Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 3 hour seminars (which may incorporate lectures)
Other Screenings - 4 hours per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 20 minute class presentation & 1000 word critical reflection  40%
Semester Assessment 5000 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of the failed element(s) on a different topic  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. demonstrate an ability to critically engage with and employ a range of theories of representation;
2. demonstrate an ability to identify, analyse and critique representations of cultural identity on film from historical and theoretical perspectives;
3. demonstrate an ability to relate these specific representations to other key aspects of the films;
4. demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of the relationship between representations in film texts and their wider contexts.


  • To introduce students to advanced theories of representation, and to consider the ways in which films engage in representation;
  • To encourage students to further their abilities as critical readers and analysts of a wide range of film texts

Brief description

Film and Representation is designed to interrogate the broad ways in which films represent a variety of different processes, peoples, objects and other social phenomena. In doing so, it will focus on film as a form that mediates reality and re-presents aspects of this reality in new contexts. It will consider themes that have long concerned academic researchers, such as the how class, race and gender are constructed within a filmic culture, and look into a number of related issues: the ideological mechanisms of different modes of representation (film as reflecting and also constructing, social reality); and the aesthetic and historical mechanisms of representation (fitting types of people into an aesthetic, for example, as well as how films draw on established conventions that precede them). The module will also go beyond these examples to look into a number of other representational issues: how are space and place, for example, represented within film? How are historical moments represented on film? In this respect, the course will look into the importance of costume, design, geography and a number of other important elements which help to construct specific representations. The module will draw on a range of methodological approaches including semiotic theory (Saussure; Pierce; Levi-Strauss; Barthes) and theories of discourse (Foucault; Stuart Hall). It will also consider key concepts such as denotation, connotation, and will engage with ideology and hegemony (Althusser and Gramsci). While the course is not strictly historical, it will follow a broadly historical trajectory which will therefore allow students to think about how changing ideological norms may (or many not) impact upon film representation, as well as broad epochal shifts and their significance: for example, how does an increasingly globalized postmodern society impact upon the representation of localities? How are marginalisation, exclusion and difference worked through in contemporary films? How can 'virtual spaces' be represented within an increasingly digitized society?


Indicative topics include:

  • Gender and film
  • Class and film
  • Race and film
  • Ethnicity and film
  • Subcultures and film form
  • Representing historical events
  • Representing national identities
  • Representing cities
  • Space, place and location

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students will be expected to contribute to in-class discussions and relate their own research progress orally, and to deliver a class presentation.
Improving own Learning and Performance In the course of the module, there will be points where students will be asked to think reflexively about their reading and viewing, as well as how their research is progressing.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to use the vast information resources within the library (such as ejournals and LexisNexis) within their research.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be encouraged to develop research skills, presentation skills, engage in group work, and develop their writing skills. These attributes will feed into their development as individual researchers, which will be particularly suited for an academic career or a career within the field of media arts.
Problem solving Students will need to think about a number of theoretical issues in relation to how film represents various persons, groups, spaces, phenomena, etc.
Research skills This element is developed through students' own investigations into written and audiovisual material that they can bring to bear upon the course and their essays
Team work Although there is no official groupwork on the course, it is hope that students will work together in seminars for small tasks and small-group discussions.

Reading List

General Text
(1988.) Female spectactors [sic] :looking at film and television /edited by E. Deidre Pribram. Verso Primo search (2000.) Feminism and film /edited by E. Ann Kaplan. Oxford University Press Primo search (2000.) Film and theory :an anthology /edited by Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Blackwell Publishing Primo search (1997 (various p) Identity and difference /edited by Kathryn Woodward. SAGE in association with the Open University Primo search (2004.) New queer cinema :a critical reader /edited by Michele Aaron. Edinburgh University Press Primo search (1998.) The Oxford guide to film studies /edited by John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson. Oxford University Press Primo search Barthes, R (1977) Image/Music/Text Fontana Primo search Barthes, R (1972) Mythologies Jonathan Cape Primo search Barthes, R (1975) S/Z Jonathan Cape Primo search Bordwell, D. and Thompson, K. (2003) Film Art: an Introduction Open Univeristy Press Primo search Cook, p. and Berning, M (eds) (1999) The Cinema Book, 2nd edition BFI Primo search Dyer, Richard (1993.) The matter of images :essays on representations /Richard Dyer. Routledge Primo search Griffiths, S (2007) New Queer Cinema Wallflower Primo search Hall, S (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices OUP Primo search Lacey, Nick (1998.) Image and representation :key concepts in media studies /Nick Lacey. Macmillan Primo search Ross, Karen (Jan. 1996) Black and White Media:Black Images in Popular Film and Television Polity Press Primo search Shohat, Ella (c1994.) Unthinking Eurocentrism :multiculturalism and the media /Ella Shohat, Robert Stam. New York : Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7