FLMS2001: British Cinema


michael caine

Module Code: FLMS2004

Module Title: British Cinema



Module Tutor:

Dr Paul Elliott




Module Description:

This module examines British Cinema from the Second World War to the present.  Students will analyse British films from a number of different genres and traditions, and explore the appropriate contexts in which to understand them.  A major focus during the module will be a set of recurring themes and concerns in British cinema (e.g. national identity and culture, social class) and how these are represented through the style and content of particular movies.  A variety of critical approaches will be used to explore the ways that films can be seen to respond to historical shifts and transformations in British society.


Intended Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  1. Use written arguments to demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of British films and their contexts.
  2. Critically engage with individual film texts.
  3. Demonstrate the significance of different areas of detailed decision making in developing a film’s effects and meanings.
  4. Show awareness of appropriate film genres, conventions and debates.
  5. Make informed use of interpretive frameworks e.g. ideological meanings of popular cinema.
  6. Demonstrate skills of analysis and interpretation of screen texts and their role in British society, history and culture.


Attendance Policy:

It is expected that you will attend all taught sessions, in the same way that attendance is expected in the workplace. Indeed regular attendance has a significant impact on student engagement, understanding and successful completion of University courses. Furthermore non-attendance will significantly affect your ability successfully to complete a module and may jeopardise your ability to undertake re-assessment in the event of failing a module.

It is your responsibility as a student, just as it would be if you were an employee, to ensure that you are punctual and that your attendance has been recorded on the register each week.

Should you, for some unavoidable reason, be unable to attend a scheduled session (for example if you are ill) then you must send an email to ihcastudentabsence@worc.ac.uk . Please include in your email  your name and student number, the module code and name, the date of the missed session, and your reason for missing it. You should make sure that you copy the module tutor into the email and also contact your module tutor to make arrangements to catch up on any work you have missed.

Notification must be received within 6 days of the date of the missed session.

Alternatively you can inform IHCA of your absence via the telephone. Please ring 01905 542015 with the required details.

Students with two or more unexplained absences may be required to attend a tutorial/ interview with the module leader, course leader or head of division to discuss their progress.


Learning Contract:

 On this module you are expected to be courteous and attentive to your fellow classmates and to the module tutor. You are also expected to undertake the required reading each week and to view the film or films under question. Failure to do either of these things will severely impede your success on the module.

The use of mobile phones will not be tolerated in classes, lectures or screenings. Please turn off all phones before the lesson starts.

Please feel free to email me with any queries you have regarding the module, I will try to reply within 3 working days. My office hours will be posted on the door of my office, however I am always open to seeing students at other times if you make an appointment.   

Please Note: There are now no screenings for this module therefore you are required to have seen the film before the session. If you have problems obtaining the film please see the module tutor. 



 Set Texts (You should purchase these books):

Murphy, R. (2009), The British Cinema Book, 3rd Edition (London: BFI).

Essential Reading (You will need to photocopy or read sections of these books):

Marr, A (2009), A History of Modern Britain (London: Pan)
Sargeant, A. (2005), British Cinema: A Critical and Interpretive History (London: BFI)
Street, S. (2010), British National Cinema (London: Routledge)

Further Reading (You will find these books useful):

Ashby, J and A. Higson (eds), British Cinema: Past and Present (London: Routledge).
Chibnall, S (2004), Brighton Rock, (London: IB Tauris)
Friedman, L (ed), Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism (London: Wallflower Press).
Murphy, R. (ed) British Cinema of the 90s (London: BFI)


Module Calendar (please note, subject to change):


Week Date Film
1.   Wasp (Andrea Arnold, 2003) (To be screened in class)
Required Reading


Street, S. (1997). “Introduction: British National Cinema” in British National Cinema: 2nd Edition. London: Routledge, pp. 1-6.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing


Cinemas and Film: The Films (Definition of “British Film”) (No.2) Order 2006 (HMSO, 2006)

Films Certified British Under the Cultural Test (BFI, 2015) available online at http://www.bfi.org.uk/film-industry/british-certification-tax-relief/cultural-test-film#films-certified

Sargeant, A. (2005), British Cinema: A Critical and Interpretive History (London: BFI).


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Chris Columbus, 2001)

Bourne Identity (Doug Liman, 2002)

Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015)

Week Date Film
2.   Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942)
Required Reading


Higson, A. (2000) “The Instability of the National”, in Ashby, J and A. Higson (eds), British Cinema: Past and Present (London: Routledge), pp. 35-48.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Aldgate, A and J. Richards. 2007. Britain Can Take It: British Cinema in the Second Wold War. London: IB Tauris.

Houston P. 2012. Went the Day Well? London; BFI.

Murphy, R. 2000. British Cinema and the Second World War. London Continuum.

Street, S. 2009. “The Second World War” in British National Cinema: 2 (London: Routledge), pp. 50-58.


In Which We Serve (Noel Coward and David Lean, 1942)

This Happy Breed (David Lean, 1944)

Week Date Film
3.   Brighton Rock (John Boutling, 1947)
Required Reading Murphy, R. (1992), “Chapter 8: The Spiv Cycle”, in Realism and Tinsel, London: Routledge, pp.126-144.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Marr, A. (2009), “The Look of the Forties”, in A History of Modern Britain (London: Pan), pp.50-57

Smith, J. (2004), “Brighton Rock” in Gangster Films (London: Virgin Film), pp.70-78.

Spicer, A. 2001. Typical Men: The Representation of Masculinity in Popular British Cinema. London: IB Tauris.

Spicer, A. 2002. ‘British Film Noir’, in Film Noir. London. Longman, pp.175-203.

Thomas, D. 2003. An Underworld at War. London: John Murray.



They Made Me a Fugitive (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1947)

Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)

Week Date Film
4.   A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964)
Required Reading Powell, D. (2009), “Introduction”, in Studying British Cinema: The 1960s (London: Auteur), pp.5-22.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing  Glynn, S. (2004). A Hard Day’s Night. London: IB Tauris.

Powell, D. (2009), “Living the Dream: A Hard Day’s Night”, in Studying British Cinema: The 1960s (London: Auteur), pp.5-22.

Murphy, R.1992. Sixties British Cinema. London: BFI.

Walker, A. 1974. Hollywood England. The British Film Industry in the Sixties. London: Michael Joseph.


The Italian Job (Peter Collinson, 1969)

Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)

Week Date Film
5.   Carry On At Your Convenience (Gerald Thomas, 1971)
Required Reading Gerrard, S. 2008. “What a Carry On! The Decline and Fall of a Great British Institution”, in Shail, R. (ed), Seventies British Cinema, London: Plagrave, pp. 36 – 45.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Harper, S and J. Smith. (2013). British Film Culture in the 1970s. Edinburgh: EUP.

Newland, P. (ed). (2010). Don’t Look Now: British Cinema in the 1970s. London: Intellect.

Shail. R. (ed) (2008). Seventies British Cinema. London: BFI.

Turner, A. 2009. “Unions” in Crisis? What Crisis? London: Aurum Press, pp. 77 – 90.


Carry on Girls (Gerald Thomas, 1973)

Dracula AD 1972 (Alan Gibson, 1972)

Week Date Film
6.   Asylum (Roy Ward Baker, 1972)
Required Reading Hutchings, P. (2001). “The Amicus House of Horror” in Chibnall, S. and J. Petley (ed). British Horror Cinema. London: Routledge.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Harper, S and J. Smith. (2013). British Film Culture in the 1970s. Edinburgh: EUP.

Hutchings, D. 1993. Hammer and Beyond: The British Horror Film. Manchester. Manchester University Press.

Newland, P. (ed). (2010). Don’t Look Now: British Cinema in the 1970s. London: Intellect.

Shail. R. (ed) (2008). Seventies British Cinema. London: BFI.


Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968)

The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)

Week Date Film
7.   The Long Good Friday (John Mackenzie, 1979)
Required Reading Hill, J. (1998), “Allegorising the Nation”, in Chibnall, S and Murphy, R (eds), British Crime Cinema (London: Routledge), pp.165-177
Supplementary Reading and Viewing  1979 Conservative Party Manifesto

Elliott. P. 2011. “Gangland UK” in Studying the British Crime Film. London. Auteur Press.

Hill, J. 1999. British Cinema in the 1980s. Oxford: OUP.

Marr, A. (2009), “Margaret Roberts Superstar”, in A History of Modern Britain (London: Pan), pp.381-392.


The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (Julien Temple, 1979)

McVicar (Tom Clegg, 1980)

Week Date Film
8.   High Hopes (Mike Leigh, 1988)
Required Reading Sterrit, D (2006), “Low Hopes: Mike Leigh Meets Margaret Thatcher” in Friedman, L (ed), Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism (London: Wallflower Press).
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Carney, R. (2000). The Films of Mike Leigh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coveney, M. (1997). The World According to Mike Leigh. London: Faber and Faber.

Hill, J. 1999. British Cinema in the 1980s. Oxford: OUP.

Quart, L (2006), “The Religion of the Market” in Friedman, L (ed), Fires Were Started: British Cinema and Thatcherism (London: Wallflower Press).

Watson, G. (2004). The Cinema of Mike Leigh. London: Wallflower Press.


The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Peter Greenaway, 1989)

A Zed and Two Noughts (Peter Greenaway, 1989)

Week Date Film
9.   Mrs Brown (John Madden, 1997)
Required Reading Todd, P (1999), “The British Film Industry in the 1990s”, in Murphy, R. (ed) British Cinema of the 90s (London: BFI), pp.17-26
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Caughie, J. 2000. “Small Pleasures: Adaptation and the Past in the Classic Serial” in Television Drama: Realism, Modernism, and British Culture. Oxford: OUP, pp. 203-225.

Driver, S and L Martell (2000), Left, Right and the Third Way, (London: The Policy Press)

Higson, A. 2003. English Heritage, English Cinema: Costume Drama Since 1980. Oxford: OUP.

Monk, C. 2012. Heritage Film Audiences: Period Films and Contemporary Audiences in the UK. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995)

Shakespeare in Love (John Madden, 1998)

Week Date Film
10.   Bend it Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002)
Required Reading Fitzgerald, J (2010), “Existing Identities”, in Studying British Cinema 1999-2009 (London: Auteur), pp.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Fitzgerald, J (2010), “Introduction”, in Studying British Cinema 1999-2009 (London: Auteur), pp.

Fryer, P. 2010. Staying Power: A History of Black People in Britain. London: Pluto Press.

Leggott, J (2010), “Introduction” in Contemporary British Cinema (London: Wallflower), pp.1-5.

UK Film Council (2000), “Towards a Sustainable UK Film Industry”, available online at http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/publications?page=1&step=10&viewby=category&value=17009

Winder, R. 2013. Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain. London: Abacus.


The Last Resort (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2000)

Gypo (Jan Dunn, 2005)

Ghosts (Nick Broomfield, 2006)

Week Date Film
11.   Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsey, 2002)
Required Reading Brown, G., (2009) ‘Paradise Found and Lost: The Course of British Realism’ in Murphy (ed.), The British Cinema Book (London: BFI), pp. 28-38
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Dave, P. 2009. “The Underclass” in Visions of England. London. Berg, pp.83-101.

Fitzgerald (2010), “Neo-Realism”, Studying British Cinema 1999-2009 (London: Auteur), pp.

Hill, J. 2000. “Failure and Utopianism: Representations of the Working Class in British Cinema of the 1990s” in Murphy, R (ed), British Cinema of the 90s. London: BFI, pp.178-188.

Leach, J. 2004. “The Common Touch: The Art of being Realistic” in British Film. Cambridge: Cambridge, pp.48-66.

Leggott, J (2009), “Women in Contemporary British Cinema”, in Contemporary British Cinema (London: Wallflower), pp.1-5.


Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009)

Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)

Week Date Film
12.   Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)
Required Reading Brown, W.,(2009) ‘Not Flagwaving but Flagdrowning, or Postcards from Post-Britain in Murphy (ed.), The British Cinema Book, pp. 408-416
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Four Lions Reviews

Lord Hutton (2003), The Hutton Report, (London: HMSO)

Metropolitan Police (2009), The Metropolitan Police Report on Jean Charles de Menezes, (London: Metropolitan Police)


Last Resort (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2000)

Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears, 2002)


Essay One

Your first assignment is to select ONE aspect of British life or culture and examine how it is represented in ONE British film.  You should pay close attention to how the film reflects or represents the cultural zeitgeist and the time in which it was produced.

The can be a film screened on the module, or any other British film of your choice.  Your essay will need to balance close textual analysis with appropriate use of relevant secondary sources.

 Length: 1500-words

Weighting:  50%


Essay Two

Your second assignment will be to answer one of a selection of essay questions on British Cinema.  The questions will be distributed in the second half of the module. As with the first essay, you will need to combine close textual analysis with sufficient secondary research (from sources which extend beyond the textbook).


Length: 1500-words

Weighting: 50%

*Essays will be returned within three weeks of submission*


You should submit your assignments online via your SOLE page. Please be sure you are familiar with the submission process.

If thought necessary, your work may be entered in the turnitin plagiarism checker.

For information regarding plagiarism, referencing, and general study skills please visit http://www.worc.ac.uk/studyskills/