Singapore University of Social Sciences

Story, Technique, Theory: Making Sense of Film

Story, Technique, Theory: Making Sense of Film (FLM205)


Story, Technique, Theory: Making Sense of Film is a survey of some of the major theoretical approaches to film. Students will study some early theories that sought to establish that cinema was a legitimate art form with medium-specific properties and effects. They will gradually move on to selected theories borrowing from disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, linguistics, economics, and political science. Students will examine how these approaches affect the production and interpretation of a film. They will apply various theoretical approaches to films and assess their usefulness and impact. Students will be required to critique assigned readings and view associated films.

Level: 2
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: Every January


  • Introduction to Film Theory
  • Realism and Formalism
  • Auteur Theory and Genre Theory
  • Semiotics, Structuralism, and Post-structuralism
  • Psychoanalysis and Feminism
  • Marxism
  • Narrative, Manipulation, and Transmedia Storytelling
  • The Four Elements of Film Revisited

Learning Outcome

  • Show knowledge of key terms and concepts related to film theory.
  • Analyse some of the major theoretical statements and approaches to film studies.
  • Examine traditional and contemporary theoretical approaches to film texts to determine their value and their relevance.
  • Apply different theoretical or critical approaches to film texts.
  • Explain why a specific theoretical lens is appropriate to a given film.
  • Discuss film theory as reflections of history, culture, aesthetics, economics, and politics.
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