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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Common Courses (School of Lit, Lang and Cult)

Postgraduate Course: Scotland on Screen (CLLC11203)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course considers some of the ways that Scotland has been figured on screen over more than a century of cinema. The history of Scotland's relationship with cinema is complex, uneven and often piecemeal. Scotland was a latecomer to what is popularly considered as film: full-length fictional features.

Yet Scotland as a place and as a locus of the imagination was by no means absent from screens before this time. Rather Scotland and the image of Scotland as a place seen from elsewhere has a rich history on screen: as a place of fantasy and often magic; a space of escape and respite; a place at the edge of the world, an alternative to the disenchanted spheres of industrial modernity.

Scotland on Screen will consider these oscillations between visibility and invisibility, identity and otherness: looking at the ways that Scotland's anomalous status as a stateless nation also manifests in its on-screen presentation, and interrogating the representations of Scotland on screen to question accepted paradigms of the nation and of national cinema.

Close study of selected weekly films will be supplemented by discussion drawing a range of readings moving across film studies and other disciplines.

Project work will enable students to undertake independent field work around Edinburgh and its environs, and to utilise the resources of archives, museums, local festivals, galleries and Scottish literature to expand their studies. These researches will feed into collective project work (worth 40% of overall assessment) and a final written assignment or video essay and reflection (worth 60% of overall assessment).
Course description The course opens with ways in which Scottish history has been represented and imagined on screen. Within seminars the screenings will be in dialogue with wider readings on questions of nationhood, focusing on the contested nature of nationality and the complex relations between history and identities and the ways these have been reflected, projected and refracted through on screen representations.

These opening weeks provide the means to situate student's learning within scholarly debates around nations and nationalism. The screenings offer some background in key moments of Scottish history to those unfamiliar with this field. Readings and seminar discussions will work to challenge claims to historical authority and authenticity, and to problematise the nature of Scottishness and its representations from the outset of the course.

Subsequent weeks turn to a consideration of place. This is structured around the critique of Scotland's filmic representations proposed across the Scotch Reels intervention (consisting of exhibition, festival debates and publication in 1982). In arguments that came to define the field, Colin McArthur and Cairns Craig argued that representations of Scotland have been predominantly structured around the discourses of tartanry and kailyard: forms of representation disseminated in earlier romantic art forms such as Scott's novels and romantic painting. Caughie augments these two discourses by extending into their account the more popular forms of culture, from advertising to the music hall and claiming later 20th century depictions supplement these two discourses with that of a third, urban experience - that of Clydesideism.

Scotland on Screen proposes an alternative approach informed by more recent critical engagements, following Duncan Petrie's 2000 monograph, Screening Scotland. The course reframes these discourses of tartanry, kailyard and Clydesideism as landscapes. Rather than seeing the meaning of these spaces as predetermined and necessarily backward looking and limited, we can reframe these on screen spaces as cultural landscapes. Whilst these definitions might appear to map onto physical topographies of the highland and islands, lowland and smalltown Scotland, and urban centres respectively, thinking about them as cultural landscapes overlaid with layers of accumulated meaning and latent with the potential to contain difference allows us to discern the ways that cinematic representations can at once refer back to and move out of and depart from the constraints of traditional models.

In many instances the forms of excess and affect they produce break these bounds and create the kinds of spaces of psychic and political dissonance that are explored in the final sections of the course.

The first two blocks of teaching, moving from histories to places, situate filmic representations of nationhood across dynamic axes of time and place. Structured small group work around our screenings in seminars will work to develop students' familiarity and ease with the languages and practices of film analysis.

Seminar work over the middle of semester will be supplemented by student field work: encouraging museum, gallery, location and archive visits; along with other forms of independent research. There will be dedicated time scheduled for this work to enable collective and collaborative working.

The last section of the course turns to films focusing on inner spaces - often of forms of psychological torment and distress - and closes by thinking about how film can depict spaces that open up to the rest of the world, engaging with Scotland as a place shaped and reshaped through outward and inward migrations.

The structure of the course works to chart the ways depictions of Scotland on screen have moved across competing national, international and transnational territories. The range of screenings covers images of Scotland produced from Scotland, British film, Hollywood, European cinemas and Bollywood. Readings from critical histories of Scottish film production and exhibition will help students grasp the material, economic and institutional frames within which these movements are enabled or stalled.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students on LLC MSc programmes get first priority to this course. If you are not on an LLC course, please let your administrator or the course administrator know you are interested in the course. Unauthorised enrolments will be removed. No auditors are permitted.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  15
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Summative Assessment Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 106 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Group project work and presentation 40%
End of semester written assignment 60%
Feedback Project work and formative feedback

Students will be given immediate and in person verbal feedback following their group presentations. They will also be given an indication of their rough grading band for the presentation work - eg A, 70+; B 60-69; C 50-59. I have used this practice on previous presentations for Film and Gender; it enables students to benefit from immediate feedback, to respond with questions if helpful; and it creates timely feedback that helps students think through issues that may be relevant to the research and preparation of their end of semester assignment.
Students will submit a short reflection on the process of researching and presenting their project work which will then receive a final grade and brief written feedback.

End of semester assignment feedback

End of semester assignments will be submitted via Turnitin and receive detailed written feedback. (Students on MSc Film, Exhibition and Curation undertake a written reflective exercise midway through semester two. Here they are invited to reflect on their semester one feedback for core course and for elective courses, and to identify points that help them to plan and develop their semester two written assignments.)
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate familiarity with a range of on screen representations of Scotland
  2. Critically engage with key debates around the representation of Scotland on screen and wider questions of minority representation
  3. Develop their understanding of wider debates around national cinema and national identities
  4. Analyse ways filmic representations of Scotland connect with other art forms such as literature and fine art
  5. Undertake advanced research and communicate their findings in written and presentation form
Reading List
Indicative Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course will develop the following skills:
critical reading
critical viewing
informed analysis of moving image texts
managing participation and exchange
reflective learning
autonomy in research and project development
independent research and the ability to identify and access research resources
collaborative working
communication across a range of forms
understanding the contexts of cultural production
understanding transnational cultural exchange
Course organiserMs Jane Sillars
Tel: (0131 6)50 2945
Course secretaryMr Callum Lennie
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