Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code COMM201
Coordinator Mr GW Needham
Communication and Media
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 30


The aims of this module are:
To introduce students to the role played by the Hollywood film industry in the development of modern trans-national entertainment networks.
To enable students to understand the relationship between film style (aesthetics) and structures of industrial organization at various points in Hollywood's history.
To provide students with an understanding of the ways in which national / cultural identities in Hollywood films relate to changing industrial and social contexts of film production and consumption.
To help students understand recent debates about media convergence and the globalisation of media entertainment.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be familiar with a number of terms and concepts used in film criticism and analysis.

(LO2) Students will have developed an understanding of the role played by US films in mobilising social and cultural identities, especially around particular formations of nationality and gender.

(LO3) Students will have the ability to identify the commercial imperatives of film and television texts.

(LO4) Students will be able to demonstrate how economic, industrial and institutional factors shape film and television texts.

(S1) Global perspectives demonstrate international perspectives as professionals/citizens; locate, discuss, analyse, evaluate information from international sources; consider issues from a variety of cultural perspectives, consider ethical and social responsibility issues in international settings; value diversity of language and culture

(S2) Information literacy online, finding, interpreting, evaluating, managing and sharing information

(S3) Problem solving/ critical thinking/ creativity analysing facts and situations and applying creative thinking to develop appropriate solutions.

(S4) Team (group) working respecting others, co-operating, negotiating / persuading, awareness of interdependence with others

(S5) Commercial awareness.

(S6) Communication skills.



Topics to be covered: Block 1 (Weeks 1-6)
1. Into to the Module: Classical Hollywood I: The Studio System (Examination of the ways in which Hollywood cinema was constituted as an industry and institution) - Indicative screening - Sullivan's Travels, 1941 (a film about the industry).
2. Classical Hollywood II: Film Style (an examination of the emergence of a very particular film style that was based on a finite set of codes and conventions aimed to present very specific types of stories in very specific ways - Indicative screening - Cat People, 1942 (a film by a famous Hollywood stylist filmmaker).
3. Classical Hollywood III: Representation (The use of film style in Hollywood had ideological repercussions, ie, it supported particular political messages that aimed to tell audiences what to think and how to feel - Indicative screening Gilda, 1946 - a famous noir that represents gender and sexuality in very specific ways).
4. Classical Hollywood IV: Stardom and Performance (Hollywood was based on stardom with film stars playing both a financial and ideological role in the construction of films' meaning - Indicative Screening - Rebel Without a Cause ,1955 - James Dean a major star associated with youth cultures of the 1950s, created a performance that was well tied with a lot of public discussion about young people and their upbringing in the US of the 1950s. Together with Marlon Brando they became synonymous with youth culture in the 1950s).
5. Classical Hollywood V: Widescreen (The post-war shift in the US population moving towards suburbia and the rise of television compelled Hollywood to find new ways of attracting audiences back to the cinema - spectacle. Hollywood introduced new exhibition formats such as widescreen, films in 3D, and special effects all of which have had lasting influence on contemporary Hollywood as a ‘cinema of attractions’. Indicative screening – How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) & #x2013; a ground-breaking widescreen film featuring Marilyn Monroe.
6. New Hollywood: Hollywood Renaissance (For a brief period in the 1960s and 1970s and for a number of reasons Hollywood cinema became particularly open to experimentation and questioning of established orthodoxies allowing the production and success of films that were different from the classical films of the previous decades - indicative screening - Bonnie and Clyde, 1967, a film that glorified criminals, played with genre expectations, openly questioned male sexuality and presented violence in unprecedented ways).
7. Hollywood Conglomeration: The Blockbuster (The Hollywood Renaissance was short-lived. Hollywood re-established a strong institutional and industrial identity through the emergence of the modern blockbuster that was fostered by a conglomerate culture that took over Hollywood once its studios were bought by larger companies - indicative screening - Jaws, 1975 - the original modern blockbust er, it rewrote the rules of the industry and became the most commercially successful film upon its release).
8. The High Concept Film (while blockbusters were re-establishing the power of the conglomerated studios, they nonetheless were so expensive that each studio could only make a couple a year. Enter the high concept film, another commerce-driven production that could be much cheaper but contribute massively to the success of a film company - indicative screening - Dirty Dancing, 1987 - a very simple story presented in a way that connected with audiences, especially female ones, it is an excellent example of high concept filmmaking).
9. Media Convergence and Hollywood Cinema (From the 1990s onwards and under the impact of media convergence, Hollywood started to change. Previously distinct industries (film, tv, games, music, comic book, etc) started coming closer together, especially as the conglomerates focused increasingly on entertainment in theatres, at home and mor e recently 'on the go'. Indicative screening - The Matrix, 1999 - was probably the first Hollywood film to demonstrate clearly the impact of convergence).
10. The Emergence of Franchised Entertainment (In more recent times and as convergence has created a new global economy the film studios have started increasingly to think about franchises, intellectual properties that could be sold in many markets and exploited ad infinitum. Disney leads the way with its Marvel and Star Wars Universe but James Bond has been by far the longest and most lucrative Hollywood franchise - Indicative screening - Skyfall, 2012 - the most successful film in the series was also a masterful marketing experiment by Sony and MGM).
11. Hollywood and Television: From Network to Cable to Streaming ? (As convergence changed the industry the film and tv industries have become increasingly realigned and interlinked. Cable TV in the 2000s and 2010s became a significant gathering space for film t alent and started sending new talent to films, while also films are adapted/remade for tv and tv shows are made into films. In more recent years internet/streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon also joined making the Global Hollywood landscape extremely complex - indicative screening - Westworld (HBO 2016) - based on a 1973 film this tv show uses major stars to reimagine the original story in ways that also underlined the converged media landscape.
12. Module revision and assessment preparation.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Workshop
Description: Three-hour lecture every week introducing each topic.
Attendance Recorded: Yes
The workshop provides key ideas related to each topic and frame the rest of the activities related to the workshop.

Prior to the workshop, students will be expected to watch a minimum of two films hosted on Canvas in preparation for the workshop.

During the workshops students will be expected to debate points raised in key readings and the ways in which they relate to screenings. Each students is anticipated to spend around 10 hours a week working towards preparing for workshops.

The four online screening comprehension tests will take place during the workshops.

Unscheduled Directed Student Hours (time spent away from the timetabled sessions but directed by the teaching staff): 66

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours           90


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 174


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Online creening comprehension test There is a resit opportunity. Non-standard penalty applies for late submission - Non-standard penalty as this is an in class assessment This is not an anonymous  40 minutes    40       
Essay. There is a resit opportunity. Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When): Week 12  2500 word essay.    60       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.