Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module MELA46630: Transnational Cinema

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA46630: Transnational Cinema

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to MA in Visual Culture


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module offers a focused overview of transnational cinema with a non-exclusive emphasis on the recent cinemas of the Global South. 
  • Students engage with the critical literature on theories of accented, diaspora, postcolonial and Third cinema genres as they apply to specific cultural and linguistic contexts. 
  • Students learn how to approach a select corpus of films as a means to analyse transnational cinema with reference to both local and global contexts. 
  • The module’s ultimate aim is to encourage intellectually rigorous, theoretically grounded and critically sound analyses of the relationship between film and visual culture on the one hand, and of the varieties of transnational cinema on the other.


  • Firmly grounded on a solid practical understanding of film and visual culture analysis, this module provides a focused overview of the theories, debates and interpretive tools that constitute transnational cinema as an influential approach to the study of cinema beyond the English-speaking world. 
  • The module demonstrates the importance of studying, analysing and interpreting the varieties and genres of global cinema through an emphasis on different geo-linguistic areas and contexts. 
  • The module adopts a geopolitically-inflected and culturally-grounded rather than strictly film-historical structure. While specific case studies will rely on local genealogies and historically relevant detail, the overall approach will seek to establish connections, analogies and differences between particular contexts. 
  • Questioning and challenging the very notions of transnational and world cinemas, the module will also explore aspects of local, regional and hemispheric filmmaking that both transcend and imply national, transnational and global phenomena.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module students will have:
  • Gained an in-depth critical understanding of fundamental concepts and methodological approaches to transnational and world cinema studies. 
  • Analysed and defined how a variety of linguistically and culturally distant film contexts adapt, reproduce and transform in transnational cinema and visual culture contexts. 
  • Developed research questions to construct specific critical arguments on the relationship between local and regional, national and transnational, hemispheric and global film aesthetics, practices and discourses.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module students will have:
  • Demonstrated an ability to work with a range of critical and visual materials from different cultural and linguistic contexts. 
  • Developed research and critical skills that involve focused reading, conceptual reasoning, and sound film and visual culture analysis. 
  • Demonstrated an ability to analyse relevant categories of transnational cinema in culturally and historically situated perspective, and in relation to current concepts and debates in cinema studies, such as: accented, critical race, diaspora, environmental, feminist, postcolonial and decolonial, queer, sex and gender, and Third, as they apply to specific case studies.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module students will have:
  • Developed writing, analytical and critical skills. 
  • Developed research, time management and academic communication skills. 
  • Demonstrated an ability to work efficiently with presentation software, manage video/digital technology, and apply IT skills such as word-processing of assignments, use of an online learning environment, and use of online sources of information, internet archives and other visual resources.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be taught in weekly two-hour seminars in either T1 or T2. 
  • Weekly seminars will deliver relevant information about the module and will include guided discussions and possibly student presentations (subject to instructor’s decision and group size). 
  • Film screenings will take normally place immediately before seminars. 
  • Students will be assessed on a 5,000-word essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 10 Weekly 2 hours 20
Student Preparation and Reading Time 280
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Individual student presentations.  Student-led group discussions requiring independent reading, research and study.  On-going feedback and feedforward.  A short piece of formative writing to be decided by instructor, such as film analysis, commentary or review.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University