module specification

SJ4032 - Introduction to American Film and Television (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to American Film and Television
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
192 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   750 word essay plan
Coursework 30%   1,000 word summary of piece of academic reading
Coursework 50%   2,000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module introduces students to key issues and personnel in the history of American cinema and television. The module explores the development of both industries, considering issues of censorship, politics and audience, and examines key genres, stars and directors and their significance in relation to American culture.

Module aims

This module aims to:

• Provide students with an historical overview of the development of American, and particularly Hollywood cinema and American television
• Develop students’ knowledge of key issues and personnel in relation to American film and television
• Enable students to critically analyse film and television in relation to American culture
• Promote students’ understanding of an academic approach to learning
• Develop students’ ability to plan and successfully achieve academic writing


In the first part of this module, students will consider the industrial development of American film-making and the Hollywood studio system from the 1920s, considering issues such as the star system, studio identity, censorship and political intervention. The development of American television from the late 1940s will be explored, considering both links and essential distinctions between these industries. The second half of the module will focus on key genres, stars and directors, examining their significance both in film and television history and in their representations of American culture. Issues of American identity and myth will be explored as the module considers shifting imagery in American film and television.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching on the module will be conducted via lectures, seminars, screenings, blended learning and students’ guided independent study. Students will be expected to enhance their learning in scheduled classes through guided research. Student development weeks will provide students with the opportunity for individual feedback in tutorials with tutors to develop their assignments. The developing assessment strategy provides opportunities for personal development as students are able to reflect on and develop their learning in conjunction with tutor feedback.



Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

• Critically analyse film and television in relation to American culture
• Appraise the significance of eras in American film and television history
• Critically explore key issues and individual stars, directors and other personnel
• Adopt an academic approach to study
• Successfully plan and produce academic writing

Assessment strategy

The module includes both formative and summative assessment, enabling students to develop their learning and key skills while engaging fully with module content and achieving learning outcomes. The first assignment is intended to develop students’ essay writing skills by providing an opportunity for essay planning. The second assignment provides the opportunity for further developmental learning through student engagement with academic research. Formal feedback will be provided for both assignments, enhancing students’ personal development prior to the final summative assignment. The final essay will promote the demonstration of key skills learned through prior assignments and provide an opportunity for the demonstration of core skills and content learned via completion of the module.


Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1994).
Tino Balio, Hollywood in the Age of Television (Boston, MA: Unwin, 1990).
John Belton, American Cinema/American Culture (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993).
Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin (eds.), America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality at the Movies (Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).
Thomas Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality and Insurrection in American Cinema, 1930-1934 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
Thomas Doherty, Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism and American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).
Jon Lewis and Eric Smoodin (eds.), Looking Past the Screen: Case Studies in American Film History and Method (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007).
Jon Lewis, American Film: A History (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2007).
Richard Maltby, Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction (Malden, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003).
Robert B. Ray, A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985).
James Roman, From Daytime to Primetime: The History of American Television Programs (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008).
Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (London: Faber & Faber, 1998).
Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America (New York: Vintage, 1994).