Accessibility statement

The Discipline of Genre - TFT00008I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Duncan Petrie
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Genre is a central concept in cinema and television that is relevant to film and programme-makers, audiences and critics alike. As a means of differentiating and categorising product, genre has been central to the film industry since the silent era and subsequently came to be adopted and used extensively in television. It is highly relevant to the creative process in both industries, providing sets of conventions and expectations that structure and guide both the work of film and television makers but also the responses of audiences. But generic conventions and frameworks can also provide an opportunity for innovation - from putting a new spin on familiar material, to combining aspects of different genres, to simply breaking and subverting the ‘rules’. In this way, constraints can be seen as an aid, rather than simply a limitation, to creativity and it is on this proposition that the main philosophical approach of this module is built. The introduction will be followed by weekly case studies that foreground a variety of examples of innovative approaches to genre that both maintain the significance of the generic frameworks while attempting to provide innovative approaches to the genre. There are four weeks when the focus will be on the operation of genre in film, with case studies of innovative approaches to the western, horror, parody and the period film. We will then move on to consider the application of genre to television, this time with case studies on the sitcom, tele-fantasy, the soap opera and the crime drama.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • to introduce students to the centrality of genre as a key principle of product differentiation and creative organisation in film and television
  • to introduce students the concepts, methods and terminology necessary for a critical analysis of genre and its function within film and television production and reception
  • to acquaint students with the development of genre theory and criticism in film and television studies
  • to acquaint students with particular constructions and uses of genre in film and television history
  • to provide a more detailed understanding of the creative uses of genre within contemporary film and television production
  • to provide a more detailed understanding of the importance of genre in the marketing and consumption of contemporary films and television programmes

Module learning outcomes

  • students will understand the characteristics and function of genre as a critical concept, as a means of product differentiation and as a creative context for production in film and television
  • students will gain a familiarity of the primary characteristics and uses of genre in film and television history and the developments of particular genres over time
  • students will be able to analyse films and television programmes in relation to the conventions, structures and creative possibilities of genre
  • students will understand the significance, the creative application and the institutional function of genre in contemporary film and television production and consumption


Task Length % of module mark
2500 Word Essay
N/A 40
University - project
3000 Word Programme Proposal
N/A 60

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The formatives will run from weeks 7-10


Task Length % of module mark
2500 Word Essay
N/A 40
University - project
3000 Word Programme Proposal
N/A 60

Module feedback

Feedback will be received on the formative assessment within a week of the seminar presentation.

Indicative reading

  • Steve Neale, Genre and Contemporary Hollywood (London: BFI, 2002)
  • Steve Neale, Genre and Hollywood (London: Routledge, 2000)
  • Rick Altman, Film/Genre (London: BFI, 1999)
  • Barry Langford, Film Genre: Hollywood and Beyond (Edinburgh University Press, 2005)
  • Glen Creeber (ed.), The Television Genre Book (Basingstoke: Palgrave/BFI, 2008)
  • Lez Cooke, British Television Drama (London: BFI, 2003)
  • Barry Keith Grant, Film Genre: From Iconography to Ideology (London: Wallflower, 2007)
  • Gavin Dowd et. al. (eds.), Genre Matters: Essays in Theory and Criticism (Bristol: Intellect, 2006)
  • Jason Mittell, Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture (London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Please check the VLE weekly for essential and recommended readings.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.