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Unit information: Film History to 1960 in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Film History to 1960
Unit code FATV20011
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Gaggiotti
Open unit status Not open
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School/department Department of Film and Television
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

In this unit students are introduced to the history of film up to 1960. Topics may include, but are not limited to: the ‘invention’ of cinema, early cinema, the rise of film narrative, European and American silent film, the arrival of sound, Hollywood and European film from 1930-1960, and Japanese cinema in the 1950s.

Unit aims:

  • To introduce students to key ways of approaching, debating and conceptualizing film’s historical changes between 1895 and 1960;
  • To develop skills in contextualising key films, movements, national cinemas, and genres;
  • To develop an understanding of how the medium of film changed through technologies, national and industrial contexts, artistic innovations, and popular reception;
  • To develop skills in researching, analyzing, debating and discussing film within historical frameworks;
  • To develop communication skills in writing and oral presentation.

Your learning on this unit

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

1. demonstrate contextual knowledge of historical changes in film and television prior to 1960 in critical relation to changing genres, aesthetic traditions and forms of tilm and television;

2. consider histories of film and television in national, international and global contexts;

3. engage critically with how film and television can be understood within broader concepts and contexts of culture;

4. identify and analyse the ways in which film and television, and their attendant technologies, make possible different kinds of aesthetic effects and forms;

5. evaluate and draw upon a range of sources and historical frameworks appropriate to research;

6. produce work within a group, showing abilities to listen, contribute and lead effectively;

7. formulate appropriate research questions and employ appropriate methods and resources for exploring them.

How you will learn

Weekly seminar, lecture and screening, supported by self-directed tasks where appropriate.

How you will be assessed

15-minute illustrated group presentation (0% required for credit, formative, ILOs 1-7)

2500-word essay (summative 100%, ILOs 1-5, 7)


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. FATV20011).

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.