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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Critical Theory and Cinema (PLIT10108)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course uses a mix of texts and films to introduce students to themes and concepts central to a critical engagement with contemporary politics. We will begin with an investigation of what critical thought is - broadly understood - and then reflect on the role of cinema as a medium for the study of politics. We will continue by exploring a series of topics of relevance to our societies: power, oppression, resistance, class, gender, racialization, the climate crisis, colonialism, disability, violence. The course includes texts and films from a global variety of traditions. Seminars and film projections will help students understand and think through some of the most pressing political injustices of our times.
Course description Classic texts in social and political theory will be used in tandem with films in order to problematise the ways in which class, gender, racialisation, physical ability structure our world along lines of oppression and privilege. The relationship between texts and films will be one of mutual enlightenment - they will be selected for their complementarity. Films will illustrate concepts in critical theory, but also reveal the tensions between theoretical approaches and everyday politics, thus highlighting the limits of theory and the need to cultivate an ethos of humility as scholars of politics.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Introduction to Politics and International Relations (PLIT08004) OR Politics in a Changing World: An Introduction for non-specialists (PLIT08012) OR Politics and International Relations 1A: Concepts and Debates (PLIT08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who lack the compulsory pre-requisites but have completed comparable courses should contact the Course Organiser to confirm if they are eligible to take this course.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Critical film review: 40%
Seminar and discussion board participation: 10%
Exam: 50%
Feedback Students will be offered advice and feed-forward on all the components of the assessment for this course: in the seminars preceding deadlines, during the F and G hours, and by appointment. In relations to the critical film review, students will be given detailed instructions and feed-forward (via LEARN, in the seminars preceding the deadline and in the instructor's F and G hours). As for the exam, the instructor will provide generic feedback via LEARN and individualised comments in the exam forms. Feedback on tutorial participation will be provided through an individual Tutorial Participation feedback sheet, which will be given to the students after the final tutorial.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with the main concepts and the variety of positions under the broad umbrella of critical theory
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of cinema's role both in politics and theoretical reflection about politics
  3. Use the theoretical tools acquired in the course to analyse cinematic representations of pressing political events
  4. Critically evaluate theoretical assumptions and cinematographic representations of the themes covered in the course
  5. Command a range of research skills to plan and execute a theoretically rich film review
Reading List
Preliminary reading:
Dipesh Chakrabarty, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (University of Chicago Press, 2021)
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Duke University Press Books, 2003)
Charles Mills, Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism (Oxford 2017).
Judith Butler, Frames of War (Verso 2009).
Andreas Malm, How to Blow Up a Pipeline (Verso 2021)

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:

- developing a core knowledge base in politics enhanced by exposure to cutting edge research in critical thought
- taking personal responsibility and grasping the available opportunities for self-development, i.e. grow as independent researchers and communicators
- recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning
- being able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate

Additional Class Delivery Information Weekly seminars and several film projections
Keywordscritical theory,oppression,resistance,gender,racialisation,class,violence,disability
Course organiserDr Mihaela Mihai
Tel: (0131 6)51 3060
Course secretaryMs Agata Lebiedzinska
Tel: (01316) 515197
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