Accessibility statement

Story - TFT00026C

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Mr. Andrew Vickers
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will introduce you to the centrality of story and story-telling to cinema and television. It will identify and explore certain dominant forms and traditions of cinematic and televisual story telling. It will examine how films and television programmes tell a story by introducing and examining key principles such as: narrative premise, structure and development; the dynamics and interrelation of plot, character and dialogue; the relationship between audio visual text and audience; the function of key aesthetic properties including visual style, performance and sound design in relation to storytelling; and the key principles of literary adaptation. The module will also consider certain institutional factors that inform and constrain storytelling for specific audio-visual media.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The main aims of this module are:

  • To acquaint you with the notion of "story" as a first principle for organising material, and for mediating between subject-matter and audience across a range of media contexts: film, drama, documentary, news and so on.
  • To encourage a critical sensitivity to the effectiveness of narratives and a critical understanding of the contexts in which they operate.
  • To promote an understanding of "film language" as a whole, i.e. "the ways in which sound, vision and performance combine" and how it can be applied to the telling of stories.
  • To develop practical skills for the origination, research, development and delivery of stories in screenplay or script form appropriate to a variety of media contexts.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should:

  • Understand the centrality of story and storytelling to the popularity of cinema and television as mass media.
  • Understand the construction and function of the components of cinematic and televisual story- telling including narrative premise and structure, plot development, character and dialogue and other aspects of audio-visual storytelling.
  • Have knowledge of various forms and traditions of storytelling in film and television.
  • Understand how films and television programmes use story and story techniques to impart information to and emotionally engage with an audience.
  • Have knowledge of certain institutional factors, including commercial and political imperatives, in film and television and how these inform and constrain the process of storytelling.
  • Understand the principles of formatting scripts to industry standard.


Task Length % of module mark
2000 word essay/screenplay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
2000 word essay/screenplay
N/A 100

Module feedback

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

Indicative reading

(** indicates essential reading)

Aristotle, (2000) The Poetics, London: Penguin Classics.

**Bordwell, D. (2004) The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. Berkeley, CA and London: University of California Press.

Cobley, P. (2001) Narrative: The New Critical Idiom. London: Routledge.

**Thompson, K. (2003) Storytelling in Film and Television. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Hiltunen, A. (2002) Aristotle in Hollywood: The Anatomy of Successful Storytelling. Bristol: Intellect Books.

McKee, R. (1999) Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. London: Methuen.

Harrison, S. (2005) Adaptations: From Short Story to Big Screen. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Bernard, S. C. (2007) Documentary Storytelling. Amsterdam and London: Focal Press.

Moran, A. and Malbon, J. (2006) Understanding the Global TV Format. Bristol: Intellect.

Steemers, J. (2004) Selling Television: British Television in the Global Marketplace. London: BFI.

Cardwell, S. (2002) Adaptation Revisited: Television and the Classic Novel. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Livingstone, S. (1998) Making Sense of Television: The Psychology of Audience Interpretation, 2 nd Edition. London and New York: Routledge.

Thornam, S. and Purvis, T. (2005) Television Drama: Theories and Identities. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

**Potter, C. (2001) Screen Language: From Film Writing to Film-making. London: Methuen.

Nelson, R. (2007) State of Play: Contemporary High End TV Drama. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Andrew, G. (1999) The Director s Vision: A Concise Guide to the Art of 250 Great Filmmakers. Chicago: A Cappella Books.

Hardy, F (Ed.) (1979) Grierson on Documentary. London; Faber.

**Mamet, D. (1992) On Directing Film. London; Penguin.

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.