MECS2017: Screening the Nation




Module Code: MECS2017


Screening the Nation

Module Outline

Friday 9:15 – 12:15




Module Leader:

Dr. Paul Elliott



Module Description:

 MECS2017 – Screening the Nation is a module that looks at the development of British TV since the 1950s. It is organised around themes and the study of genre and aims to encourage students to compare texts of the past with more contemporary programming. The first past of the module is centred around the basic elements of studying TV (flow, censorship, intermediation and so on) and the second looks in some depth at the development of some of the major TV genres (soaps, reality TV, the sitcom). It is hoped that students will not only be introduced to the development of British television but will also be exposed to specific texts of the past.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  1. understand the basic cultural shifts in British TV since the 1960s;
  2. be able to articulate these cultural shifts using the correct academic language and concepts;
  3. be able to explore the relationship between television and other media forms such as cinema;
  1. display an ability to express their research in a cogent and well formatted manner.

Attendance Policy:

 It is expected that students will attend all taught sessions, non-attendance may significantly affect a student’s ability successfully to complete a module and may jeopardise their ability to undertake re-assessment in the event of failing a module.

Students who, for some unavoidable reason, are unable to attend a scheduled session must send an email to and the module tutor and make arrangements to catch up on any work  that has been missed.

Learning Contract:

This module is based on one seminar which will consist of a brief lecture, a screening and a series of class exercises which you are expected to engage with. The readings for each week will be posted on Blackboard and you are expected to have read them before the class.

In addition to the reading, you should be prepared to engage with your fellow students and the tutor in a respectful and courteous manner. This means engaging with any class activity and informing the tutor of any absences you may anticipate.

Essays will be marked with (at the most 3 weeks) after the essay deadline, however I will do my utmost to provide feedback before this.

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


Set Texts (You should purchase these books):

Corner, J. and S. Harvey (eds) (1996) Television Times: A Reader. London: Arnold.


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

Allen, R. and A. Hill (eds.) (2004), The Television Studies Reader. London: Routledge.

Cooke. L. (2003) British Television Drama: A History. London, BFI.

Crisell. A. (2006) A Study of Modern Television. London, Palgrave.

Creeber, G. (ed), (2012), The Television Genre Book, London: BFI.


Further Reading (You will find these books useful):

Aldridge, M. (2011) The Birth of British Television. London, Palgrave.

Brandt. G. (1981) British Television Drama. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hobson D. (2008) Channel 4: The Early Years and the Jeremy Isaacs Legacy. London, IB Tauris.

Hunt, L. (1998) British Low Culture. London, Routledge.

Module Calendar (please note, subject to change):


Week Date Title of Session
1. 3rd February 2017 The Making of Modern TV – The Quatermass Experiment  (BBC, 1953)
Required Reading


Crisell, A. 2006. “Introduction” in A Study of Modern Television, London; Palgrave.

Hall, S. 1971/1996. “Technics of the Image”, in Corner, J and S. Harvey (eds), Television Times: A Reader. London: Arnold. pp.3-10.

Supplementary Viewing and Reading 1984 (BBC, 1954)

Armchair Theatre (ABC, 1956 – 1974)

Z Cars (BBC, 1962 – 1974)

Skins (Channel 4, 2007 – present)

Bignall, J. 2007. An Introduction to Television Studies. London: Routledge.

Cooke. L. 2003. British Television Drama: A History. London, BFI.

Jacobs, J. 2000. The Intimate Screen: Early British Television Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Week Date Title of Session
2. 10th February 2017 Week End Television and Televisual Flow – Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV, 1955 – 1974)
Required Reading Williams, R. 1997. “Programming: Distribution and Flow” in Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Routledge, pp.78-118.
Supplementary Viewing or Task The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club (Granada, 1974 – 1977)

The Arthur Haynes Show (ATV, 1957 – 66)

The X Factor (ITV, 2004 – present)

Strictly Come Dancing (BBC, 2004 – present)

Bruhn Jensen, K. 1996. “Reception as Flow”, in Corner, J. and S. Harvey (eds). Television Times: A Reader. London: Arnold, pp. 187-1998

Fiske, J. 1987. Television Culture. London; Routledge.

Miller, T. 2012. “The Populist Debate”, in Creeber, G (ed). The Television Genre Book. London: Routledge, pp. 159-161.

Week Date Title of Session
3. 17th February 2017 Television Style – Dr Who (BBC, 1963 – present)
Required Reading Cardwell, S. 2013. “Television Aesthetics: Stylistic Analysis and Beyond” in Jacobs, J and S. Peacock (eds). Television Aesthetics and Style. London: Bloomsbury, pp.23-44.
Supplementary Viewing or Task The Day of the Triffids (BBC, 1981)

The Day of the Triffids (BBC, 2009)

Shameless (2004 – 2013)

Butler, J. 2010. Television Style. London: Routledge.

Thompson, K. 2003. Storytelling in Film and Television. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Jacobs, J. and S. Peacock (eds). 2013. Television Aesthetics and Style. London; Bloomsbury.

Week Date Title of Session
4. 24th February 2017 The TV Audience –Coronation Street (Granada, 1960 – present)
Required Reading Kuhn, A. 2007. “Women’s Genres: Melodrama, Soap Opera and Theory”, in Brundson C and L. Spigel (eds), Feminist Television  Criticism: A Reader, Milton Keynes: Open University Press, pp. 225-234.
Supplementary Viewing or Task Emergency Ward 10 (ITV, 1957 – 1967)

Emmerdale (ITV, 1972 – present)

Eastenders (BBC, 1985 – present)

Geraghty, C. 1991. Women and Soap Opera. London: Polity.

McCarthy, A. 2012. “Studying Soap Opera”, in Creeber, G (ed). The Television Genre Book. London: Routledge, pp. 60-63.

Hobson, D. 2002. Soap Opera. London: Polity Press.

Week Date                         Title of Session
5. 3rd March 2017 Banned in the UK – Sex – Brass Eye (1997)
Required Reading Bignell, J. 2004. “Television You Can’t See” in An Introduction to Television Studies. London; Routledge, pp. 241-265.
Supplementary Viewing or Task



Brimstone and Treacle (BBC, 1970)

Brookside (Channel 4, 1982 – 1997)

Queer as Folk (Channel 4, 1999 – 2000)

Aldgate, A and C. Robertson. 2005. Censorship in Theatre and Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

BBC, BBC Prodcuer’s Guide, available online at http//…/2000-producers-guidelines.pdf

Stokes, J and A. Reading (eds), The Media in Britain: Current Debates and Developments. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Week Date Title of Session
6. 10th March 2017 Banned in the UK – Violence – Scum (BBC, 1977)
Required Reading Gunter, B; J. Harrison and M. Wykes. 2013. “Violence on Television: The Parameters of Concern” in Violence on Television: Distribution, Form, Context and Themes. London: Routledge.
Supplementary Viewing or Task Apaches (COI, 1977)

Elephant (BBC, 1988)

Dead Set (Channel 4, 2008)

Carter, C. 2003. Violence and the Media. London: Routledge.

Potter, J. 2003. The 11 Myths of Media Violence. London: Sage.

Seaton, J. 2005. Carnage and the Media: The Making and Breaking of News About Violence. London: Allen Lane.

Week Date Film or Title of Session
7. 17th March 2017 TV Modes:

Quality TV – Brideshead Revisited (Granada, 1981)

Required Reading 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.
Supplementary Viewing or Task A Tale of Two Cities (BBC, 1980)

Brideshead Revisited (BBC, 2008)

Downton Abbey (Carnival Film and Television, 2010 – present)

Tulloch, J. 1990. Television Drama: Agency, Audience and Myth. London: Routledge.

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.

Week Date Title of Session
8. 24th March 2017 TV Modes:

Children’s TV – The Changes (BBC, 1975)

Required Reading Davies, H. and P. Kelley. 1999. “Introduction” in Children’s Television in Britain: History, Discourse and Policy. London: BFI, pp.
Supplementary Viewing or Task Children of the Stones (ITV, 1977)

Grange Hill (BBC, 1978 – 2005)

The Worst Witch (BBC, 2017)

Barry, G. and J.K. Asamen. 1993. Children and Television: Images in a Changing Socio-Cultural World. London: Sage.

Davies, M.M. 2010. Children, Media and Culture. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Inglis, R. 2003. The Window in the Corner. London: Peter Owen.

Week Date Title of Session
9. 31st April 2015 TV Modes: Factual TV – Seven Up (BBC, 1964)
Required Reading Kilborn, R. and J. Izod. 1997. “Documentary Debates” in An Introduction to Television Documentary: Confronting Reality. Manchester: MUP, pp. 3-56.
Supplementary Viewing or Task Civilisation (BBC, 1969)

The Ascent of Man (BBC, 1973)

Wonders of the Solar System (BBC, 2010)

Barsam, R, 1972. Non-Fiction Film Theory. New York. Plume.

Ellis, J and McLane, B. 2005. A New History of Documentary Film. London. Contiuum.

Renov, M. (ed). Theorizing Documentary. London: Routledge.

Week Date Title of Session
10. 3rd April 2017 TV Modes:

Minority TV: Desmonds (Channel 4, 1989 – 1994)

Required Reading Cottle, S. 2000. “A Rock and a Hard Place: Making Ethnic Minority Television” in Cottle, S. (ed). Ethnic Minorities and the Media. Milton Keynes: Open University, pp. 100 -118.
Supplementary Viewing or Task The Fosters (LWT, 1976 – 1977)

Love Thy Neighbour (Thames, 1972 – 1976)

Citizen Khan (BBC, 2012 – present)

Bourne, S. 2001. Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. London: Continuum.

Daniels, T and J. Gerson. 1989. The Colour Black: Black Images in British Television. London; BFI.

Twitchin, J. 1988. The Black and White Media Book London: Trentham Books.

Easter Break 10th April 2017 to 21st April 2017
Week Date Title of Session


38th April 2017 TV Modes:

Experimental TV: The Singing Detective (BBC, 1986)

Required Reading Kennedy Martin, T. 1964. ‘Nats Go Home’ in Encore, 1964.
Supplementary Viewing or Task The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil (BBC, 1974)

Pennies From Heaven (BBC, 1978)

Blue Remembered Hills (BBC, 1979)

Caughie, J. 2000. Television Drama: Realism, Modernism and British Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cooke, L. 2007. Troy Kennedy Martin. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Creeber, G. 1998. Dennis Potter: Between Two Worlds. London: Routledge.

Week Date Title of Session
12. 5th May 2017 Essay Tutorials
Required Reading No Reading
Supplementary Viewing or Task  


Assignment 1: Essay Plan:

Produce a plan for the thematic essay (assignment 2). Your essay plan should address:

  • An introduction, addressing the focus of your essay and the programme(s) you have chosen to analyse
  • A suggested structure for your essay
  • The key points that will form part of your discussion/analysis, organised in a logical fashion, with reference to key sources, theorists and evidence that you will use to support your argument
  • Any counter-arguments that you plan to address
  • A bibliography detailing the academic sources you plan to use

Length: 500
Weighting:  25%
Due:  31st March 2017

Assignment Two

Answer ONE of the following questions:

  1. Examine a controversial British television show. How does this reflect the surrounding morality?
  2. Examine a British television show and its depiction of ONE of the following: race / the family / sexuality / childhood.
  3. In what ways does a contemporary soap reflect society?
  4. Compare the treatment of ONE of the following in two TV shows of different decades: race / crime / the family / class / British history / comedy.
  5. How has reality TV altered our conception of what constitutes television?
  6. With reference to specific TV programmes, examine how important realism is to contemporary television.
  7. Examine a contemporary Saturday night’s television in relation to flow theory.

Length: 1750
Weighting:  75%
Due:  17th May 2017

*Assignments will be graded 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.

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