Documentary Filmmaking and the Social Sciences - SO956

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.







This module will provide students a comprehensive understanding of techniques in documentary filmmaking and video methods in the social sciences applicable to their own research interests. Significant time will be focused on implementing digital technologies with established research techniques such as verstehen, immersion, long-take cinema, and ethnographic attentiveness to interpret, inflect, and produce audiovisual knowledge.

Students in this module will:

- develop a conceptual understanding to apply knowledge, advance scholarship, evaluate video methodologies in the discipline, and provide critiques of them.
- investigate and implement current methods to make documentaries in the social sciences.
- apply methods they have learned in this class to initiate and carry out the completion of one original documentary project.
- critically evaluate concepts, composition, cinematography, scripting, scouting, directing, lighting, sound recording, colour correction, sound mixing, editing, compression, and projection of documentaries.


Contact hours

This module will include 22 total hours – 2 hours weekly – led by the module convener. The module is developed around 11 lecture hours and 11 seminar hours. Total study time – including weekly preparation, research, writing the final paper, and editing the final documentary – is approximately 200 hours. A total of 22 contact hours and 178 independent study hours equal 200 hours for the module.


Spring 2017

Method of assessment

Essay of 3,000 words (50%) + Documentary (50%)

Indicative reading

Bates, Charlotte. (2014) (ed) Video Methods: Social Science Research in Motion. New York: Routledge.

Gubrium, Aline and Krista Harper. (2013) Participatory Visual and Digital Methods
Doing Visual Research.

Hayward, Keith and Mike Presdee. (2010) Framing Crime. London: Routledge Press.

Heath, Christian, Jon Hindmarsh, and Paul Luff. (2010) Video in Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

MacDougall, David. (2006) The Corporeal Image. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

Redmon, David. (2014) Beads, Bodies, and Trash. New York: Routledge.

Redmon, David. (forthcoming) Experiential Ethnography and Documentary Filmmaking.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

11.1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the current advanced theoretical scholarship and research methodologies that scholars use to conceptualize documentaries
11.2 Conceptually propose, design, and plan an audiovisual methodology to interpret, produce, and advance knowledge
11.3 Apply and evaluate visual and aural digital technologies to manage, organize, and interpret audiovisual data
11.4 Act autonomously in implementing audiovisual methods and theories to craft advanced documentaries in the social sciences
11.5 Clearly formulate, communicate, and present research conclusions to specialist and non-specialist audiences in the form of an original documentary, a written paper, and oral presentation

12. The intended generic learning outcomes:

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

12.1 Advance the knowledge to develop new skills of narration, voice-over, and/or the recording of environmental sounds to make social science documentaries
12.2 Demonstrate a comprehensive and systematic understanding of techniques applicable to pre-production, production and post-production research to make documentaries
12.3 Critically evaluate and synthesize current visual and aural literacy in the social sciences
12.4 Employ practical knowledge of how of to conduct audiovisual enquiry in unpredictable and fluctuating situations while making social science documentaries
12.5 Exercise advanced conceptual understanding of current digital methodologies required to manage the work-flow of audiovisual data
12.6 Act autonomously and demonstrate self-direction while advancing and developing personal knowledge to conceptualize, operationalize, write, direct, edit, and photograph documentaries

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