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The Discipline of Genre (Year 3) - TFT00070H

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

Module summary

This module explores how genre functions as a central principle in cinema and television to organise, differentiate and brand content, inform and
inspire creativity, and to attract and satisfy audience expectations. Focusing on a series of case studies of specific genres in cinema and television, it
also investigates how genres involve elements of convention and novelty and how the boundaries between distinctive genres have become
increasingly open and blurred.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The module aims:

  • to introduce you to the centrality of genre as a key principle of product differentiation and creative organisation in film and television
  • to introduce you to the concepts, methods and terminology necessary for a critical analysis of genre and its function within film and television production and reception
  • to acquaint you with the development of genre theory and criticism in film and television studies
  • to acquaint you 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

By the end of this module, you are expected to:

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

Module content

The module will begin with an introduction to the concept of genre and how it functions in contemporary cinema and television. Other key contextual issues will include how genre provides a fundamental organisational principle in stimulating and structuring creativity, and informing organizing production promotion and consumption of moving image content and the role of genre in the convergence of screen media. The rest of the module will feature a series of case studies of specific genres that will consider how these have both maintained distinctive characteristics and been subject to a dynamic process of change and transformation, including the creation of new hybrid genres.


Task Length % of module mark
Coursework : Programming proposal
N/A 30
Coursework : Programming proposal
N/A 70

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The formative group seminar presentation provides ways of exploring ideas that will directly inform the second summative and final module assessment. These will be prepared and presented during the seminars in groups of three or four, one per week over the final five weeks of the module.


Task Length % of module mark
Coursework : Programming proposal
N/A 30
Coursework : Programming proposal
N/A 70

Module feedback

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

Indicative reading

  • Steve Neale, ‘Questions of Genre’, Screen, Vol. 31, No. 1, spring 1990.
  • Glen Creeber (ed.), The Television Genre Book (London: BFI, 2001).
  • Ian Cameron and Doug Pye (eds.) The Movie Book of the Western (Studio Vista: 1996).
  • Ed Buscombe (ed.), The BFI Companion to the Western (London: BFI, 1993).
  • Andy Tudor, ‘Why Horror?: The Peculiar Pleasures of a Popular Genre’, in Cultural Studies, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1997.
  • Noel Carrol, ‘The Nature of Horror’ in Mark Jancovich (ed.), Horror: The Film Reader (London: Routledge, 2002).
  • Carol Clover, Men, Women and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Wes D. Gehring, Parody as Film Genre (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1999).
  • Neil Archer, Beyond a Joke: Parody in English Film and Television Comedy (London: IB Tauris, 2017).
  • Samantha Lay, British Social Realism: From Documentary to Brit Grit (London: Wallflower, 2002).
  • David Forrest, New Realism: Contemporary British Cinema Edinburgh: EUP, 2020).
  • Brett Mills, Television Sitcom (London: BFI, 2005).
  • Tricia Dunleavy, ‘Tradition and Innovation in Situation Comedy’, in Television Drama: Form, Agency, Innovation (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).
  • Sue Turnbull, The TV Crime Drama (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014).
  • Tobias Hochscherf and Heidi Philipsen, ‘Beyond the Bridge: Contemporary Danish Television Drama (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017).
  • Catherine Johnson, Telefantasy (London: BFI, 2005).
  • Faye Woods, ‘Telefantasy Tower Blocks: Space, Place and Social Realism Shake Ups in Misfits, Journal of British Cinema and Television, Vol. 12, No, 2, 2015.
  • Charlotte Brunsdon, Screen Tastes (London: Routledge, 1997).
  • Dorothy Hobson, Soap Opera (Cambridge: Polity, 2003).
  • Deirdre E. Pribram, Emotion, Genre, Justice in Film and Television: Detecting Feeling (London: Routledge, 2010).
  • Jane Roscoe & Craig Hight, Faking It: Mock Documentary and the Subversion of Factuality (Manchester: MUP, 2001)
  • Thomas Schatz, Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Film-Making and the Studio System (Boston: McGraw Hill, 1985).
  • Julie Selbo, Film Genre for the Screenwriter (New York: Routledge, 2015).
  • Rick Altman, Film/Genre (London: BFI, 1999).
  • Julie F. Codell, Genre, Gender, Race and World Cinema (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).
  • 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.