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Module UXS-1063:
Film History

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Nathan Abrams

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To introduce students to the key developments in film history;
  2. To equip students with the language and skills required to understand film as a product of its time which reflects upon its social and political context;
  3. To explore the relationship between film, history and cultural change;
  4. To equip students with the appropriate critical vocabulary;
  5. To enable students to construct a written and oral argument to a deadline.

Course content

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the link between film technologies, narratives, styles, genres, and subjects, and the societies in which film circulates. Lectures will introduce students to a range of important changes which have influenced the development of film as a medium. The module will help students to situate the selected films in their cultural, political, historic, and technological context. Lectures cover topics such as: Early Cinematic Milestones, Soviet Montage, German Expressionism, Surrealism, the Introduction of Diegetic Sound, the Classical Hollywood Studio System, Post-War Japanese Cinema, Italian Neo-Realism, and the French New Wave.

Weekly screenings illustrate issues covered in lectures and associated readings, and will provide a case study for weekly workshops.

Films/shorts to be screened may include: Le Voyage dans la Lune (Méliès, 1902), Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929), M (Lang, 1931), Blackmail (Hitchcock, 1929), Der Blaue Engel (Von Sternberg, 1930), Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941), Roma, Città Aperta (Rossellini, 1945), Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950), Ladri di Biciclette (De Sica, 1948), À bout de soufflé (Godard, 1960).

Assessment Criteria



  • Knowledge of key areas/principles only
  • Weaknesses in understanding of main areas
  • Limited evidence of background study
  • Answer only poorly focussed on question and with some irrelevant material and poor structure
  • Arguments presented but lack coherence
  • Several factual/computational errors
  • No original interpretation
  • Only major links between topics are described
  • Limited problem solving
  • Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy



  • Strong knowledge
  • Understands most but not all
  • Evidence of background study
  • Focussed answer with good structure
  • Arguments presented coherently
  • Mostly free of factual and computational errors
  • Some limited original interpretation
  • Well known links between topics are described
  • Problems addressed by existing methods/approaches
  • Good presentation with accurate communication



  • Comprehensive knowledge
  • Detailed understanding
  • Extensive background study
  • Highly focussed answer and well structured
  • Logically presented and defended arguments
  • No factual/computational errors
  • Original interpretation
  • New links between topics are developed
  • New approach to a problem
  • Excellent presentation with very accurate communication

Learning outcomes

  1. Be able to identify the key movements and developments in the production and distribution of the moving image across a range of cultures, genres, and film producing nations.

  2. Have a clear grasp of the technical vocabulary required for analysing the moving image when approached from a range of theoretical perspectives.

  3. Have a developed understanding of generic and narrative structure.

  4. Work successfully in groups and demonstrate developed presentation skills.

  5. Demonstrate an ability to research and write well constructed essays.

  6. Be able to utilise a range of sources and materials to carry out independent research.

  7. Be able to recognise, analyse, and understand the importance of situating a variety of film forms within a context.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Group presentation 30
Essay 40
Weekly Reading and Seminar Logbook 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 156

2 hour screening per week


1 hour workshop per week


1 hour lecture per week


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: