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MFCO101 Screen Form and Culture

An introduction to the basic analytical and critical skills as they apply to the study of moving images, specifically film. Issues of form, style and genre are addressed.

Moving images surround us, they are part of our daily routine and our lifetime experience, we no longer simply encounter them when we go to the cinema, instead they are on our phones and our laptops, we see them in our city streets and around airports. In this course we explore how screen studies has conceptualised relations between viewers and moving images. Key concepts to be covered include: narrative and spectacle, the cinematic apparatus, the gaze, entertainment and pleasure, ideology and advertising, censorship and the regulation of image culture, broadcasting and narrowcasting, audience research and media effects debates.

The course divides in two; in the first section on ‘screen form’ we focus on narrative and fictional moving images: feature and short films, experimental media, adverts and web series. In the second section ‘screen culture’ our focus is upon the social and cultural questions raised by media. We are interested in the wider permutations of screens, and we take in television in both its traditional terrestrial and digital, multi-platform incarnations.

A core focus of this paper is upon introducing you to the construction of critical argument. The three forms of assessment: Journal Exercises; the making of an Audio-Visual Essay and the Critical Essay are designed to support this focus.

In previous years students found the best aspect of the paper was:

  • Looking closely at the films we watched during the film screenings
  • The video essay, as a great way of providing a thesis
  • The lectures on censorship, mythical meanings and the male gaze
  • Working with other students and tutors
  • Learning how to edit in Da Vinci Resolve

Paper title Screen Form and Culture
Paper code MFCO101
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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FIME 101
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Students who meet the prerequisite are welcome to enrol in this paper. Prior study of Media is not necessary. Students who have studied NCEA Media will find that the paper extends their understanding into new theoretical areas.


Teaching staff

Professor Catherine Fowler

Paper Structure

This paper features modules which may include any of the following:

  • Close analysis of Film and television style including editing, cinematography, mise-en-scene and sound
  • Media genres, stars, celebrity, fans and audiences
  • Media industries and entertainment, cinema as art and the auteur
  • Political and activist expressions of media including third and fourth cinema


Will include Journal Exercises, the making of an Audio-Visual Essay and a written Essay.

Teaching Arrangements

Attendance at lectures, screenings and tutorials is essential.

Events and guests include: Expanded cinema performance; a speaker from the NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Students will make a video essay for assignment two. A workshop and support will be offered.


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Course outline

View a sample course outline for MFCO 101

Graduate Attributes Emphasised

Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Have a foundational knowledge of theoretical approaches to the study of film and media
  • Have a foundational grasp of the use of audio-visual analysis to create argument
  • Understand the forms that big, small and mobile screens take and their cultural and social permutations
  • Be able to ask questions and create argument in a scholarly way

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Film Screening

Stream Days Times Weeks
O1 Monday 16:00-18:50 9-11, 13-14, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Monday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16-22
Tuesday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16, 18-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 9-14, 16-21
T2 Wednesday 14:00-14:50 9-14, 16-21
T3 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 9-14, 16-21
T5 Thursday 15:00-15:50 9-14, 16-21
T6 Thursday 16:00-16:50 9-14, 16-21


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 16:00-17:50 12