module specification

SM6065 - Situation Comedies (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Situation Comedies
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 25%   Individual presentation
Coursework 75%   3000 word essay
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module provides aims to develop students’ independent critical and analytical skills by exploring the relationship between situation comedy and  the socio-cultural context of comedy production. The module will examine the history of situation comedy, and the development of the genre, focusing on both television and radio forms. The module will incorporate screenings of significant examples of British and US situation comedies, and analyse their relationship to the socio-cultural context of their production. The module will discuss key themes in the development of situation comedy including the representation of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, family, and modes of production including studio based production, mockumentary, and documentary style.

Module aims

The module aims to:

1. Develop an understanding of the history and development of British and American situation comedy, including significant examples of situation comedy.
2. Enable students to understand and analyse the relationship between situation comedy and the socio-cultural context of its production
3. Encourage students to analyse the representations, ideologies and political ideas inherent in situation comedy.


An indicative syllabus will include:

  • The origins of situation comedy
  • Radio and television situation comedy
  • American and British situation comedies
  • Changes in gender representation
  • Changes in the representation of sexuality and sex
  • Changes in the representation of ethnicity and ‘race’
  • Changes in the representation of class and class conflicts
  • Alternative comedy and alternative sitcoms of the 1980s
  • Post-modern situation comedies of the 1990s
  • Mockumentary and documentary style of the 2000s

Learning and teaching

This module will be delivered through a combination of modes of delivery, including formal lectures, seminars,  television screenings, and individual tutorials. 

A blended learning strategy will be employed to enhance the learning experience, facilitate communication between students and tutors and develop collaboration among students. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) will be used as a platform to support online activities including on-line discussions, evaluation of online resources, and access to electronic reading packs. The VLE will also be used to facilitate formative assessment and related feedback, as well as a tool to integrate useful online learning materials provided by research institutions, academic publications, professional organisations and other relevant sources.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Describe and understand the development of situation comedy as a radio and television genre.
2. Analyse and critique the relationship between situation comedy and the socio cultural context of its production, including questions of representation, ideology and political discourse.
3. Understand and discuss different modes of production of situation comedy

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed via two items of coursework:

1 An individual 10 minute presentation (25%) is designed as formative assessment to enable students to develop their critique of situation comedy and to receive feedback on their initial ideas. The presentation will be based on topics set by the module tutor.

2. The 3000 word essay (75%) is designed to enable students to develop a sustained critical analysis of the relationship between situation comedy and the socio-cultural and political context of its production by encouraging students to focus on one aspect of that context.


• Robin, R. & Means C. (2000), African American viewers and the Black situation comedy : situating racial humor, New York: Garland Publishing.
• Snoad, H. (1988), Directing situation comedy, London: BBC.
• Koseluk, G. (2000), Great Brit-coms : British television situation comedy, London: McFarland.
• Savorelli, A. (2010), Beyond sitcom : new directions in American television comedy, Jefferson N. C. : McFarland.
• Morreale, J. (Ed.)(2003), Critiquing the sitcom : a reader, Syracuse N.Y.: Syracuse University Press.
• Mills, B. (2005), Television sitcom, London: BFI Publishing.
• Cook, T. et al (1985), Teaching TV sitcom, London: BFI Education.
• Cook, T. (1982), BFI Dossier 17: Television sitcom, London: British Film Institute
• Mills, B. (2013), The Sitcom, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, available at:

New Review of Film & Television Studies
European Journal of Cultural Studies
Television & New Media
International Journal of Cultural Studies
Journal of British Cinema and Television

Industry documents/magazines
New Media Age
BBC Public documents
Department of Culture Media and Sport legislation and policy documentation
Ofcom consultations/findings