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

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • 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 1950s, this module will allow for a serious engagement with form and creativity that will develop the practice of the students.

Film theory encompasses questions about film’s relationship to reality and the world, to style and technique, to politics and ideology. This module will chart out the history of ideas concerning cinema as well as discuss theoretical moments, film movements and film manifestoes from around the world. Particular attention will be paid to filmmaker-theorists, filmmakers who have been in the middle of the debates, either triggering a theoretical take or exemplifying a theoretical stance. Addressing André Bazin’s foundational question “What is Cinema,” this module will introduce students to themes such as Film Language, Montage, Realism, Formalism, Kino-Eye, the Documentary Film Movement and so on.

1. To provide students with a critical survey of the principal authors, concepts, and films within the
classical period of film theory from the late 19th century to the 1950s.
2. To provide students with an insight into the aesthetic debates (and their relationship to broader
political ideologies) of the period in context
3. To provide students with an understanding of social forces and functions of cinema as a mass art.
4. To facilitate students to be able to write in a scholarly way about film, the cinema and society.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes covered can include:
Early film theory
From technology to art and the cinematic medium
Filmmakers as theorists
Philosophers, critics and film theorists

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00Theoretical frameworks, concepts and debates
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion160:0060:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading154:0054:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyProject work138:0038:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops122:0024:00Student led interrogations and discussion of theories
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and student-led workshops / seminars
that set out and test key theories and concepts. 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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation101A2010 minute in class presentation
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502000 word essay
Written exercise1A301200 word class assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1M1000 word essay to be submitted November
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 in class assessment as well as through the writing of a scholarly 2000 word essay. 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.

Reading Lists