European Political Cinema - SECL5040

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module examines the various ways in which cinema can be used to articulate a political message or advance a political cause. Drawing on films from the major Western European nations (e.g. France, German, Italy and Spain) and from a variety of historical periods from the 1930s to the present, it will examine and contrast the ideological functions of cinema in a range of different geopolitical contexts. The films studied will encompass a range of forms such as explicit propaganda films of the totalitarian regimes, left-wing counter-cultural filmmaking of the sixties, and popular genres such as the 'political thriller'.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

• Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 40%
• Essay 2 (1,500 words) – 40%
• Seminar Presentation (10 minutes) – 20%

Reassessment methods

• Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Bordwell, D. and Thompson, K. (1994) 'Political Cinema in the West' in Film History: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill
Kellner, D. (1993) 'Film, Politics, and Ideology: Towards a Multiperspectival Film Theory' in James Combs (ed.) Movies and Politics: The Dynamic Relationship. New York/ London: Garland Publishing
Halligan, B. (2016) Desires for Reality: Radicalism and Revolution in Western European Film. New York/ Oxford: Berghahn Books
Lombardi, G. (ed.) (2016) Italian Political Cinema. Oxford/ Bern/ Berlin/ Bruxelles/ Frankfurt/ New York/ Wien: Peter Lang
Tzioumakis, Y. and Molloy, C. (eds) (2016) The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics. London/ New York: Routledge

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate cogent understanding of the ways in which ideology functions within a mass media form such as the cinema;
2 Demonstrate conceptual understanding of current approaches to the relationship between film and politics;
3 Comprehensively analyse, using established techniques, the different ways in which cinema has functioned politically in a range of national, historical and political
contexts within Europe;
4 Critically engage with a number of films and demonstrate coherent and detailed knowledge of different European national traditions.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Deploy advanced communicative strategies in public presentations and discussions, and argue cogently under pressure from subject specialists and non-specialists;
2 Deploy comprehensive knowledge and systematic understanding of the well-established principles and concepts their subject matter in cogently argued written essays;
3 Undertake advanced, independent and specialised research using initiative, engaging critically with recent and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
4 Take responsibility for personal and professional learning and development.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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