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The University of Southampton

ENGL1079 Stage and Screen: An Introduction

Module Overview

What is the difference between a play and a film? How are plays and films alike? This module will explore some of the most important examples of classical film and theatre. It will enable you to understand the basic principles of film and theatre form, such as narrative, style, and structure, and it will introduce you to critical and theoretical methods for analysing theatre and film texts. It will also enable you to develop some essential skills for studying at university, encouraging you to write in a range of registers for different purposes and readers, and enabling you to work effectively in a group situation online.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• some of the methods of studying theatre and film texts. • films and play texts exemplifying the range and history of each medium • the basic principles of film and theatre form, narrative, style and structure. • encourage you to write in a range of registers for different purposes and readers. • enable you to work effectively in a group situation online

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • film analysis, including mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound and visual structures and their role in constructing film narratives.
  • theatre and play text analysis, focusing on stagecraft, dramaturgy, performance, sound and visual structures.
  • The relationships between theatre and film texts in terms of expressivity, form, and performance
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse plays and films for their visual, aural, performative and literary elements, evaluating how these combine to speak to their audiences and create emotional and cognitive impact
  • evaluate the efficacy of key theories and critical methods pertinent to film and theatre- text analysis
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • research a topic or issue independently
  • write in a range of registers appropriate for different purposes and readerships
  • construct a reasoned, well written argument based on research and analysis of text
  • edit someone else’s writing
  • work effectively in an on-line group.


English is an interdisciplinary subject, and this module seeks to develop the interconnections between the disciplines of film studies, history, music, literature, theatre studies and visual culture. It introduces key methods of analysis of film and play texts, encouraging you to understand both the similarities and the differences between the two forms. At the end of the module you should have a broad understanding of the techniques of analysis for both film and theatre, and the interconnections between the two forms. The module will explore a number of concepts, examining each in the context of a particular play and film. These include: narrative; dramaturgy; cinematography; mise en scène; visual structure; and sound and music. We will be asking how films and plays narrate or ‘tell’ stories, and how they achieve their emotional and cognitive effects. Aspects of film theory, performance theory, and the history of both forms will be threaded through our work. There will be regular screenings of films, which are a compulsory component of the course. At least one of the plays will be chosen from those in performance at the Nuffield Theatre, and there may be the opportunity for other, optional visits to the theatre in Stratford or London. This is a lecture-only course, but you will be expected to make extensive use of the facilities on Blackboard, blogging to each other about issues that arise, and posting drafts of reviews, essays and other writing for peer appraisal. The module is designed to help you develop your writing skills and to become independent learners.

Special Features

Through regular blogging and peer appraisal you will become more aware of your own writing techniques and learn how to improve them. You will be encouraged to revise your writing prior to submission for formal, summative assessment. The techniques of analysis and of individual research that you will practice throughout the course will prepare you for future work in English and Film.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Screenings • Theatre visits: where participation in such a trip is a requirement for completion of the module, and in the event that you have an issue such as a disability or illness that may prevent you from attending, you should consult the Module Convenor. Wherever reasonably possible, efforts will be made to accommodate you on the trip, or to provide a suitable alternative study activity in substitute for the trip. • Individual consultations Learning activities include • Independent study, including reading, viewing and researching • Group blogging on blackboard • Peer appraisal of writing • Writing in different registers for different purposes This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions. Innovative or special features of this module  The module uses Blackboard for weekly group blogging activities designed to improve students’ writing  It makes a deliberate break with A-level approaches to English by a) insisting on the performative aspects of language written for theatre and film purposes and b) requiring you to become active in the improvement of your own writing and in that of your peers.  It encourages you to think visually, and pay attention to sound and music, both as effects, and as intrinsic aspects of writing for film and theatre  It encourages you to consider film within the context of its theatrical antecedents and conversely to consider the impact of film on contemporary stage practice.

Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Completion of assessment task27
External visits2
Follow-up work10
Wider reading or practice48
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Dennis Kennedy (1993). Shakespeare: a Visual History of Twentieth-Century Performance. 

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson (2005). Film Art: An Introduction. 

Maria Delgado and Paul Heritage (1996). In Contact with the Gods? Directors Talk Theatre. 

Susan Bennett (1990). Theatre Audiences, A Theory of production and Reception. 

Jonathan Culpeper, Mick Short, Peter Verdonk (eds.) (1998). Exploring the Language of drama: From Text to Context. 

Bruce R. Smith (1999). The Acoustic World of Early Modern England. 

Ben Brewster and Lea Jacobs (1998). From Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorials and Early Cinema. 

Mick Wallis, Simon Shepherd (2002). Studying Plays. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  (2500 words) 30%
Portfolio  (2500 words) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Costs for this module will not exceed £90.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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