Britain on Film - SOCI7520

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module will introduce students to the ways in which visual sources – in this case, films, television programmes and other visual broadcast media – can be used in historical research. The module will focus upon the case study of British film and television from the 1930s. Students will consider the role of film and television programmes in a variety of historical contexts: the impact of economic depression and rising affluence upon the consumption of leisure products; the utilisation of film by governments for propaganda and morale-boosting in wartime; for social and political critique; and the cinematic codes by which idea[s] of Britain[s] could be conveyed to domestic and overseas audiences.

Students will explore films from a range of genres, including feature film, documentaries and wartime propaganda. Within this, students will also consider the development of subgenres, such as Ealing comedies, kitchen-sink realism, soap opera and reality television. The module will also introduce students to the broader historical contexts of cultural production and exchange. Alongside close analysis of set films and television programmes, students will also be required to read and discuss critical studies of these texts. The course will explore the evolution of leisure in Britain, and the economic and political history of the media and film industries. Students will also consider the relationships between cultural consumption and social identities.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


Optional module for
BSc Social Sciences
BA Criminal Justice & Criminology
Also available as a wild/elective module

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – essay (3000 words) – 70%
Coursework –analytical assignment (2000 words) – 30%

Reassessment methods

100% coursework

Indicative reading

Aldridge, Mark, The Birth of British Television: A History (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012)
Barr, Charles All Our Yesterdays: 90 Years of British Cinema (London: BFI, 1986)
Chapman, James, A New History of British Documentary (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015)
Crisell, Andrew, An Introductory History of British Broadcasting (London: Routledge, 2002)
Schaffer, Gavin, The Vision of a Nation: Making Multiculturalism on British Television, 1960-1980 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014)
Street, Sarah, British National Cinema, (London: Routledge, 2009)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

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

8.1 Demonstrate a systematic knowledge of the development of the use of visual sources in social history and related disciplines; including
assessing the usefulness of visual sources in relation to other types of primary sources for understanding British society
8.2 Critically and systematically apply a range of disciplinary approaches to the reading of images, and relate cultural production to economic,
political and social forces
8.3 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the role of the visual in the historical analysis of social problems and cultural perceptions
8.4 Accurately deploy visual sources to communicate knowledge and ideas

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

9.1 Demonstrate skills in verbal and written communication, drawing upon research and using appropriate information technology
9.2 Independently research and obtain a range of library and web-based resources as appropriate.
9.3 Critically evaluate library and web-based resources and utilise judiciously in coursework of all varieties
9.4 Draw upon their interdisciplinary knowledge in critical evaluation
9.5 Demonstrate a critical and systematic understanding of complex concepts


  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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