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The University of Southampton

FILM3024 Horror on Film

Module Overview

Horror films have been one of the most consistent areas of cinema throughout its history. Despite horror quickly establishing itself in films, it was not until the 1930s and Hollywood's studio system that it became standardized as a genre with a repertoire of icons, themes and production techniques. There has been a constant drive for renewal and reinvention of the horror film in the face of perennial audience popularity. This module will deal with the breadth of the horror genre, looking at subgenres and historical developments as well as dealing with distinctive approaches to the horror film across the world. Topics will include German Expressionist films and the Gothic output of Hammer studios, while issues will include gender and the 'Final Girl' so common in slasher films, as well as representing 'the monstrous'. The variations of issue and film addressed by this module will enable you to gain a deeper understanding of the horror film as a complex of varied discourses and artistic currents rather than simply seeing the film as a moment of horrifying affect.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The historical development of the horror genre
  • The breadth of the genre and its different forms and aesthetic approaches over time and across the world
  • The key theoretical concepts, cultural debates and analytical issues relevant to the horror genre
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Write effectively, accurately and critically in an appropriate academic style
  • Coherently and persuasively argue your ideas, verbally and in written form
  • Independently identify and locate appropriate critical resources
  • Participate productively in and, where appropriate, lead academic discussion
  • Organise your time successfully, respecting and meeting deadlines
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Engage critically with a range of theoretical material
  • Understand and use a range of specialised terms and concepts
  • Apply different theoretical models and concepts to a variety of filmic texts
  • Successfully analyse specific filmic texts, situating this analysis in aesthetic and cultural context


This module aims to investigate the breadth of horror films that have been produced in the last one hundred years or so, as well as looking at the kinds of issues that are directly relevant to these films. Consequently, the module will include historical movements or groupings of films such as German Expressionism, Universal’s gothic films of the 1930s and 1940s, Hammer horror films, 1980s slasher films and Japanese horror films of the 1990s and 2000s. In each case, attention will be paid to generic development as well as national and international context. The module will also look at horror auteurs, problems with censorship and issues such as the Gothic, violence, ‘the monstrous’ and the place of women in horror films. The study of horror films has led to highly specific theory dealing with the psychology and attraction of scary and disturbing films as well as the specificities of horror film structures and iconography. You will be encouraged to engage with and investigate horror films which are sometimes socially problematic and occasionally confrontational as well as more mainstream film products.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures, used to introduce key themes, debates, concepts and ideas. - Seminars, incorporating small group work and larger group discussion - Screenings of selected films - One-to-one consultations with tutors Learning activities include - Independent study, research, and viewing - Critical thinking, reading, and writing - Participation in seminar discussions as both speaker and listener - Preparation of written assignments

Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task70
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Practical classes and workshops20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Crane, Jonathan (1994). Terror and Everyday Life; Singular Moments in the History of the Horror Film. 

Clover, Carol (1992). Men, Women And Chainsaws: Gender In The Modern Horror Film. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 60%
Essay 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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