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FRE4006 : Contemporary French Cinema

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Leahy
  • Other Staff: Professor Guy Austin
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


•       In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML to build on skills gained at Stages 1 and 2, and to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of aspects of French cinema.
•       To prepare students for postgraduate study in the area of French Cultural studies or Film Studies.
•       To develop students’ language skills in spoken and written French, especially in the areas of French culture and cinema.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will study 6 key contemporary French films since the 2000s. Films will be drawn from both popular and auteurist cinema and will be used to explore important concepts in film studies such as: stardom, genre, representations of ethnicity, gender and sexuality, questions of national cinema, and the representation of history, society and national myths.

Films to be studied may include: Lemming, 8 femmes, Dheepan, Bande de filles, La Pianiste, Potiche.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Synchronous online lectures that will introduce the module and new sections.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials81:008:00Pre-recorded lectures will provide students with essential contextual information.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion501:0050:00Research, planning, drafting and editing for sequence analysis and essay.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading451:0045:00Guided viewing and reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching102:0020:00PiP. Focus on thematic and stylistic close analysis and help link to historical and cultural context
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00PIP. Individual or small group assessment surgery appointments.
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity61:006:00Group discussion of screening notes/reading, seminar preparation activities.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study661:0066:00Viewing, reading, research, note-taking.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module will explore key aspects of contemporary French cinema: auteurism, representations of national identities, national myths, social and ethnic exclusion, gender and sexuality, in both popular and auteur cinema. Films may include: Lemming, Dheepan, 8 femmes, Potiche, La Pianiste, Bande de filles.

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 essential and recommended preparatory readings, and these, along with pre-recorded lectures, will provide context and frame the key debates that will inform discussion in the present-in-person seminars. Class discussion will support comprehension, allow students to test their knowledge and develop skills of critical engagement with sources. Seminars will also include analysis of film sequences in small groups followed by class debate. If in-person teaching is not possible, the seminars can be run as online Zoom classes.

The following skills will be developed:
Preparatory work for the lectures and seminars: bibliographical work, planning and organizing, independent and group study.
Lectures: Note-taking.
Seminars: Note-taking, teamwork (including initiative, adaptability and interpersonal communication), arguing
opinions, analysing sequences, oral communication and presentation skills, problem solving.


Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M30A sequence analysis of no more than 1500 words, on a sequence to be provided. Week 7.
Essay1M70An essay of no more than 2500 words, responding to one of a set of questions provided.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1MWk 4.Students will write an essay introduction & plan of approx. 500 words. Requirement to give feedback on each others’ work
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The summative assessment is in two parts:

1.       Sequence analysis of 1500 words (30%). Students must provide a sequence analysis on a film clip from one of the films studied on the module. The sequences 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.

2.       Essay of 2500 words (70%), 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 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 and the broader concepts discussed in lectures, in order to show their overall understanding of the period and its key films. Students will be expected to have acquired a good knowledge of relevant scholarly writing as well as the films themselves. This component of the assessment will be in French and will allow students to demonstrate the ability to communicate ideas and arguments fluently and succinctly in French, and to develop the following skills: independent research, bibliographical work, planning and organizing, word-processing, footnoting and referencing.

In addition, there will be a formative assessment. This will be set in week 4 and will take the form of an extended essay introduction. Students will have to reflect on the purpose of the introduction in setting out the hypothesis, key debates and in outlining the plan of the essay, and provide feedback on their peers’ work. This exercise will help develop the following skills:

•       Critical review, developing and communicating an argument, planning and organising.
•       Teamwork and interpersonal communication, problem solving

Reading Lists