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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Visual)

VISU1021: The Art of the Moving Image 1: Key Concepts

Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap 45 Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To develop students' ability to analyse and critique moving image texts.
  • To familiarise students with the complexity and specificity of the moving image by focusing on aspects such as audiences, auteurs, cinematography, editing, industries, performance, sound, or staging,
  • To introduce students to key theories in the fields of film and visual studies in the wider context of cultural studies,
  • To develop the students' research skills and methodologies in the field of visual cultures and the moving image. This may include animation, documentary film, narrative and short film, streaming platforms, television, video, video art.
  • To explore the moving image in a range of formats, genres, histories, media, national contexts, and styles.


  • Focusing on representative case studies the course will explore the evolution of the moving image from the phenakistoscope to streaming platforms in a range of national and transnational contexts from the Arab world to the Americas, Asia and Europe. Special attention will be given to film, from the silent period until today.
  • Students will become familiar with key concepts necessary to critically engage with the moving image. These will include: auteur cinema, genre, videoart, spectatorship, or the star system and specific theories and branches of the discipline associated with each of these concepts. The course will also introduce students to other relevant theories for the study of the moving image and cultural criticism more widely, including studies of age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, national identity, nationalisms, postcolonialism, race or sexuality among others.
  • Specific texts to be studied will vary from year to year, but a typical module outline will be structured around the following topics: 1) Film and visual analysis – the basics; 2) The Precursors; 3) Sound; 4) Cinematography; 5) Editing; 6) Genre; 7) Acting and performance/Star Studies 8) Make-up and Costume 9) Auteurs 10) Art direction and Production.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On completion of this module students should:
  • recognise key milestones in the history and evolution of the moving image from the 19th C until today,
  • become aware of key terminology necessary for the analysis and interpretation of the moving image,
  • gain an understanding of complex theories relevant for the study of the moving image, including both well-established concepts and new ideas,
  • value the importance of the moving image in national, transnational and global contexts,
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On completion of this module students will develop:
  • critical skills in the close reading and analysis of the moving image,
  • confident command of a broad range of technical vocabulary and critical terminology necessary for the analysis of the moving image,
  • an ability to write critically and convincingly about the evolution of the moving image, and on case studies from a wide range of national and transnational contexts,
  • a sensitivity to generic conventions and relevant cultural/socio-historical contexts,
  • an ability to discern aesthetic and formal specificities of the moving image,
  • an ability to construct a coherent argument informed by major (classic and cutting-edge) theories for the study of the moving image,
  • an ability to assess and critically approach a wide range of writings about the moving image (both academic/scientific research and journalistic reviews about specific moving image artefacts)
Key Skills:
  • visual analysis,
  • critical analysis and reasoning,
  • independent research,
  • academic essay writing,
  • organisation,
  • time management,
  • presentation and team work
  • IT: word-processing, using online databases and moving image archives, image and video capturing for presentations.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This team-taught module will be taught weekly throughout the academic year.
  • Lectures (once weekly) will deliver key information about the module.
  • A fortnightly seminar with smaller groups will allow for small-group presentations and team work, including active discussions of primary and secondary sources.
  • Two short pieces of coursework (1,000 words each) are based on topics covered during the Michaelmas Term.
  • The examination (2 hours) covers the work carried out in the Epiphany and Summer Terms and tests the understanding of topics under controlled conditions.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminar 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Preparation and reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Film Analysis seen paper Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Film analysis seen paper 1000 words 100%
Component: Case Study Commentary Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Commentary (case study) 1000 words 100%
Component: Written Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written Examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Seminar presentations.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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