module specification

SJ4047 - Comparing Theatre and Film (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Comparing Theatre and Film
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
192 hours Guided independent study
108 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Essay
Group Presentation 30%   Presentation
Coursework 40%   Portfolio
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module offers a practical and theoretical exploration of the languages of theatre and film, seen side by side. Focusing on a range of themes, such as characterisation, performance, setting, narrative, text, visual and sound effects, the conventions of cinematic and live experiences will be closely compared and reflected upon. Students will engage in practical tasks exploring live performance ideas and alternating these with simple filming and viewing experiences. These will be informed by a range of theoretical perspectives, looking at historical practices as well as aesthetic and semiotic concepts in this comparative study.

Module aims

  • To promote a comparative exploration of theatre and film, both through theoretical analysis and direct practical experience
  • To make connections between theory and practice and provide a foundation for linking the various subjects included in the degree
  • To explore analytical and experiential ways in which to engage with the languages of theatre and film
  • To realize the aesthetic and semiotic implications and creative possibilities within the languages of theatre and film


The module will be structured around a selection of case studies, applicable both to theatre and film. These may include characterisation, performance, setting, narrative, text, visual and sound effects. For each of these, students will engage in a variety of activities, including practical workshops, seminars, lectures and viewings. Through these, they will develop their ability to articulate and directly experience the modes in which theatre and film create meaning. The combination of theoretical investigation and practical exploration will inform the whole course and the assessment methods employed.

Learning and teaching

The following learning and teaching strategies are going to be employed in the course of this module:
• Multi-media lectures
• Student-led seminars
• Online activities through blended learning approaches
• Practical creative tasks (practical workshops, creative writing, design, photography and videography)
• Visits to relevant points of interest
• One formal essay (assessed)
• An inter-disciplinary research project (assessed)
• Live presentations (assessed)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module , students will have gained:

  • An essential understanding, both from the point of view of the spectator and of the practitioner, of ways in which the languages of theatre and film may be compared
  • The realisation of possible ways in which to inform theory and practice and to draw connections between different aspects of study in theatre and film
  • A critical and creative vocabulary in engaging with and reflecting upon the conventions of cinematic and live performance experiences
  • An introductory understanding of the artistic potential of both theatre and film, informed by aesthetic and semiotic perspectives

Assessment strategy

Essay: here students will effectuate a comparative analysis of a text adapted to both stage and screen. They will reflect on and compare the two modes of communicating meanings and interpreting the original text. They will demonstrate an introductory understanding of critical terms and aesthetic/semiotic concepts in their discussion. They will be expected to reference relevant readings and research tasks.

Practical assessment: in this group task, students will practically adapt a given text excerpt, communicating this in two separate versions, respectively live and video.
Around week 22 (though this may vary) they will demonstrate their developing understanding of each language’s meaning making process and their aesthetic sensitivity in the creative choices made. In this case, students will also be assessed on their general process in class, including punctuality and attendance.

Portfolio: for this assignment, students will create a short narrative and explore how this may be conveyed respectively in theatre and film. They should evidence their ideas through appropriate references to research. As well as the written component, they may include visual material (e.g. sketches, storyboard, photography and video links).


Barton Palmer, R. and Bray, W. (2013) Modern British drama on screen. Cambridge: CUP
Esslin, M (1987) The field of drama: how the signs of drama create meaning on stage and screen. London: Methuen
Paget, D. (1990) True stories?: documentary drama on radio, screen and stage. Machester: MUP
Porter, A. (2008) The Cambridge introduction to narrative. Cambridge: CUP
Sabatine, J. (1995) Movement training for the stage and screen. London: A&C Black
Satchuel, S. (2004) Shakespeare: from stage to screen. Cambridge: CUP
Waller, G. (1983) The stage/screen debate: a study in popular aesthetics. NY: Garland
William Torbet , L. (1981) Theatre: stage to screen to television. Vol. 1. London: Methuen

Online resources: