Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Modern Languages and Cultures (Spanish)


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • Spanish Language 2A (SPAN2011) OR Spanish Language 2B (SPAN2111) OR an equivalent qualification to the satisfaction of the Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.


  • Modern European Languages, Combined Honours and all Joint and 'with' programmes: Spanish Language 4 (SPAN3011). Other: see Chairman/Chairwoman of the Board of Studies in MLAC or his/her representative.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module offers a focused overview of Latin American cinema and visual culture, with an emphasis on the recent cinemas and visual culture of environmental and ecological challenge, fragile communities, refugee crises, and human displacement.
  • Students engage with the critical literature on theories of environmental transformation, climate change, contemporary political violence, and refugee and displacement emergency, as they apply to specifically Latin American cultural and linguistic contexts.
  • Students learn how to approach a select corpus that may include film, photography, video installation, and conceptual and performance art as a means to analyse environmental politics with reference to local, regional, and hemispheric contexts.
  • The module's ultimate aim is to encourage intellectually rigorous, theoretically grounded, and critically sound analyses of the relationship between environmental, cinematic, and visual culture contexts, on the one hand, and of the varieties of environmental politics and visual representation 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 environmental and political emergencies as important critical lenses for the study of cinema and visual culture production across Latin America. 
  • The module demonstrates the importance of studying, analysing, and interpreting the varieties and genres of environmental cinema and visual culture production through an emphasis on different geo-linguistic areas and contexts. 
  • The module adopts a geopolitically-inflected and culturally-grounded rather than strictly film- historical and art-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 environmental and political cinemas and visualities more generally, the module will also explore aspects of local, regional and hemispheric filmmaking and visual culture production that both transcend and imply national, hemispheric, and global ecological and environmental phenomena.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students are expected to gain an in-depth critical understanding of fundamental concepts and methodological approaches to environmental politics, Latin American cinema, and visual culture studies. 
  • Analyse and define how a variety of linguistically and culturally connected film and visual culture contexts adapt, reproduce, and transform received notions of Latin American cinema and visuality broadly understood. 
  • Develop research questions and analytical narratives to construct specific critical arguments on the relationship between environmental politics, film aesthetics, and visual culture practices and discourses.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students are expected to demonstrate an ability to work with a range of critical and visual materials from different Latin American geocultural and geopolitical contexts. 
  • Develop research, interpretive, and critical skills that involve focused reading, conceptual reasoning, and sound film and visual culture analyses as they apply to Latin America. 
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyse relevant categories of Latin American cinema and visual culture production in culturally and historically situated perspective, and in relation to current concepts and debates in cinema, visual culture, and environmental studies.
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module, students are expected to develop writing, analytical, and critical skills. 
  • Develop research, time management, and academic communication skills. 
  • Demonstrate 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 one-hour lectures in Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. 
  • Bi-weekly one-hour seminars will deliver relevant information about the module and will include guided discussions and student presentations (subject to instructor’s decision and group size). See previous box for details. 
  • Film screenings will take place immediately before seminars whenever possible. 
  • Students will be assessed on a 2,000-word film analysis essay and a 3,000-word critical essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Seminar 10 Fortnightly 1 hour 10
Reading and Preparation 170
Total SLAT hours 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Film Analysis Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Film Analysis Essay 2,000 words 100% No
Component: Critical Essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Critical Essay 3,000 words 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Individual student presentations. Student-led group discussions requiring independent reading, research and study. On-going feedback and feedforward.

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