish National Cinema , London: Routledge, 2003
  • Wright, Sarah, The Child in Spanish Cinema , Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013

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Key words search

Pedro almodovar; Spanish cinema; cinephilia