After successful completion of the module, you will be able to:
• Demonstrate your understanding of the ‘rhetoric’ of audio-visual documentary and the explicit and implicit truth claims embedded in documentary discourse
• Show understanding of and insight into the history of documentary forms.
• Critically engage with contemporary debates on a variety of ‘reality TV’ formats.
• Critically engage with debates on epistemology, ethics, power relations, and viewer address in a documentary production context.
• Demonstrate your skills in the critical analysis of documentary texts, their production methods and conditions of production
Assessment (See Sussex Direct for further details)
• One assessed group presentation – 30%
• One essay – 70%
Your final essay
You can EITHER choose/adapt one of the essay titles on Study Direct OR create your own with your tutor’s approval.
your tutor’s approval if you choose your own title to ensure your title will help you structure the argument of your essay.
Final Essay Tutorials will be scheduled weeks beginning 29 November and 5 December but you are advised to discuss your essay ideas earlier in the term with your tutor in her student consultation hours. Your tutor will not be able to offer multiple individual tutorials to you at the end of term – you need to plan ahead and make use of the consultation times earlier in the term. As this is a final year module you should be researching and developing your ideas across the term reading and viewing widely around your topic/interests as the depth of research expected cannot all be done at the end.
Think about your essay in the form of a question or couple of related questions that you are exploring and constructing an argument in response to.
This essay must include a case study. It requires you to engage in depth with either one filmmaker or 2 or 3 films in the same style or a common theme/subject/genre of documentary/reality TV or selected episodes of a series. Please be sure that you don’t choose too many films as your essay will lose depth and/or become too descriptive.
The most important thing is to develop an argument through your own analysis of particular material, and show that you are able to contrast different critical approaches, reference the debates from the module and demonstrate a grasp of key concepts relating to non-fiction film and programme-making.
Please prepare your essay tutorial by selecting possible themes/ films/filmmakers/series you would like to write about which relate to the topics we have covered in the module. You may choose to focus on either films/programmes we have screened/discussed during the module and/or ones you choose yourself, subject to discussion with your tutor.
Please note that the subject of this essay should be different from the autumn presentation – i.e. it should not just repeat it but you can choose to focus say on the same genre/topic but analysing different material OR using comparing a different theoretical approach to the ones, which you used in your presentation, to the same material.
You will need to do more than one draft – possibly even three. Don’t panic if your first draft is too long, written awkwardly, or your argument seems confused and gets lost in too much detail of other people’s work. This is part of the process. The key is to get your ideas on paper and to start thinking the argument through to the end. You can then sit back, re-read it, and reflect on how you might make the argument clearer and which points need to be stressed and which left out. Sometimes it helps to discuss it with someone else – you may find that this helps you to identify the main ideas as you try to explain it to them. Ensure that you write explicitly about what you think the significance and the limitations of your research are – it’s easy to assume that it speaks for itself or that other people are as familiar with it as you. A final reading should check for presentational elements such as spelling, and accurate referencing.
Suggested essay titles – you will find these on Study Direct
You may select your own title for your essay, providing your title is approved by your tutor. Alternatively you may select one of the titles below.
Appropriateness of topic and method
To get a sense of what we are looking for when we mark your assessed essay, consider the following:
Is your problem/ issue/ question/ hypothesis an interesting one?
Have you tackled the issue in an appropriate way, methodologically
(eg. an historical approach, an in-depth case study to illustrate broader issues, an analysis of industry procedures, technology, practitioner interviews, and/or a textual analysis of two or more films)
Have you developed an argument about your topic with a clear perspective of your own?
Your Learning Outcomes research
• What is the quality of your research and of your written presentation? How extensive is your independent research of relevant sources and the discussion of it? How appropriate is your research to the chosen issue? Has it been done systematically and in enough depth? Have you presented your research findings clearly? Are they interesting? Do you engage with them in a critical way? Have you used academic literature to help you analyse and think through their significance?
Your understanding of the relevant academic literature
• Have you outlined the arguments and ways of thinking used in the literature which has already covered your topic or which feed into your topic? Have you shown how you have understood key arguments in your reading built on these or criticised them in order to make your own points?
• Remember that critical engagement does not necessarily mean criticising a reading so much as responding to it, commenting on it and evaluating its strengths, weaknesses or usefulness for your own work.
• Have you written in a clear, accessible and enjoyable style? Have you used academic conventions – quotations, references, bibliography etc – in the course of your argument?
Remember to consider the following checklist as you are writing:
• How effective is your introduction?
• Have you identified the key issues clearly?
• Have you answered your question directly?
• Have you appraised your material critically?
• Have you foregrounded your own ideas?
• Is your argument presented coherently?
• Is the material organised tightly?
• Have you drawn on a wide range of sources?
• Is your argument well supported by evidence?
• Have you referenced your sources honestly and accurately?
• Have you checked for spelling mistakes and sentence
Disclaimer: This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
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