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Unit information: British Cinema and Television in 2015/16

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Unit name British Cinema and Television
Unit code DRAM20049
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Street
Open unit status Not open

DRAM11007 Production Skills for Film or equivalent



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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines the history, constraints and characteristics of British cinema and television since the early twentieth century. Key areas to be studied include issues such as gender relations and social issues; film/TV stars and performance; popular genres including heritage, comedy and gangster films; television drama and its hybrid forms; indigenous and exportable qualities of British film and television; audiences; distribution, exhibition and public service broadcasting; relations between the film and television industries and the impact of new media in contemporary global contexts. As part of this unit, students create a short film that develops out of and engages with these issues.

Unit aims:

  • To understand and evaluate major debates, themes and problems in British cinema and television;
  • To closely analyse a range of films and television programmes from different periods, styles and genres;
  • To engage in research-based investigation of appropriate primary and secondary material;
  • To produce a short film which develops out of and engages with issues related to British cinema and television.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

(1) respond to major debates, themes and problems in British cinema and television, in relation to the past and to contemporary trends;

(2) evaluate different interpretations of British films and television programmes and their contexts of production, distribution and reception;

(3) analyse and write about films and television programmes at a detailed level;

(4) engage with and make critical use of primary and secondary sources;

(5) work within the disciplines of production and project processes, working to deadlines and within set production limits;

(6) reflect on individual work within a collaborative production context.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar/workshop + weekly 3-hour screening/workshop, production tutorials (within workshop sessions) and practical work (both independent and partially supervised)

Assessment Information

2000 word essay (40%) ILO (1-4)

3-5 minute film engaging with the historical and critical work encountered on the unit (40%) ILO 1, 5

1000 word reflexive account of practical work (20%) ILO (1, 5-6)

Films can be made either individually or in groups, at the unit convenor’s discretion and within a defined range (i.e. individual projects and small groups, or larger groups and no individual projects). The required length of the film will vary, depending on the number of students involved and the specific nature of the project. Films made in groups will be awarded a single grade.

Reading and References

Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson (eds), British Cinema, Past and Present, London: Routledge, 2000.

Andrew Higson, Film England: Culturally English Filmmaking since the 1990s, London, I.B. Tauris, 2011.

Sarah Street, British National Cinema, London: Routledge, 1997, 2nd ed, 2009.

Lez Cooke, British Television Drama: A History, London: BFI, 2003.

Robin Nelson, State of Play– Contemporary ‘high-end’ TV Drama, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007.

Andy Medhurst, A National Joke – Popular Comedy and English Cultural Identities, London: Routledge, 2007.