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Film Theory: Key Concepts and Contexts

Our Film Theory: Key Concepts and Contexts short course will teach you to engage critically with the essential moments and ideas of film theory as it has developed over the last 100 years. You will also learn to practically apply your understanding of these concepts and contexts to specific theoretical texts and films.

The course provides a historical overview of some of the major developments in film thinking from its earliest manifestations in the 1910s and 1920s through to the present time. In each case, you learn to contextualise the key theories in relation to the intellectual history and cultural ambience of the moment in which they appeared and in relation to films made at that time and subsequently.

The principal weekly lecture will be complemented by a film screening and then followed up by a seminar in which you will scrutinise the main ideas of the lecture, bringing to life the theoretical ideas on the screen.

Indicative syllabus 

  • Early film theory in France, 1910s-1920s 
  • Early film theory in the Soviet Union, 1920s-1930s 
  • Realism and the Bazinian tradition, 1940s-1950s
  • Psychoanalytical approaches to film analysis and spectatorship, 1960s-1970s
  • Third Cinema and challenges to Western hegemony, 1960s-1970s 
  • Feminist film theory and gender perspectives, 1970s-1980s
  • Queer Theory and the politics of the body, 1980s-1990s 
  • Film philosophy from analytical and continental approaches, 1990s-present
  • Cognitivist approaches to perception and spectatorship, 1990s-present
  • Digital theory and rethinking technological determinism, 1990s-present 

Please note: this course runs on two consecutive nights every week, with a lecture on Wednesday evenings and a seminar on Thursday evenings.

30 credits at level 5

  • Entry requirements

    Entry requirements

    Most of our short courses have no formal entry requirements and are open to all students. You may have to fulfil specific prerequisites for some intermediate-level or advanced-level courses, but these will be specified where relevant.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You enrol directly onto the classes you would like to take, using the Enrol Now link below. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis - so apply early. If you wish to take more than one short course, you can select each one separately and then enrol onto them together via our online application portal. There is usually no formal selection process, although some modules may have prerequisites and/or other requirements, which will be specified where relevant.

First class: Mon 11-Jan-21 6pm-9pm

Class code ARMC250S5AAA