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MFCO210 Theory of Film and Media

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Key theories that inform film and media studies and the discourses that have defined the disciplines.

This paper provides a historical survey of theoretical approaches to the moving image from early cinema to the rise of the feature film and the post-WWII introduction of television.

The paper will focus primarily on analyses of the viewing experience in its historical and socio-cultural contexts, including the industrial revolution, mass culture and modernism/postmodernism.

Paper title Theory of Film and Media
Paper code MFCO210
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $929.55
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 100-level MFCO points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
A familiarity with film and media history and a working understanding of the language of film and media analysis.
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Dr Kevin Fisher
Paper Structure

Topics include:

  • Theorising early cinema
  • Psychology and psychoanalysis of film experience
  • Cinema and mass culture
  • Formalism vs realism
  • Spectatorship
  • Ideology


  • Concept test: 30%
  • Critical essay: 40%
  • Final exam: 30%

Course readings will be available on Blackboard

Course outline

View a sample course outline for MFCO 210

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete this paper will:
  • Demonstrate understanding of major approaches to film and media theory
  • Show knowledge of the historical development of film and media theory
  • Be able to apply theoretical approaches to the critical analysis of film and media texts

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
A2 Thursday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
A3 Monday 13:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41