MC426      Half Unit
Film Theory and World Cinema

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Shakuntala Banaji


This course is available on the MSc in Gender (Sexuality), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and Fudan), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and UCT), MSc in Global Media and Communications (LSE and USC), MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Research) and MSc in Media, Communication and Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted.

Course content

This course is designed to enable a consistent, informed and plausible reading of popular film representations, discourses and cultures of consumption in specific geopolitical contexts. Introducing theories from the humanities and the social sciences, lectures offer alternative approaches to theorising sexuality, gender, race, class, religion, national identity, childhood, history and politics in popular commercial films and their interpretation by audiences. The impact of unequal power relations – on how representations are reproduced, spectatorship is theorised and censorship policies are formulated – will be demonstrated and analysed. While the course offers a particular focus on Bollywood, Hindi commercial cinema, as an example of World cinema, it refers more widely to examples from other National Cinemas such as those of China, Korea, Australia, Spain and Iran. A key learning method is the extensive interrogation of audiovisual materials. To this end, there will be five film screenings and accompanying discussions alongside the lectures and seminars. Additionally, films referred to on the course will be made available through the library or can be downloaded and watched from popular film sites on the internet.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, film screenings and discussions totalling a minimum of 40 hours across Michelmas Term. This year, all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of virtual film screenings and discussions, virtual or face-to-face classes, recorded flipped-lectures online and/or synchronous online lecture and Q and A. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of term.

Formative coursework

All students are expected to complete advance reading, participate in Moodle forums, present in seminar discussions, attend 5 film screenings and submit one essay of 1,500 words.

Indicative reading

  • Banaji, S. (2006) Reading 'Bollywood': The Young Audience and Hindi Film, Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Barker, M. and Brooks, K. (1998) Knowing Audiences: Judge Dredd - its friends, fans and foes. Luton: University of Luton Press.
  • Dudrah, R. & Desai, J. (Eds) (2008) The Bollywood Reader, London: McGraw Hill.
  • Hjort, M. & Mackenzie, S. (2002) (eds), Cinema and Nation London: Routledge.
  • hooks, b. (1992) Black Looks: Race and Representation. London: Turnaround.
  • Gledhill, C. and Williams, L. (2000) (Eds) Reinventing Film Studies, London: Arnold; BFI Publishing; Jancovich, M. (2002)
  • Horror: The Film Reader, London: Routledge.
  • Lim, S. H. (2006). Celluloid Comrades: Representations of Male Homosexuality in Contemporary Chinese Cinemas. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
  • Lury, K. (2010) The Child In Film: Tears, Fears and Fairytales. London IB Tauris.
  • Nichols, B. (1991). Representing reality: issues and concepts in documentary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Och, D and Strayer, K. (2013) Transnational Horror Across Visual Media. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Rosenstone, R. A. (2012) (Second Edition) History on Film: Film on History. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Schoonover, K & Galt, R. (2016) Queer Cinema in the World. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
  • Stam, R. (2000) Film Theory: An Introduction. Malden, Massachusetts & Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Thornham, S. (ed) (1999), Feminist Film Theory: a reader, New York: New York University Press.
  • Turner, G. (1999, third edition) Film as Social Practice, London and New York: Routledge.
  • Tapper, R. (ed) (2003). The New Iranian Cinema: Politics, Representation and Identity London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Vitali, V. and Willemen, P. (eds) (2006) Theorising National Cinema London: BFI.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2016/17 - 2018/19 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 39.6
Merit 53.5
Pass 5.9
Fail 1

Teachers' comment

This course enables a consistent, informed and plausible theorisation of popular film representations of issues such as race, class, national identity, childhood, history and politics in popular commercial films and connecting these to interpretations by audiences and key analytical methods in film studies.

Students' comments

"I've totally enjoyed learning about theories of semiotic and ideological analysis and applying these to world cinema in these vivid, entertaining and interactive lectures and seminars."

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2019/20: 34

Average class size 2019/20: 17

Controlled access 2019/20: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills