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Film Theory: Key Concepts and Contexts


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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.

We aim to cover the following content:

  • 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.

Assessment is via a 2000-word written assignment (40%) and a 3000-word written assignment (60%).

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.

    This short course has no prerequisites.

    As part of the enrolment process, you may be required to submit a copy of a suitable form of ID.

    International students who wish to come to the UK to study a short course can apply for a Visitor visa. Please note that it is not possible to obtain a Student visa to study a short course.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You register directly onto the classes you would like to take. 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 register 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.