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Unit information: Classics of European Cinema in 2020/21

Unit name Classics of European Cinema
Unit code MODL10010
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Ms. Taylor
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to some "classics" of European cinema. It explores these films in the context of their national film industries and histories and analyses the distinct and common features of a variety of films made in Europe in the twentieth century. The following general issues are addressed: what makes a film a "classic"; what themes of methods unite or distinguish these films; and how does film language in Europe differ from nation to nation. Films to be studied may include: Lang: Metropolis (1925); Eisenstein: The Battleship Potemkin (1925); Renoir: La Règle du Jeu (1939); Buñuel: Viridiana (1961); Rossellini: Rome Open City (1945).


Through the study of a minimum of eight cinematic texts, this unit aims to introduce students to European cinema in its national context and to teach them how to approach film in an informed critical manner. Lectures on individual films will be complemented by generic lectures on theoretical and cultural aspects of film production and criticism. Students will gain an understanding of European cinema in its historical dimension, learn to appreciate aspects of how films are made, and develop their ability to analyse and interpret visual texts.

This unit is taught over 12 weeks of two contact hours per week, which will include Lectures and Seminars.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able:

  1. To provide a sophisticated account, appropriate to the level, of classics of European cinema in their national and historical context
  2. To conduct critical analysis of film, demonstrating practical knowledge and understanding of the skills and methods needed.
  3. To articulate a sophisticated understanding, appropriate to the level, of how films are made.
  4. To demonstrate effective academic presentation skills.
  5. To conduct independent research appropriate to the level.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

1 x group presentation (25%) testing ILO's 1-4

1 x 2000-word essay (75%) testing ILO's 1-3 and 5

Reading and References

There is no set text as such for this unit, however students may find the following books useful for a technical introduction to film making and film criticism.

  • D.Bordwell and K.Thompson: Film art: an introduction (McGraw Hill,1993)
  • J.Monaco: How to read a film: the art, technology, language, history and theory of film and media (OUP,1981)
  • J. Orr & O. Taxidou, Post – War Cinema and Modernity A film Reader (EUP 2000)