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MCH2000 : Film Theory for Practice 1: What is cinema?

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Raisa Sidenova
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Film Theory for Practice I will offer an overview of major film theories and explore the relationship between theory and practice. By presenting the debates around cinema from its birth to the present day, this module will allow for a serious engagement with form and creativity that will develop the practice.

Film theory encompasses questions about film’s relationship to reality and the world, to style and technique, and to politics and ideology. This module will chart out the history of ideas concerning cinema as well as discuss historical context of various film movements and film manifestos from around the world. Particular attention will be paid to filmmaker-theorists who triggered a new theoretical take or exemplified a theoretical stance. Addressing André Bazin’s foundational question “What is Cinema?”, this module will introduce students to such topics as formalism, realism, documentary film theory, Marxism, feminism, race, cultural identity, semiotics and structuralism, and non-Western approaches to film theory.

1. To provide students with a critical survey of the principal authors and concepts in film theory.
2. To provide students with an insight into the aesthetic debates and their relationship to broader historical events and cultural movements.
3. To provide students with an understanding of social forces and functions of cinema as an industry and a form of mass art.
4. To facilitate students to be able to write in a scholarly way about film, the cinema and society.

While this class does not have a pre-requisite, it requires interest in cinema and knowledge of the basics of film history and film analysis.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes covered can include:
Early film history and theory
Formalism and realism
Marxism and ideology
Feminism and psychoanalysis
Race and cultural identity
Post-cinema and digital cinema

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion154:0054:00Undertaking assessment, summative and formative, including reading and drafting.
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Lecture materials on historical & theoretical frameworks, concepts & debates. Delivered online.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading128:0028:00Independent and self-directed research (reading and watching)
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities130:0030:00Guided critical reading activities and writing exercises
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities155:0055:00Reading and watching in preparation for small-group teaching
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Present-in-person student-led seminars
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Following the Planning Assumptions for Academic Year 23/24, this module will be delivered through in-person on campus lectures and student-led seminars. The combination of illustrated lectures to give a structure and context for learning, and reading-based discussion in seminars will enable students to have both the breadth and depth of understanding.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M401500-word essay
Research paper1A502000-word essay
Prof skill assessmnt1A10Participation and engagement
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The rationale for the assessments is to enable the students to demonstrate their intellectual grasp of film theory and key concepts through writing an essay and a research paper, submitted mid-semester and during the assessment period accordingly. They will be expected to draw on a range of film theorists and movements in order to demonstrate their knowledge and critical understanding of different and divergent critiques of film theory, the cinema and society.

The professional skills assessment (10%) will account for students' classroom contribution and module citizenship. This is not based solely on registered attendance - seminar contribution, feedback discussions and peer-to-peer engagement will be monitored on a weekly basis.

Reading Lists