MC426      Half Unit
Film Theory and World Cinema

This information is for the 2021/22 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, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and in-person classes/classes delivered online. 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.
  • Bradbury-Rance, C. (2020) Lesbian Cinema after Queer Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Dudrah, R. & Desai, J. (Eds) (2008) The Bollywood Reader, London: McGraw Hill.
  • Erhart, J. (2018) Gendering History on Screen: Women film-makers and historical films. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • 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.
  • Mask, M. (ed.) (2012) Contemporary Black American Cinema: Race, gender and sexuality at the movies. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Musa, B. A. (ed.) (2019). Nollywood in Global Perspective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Mcmillan.
  • 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.
  • Sealy, M. (2019). Decolonising the Camera: Photography in racial time. London: Lawrence and Wishart.
  • 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.
  • Velez, B. (2021). Love in Contemporary Cinema: Audiences and representations of romance. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Vitali, V. and Willemen, P. (eds) (2006) Theorising National Cinema London: BFI.
  • Wynter, K. (2022) Critical Race Theory and Jordan Peele's Get Out. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Young, L. (1996). Fear of the Dark: "Race", Gender and Sexuality in the Cinema. London and New York: Routledge.


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 32.4
Merit 61.8
Pass 4.9
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 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: 39

Average class size 2020/21: 20

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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