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Module LXM-4011:
Visions of the City in Fr. cin

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

30 Credits or 15 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Jonathan Ervine

Overall aims and purpose

  1. This module will introduce students to important trends in French cinema since 1995, notably the renewal of social and political cinema.
  2. Via close study of four specific films, the module will explore cinematic representations of the French city since 1995...
  3. ...this will include a particular focus on often marginalized groups, such as immigrants, ethnic minorities and residents of suburban housing estates.
  4. The module will explore the relation between cinematic techniques and political subject matter in contemporary French films.

Course content

This course will explore representations of the city in French films since 1995. It will be based around four key films that share a focus on issues of exclusion, such as the place of immigrants / foreigners in modern French cities and also tensions between city centres and peripheries of major urban areas. The extent to which the four key films fit in with the renewal of social and political film making since 1995 will be assessed, as will whether they reproduce or challenge political and cinematic clichés (e.g. representations of immigrants / ethnic minorities). This will be complemented by analysis and discussion of the relationship between cinematic techniques and political ideas in all of the films studied.

Guy Austin, Contemporary French Cinema: An Introduction (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1996). Susan Hayward, French National Cinema, (London and New York: Routledge, 2005). Susan Hayward, Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts (London and New York: Routledge, 2000). O’Shaughnessy, Martin. 2003. ‘Post-1995 French Cinema: Return of the Social, Return of the Political?’, Modern and Contemporary France, 11 (2): 189-203. Journal accessible via library website. Phil Powrie (ed.), French cinema in the 1990s : continuity and difference (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). Phil Powrie and Keith Reader (eds.), French Cinema: A Student’s Guide (London: Arnold, 2002). Carrie Tarr, Reframing Difference: beur and banlieue film-making in France (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005).

Assessment Criteria


B- - B+: Students attaining the higher grades in this course will have engaged with an appropriate range of cinematic and thematic issues related to the films studied, and will demonstrate and ability to assess the films in relation to established critical debates about French cinema. They will contextualize the films in relation to appropriate cinematic and trends and socio-political issues.


A- - A+: Students attaining the highest grades in this course will have produced innovative responses to the films studied that situates the core films in relation to other relevant films and also cinematic and socio-political issues. They will have supplemented this analysis with the confident and thoughtful engagement with a range of secondary materials. They will have demonstrated a very high level of understanding of the individual films in terms of both their content, cinematic techniques and contextualized them in relation to cinematic trends and socio-political issues.


C- - C+: In order to merit the award of credit, students should demonstrate a basic understanding of the cinematic and thematic issues related to the films studied, and be able to provide analysis of the films¿ significance. They should also demonstrate an awareness of critical thinking on the films and the period studied.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of key trends in French cinema since 1995.

  2. Critically assess a film or extracts of a film, demonstrating awareness of how cinematic techniques contribute to meaning.

  3. Contextualize films in relation to cinematic trends and socio-political developments contemporary to their production.

  4. Understand the importance of cinema and cinematic culture in France, notably in relation to the images of French cities which it projects.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Essay 100

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Private study to include: - seminar preparation (e.g. preparing notes on topics set in advance). - reading relevant secondary materials, such as those on the module reading list. - watching other relevant films in addition to the main ones studied. - planning and writing assessed essay.


6 x two hour seminars, fortnightly.


4 x two hour film screenings.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • The ability to critically understand political culture and traditions in France. (Benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand history of immigration and racial debates in France and the ability to contextualize literature, cinema and music which evokes this. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand cultural studies concepts on representation, the nation and identity, and their application to core texts (incl. filmic and/or literary and/or other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to comprehend and critically engage with issues related to national and cultural identity and to develop an understanding of these in relation to ideas of representation. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage with issues of form, style, content and target audience, thus coming to a wider understanding of the role of literature and/or film and/or other media in wider cultural contexts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand a specific aspect of French or Francophone culture and its relationship to other cultures. (Benchmark statement 5.7)

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: