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FRE2005 : Classic French Cinema

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Leahy
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


• In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, to build on skills gained at Stage 1, and to provide students with an introduction to key aspects of the history of French cinema from 1930-1960.
• To provide students with an understanding of important aspects of French culture and history and their representation in film.
• To provide students with an understanding of important debates in Film Studies.
• To prepare students for postgraduate study in the area of film studies.
• To make aspects of the above available to students from outside the degree.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will receive 22 hours of in person lectures and 11 hours of seminars. During these hours we will cover key contextual information, read and discuss primary and secondary sources relating to the period and the French film industry at the time, and watch and analyse six key films, on which the assessment will focus. There will be 50 hours of guided study, to include essential reading, viewing and seminar preparation activities, which will include group work (e.g. research tasks, thematic and sequence analysis, reading discussion points). Weekly preparatory viewing and reading will be set in advance.

The module is structured in three blocks, with an additional overall introduction and sessions devoted to revision and assessment preparation.

Example syllabus:
Introduction to module.
Block 1: Constructions of class, race and gender in the 1930s
Assessment 1 preparation.
Block 2: Occupation Cinema.
Assessment 2 preparation.
Block 3. Post-war reconstruction: nationhood and modernity.

Films to be studied may include: Le Grand Jeu (Feyder, 1934), Pépé le Moko (Duvivier, 1937), Le Corbeau (Clouzot, 1943), Le Ciel est à vous (Grémillon, 1943), Jour de fête (Tati, 1949), Et Dieu…créa la femme (Vadim, 1956). Films are made available to students via the World TV and Film service (IPTV).

(NB: in addition to the structured and guided activities listed above, students are expected to complete a further 127 hours of independent study, including reading, viewing and assessment preparation. An extensive bibliography and filmography are provided.)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion301:0030:00Research, planning, drafting and editing for sequence analysis and essay.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00In person lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading501:0050:00Guided viewing and reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00In person seminars.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study871:0087:00Viewing, reading, research, note-taking.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will explore three different decades of French cinema history, commonly thought of as the ‘classical period’, from the coming of sound in the 1930s, to the advent of the New Wave in the 1950s.

The module is divided into 3 blocks. Each block comprises 2 key films. Screening notes will be provided for each film and students will be expected to discuss these in groups prior to the seminars. In addition, each week will have one or two essential preparatory readings, and these, along with pre-recorded lectures, will provide context and frame the key debates that will inform seminar discussions. Seminars will take place in person (as will drop-in sessions), but can be moved to online delivery if necessary. Class discussion will support comprehension, allow students to test their knowledge and develop skills of critical engagement with sources.

Throughout the module reading, viewing, online and in-class discussion will help develop analytical and critical skills as well as knowledge of the period in question and the specific films in relation to their contexts.

Activities will be set as part of the guided study to allow students to familiarize themselves with film language and analysis, and group analysis activities carried out in class will reinforce this.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities: Note-taking, teamwork, arguing opinions, evaluating sources, analysing sequences, oral communication and presentation skills, problem-solving.

Structured Guided Learning: Note-taking, teamwork (including initiative, adaptability and interpersonal communication), arguing opinions, analysing sequences, oral and written communication, independent research.

Guided independent study: note-taking, teamwork (including initiative, adaptability and interpersonal communication), arguing opinions, analysing sequences, oral and written communication, problem-solving, film screenings, reading, independent research, essay-writing.


Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A602500 word essay. To be submitted at the end of Semester 2.
Written exercise1A401500-word sequence analysis. To be submitted at the end of Semester 1.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MOptional sequence analysis of 500 words. To be submitted in the middle of Semester 1.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative assessment for this module is in two parts:

1.       A Written exercise: sequence analysis of 1500 words.
2.       An Essay of 2500 words.

The first part consists of a sequence analysis. The sequence will be taken from one of the films studied on the module, and will be provided along with a list of questions/aspects that students may wish to consider in their analysis. This should take the form of an essay of 1500 words. The exercise is designed to test students’ ability to analyse form, content and context, and to relate these three aspects of the sequence to each other.

The second part consists of a 2500 word essay in which students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of context and film style as well as to engage critically with appropriate academic sources. Questions will require students to engage critically with two films studied. They will be designed to test the students' ability to draw on specific textual analysis of the films, as well as demonstrating links between formal aspects of the films, their production contexts, and the broader concepts presented and discussed in class, in order to show their overall understanding of the period and its key films.

Reading Lists