module specification

AR7004 - Cinema and the City (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Cinema and the City
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 4000 word essay
Coursework 25%   Seminar presentation
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

Film can often reveal a hidden, poetic truth that even though inherent in reality, is at times not apparent, except through the lens of a camera. Thus, the module aims to introduce film as an alternative form of study of the city and architecture. Still an infant art, film has developed together with modernity and, arguably, its influence on modern perception has been more profound than that of any other art. Therefore, it remains an invaluable tool for studying and understanding modern life.
More often than not film relies heavily on story and characters. Through this perspective of the inhabitant, the module uses a wide variety of films and attempts to read between the ‘lines’ of architecture and urban planning and explore areas often neglected by those disciplines.
This module uses film as an alternate means to study the city and architecture in order to gain insight into the nature of modern life.  It discovers neglected lines of enquiry between film and urban planning through their interpretation in films that, in themselves, comprise a modern discipline that addresses modernity.


The early stages of the module establish the relation between film and one’s personal experience of the city. Reading Benjamin and looking at how early filmmakers, such as Vigo, explored the city simultaneously to depicting it one realizes that the camera very quickly became a radical instrument in our experience of Modernity. LO1

Then, following a thematic order, the emphasis is placed on the relation of the individual to society, modernity and the built environment. LO2,LO3

To address that the module looks at specific cities at particular moments in time.

Beijing shortly after the capitalist revolution; we discuss how in a country with closed borders symbol and metaphor can challenge conventional perception of place. LO3

Rome undergoing regeneration in the 60s provides a platform to discuss ideas of urban planning developing simultaneously to economic boom. Pasolini’s Mamma Roma offers the alternative perspective of the outsider, rooted more in story and myth than in grand schemes: the city as a desired yet unattainable world, ever changing and oblivious to the static world of the outskirts and their inhabitants. LO

In post-modern Taipei as seen by Tsai, there is little room for individuals to distinguish themselves. As a result of anonymity, incidental encounters are rendered increasingly meaningful and dreaming becomes a way of expanding the urban experience -an idea which can be traced back to Dostoevsky. LO3

Davies’ film examines post-war Liverpool as imprinted in the memory of the artist. Similarly to modern writers’ penchant (Joyce, Eliot, Wolf, Döblin), the experience of the city is here deeply internalized: the city as a state of mind. LO3

Finally, with respect to two films about Berlin between the wars we examine one’s need to belong in society through work, leisure, interaction and citizens’ rights, but also one’s need for identity; that is, the need to belong in History. LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module's learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University's blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:
1. articulate, verbally and in writing, what is important about filmic representations in the context of cities and modern life;
2. think imaginatively about the variety of ways in which film can be useful as a tool in deciphering the modern city and critiquing the built environment;
3. compare film to architecture and literature, with respect to content, language and style and identify in these allied disciplines possible voids that can be filled in by making or studying films.

Assessment strategy

Module assessment is based on a 4000 word essay on a topic agreed with tutor, together with a class report. Weighting: Essay 75%. Report 25%.The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must pass Component 1 (the essay).


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