FTMAE-Film Aesthetics

Module Provider: Film, Theatre and TV
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Ms Alison Butler

Email: a.j.butler@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will develop students’ understanding of the complex relationships between form, style, meaning and ideology in cinema. Through the close study of a set of films and key debates in the study of film aesthetics, the module will foster sophisticated skills of film analysis in order that students can articulate the form and consequences of filmmaking decisions. The module aims to expand students’ knowledge of the relationships between production practices and film aesthetics. Emphasis will be placed on film as a collaborative medium, so that students can produce extended analyses of specific elements of film aesthetics and production. While classes will generally work from the film outwards – that is, from textual analysis to contextual analysis and back again – students will be encouraged to engage with critical approaches that specifically bear on techniques of film analysis and interpretation. The module will help students to become more conscious of the ways in which they can approach film aesthetics and how their methodologies relate to film studies’ history. The investigation of film aesthetics will inform a range of other modules on the programme.

The main aims of the module are to help students develop their understanding of how film
aesthetics can be analysed and evaluated, their skills of film analysis, and their knowledge of
key debates in critical discussion of film aesthetics. The module provides a framework (set
reading, screenings and seminar discussion) within which students will be able to develop and
articulate complex, precise interpretations of the films studied and the scholarship
encountered. The module also aims to expand students’ knowledge of the relationships
between production practices and film aesthetics. Emphasis is placed on film as a
collaborative medium, so that students can produce extended analyses of specific elements of
film aesthetics and production. Students are expected to read widely about the films studied
each week, so that they can offer informed perspectives on the sequences discussed in class.
Each student will be asked to give a presentation on a film, drawing on research. The
diagnostic and assessed essays will be marked on the extent to which they successfully
combine techniques of close analysis with research skills to produce grounded and incisive

Assessable learning outcomes:

On completion of the module, it is expected that the student will: ?- have developed a range of independent approaches to the detailed analysis of films and film ?aesthetics; ?- be able to construct an extended, original argument about the forms and styles of different ?types of film, drawing on relevant independent research; ?- be capable of contextualising film aesthetics, genre, modes of representation, style and ?meaning; ?- be able to recognise and engage constructively with different methodologies of film ?analysis; ?- be familiar with different practices in film production and their relationship to film ?aesthetics

Additional outcomes:
The module plays a significant role in the continuing development of other skills and
competencies which are central to the programme. It is expected that the level of skills and
competencies achieved in the following will be appropriate to the level of study: oral
communication and argument in group situations; deployment of research using printed and
electronic resources; critical analysis; lucid written articulation of a coherent and original
argument; the undertaking of self-directed, independent work; presentation of written work
using IT.

Outline content:
Seminars will focus on the detailed audiovisual analysis of a group of related films. The
selection of films and the types of critical approach referred to will be informed by the
research expertise of the module tutor(s), but will focus on questions of film aesthetics in
practice and in scholarship. Class discussion and essays will consider form, aesthetics, style
and meaning. The module will also touch on the cultural and industrial contexts of the films;
the ways in which these contexts inflect film aesthetics and interpretation will be debated.
Through required and recommended reading, students will encounter and engage with a range
of critical approaches relevant to the films being discussed. The class will consider how
different critical methodologies inflect interpretation.

Global context:
The module deals with film and moving image culture as an international phenomenon, utilizing a range of case studies with global and local dimensions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will be taught in one weekly two-hour seminar, with at least one associated screening. Seminars will concentrate mainly on close analysis of films and discussion of how different critical approaches inflect analytical focus, interpretation, and understanding of filmmaking practices and their contexts. Students will give individual presentations, as well as engaging in individual and/or group sequence analysis, and will be required to see additional films as contextual material.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Supervised time in studio/workshop 20
External visits 12
Guided independent study: 148
Total hours by term 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will submit either:

Three short assignments, totalling 6000 words


A single essay of 6000 words


A video essay, accompanied by a short written text.

The choice of assessment methods will be made by the student in consultation with the convenor of the module.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:
An overall mark of at least 50%.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of failed coursework by 1 September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 1 July 2019


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