EAF3513 - British Screens

2021/2 Module description

StaffDr Phil Wickham - Convenor
Professor Linda Williams - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

Screen entertainment, from magic lanterns to film and TV, has both transformed and reflected British culture. In this module you will explore the history of cinema and television in Britain by using the holdings of The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, the University’s internationally renowned resource of artefacts, ephemera and archives on the moving image. You will use the museum’s materials to understand how moving image culture has been experienced in the UK, how it has been produced and consumed, and consider what it might say about Britain. We will screen a range of films and TV programmes to support this study and the module will develop skills in analysis, research, and curation that will also aid employment opportunities in the heritage and cultural sectors. The module will appeal to both film students and non-specialists and there are no prerequisites

Module aims

  • To enable you to understand British moving image history in both its particularities and its links to other cultures and to link this to theories of reception, national identity, industrial histories and authorship.
  • To evaluate and interpret the role of material culture and to use archives and primary sources productively and creatively, aiming to assist future employment in the heritage and culture industries in jobs in museums, arts administration and the media.
  • To aid understanding of the active role of the audience as consumers, and the questions film and television raise about what it means to be British, both in the cultural mainstream and in independent traditions, through a range of approaches including innovative assessments

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate the ability to use and evaluate artefacts and ephemera as sources to understand British screen culture
  • 2. Display detailed knowledge of British moving image history and analyse significant themes within it
  • 3. Curate the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum Collection into a coherent and creative illustration of the arguments and themes in British cinema and television

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate advanced skills in research and in evaluating and employing appropriate methodologies, including the use of material culture, in studying moving image texts
  • 5. Evaluate and argue the merits of existing critical interpretations of moving image history and its meanings
  • 6. Demonstrate how a wide range of film and television texts can be related to national histories and to each other by advanced application of critical theories and analysis
  • 7. Analyse the different authorial, social, institutional and commercial processes that inform film and television texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Curate exhibitions and demonstrate a set of analytical skills to explain ideas and arguments through these means
  • 9. Demonstrate, an advanced ability to analyse industries, audiences and social forces and their influence on texts
  • 10. Demonstrate skills in working as part of a team to curate creative, but intellectually rigorous, responses to cultural artefacts and critical study
  • 11. Show an advanced capability to adapt to new forms and objects of study and ways of working

Syllabus plan

The module examines moving image culture in Britain from the optical media of the 19th century to the present day.

This is done in part through the collections of The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, consulting artefacts from the museum to consider themes and patterns in both moving images made in Britain and viewed in Britain. After examining the beginnings of cinema in the UK you will look at issues around stars; the film industry, including production and exhibition; British national cinema and national identity; notions of art cinema, both produced in Britain and the consumption of foreign language films in the UK and the complex relationship between the British film industry, its audiences and Hollywood. You will also look at the importance of television in British cultural life, through its forms and audiences.

You will curate an exhibition in groups using the collections to make an argument about British screen culture which will be on public display.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching33Screenings
Guided Independent Study14Web based activities, including ELE material, writing blogs and social media posts
Guided Independent Study60Collaborative curation projects
Guided Independent Study55Seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study105Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Initial blog entry200 words1, 3-4, 11Written and oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay503000 words1-2, 4-7, 9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Collaborative Curation of exhibition503000 words equivalent including a 1000 word written submission. This would include a report on the group objectives, a blog post giving an account of the individual’s role in the project and their reflections on the development of the exhibition and examples of social media promoting the exhibition, which will be open to the public. 1, 3, 4, 8, 10-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up; group assessment and evaluation with an individual mark element

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay (3000 words)1-2, 4-7, 9Referral/deferral period
Collaborative Curation of Physical or Virtual ExhibitionCuration Essay (1500 Words) or alternative assessment (3000) depending on level of involvement in Curation. 1, 3-4, 8, 10-11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Films and Television:

  • Comrades (d.Bill Douglas 1987)
  • The Lodger (d.Alfred Hitchcock 1926) Women in Love (d.Ken Russell 1969)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (d.Howard Hawks 1955)
  • La Dolce Vita (d. Federico Fellini 1960)
  • Peep Show (Objective Productions/C4 2003 -)
  • Skyfall (d.Sam Mendes 2012)
  • Chanan, Michael. The Dream That Kicks (2nd Edition) (Routledge 1996)
  • Ellis, John, Seeing Things (IB Tauris 2002)
  • Klinger, Barbara, “Film History terminable and interminable: recovering the past in reception studies”. Screen 38:2 Summer 1997
  • Kuhn, Annette, An Everyday Magic Cinema and Cultural Memory (IB Tauris 2002)
  • Murphy, Robert (Ed.) The British Film Book (3rd Ed. BFI 2009)
  • Wickham, Phil. “Scrapbooks, soap dishes and Screen Dreams: everyday life, ephemera and Cinema”New Review of Film and Television Studies 8:3 September 2010

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • Work will, at appropriate times, be published on the Bill Douglas Museum’s blog, website or Facebook page. Box of Broadcasts, a resource available through the electronic library, will be used to access films, programmes and clips
  • ELE: https://vle.exeter.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=11243 

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Each session will use a variety of artefacts from The Bill Douglas Museum. Over the module these will include magazines, press books, postcards, publicity material, optical devices, books and filmmakers’ archives.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Film, Television, Cinema, museum, material culture

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