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Unit information: Film Criticism in 2015/16

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Unit name Film Criticism
Unit code DRAM33128
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Alex Clayton
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Film and Television
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Film criticism is a form of communication that addresses films as potential achievements and wishes to convey their distinctiveness and value). What makes this film the film it is? How might we elucidate its qualities or explain its success or failure? In this unit students will study key examples of film criticism and films that pose special challenges for viewer and/or critic. Students will examine, and participate in, the different activities involved in distinguishing and evaluating a film’s specific qualities. The unit culminates with the production of a work of film criticism.


  • To develop an advanced understanding of the purposes, principles and potential of film criticism.
  • To develop students’ critical faculties and ability to account for their experience.
  • To enable students to make fine distinctions and defensible judgements.
  • To enable students to develop writing skills and strengthen their confidence in articulating their own views.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to: (1) articulate their own understanding of the purposes, principles and potential of film criticism.

(2) account in a critical fashion for their own experiences as a viewer.

(3) critically evaluate films, and defend their evaluations with appropriate evidence.

(4) identify and assess the standards and criteria of evaluation that are employed in the criticism that they read and discuss.

(5) situate critical judgements (both their own, and those of other critics) in relation to appropriate intellectual contexts.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar, weekly 3-hour screening with 15-minute introduction.

Assessment Information

10 min. individual presentation (30%) ILO 1-2, 4-5 4000 word essay (70%) ILO 1-3, 5 Presentations will take place in seminar sessions.

Reading and References

  • Britton, A. (2009), Britton on Film: The Complete Film Criticism of Andrew Britton (Detroit: Wayne State University Press)
  • Brown, T. and Walters, J. (eds., 2010), Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory (London: Palgrave Macmillan / BFI)
  • Carroll, N. (2009) On Criticism (New York and London: Routledge)
  • Clayton, A. & Klevan, A. (2011) The Language and Style of Film Criticism (New York and London: Routledge)
  • Farber, M. (2009), Farber on Film: The complete film writings of Manny Farber (New York: Library of America)
  • Perkins, V.F. (1990) "Must We Say What They Mean? Film Criticism and Interpretation", Movie, 34.