MI5011 - Documentary in Film and Television

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What will I learn on this module?

This module is concerned with the development of the documentary tradition in cinema and television from the 1920s up until the present day, and the critical debates around documentary texts and practices. You will learn about the social and historical contexts for the evolution of the documentary through case-studies of key films, film-makers or tendencies. An indicative syllabus is as follows:

1. An introduction to documentary
2. Early documentary pioneers
3. British documentary of the 1930s
4. Avant-garde documentary
5. Documentary and propaganda during the Second World War
6. Direct Cinema and Cinema Verite
7. Political documentary
8. Documentary auteurs (such as Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield)
9. Docudrama
10. Reality television and Docusoaps
11. Contemporary strategies for cinematic documentary

How will I learn on this module?

The module is taught by 180-minute classes combining seminar and lecture elements. The lecture elements introduce you to key critical debates about documentary, and provide contextual information about specific historical examples of documentary production. You will be illustrated by excerpts from relevant documentaries. The seminar elements then focus on the relation of this material to an understanding of particular films or documentary formats. There are weekly screenings of relevant films that will provide the case-study for the accompanying class. Finally, tutorials support you with specific issues, not least concerning assessment. You are required to make positive contributions to the learning experience. You are expected to prepare for classes by studying books, articles, films, television programmes and Internet sources, references to which are provided by the module guide, e-reading list, and supplementary material posted on the e-learning portal. You are also encouraged to develop communication skills by taking an active part in seminar discussions.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Classes will involve group discussions with the tutor and fellow students, providing a constructive environment for the enhancement of knowledge and understanding of the subject, preparation for the assessment tasks, and the development of communication skills. Class material (such as Powerpoint slides, links to film clips and discussion points) will be accessible via the e-Learning portal, along with supplementary learning material (which may include web links, suggestions for further viewing and reading). A list of key and further reading material will be available on the eLP, and an electronic reading list will link you directly to key sources, allowing you to access them anytime and anywhere. The module will also incorporate assessment preparation sessions, with advice on how to approach the essay/exam components. Furthermore, the module tutor will offer set office hours for academic support.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

• An understanding of the key forms of documentary film-making in cinema and television from the 1920s to the present day

• An ability to historically contextualise types of documentary

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

• An ability to articulate, evaluate and apply key theoretical and critical issues associated with documentary texts and practices

• Demonstration of analytical and communication abilities through verbal and written means

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• An appreciation of the global and cultural contexts of documentary production

How will I be assessed?

The assessment strategy for this module is to encourage you to develop a critically and contextually informed understanding of documentary in film and television and to be able to communicate this clearly in written form. The essay (3000 words) tests your ability to deploy relevant critical material within a detailed analysis of a small group of films. It addresses all of the MLOs relating to knowledge/understanding and intellectual/professional skills, in testing: an understanding of key forms, an ability to contextualise, an ability to articulate, evaluate and apply theoretical/critical ideas in relation to specific examples, and the communication of these abilities. Submission and receipt of feedback is via Turnitin.

Pre-requisite(s)

none

Co-requisite(s)

none

Module abstract

This module deals with the development of the documentary tradition in cinema and television from the 1920s up until the present day, and the critical debates around documentary texts and practices. You will learn about the social and historical contexts for the evolution of the documentary through case-studies of key films, film-makers or tendencies. Case-studies will include: early pioneers such as Flaherty, Vertov and Grierson, the role of propaganda in the Second World War, the rise of ‘observational’ strategies, developments in cinematic and televisual docudrama, the emergence of reality television, and contemporary auteurs such as Michael Moore, Errol Morris and Nick Broomfield. The module is taught by weekly screenings, 180-minute classes combining seminar and lecture elements. The essay assignment (100%) tests your ability to deploy relevant critical material within a detailed analysis of a small group of films.

What will I learn on this module?

This module is concerned with the development of the documentary tradition in cinema and television from the 1920s up until the present day, and the critical debates around documentary texts and practices. You will learn about the social and historical contexts for the evolution of the documentary through case-studies of key films, film-makers or tendencies. An indicative syllabus is as follows:

1. An introduction to documentary
2. Early documentary pioneers
3. British documentary of the 1930s
4. Avant-garde documentary
5. Documentary and propaganda during the Second World War
6. Direct Cinema and Cinema Verite
7. Political documentary
8. Documentary auteurs (such as Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield)
9. Docudrama
10. Reality television and Docusoaps
11. Contemporary strategies for cinematic documentary

Course info

UCAS Code P391

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2019 or September 2020

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