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FM4303 Documentary Cinema

SCOTCAT credits:30
Academic year(s):2017/8
SCQF Level 10
Planned timetable:TBC

This module surveys the history of documentary film (technological, stylistic, etc.), while taking up the theoretical debates around cinematic claims to truth and representations of reality. Students will examine how documentary differs from other kinds of filmmaking, how documentaries make 'truth claims', and how these claims influence the ways in which these films are received and circulated. Beginning with the actualities of the Lumiere Brothers, students will be exposed to multiple genres (e.g. ethnographic, civic, cinema verite, experimental, self-reflexive) and filmmakers (e.g. John Grierson, Dziga Vertov, Jean Rouch, Errol Morris) while addressing the variety of arenas (e.g. scientific, civic, commercial) in which documentary has appeared.

Place in programme(s) and relationship to other modules


Optional for Film Studies

UG Pre-requisite(s):FM2001 and FM2002 – with passes at 11 or better in both


Optional for Film Studies Postgraduate Programme

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact:2-hour seminar plus screening.
Total module hours:
  • Scheduled learning: 55
  • Guided independent study: 245

Assessment pattern

UG As defined by QAA:
  • Written examinations: 0%
  • Practical examinations: 0%
  • Coursework: 100%
UG As used by St Andrews:Coursework = 100%
UG Re-assessment:Take Home Examination (48-hour slot) = 100%
Postgraduate Assessment :Coursework = 100%


Module coordinator:Dr L Torchin
Module teaching staff:Dr L Torchin