Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module CHNS2021: Chinese Cinema

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Chinese)

CHNS2021: Chinese Cinema

Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To use Chinese films (subtitled in English) to explore political, social and cultural features of China in the 20th century. To develop an understanding and appreciation of the use of cinematographic techniques as a form of entertainment and cultural expression.


  • The course includes a representative selection of films from the early 20th century through to the present day, illustrating the development of artistic and cinematographic techniques. It locates Chinese film within existing artistic traditions, such as Peking Opera, and within world cinema. It also explores the manifold functions of film in a highly politicised society: as entertainment, as information and as political propaganda.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of iconic 20th century Chinese films and their directors
  • Film-reflected knowledge of Chinese society and its political, military, architectural and geographical environment
  • Knowledge of the techniques and vocabulary of film criticism
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to evaluate critically cinematographic techniques, both artistic and technical
  • Ability to analyse the ways film reflects Chinese society and understand the motivations of film-makers
  • Ability to appreciate the influence of literary and cultural movements on film in China
Key Skills:
  • The ability to employ the sophisticated reading skills acquired to gather, sift, process, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a variety of sources (print, digital, aural, other audio-visual)
  • The ability to communicate ideas and information orally and in writing, devise and sustain coherent and cogent arguments
  • The ability to write and think under pressure, manage time and work to deadlines
  • The ability to make effective use of information and communications technology

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

  • The module will be taught in Terms 1 and 2.
  • Lectures and seminars with an emphasis on student presenting their own ideas. Students will be required to watch films outside class and to find relevant materials to develop their own interpretations for presentation to the group in seminars. Assessment will be by summative essays.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 1 per week 1 hours 20
Seminars 10 1 every 2 weeks 1 hour 10
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Film Review Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 1 2500 words 100%
Component: Film Analysis Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 2 2500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Oral feedback on seminar performances.

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