Accessibility statement

Non Fiction Forms of Film & Television - TFT00009I

« Back to module search

  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Edward Braman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module explores both the theories behind - and the production disciplines related to - the making of screen non fiction: documentaries and factual television.  It seeks to engage students in conceptual issues like authorship, the limits of mediating the real world, and the blurred lines between fiction and non-fictional narratives. At the same time it explores production strategies for conceiving and making non-fiction for TV, cinema and the web.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To introduce students to the key critical and theoretical concepts for analysing non-fiction forms of cinema and television including documentary, current affairs and reality TV
  • To acquaint students to some of the key examples of cinema documentary and factual television
  • To acquaint students to the historical development of these forms of cinema and television
  • To provide a more detailed understanding of the aesthetic and narrative conventions of non-fiction forms of cinema and television and how they communicate meaning to their audiences
  • To provide a more detailed understanding of the institutional context of these form and their significance to the wider film and television industries
  • To acquaint students with some of the key production issues surrounding the delivery of non-fiction film and television.

Module learning outcomes

  • Students will know, understand and be able to use the basic critical and theoretical concepts relevant to the analysis of non-fiction forms of film and television
  • Students will have knowledge of the key modes of documentary film and factual television and understand how they are constructed and function as audio-visual texts and products
  • Students will have a basic knowledge and understanding of the historical development of the documentary and factual forms of television
  • Students will understand the institutional and industrial contexts and how these impact on the production and consumption of non fiction forms of cinema and television
  • Students will have some knowledge and understanding of current developments in the field of documentary, factual and other forms of non-fiction film and television production


Task Length % of module mark
Non Fiction Portfolio
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

See above - formative work is embedded into the seminar structure in terms of group production exercises and a series of short analytical written papers.


Task Length % of module mark
Non Fiction Portfolio
N/A 100

Module feedback

There will be a range of formative exercises - short written papers - and group exercises across the module. These will all receive feedback. The final assessment will receive extensive feedback that will be designed to inform choices in the third year.

Indicative reading

  • Aitken I. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the Documentary Film. London: Routledge, 2006.
  • Austin T (2007) Watching the World: Screen Documentary and Audiences. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Beattie K. (2008) Documentary Display: Reviewing Non-Fiction Film and Television. London: Wallflower.
  • Beattie, K. (2003) Documentary Screens: Non-fiction film and television. Houndmills: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Bonner, F. (2003) Ordinary Television: Analyzing Popular TV. London: Sage.
  • Bruzzi S. (2006) New Documentary 2nd Ed. London: Routledge.
  • Dayan D. and Katz E. (1992) Media Events. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Ellis, J. (2011) Documentary: Witness and Self-revelation. New York: Routledge.
  • Frosh P. and Pinchevski A. (eds.) (2009) Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communications. London: Palgrave MacMillian.
  • Grant, B. K. and Sloniowski, J.(1998) Documenting the Documentary: close readings of documentary film and video. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
  • Hill A (2007) Restyling Factual TV. London: Routledge.
  • Hill, A. (2005) Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television. London: Routledge.
  • Holmes, S. and Jermyn, D. (Eds.) (2004) Understanding Reality Television. London: Routledge.
  • Huff, R. (2006) Reality Television. Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger.
  • Ian Aitken (ed.), (1998) The Documentary Film Movement: An Anthology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Kavka M (2008) Reality Television: Affect and Intimacy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Kilborn, R. W. and Izod, J. (1997) An Introduction to Television Documentary. Manchester: Manchester University Press
  • Mark Cousins and Kevin MacDonald (1996) (eds). Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of the Documentary. London: Faber and Faber
  • Moran, A. and Malbon, J. (2006) Understanding the Global TV Format. Bristol: Intellect Books.
  • Nichols B (1991) Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • Nichols B. (2001) Introduction to Documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • Pagett D. (1998) No Other Way to Tell It: Dramadoc / Docudrama on Television. Manchester: Manchester University Press
  • Renov M. (1993) Theorising Documentary. London Routledge
  • Rosenthal A. and Corner J. (2005) (eds.), New Challenges for Documentary Second Ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press
  • Rothman W. (1997) Documentary Film Classics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Saunders, D. (2007) Direct Cinema: Observational Documentary and the Politics of the Sixties. London: Wallflower
  • Stubbs. L. (2002) Documentary Filmmakers Speak. New York: Allworth Press
  • Winston B (1995) Claiming the Real: The Documentary Film Revisited. London: BFI

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.