Honours modules


FM4099 | FM4102 | FM4109 | FM4115 | FM4116 | FM4204 | FM4303

FM4099: Film Studies Dissertation

Semester: Whole year

Dr Leshu Torchin (Co-ordinator)

This dissertation offers students the possibility of personal advanced study on a topic in Film Studies on which they already have adequate basic knowledge and for which a suitable supervisor can be found. Guidance will be offered on research methods and on presentation. The dissertation will, as a rule, consist of a study of a given body of primary material in a defined perspective. Its length should be 10,000 words maximum. It should be submitted in accordance with guidelines and deadlines, and be written in English. The topic must be agreed in advance by the Chairman of Department following a favourable report from the Supervisor, whom students should contact in the first instance. (Guidelines for printing and binding dissertations can be found at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/printanddesign/dissertation/)

Recent dissertation topics include:


Aestheticising Disruption and Finding Home: Style, Gender, and Cultural Appropriation in the Hip Hop Videos of MIA

The Intention of Feeling: An Examination of Texture and Generic Affect in Film

Speaking the Way to New Genre Identities: a Critical Study of Dialogue in 1930s Hollywood Cinema

Everything to Lose but their Chains: Class Oppression, Patriarchy, and Masculinity, as Represented in the Films of Ken Loach

The Remediation of Cinematic Codes in Virtual Reality

If the Glass Slipper Fits: Examining the Disney Princesses as Models of Womanhood

A History of the Female Android in Science Fiction Film


They Grow Up So Fast: Drag Performance, Abjection, and the Subversion of the Shōjo in Hayao Miyazaki’s Films

Making the Impossible: Special Effects from Méliès to del Toro

The Outsider as Protagonist: The Parodic Lens of Mel Brooks in The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein

When in Hollywood do as the Romans did: Building an Empire through Cultural Appropriation

Dreams of Waking: Satoshi Kon’s Anti-Escapist Animations

How Does the Changing Tone of the James Bond Films Affect its Portrayals of Gender?

Contemporary Women in New Mexican Cinema: Three Case Studies


FM4102: Film and Politics (S1)

Semester: 1

Dr Dennis Hanlon (Co-ordinator)

Lenin famously called cinema “the most important art,” and since at least the 1920s, filmmakers and theorists have explored the politics of cinema and cinema’s potential as politics. Students in this module shall explore the relationship between cinema and politics by studying the theory and practice of political filmmaking. Historical readings and political writings will be assigned so that the students will have a greater understanding of the context in which the films and accompanying theory were produced. Topics examined typically include, but will not be limited to, cinema in post-revolutionary Russia and Cuba, postcolonial cinema in Africa and Asia, Third Cinema, Weimar cinema and the Frankfurt School, and new forms of resistance using digital media. In 2014/15 the module will focus, in particular, on Latin American cinema.

FM4109: Film and the Archive (S2)

Semester: 2

Dr Tom Rice (Co-ordinator)

Film and the Archive will provide students with both a theoretical framework for archival research and practical experience in engaging with archival materials. In focusing this module on the local context of cinema in St Andrews, students will have the opportunity to develop their own research projects in one of five topic areas (exhibition, production, cinema culture, audiences, and star culture). Through these local studies, students will develop a broader understanding of film history and culture, learning to correlate their local research to broader developments in film history. Students will develop employable research skills that are useful beyond the specifics of the course. For example, they will have the opportunity to write, present and publish to both academic and general audiences, and will gain a thorough grounding in methodologies relevant for the archival study of cinema.

FM4115: Sensory Film (S1)

Semester: 1

Dr Lucy Fife Donaldson (Lecturer)

This module considers the sensory qualities of cinema, a subject which engages variously with the film–‐as–‐ object, film form and the spectator as active participant. The first half of the module draws on the main philosophical strands used by film scholars to conceptualise the affect of cinema, and then explores the ways film theory and criticism have sought to account for the sensuous or material nature of film. With these perspectives in mind, the second half considers the materialities of film from in more detail. The module explores the topic of filmic affect through a range of case studies and will draw on a diverse mix of references, including interviews with filmmaking personnel.


FM4116: Stars (S1)

Semester: 2

Dr Elisabetta Girelli (Co-ordinator)

This module approaches stardom as one of the most exciting, complex, and crucial components of the filmic experience, exploring its aesthetic, cultural, ideological, and industrial sides.  Students will be introduced to key theoretical frameworks in Star Studies, and to a representative range of stars. Topics may include the  beginning of the star system and the emergence of film fandom, the conflictive meanings of star images, audience desire and star cults, the relation of stars to social representations and politics, and to gender and sexuality. Stars covered may include Rudolph Valentino, Leslie Cheung, Sophia Loren, Will Smith, Greta Garbo, Amitabh Bachchan, and Dirk Bogarde. Students will have the opportunity to research and write on a star of their choice.  Please Note: the required viewing for this module is two films per week.



FM4204: Asian Cinemas (S2)

Semester: 2

Asian Cinemas will explore a diverse range of issues in contemporary cinema through a study of Chinese-language film from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Nanyang, as well as far-flung diasporas. This most exciting area of world cinema will be scrutinised from a variety of angles. The module will start by examining the complexities of bridging different economic realities within the context of a new dynamic Pan-Asian industry, before tracing the shifting global market position, the evolving film cultures, as well as the trajectory of Chinese-language cinemas at the international festival circuit. We will explore popular genres (from Bruce Lee to post-modern martial arts cinema) but also socially-critical films by directors such as Jia Zhang-ke and Edward Yang. By discussing how the different aesthetics created by these cinemas are specific to their contexts, this module questions and challenges the universal applicability of concepts previously developed in film studies.

FM4303: Documentary Cinema (2)

Semester: 2

Dr Leshu Torchin (Co-ordinator)

This module surveys the history of documentary film (technological, stylistic, etc.), while taking up the theoretical debates around cinematic claims to truth and representations of reality. Students will examine how documentary differs from other kinds of filmmaking, how documentaries make ‘truth claims’, and how these claims influence the ways in which these films are received and circulated. Beginning with the actualities of the Lumiere Brothers, students will be exposed to multiple genres (e.g. ethnographic, civic, cinema verite, experimental, self-reflexive) and filmmakers (e.g. John Grierson, Dziga Vertov, Jean Rouch, Errol Morris) while addressing the variety of arenas (e.g. scientific, civic, commercial) in which documentary has appeared.