Understanding Film

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Understanding Film

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Film Studies, Media and Journalism, Media Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    An introduction to the basic analytical and critical skills as they apply to the study of moving images, specifically film. Issues of form, style and genre are addressed.
    This paper is designed as an introduction to basic analytical and critical skills applied to the study of film. It is required of all film and media studies students and is also highly recommended for anyone wishing to pursue any film or media-related profession. Students will learn approaches to film analysis, including stylistic analysis of film (for example, how film techniques are used to tell stories), formal analysis (for example, how stories are structured in narrative cinema, and how documentaries and experimental film follow different structuring principles), film genre, and film authorship.

    Course Structure
    This course features modules on:
    -Film style, including editing, cinematography, mise-en-scène and sound
    -Film form, including classical narrative, art cinema, experimental film and documentary
    -Theories of reception

    -Library exercise 8%
    -Online quiz 7%
    -Descriptive and analytical essay 15%
    -Critical essay 25%
    -Final examination 45%

    Learning Outcomes
    -Demonstrate knowledge of stylistic and formal analysis of film
    -Demonstrate knowledge of critical approaches to film
    -Demonstrate skill in the written expression of ideas

    Book: Film Art: An Introduction, 10th edition, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson
    Course Reader
    Individual readings on Blackboard

    All required reading will also be on reserve at the University Library

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.