Understanding Documentary 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
Understanding Documentary is an engaging and comprehensive study of the fascinating world of documentary film. This module invites students to delve into the realm of non-fiction cinema, exploring its history, techniques, and the profound impact it has on society.
Students will gain a deep understanding of the artistry behind documentary filmmaking. They will learn to critically evaluate documentaries, dissecting their narrative structures, stylistic choices, and ethical considerations.
The module covers a wide range of topics, including the origins of documentary film, influential documentary filmmakers and their works, various subgenres within the field, and the evolving relationship between documentary film and social change. Students will explore how documentaries serve as powerful tools for storytelling, shedding light on pressing issues, social injustices, and cultural phenomena.
By the end of the module, students will have a deep appreciation for the power of documentary film as a medium for education, advocacy, and artistic expression. They will be equipped with the analytical tools and technical skills necessary to engage with documentary films critically.
This course will look at the history of documentary film, attempting to place important developments within a theoretical context. The course will begin by looking at the way in which the early pioneers of documentary film emerged in the 1920s, and seek to understand the contributions of John Grierson, Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov, and the relationship between their work.
This will be followed by an examination of the emergence of Direct Cinema and Cinema Verité during the 1960s, and the challenges faced by those attempting to work within observational documentary. The rejection of the purely observational mode of documentary, and the rise of the participatory film-maker will follow, leading on to an examination of reflexive documentaries, the role of dramatisation within documentary film, drama-documentary and docudrama. The final part of the course will look at the influence of new technology upon documentary film, analysing the influence of both computer generated imagery and animation upon documentary film.
-threshold -Threshold (40%+)Submitted work is adequate and shows an acceptable level of competence as follows: Generally accurate but with omissions and errors. Assertions are made without clear supporting evidence or reasoning. Has structure but is lacking in clarity and therefore relies on the reader to make links and assumptions. Draws on a relatively narrow range of material.
-good -Good (50%+)Submitted work is competent throughout and occasionally distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: Good structure and logically developed arguments. At least in parts draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. Assertions are, in the main, backed by evidence and sound reasoning. Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.Very Good (60%+) Submitted work is competent throughout and distinguished by superior style, approach and choice of supporting materials. It demonstrates: Very good structure and logically developed arguments. Draws on material that has been sourced and assessed as a result of independent study, or in a way unique to the student. Assertions are backed by evidence and sound reasoning. Accuracy and presentation in an appropriate academic style.
-excellent -Excellent (70%+) Submitted work is of an outstanding quality and excellent in one or more of the following ways: Has originality of exposition with the student's own thinking being readily apparent. Provides clear evidence of extensive and relevant independent study.* Arguments are laid down with clarity and provide the reader with successive stages of consideration to reach conclusions.
- Analyse the social, cultural, technological and philosophical significance of key milestones in the historical development of documentary media.
- Critically evaluate both form and content of documentary media artefacts, within the context of relevant film and media theory.
- Discuss and debate differing approaches to the production of documentary films or other documentary media artefacts
- Interrogate major developments in the field of documentary film theory, in the context of broader cultural and philosophical debates.
Logbook Or Portfolio
A portfolio of work based on tasks undertaken in the classroom.
2500 word essay, responding to a question set by the lecturer