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Cinema: History & Analysis - TFT00023C

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nick Jones
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module explores the long history of cinema, and furnishes students with tools for the analysis of any film, past or present. While it engages specifically with questions of creativity and production, this module places these concerns within a wider consideration of cinema's development and dissemination, and introduces a range of analytical approaches for making sense of cinema. To examine the history of the cinema is to encounter one of the most remarkable cultural changes of the period between the late nineteenth century and the early twenty-first century: the emergence and growth of a radically new form of mass communication, entertainment and art, which was to have far-reaching consequences for social and cultural life throughout the century.

The module will attend to cinema as a medium in itself, some of the wider social and cultural concerns, and the range of approaches that historians and film analysts have used to explain the way that cinema works. During the autumn term we will explore the formal properties of film - image, sound, cinematography, editing and performance - and how these are used creatively to generate meaning and engage an audience. In the spring term the focus will shift to key moments in cinema history, concentrating on moments of particular artistic, technological and institutional significance.  

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • to introduce students to the processes of how films generate meaning through the manipulation of visual and aural aesthetics and techniques.
  • to introduce the basic concepts, methods and terminology necessary for systematic film analysis.
  • to acquaint students with the broad outline of cinema history via the consideration of specific aesthetic, industrial, social and cultural contexts.
  • to provide a more detailed understanding of moments of significant aesthetic, social, and technological change in the development of the cinema
  • to demonstrate the continuing influence of historical developments on contemporary cinema aesthetics and practices

Module learning outcomes

  • students will understand the basic aesthetic properties of image and sound and how these are used to generate meanings and engage an audience through production
  • students will have a broad overall familiarity with cinema history from its beginning in the 1890s to its modern manifestations
  • students will have a more detailed understanding of particular aesthetic traditions and film-making practices as they emerged at key points of change in film history
  • students will be able to draw upon and apply a range of conceptual resources for the practical analysis of film
  • students will be able to identify and understand the influence of historical modes of cinema practice on contemporary cinema


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on all assignments according to university regulations.

Indicative reading

  • David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 7th Edition, (2004)
  • Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell, Film History: An Introduction, 2nd Edition, (2003)
  • Richard Maltby, Hollywood Cinema (2003)
  • Linda Ruth Williams and Michael Hammond (eds.), Contemporary American Cinema (2006)
  • Geoffrey Nowell Smith (ed.), The Oxford History of World Cinema (1997)
  • John Hill & Pamela Church Gibson (eds.), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (1997)
  • Annette Kuhn & Guy Westwell, The Oxford Dictionary of Film Studies (2012)
  • Michel Chion, Audio Visual: Sound on Screen (1994)
  • Walter Murch, In the Blink of an Eye: Perspective on Film Editing (2001)
  • 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.