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HIS2308 : History and Film: Representing the Past

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Nicola Clarke
  • Lecturer: Dr Samiksha Sehrawat, Dr Jen Kain, Dr Luc Racaut, Dr Lauren Darwin
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

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

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module will explore the history and theory of cinematic representations of the past. Using specific films as reference points, we will take cinema seriously as a mode of engagement with the past. Students will be introduced to different approaches and techniques in historical film; they will learn to contextualise production and reception, in multiple national and regional film industries, and how this context has changed over time; they will be encouraged to read films in terms of aspects such as cinematography, scoring, editing, and costuming, as well as story and dialogue, and consider how the various elements contribute to the whole.

The module will examine what it means to create a dramatic narrative of past events, what individual films tell us about collective and social memory of the past, and how controversy, contingency and uncertainty can or cannot be reflected on screen.

Outline Of Syllabus

The specific films and historical topics covered will vary from year to year; however, the themes covered are likely to include:

•       memory and representation
•       sensitive subjects: the politics of representation
•       marginalised voices: imagination, appropriation, and empathy
•       beyond dialogue: the visual language of cinema
•       historical truth and verisimilitude
•       revisionism at the movies
•       marketing and reception
•       writing about cinema: critics and theorists
•       budgets and box office: the business of cinema

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading771:0077:00Includes required film viewings
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion51:005:00Canvas message board discussion - part of contact hours with staff and peers
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Assessment guidance with staff.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study301:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

LECTURES enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates.

ONLINE DISCUSSION: Students will be required to view selected films via a library-subscribed streaming service or other free online repository, and then discuss those with staff non-synchronously on Canvas. They will also be expected to introduce and participate in discussions of films they have watched independently.

SURGERY TIME: Staff will make themselves available for three hours over the course of the module to see students individually on issues concerning them, although we expect this will focus on preparation for assessments. This is in addition to regular office hours.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M401500 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
Essay2A602000 words (incl. footnotes but not bibliography)
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 exercise2M500 words of contribution to message board discussions
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining the student’s progress. Summative assessment tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research and reading.

Students will be provided with a list of questions to choose from for the essays; these will focus on the themes discussed in the lectures, although students will be encouraged to choose their own examples of films to discuss in depth.

The formative assessment will give students an opportunity to practice writing about a film of their choice, in line with the ideas and skills developed in the module.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Reading Lists