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Unit information: Introduction to French Cinema in 2021/22

Unit name Introduction to French Cinema
Unit code FREN20056
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Albertine Fox
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to different periods, genres, and styles of French cinema, beginning in the 1920s and moving through to the present. A broad range of cinematic approaches, concepts, and critical perspectives will be explored through the study of set films and theoretical texts. Areas of study may include 1920s French avant-garde cinema, Poetic Realist cinema, New Wave cinema, the cinéma du look, banlieue and beur cinema, and Lebanese cinema. Films will be explored with reference to their socio-political contexts and students will be encouraged to engage with theories of spectatorship, narrative style, aesthetics, and wider debates on issues such as representations of gender, race, sexuality, class, and ethnicity. Students will develop a solid understanding of the basic principles of film theory while furthering their skills in critical thinking, oral presentation, and close analysis. Secondary readings will be in English and French and students will be expected to follow a number of French-language films.

This unit therefore aims to:

  • Introduce students to an array of French and Francophone films and enable students to develop a solid understanding of key concepts in film theory and analysis.
  • Develop an understanding of different historical and theoretical approaches to the study of French cinema by engaging with a selection of work by established and emerging directors.
  • Explore important movements, styles, and aesthetic trends in French cinema from the 1920s to the contemporary period.
  • Expose students to theoretical texts in English and French on film form, aesthetics, authorship, gender, and spectatorship.
  • Offer the opportunity to undertake close sequence analysis and broader critical analysis of secondary material.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate broad knowledge of different periods, genres, theoretical concepts, and modes of analysis in French cinema from the 1920s to the present.
  2. Analyse, compare, and form interpretations of different styles of film.
  3. Respond critically and analytically to the issues and debates in question.
  4. Show critical awareness of theoretical scholarship in the field of study and articulate a critical position in written form and via a group oral presentation as appropriate to level I.
  5. Apply sophisticated audio-visual analytical skills and deploy film terminology correctly.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, including group seminar-style discussion and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

Group oral presentation (25%), testing ILOs 2-5;
1 essay of 2500 words (75%), testing ILOs 1-5


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. FREN20056).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.