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Trinity College Dublin: Film Studies - Theory History Practice

Institution Trinity College Dublin
Department School of Creative Arts (Drama, Film and Music)
Study type Taught


Students take six taught modules and a Dissertation or Dissertation with Practice module that includes Research Methodologies.

Dissertation or Dissertation with Practice and Research Methodologies (30 credits)

The Research Methodologies module prepares students for the formal processes of research and writing at M.Phil. level. Classes will cover library use, archival skills, electronic resources, use of Endnote, research skills, note taking, writing and oral presentation and power-point techniques.

Dissertation: Students will write a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words on an approved topic to be supervised by an appropriate member of staff.

Dissertation with Practice: As an alternative method of presenting your research, students may submit a proposal to make a film or films, write a screenplay, or create a video essay as part of their final dissertation. Successful applicants will accompany this with a written component of 8,000-10,000 words that will offer a critical perspective on their practice. Acceptance on this strand will depend on the viability of the proposal, the availability of appropriate supervision and resources, and demonstration of the requisite critical and practical skills.

Elective Modules

Critical Approaches to Cinema (10 credits) This module will consider key critical approaches to the study of cinema. We will discuss debates around the organisation of editing, film style and mise-en-scène, issues around gender, genre and authorship, as well as questions of representation and spectatorship. We will consider how the medium has been used creatively and approached critically at different times in its development.

Cinema and Ireland (10 credits) This module will examine and analyse the industrial developments, international influences and local productions relating to Irish cinema from The Quiet Man to the Celtic Tiger period and its aftermath. We will consider funding opportunities, specifically in relation to the Irish Film Board, and the consequences of the growth of digital filmmaking during this time. We will discuss changes in gender representation and the representation of race. We will further cover the evolving relationship between the city and the country, and cinema and history. Classes also will cover the legacy of the Troubles and the auteur cinemas of Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and Lenny Abrahamson.

Current Trends in World Cinema (10 credits) This module will explore the development of world cinema with particular reference to films from the last twenty years. Including examples from the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America, the module will explore the historical development of film-making with reference to specific national and cultural identity. With reference to the idea that cinema is a powerful ideological medium, the module will examine how film is used to express marginalized political positions, specifically through the work of female Middle Eastern directors.

Current Trends in European Cinemas (10 credits) This module will examine the development of European cinema in the context of the radical upheavals that have recently transformed the continent. European national cinemas have a long and successful tradition. However, the idea of 'national' cinema is challenged by the transnational production models that facilitate contemporary filmmaking in Europe. At the same time, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, new European national identities are being formed and expressed through cinema. These dichotomies, their outcomes, and the history of European cinema will be considered through films from the past twenty years.

Digital Media and Culture (10 ECTS) In the era of digital media, media themselves are being transformed as platforms, content, and producers multiply. In this module, we will approach digital media from both theoretical and practical perspectives, including its relationship to digital culture more broadly. We will theorize the impact of digital technologies on storytelling, particularly the move towards transmedia and interactive narratives that take advantage of the turn towards social media and participatory forms of culture. Students will engage with questions of remix culture, digital aesthetics and seriality, as well as the role of amateurs and fans in digital productions. In order to question the assumption that digital media forms and uses are inherently ‘new’, we will consider how formats such as GIFs, podcasts and desktop documentaries fit into a longer history of experimentation with the possibilities and limits of emerging mediums. These include the formal and affective links between the ‘cinema of attractions’ and current trends on YouTube and within short-form looped media. Throughout the module, students will also develop an experiential understanding of these concepts by creating and reflecting on their own digital media objects, such as GIFs, Instagram stories and podcasts.

Editing (10 credits) This module will introduce students to the craft of editing, giving students an understanding of the essential technical and creative skills involved: how a scene is assembled and seamlessly put together; cutting dialogue; creating tension and drama using editing; editing to rhythm; cutting to music and beats. It will also provide students with a thorough knowledge of the editing software, Final Cut Pro X, covering all aspects of the software, from capture and system-settings, editing tools and shortcuts, to effects, transitions and colour correction. The overall aim is to give students the knowledge, tools and confidence to complete their own work to a professional standard.

Creative Documentary Practice (10 credits) The aim of this module is to expose students to the possibilities of creative documentary film making with a strong emphasis on learning thorough practical application. The module will take a critical look at current practices in the genre with an emphasis both on the techniques of documentary filmmaking and the practicalities of how films are made.

Screenwriting (10 credits) This module will introduce students to the techniques and conventions of screenwriting. Class exercises will involve the analysis of screenplays and short films, and the module will cover both the conventional three-act structure and other models of screenwriting.

Please note: all modules are subject to change and/or availability. Students must take three modules in Michaelmas term and three modules in Hilary term, subject to timetabling.


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