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Non Fiction Forms of Film & Television - TFT00009I

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Edward Braman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

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

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

This module will:

  • Introduce you to the key critical and theoretical concepts for analysing non-fiction forms of cinema and television including documentary, current affairs, factual programmes and unscripted TV.
  • Acquaint you with some key and influential examples of cinema documentary and factual television.
  • Engage you in historical development of these forms of cinema and television
  • Provide you with a detailed understanding of the aesthetic and narrative conventions of non-fiction forms of cinema and television and how they communicate meaning to their audiences
  • Alert you to the industrial and institutional contexts that surround the production of non-fiction and how non-fiction forms relate to, and influence, the wider film and television industries
  • Acquaint you with some of the key production issues - technical, editorial and conceptul - which influence the delivery of non-fiction film and television.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you will be expected to:

  • Understand and be able to apply core critical and theoretical concepts to the analysis of non-fiction forms of film and television.
  • Be familiar with the key modes of documentary film and factual television and understand how they are constructed and function as stories and as industrial outputs.
  • Be familiar with, and understand the impact of, historical developments in documentary and factual forms storytelling.
  • Appreciate institutional and industrial contexts and how these impact on the production and consumption of non fiction forms of cinema and television.
  • Be alert to, and able to interpret the significance of, current developments in the field of documentary, factual and other forms of non-fiction film and television production.
  • Engage with the importance of factual forms of film and TV in the promotion of diversity and equality and to the exploration of significant public debate. Able to research, develop, and work through the technical and editorial demands of a factual project and to present it, and the thinking around it, in compelling written form.


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

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

2 optional formative assessments.

In addition, the majority of seminars on this module will feature task work, often in groups, which will relate to eventual assessment and for which feedback will therefore be a regular component.


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.

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

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.