Honours modules


FM4099 | FM4102 | FM4108 | FM4109 | FM4115 | FM4116 | FM4120 | FM4204 | FM4208 | 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:



Something Old, Something New: The Recognition of Cinema in Video Games

Reinvention and Relevance: How ‘The Joker’ Reflects Anxiety in America

The Home and the World: Tracking new models of female aspirational desire in Contemporary Hindi Popular Cinema

Italian Dubbing: Translating and Voicing Gender Stereotypes in Contemporary Cinema

Dangerous Misrepresentations of the Arab Onscreen: An Exploration into Spatial Confinements and Orientalist Understandings



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.

FM4108: Cinema and Media in the Digital Age

Semester: 1

Professor Michael Cowan (Co-ordinator)

This module provides an examination of how digital technology has transformed every aspect of the film industry, and of how these transformations have subsequently affected film studies. For digital technology (computers, cameras, etc) has shaped not just the Hollywood film industry, but all film industries everywhere, at all stages of film production, distribution and exhibition, and in all genres. The module will take in a range of films and other texts from different regions, including the USA, Europe and Asia, straddling big budget spectacles, costume dramas, documentaries, games and more.

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 (Co-ordinator)

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.



FM4120: Silent Cinema

Semester: 2

Professor Michael Cowan (Co-ordinator)

The period of silent cinema oversaw the emergence of crucial aspects that would come to characterize cinema as both an industry and an artform. At the same time, silent film was a form somewhat distinct from the sound films that came afterwards, and one whose development proceeded differently in different global contexts. This module will examine this critical period of film history by exploring the era through a variety of contexts. The first week will set out the historical period as well as key debates in film history, as well as introduce students to more recent developments in the field. As a team-taught course, the module will ordinarily be organised in three related clusters. These clusters may include, but will not be limited to: Representations of race and gender in the silent era; silent stars; Audiences and fan cultures; Historicizing Silent Cinema; Global Silent Cinema; Early documentary; Early sound practices; and Intermedial approaches to silent film.

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.

FM4208: City in Asian Cinema

Semester: 1

Dr Anuja Jain (Lecturer)

In this module we will look at the representation of the city in Asian cinema. We will explore the links between urban and cinematic space across a range of thematic, historical and cultural concerns. Bringing together a range of cinematic practices and urban experiences, the module will engage the students to innovatively explore how the imagined city becomes the site of the rhythms and movements across Asia – from a space of possibility (conjugal relations and social mobility), to site of urban poverty, crime, religious violence, gender politics, and migration. Students will have the opportunity to watch a wide range of films from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India – and learn to critically examine the ways in which cinema becomes an innovative and powerful archive of urban life as it engages with the events and experiences that shape the cultural, social, and political realities of the past, present and future in Asia.

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.