Approaches to Film Studies: Theory, Criticism and Archives - EN50003

Quick Facts

  • Postgraduate
  • 40 Credits
  • Year Long
  • MLitt Film Studies core module
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%

Module Details

The module aims to:

  1. Expand your understanding of key aspects of film theory through case studies of several prominent filmmakers who have inspired a great deal of critical and theoretical writing.
  2. Ask you to engage with other kinds of critical writing about film, including journalism, reviews, interviews and on-line sources.
  3. Introduce you to the keynote of the Film Studies Masters’ degree by having them learn to read and appreciate the screenplay as a way of complementing their existing ability to close read the mise-en-scene of a finished film.
  4. Introduce you to theoretical works on the screenplay by eminent screenwriters and playwrights that will assist you in your option modules.
  5. Allow you , through a series of archival case studies, to develop important research skills and learn how to use unpublished archival sources in yourresearch and writing.
  6. Teach you how to combine, in your written work, a sophisticated level of mise-en-scene analysis, a strong theoretical foundation, an understanding of the more literary aspects of film and unpublished archival material, making you a strong, all-round film scholar.


Dr Brian Hoyle


Indication of weekly topics

  1. Director’s Case Study: John Ford
  2. Director’s Case Study: Jean Renoir
  3. Director’s Case Study: Alfred Hitchcock
  4. Director’s Case Study: Kenji Mizoguchi
  5. Writer’s Case Study: George Bernard Shaw
  6. Writer’s Case Study: James Agee
  7. Writer’s Case Study: Graham Greene
  8. Archive Case Study: Deliverance
  9. Archive Case Study: Dante’s Inferno
  10. Archive Case Study: Orlando
  11. Archive Case Study: Rob Roy
  12. Archive Case Study: The Unfilmed Screenplay


  • Fortnightly journals (20%)
  • A presentation (20%)
  • A research essay (60%, 5,000-6,000 words)



Indicative Secondary Reading

  • James Agee, Agee on Film (Grosset and Dunlap, 1967)
  • Andre Bazin, What is Cinema? (University of California Press, 2004)
  • David Bordwell, Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging (University of California Press, 2005)
  • John Caughie, Theories of Authorship: A Reader (BFI, 1981)
  • Mark Le Fanu, Mizoguchi and Japan (BFI, 2001)
  • George Bernard Shaw, Bernard Shaw on Cinema (Southern Illinois UP, 1997)
  • Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock: A Definitive Study (Simon and Schuster, 1986)
  • Robin Wood, Sexual Politics and Narrative Film (Columbia U.P., 1998)
  • Slavoj Zizek, Everything You Wanted to Know About Lacan, But Were Afraid to Ask Alfred Hitchcock (Verson, 1992)


Access the online reading list system

Intended learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the key theoretical issues in film studies.
  • Gain a greater understanding of the history of film and film criticism.
  • Gain a greater understanding of the film screenplay and how such documents relate to original literary sources and the finished film.
  • Gain practical experience working with primary archive material.
  • Gain, through access to archival material, a greater understanding of how films evolve and how directors respond to aesthetic challenges.
  • Articulate independent critical responses to the relationship between a wide range of literary, archival and filmic material.