module specification

SJ5032 - Representation and Identity (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Representation and Identity
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   First essay 2,000 words
Coursework 50%   Second essay 3,000 words
Seminar 20%   Project plan 1,000 words
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

Representation and Identity

The module will investigate the representation of a range of identities in film and television, made both in the mainstream and at the margins. The module  examines representations of race, femininity, masculinity  and sexuality in film and popular culture, comparing and contrasting representations from various periods and cultures.The students will be introduced to theoretical approaches to analysing the representation of identity in film and visual culture, including cultural, post-colonial, feminist and queer theories.

In the final three weeks of teaching, students will take stock of their learning at levels 4 and 5 via a period of workshops, study visits and independent research culminating in the submission of their project plan for level 6, which includes a reflective element related to their personal development planning.

This module is taught over 30 weeks using a blended learning delivery. The assessment comprises two essays (30% and 40% respectively), a summary of online comments (20%) and a project plan (10%).

Module aims

The main aims of this module are:

To explore the representation of a range of identities in film and television texts from a variety of periods and cultures

To understand how identities are constructed and contested in film and television

To develop the students’ critical understanding of theoretical approaches to analysing identity in film and television, such as cultural, feminist, queer and post-colonial theories

To consider and creatively apply debates within cultural theory concerning questions of representation, difference, power inequalities and pleasure

To use ideas and information to argue cogently in essays and in online discussions

To outline and begin to plan a self-directed project


This module is designed to explore the concept of representation in film and television studies, through both ideas of normative identity and the specific focus on questions of difference and otherness. Questions of otherness will be studied in two opposing contexts: first, the representation of normative identities and otherness in dominant and mainstream cinema, and second, the alternative strategies that female, black and gay directors have adopted in order to represent their identities and to challenge dominant norms. In doing so, this module will investigate a number of concepts, such as performance, stereotypes, ideology, the body and transgression. These concepts will be applied to the developing history of filmic representation with an emphasis on their relevance to contemporary cinema and television. Case studies may include Will Smith and the representation of the black hero; Stereotyping and British realist cinema; Horror, fantasy and sci-fi representations of women; Gay identity in contemporary Hollywood; Black independent cinema; Hollywood’s 1980s working girl; Television representations of gender and sexuality: Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Post-colonial cinema (African cinema; Bollywood).

Learning and teaching

Students are introduced to each case study in teacher-led lectures, workshops, face-to-face seminars, and screenings. Students will also take part in workshops to explore ideas and build a plan of work for their year 6 projects.

Learning outcomes

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

Present an informed analysis of both dominant and non-mainstream representations of a variety of identities in recent media history and in contemporary society

Analyse a range of film texts and critically engage with their representation of reality, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity utilising different theoretical positions

Outline and debate the theories and representations of identity through the face-to-face and online discussions and respond to and constructively criticise the arguments put forward by others

Recognise the cultural specificity and evaluate the ethical implications of different representations of identity

Articulate  a preliminary idea and plan for the Honours project

Assessment strategy

All of the assessments on this module can be considered both formative and summative. The first essay allows students to demonstrate their grasp of the underlying theoretical concepts on the module as well as one of the case studies on identity introduced thus far. It provides a formative opportunity for students to reflect on their ability to apply the writing skills demanded at level 5, such as evaluation and critical assessment of film and written materials and for the lecturer to provide feedback to students on their application of these skills. This learning can be built upon in the second essay.

The second essay builds on the first, requiring students to deepen their articulation of issues of identity and apply their learning to the case studies introduced since the submission of the first essay.

The project plan will allow students to reflect on their own academic development in a series of workshops. The submission of the project plan will promote students’ planning for their independent research and practical work in year 6.


Daniel Bernadi (ed.), The Persistance of Whiteness and Race in Contemporary Hollywood (London: Routledge, 2008)

Stephen Bourne, Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television (London: Continuum, 2005). 

Alison Butler, Women's Cinema: The Contested Screen (London: Wallflower, 2002).

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 2006).

Jigna Desai and Rajinder Dudrah (eds), The Bollywood Reader (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2008).

Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images: Essays on Representations (London: Routledge, 2002).

Jaap van Ginneken, Screening Difference: How Hollywood's Blockbuster Films Imagine Race, Ethnicity, and Culture (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007).

Bell hooks, Reel to Real: race, sex and class at the movies (London: Routledge, 1996).

Ann E. Kaplan, Feminism and Film (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Janet MacCabe, Feminist Film Studies: writing the woman into cinema (London: Wallflower, 2004).

Mandy Merck, The Sexual Subject: A Screen Reader in Sexuality (London: Routledge, 1992).

David Murphy and Patrick Williams, Postcolonial African Cinema (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007).

Yvonee Tasker and Diane Negra (eds), Interrogating postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (London: Duke University Press, 2007)