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Film Studies A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Over the course of the two years you will study a number of units which will test and extend your ability to recognise patterns, meaning and iconography in both contemporary and historical cinema. You will learn the language used by film scholars in decoding and analysing passages and complete films and will compare and contrast film texts from different time periods and cultures. You could look at the ideologically significant changes in US culture as represented in John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Wes Craven’s Scream (1996), where recent defeats in Vietnam and changes in gender representation had huge effects on the US fabric. Or you might look at Contemporary Mexican Cinema and films such as Amores Perros (Love is a Bitch, 2000) and Y tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too, 2001), looking into Mexican identity and Ideology. One thing is certain: Film Studies A Level at Penwith College will change how you look at the world through cinema.

You will also complete engaging practical and research based coursework which forms just under half of your grade. You have the option to use our dedicated editing suites and camera equipment in the production of your own short films, or you can use our extensive library of journals and resources to compile in depth research documents and academic essays which display your aptitude and academic nous.

Course content

FM1 – Exploring Film Form (Year 1)

This orientation unit will introduce all of the constituent parts which combine to make films. You will analyse many excerpts in learning how to decipher Cinematography, Editing and Sound techniques to name just a few. This unit teaches you the essential ‘nuts and bolts’ on which your academic knowledge will be based. The unit culminates in the production of a short film which can either be an extract of a longer film or a contained short. You will also write an analytical essay which offers a ‘close reading’ of a film excerpt. FM1 is worth 40% of your first year grade.

FM2 – British and American Film (Year 1)

This large unit is split into three elements and culminates in a 2 ½ hour exam which is worth 60% of your first year grade. The sections are:

Producers and Audiences: This section focuses on film as an industry and you will study many different elements of the industry from digital production to developing trends in viral marketing, ultimately building strong case study material to take into your exam.

British Film Topics: Here you will study a body of British Film which could fall under the titles ‘British Horror’, ‘Living with Crime’ or ‘Borders and Belonging’. The focus here is on how the films you study are uniquely British and how our sensibilities as a nation are manifest in the films we produce.

American Film Comparative Study: As mentioned in the opening section this unit tasks you with comparing themes and messages in two American films. We usually choose films from different time periods as this really helps differentiate. But the focus is on Americana and American Ideology. Previous comparisons have been ‘Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Mullholland Drive (2001)’ looking at Hollywood and stardom. Or ‘Raging Bull (1980) and Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Gender and familial representation.

FM3 – Film Research and Creative Projects (Year 2)

This is your second year coursework unit and it is worth 50% of your second year grade. You will produce two elements for this unit, the first is a ‘Small Scale Research Project’ in which you will select an area of film studies that particularly interests you and conduct an in depth body of research which will culminate in a presentation script and catalogue of sources. Previous study areas have been ‘Hayo Miyazaki and Environmentalism’, ‘David Fincher as a Neo-Noir Auteur’ and ‘Pedro Amoldovar and representations of Sexuality in Post-Franco Spain’. The second piece of coursework is another short film but this time you have much more freedom and scope to craft your own masterpiece!

FM4 – Varieties of Film Experiences: Issues and Debates (Year 2)

This large unit is again split into three elements and culminates in a 2 ¾ hour exam which is worth 50% of your second year grade. The sections are:

World Cinema: In this unit you will study contemporary Mexican cinema as mentioned in the first passage of this document. You could also study Iranian cinema or other movements such as the French New Wave of the 1960’s or Early Soviet Constructivist Cinema.

Spectator Subjects: In this unit you will either study ‘Documentary Film’, looking at the representation of reality and realism in documentary film through the years or you could study ‘Popular Cinema and Emotional Response’ which looks at mainstream, often Oscar winning films and assesses what exactly is it about the way these films are constructed which elicits emotional responses in viewers.

Single Film – Critical Study: This final unit looks at one film in very fine detail. You will extensively research and deconstruct your text looking at a whole manner of critical frameworks and approaches to the ideologies and debates raised in the chosen text. Option for this unit include Vertigo (1958), Modern Times (1936) and Fight Club (1999).

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C. Strong English skills are desirable.


As mentioned in the unit breakdowns above you will be assessed by a combination of coursework and examination. The weighting is as follows:

Year 1: Coursework 40% - Examination 60%

Year 2: Coursework 50% - Examination 50%

Future opportunities

A qualification in Film Studies is not by any means a soft option and you could decide to progress to PHD level in the field. There are numerous Russell Group Universities which offer Film Studies as a standalone Degree; however you may choose Film Studies to supplement other academic routes such as English or Sociology.

Further information

We encourage all students to actively engage with film as an art form and we can provide access to practical and academic resources as well as private screenings at local cinemas.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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