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FI354-15 Film Aesthetics 2

SCAPVC - Film & Television Studies
Undergraduate Level 3
Module leader
James MacDowell
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Film Aesthetics approaches film first and foremost as art, and lets you grapple with the fascinating questions raised by doing so. The module considers how key, longstanding problems in the philosophy and sociology of art might apply to the medium of film, as well as aesthetic issues that seem to be raised by audiovisual media in particular.

Module aims

To equip students with the ability to formulate nuanced, well-evidenced answers to questions such as:

  • By what criteria should we evaluate films?
  • What does it mean to interpret a film, and how should we go about it?
  • What role should moral and political judgements play in aesthetic judgement?
  • What role should the nature of a medium play in our aesthetic judgements?
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

SECTION 1: What are aesthetic judgements?

Week 1: Smith, Murray (1996) ‘Film Spectatorship and the Institution of Fiction’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 53: 2, 113- 127.

SECTION 2: What is the relation between moral and aesthetic judgements?

Week 2: Gaut, Berys (2009) ‘Morality and Art’, in A Companion to Aesthetics (Second Edition), Stephen Davies, ‎Kathleen Marie Higgins, ‎Robert Hopkins, Robert Stecker, David E. Cooper, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 428-31.

Week 3: Whewell, David (2009) ‘Aestheticism’, in A Companion to Aesthetics (Second Edition), Stephen Davies, ‎Kathleen Marie Higgins, ‎Robert Hopkins, Robert Stecker, David E. Cooper, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 128-31.

Week 4: Brooks, Cleanth (1947) ‘The Heresy of Paraphrase’, in The Well-Wrought Urn and Other Essays, New York: Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich, 176-96. Online:

Week 5: Devereaux, Mary (2004) 'Moral Judgments and Works of Art: The Case of Narrative Literature’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 62.1, 3-11.

Week 7: Eaton, Marcia Muelder. (2001) ‘Art’s Moral Lessons’, in Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 131-149.

Week 8: Brand, Peggy Zeglin. (1999) ‘Disinterestedness & Political Art’, n.paradoxaonline, Issue 8, 4-18. Online:

SECTION 3: Medium specificity and the evaluation of YouTube

Week 9: Sweeney, Kevin W. (2009) ‘Medium’, in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film, Carl Plantinga, Paisley Livingston (eds), London: Routledge, 173-83.

Week 10: Smuts, Aaron. (2014). ‘Cinematic’, The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 23: 46, 78–95. Online:

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • (1) Be familiar with debates surrounding several key issues in the philosophy and sociology of art
  • (2) Be familiar with some of the ways in which such debates might apply to audiovisual media specifically
  • (3) Have a command of the relationship between aesthetic judgements and other forms of judgement
  • (4) Have improved their skills in academic researching and writing
Research element

Both essay and seen-examination options will require research.


The history, aesthetics and sociology of art.


To varying degrees both readings and screenings will originate from a range of national film/art cultures.

Subject specific skills

This module develops skills of audio-visual literacy, through close textual and/or contextual analysis in relation to the moving image and sound. It may also develops understandings of historical, theoretical and conceptual frameworks relevant to screen arts and cultures.

Transferable skills

Critical and analytical thinking; independent research skills; team work; clarity and effectiveness of communication, oral and written; accurate, concise and persuasive writing; audio-visual literacy

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Other activity 18 hours (12%)
Private study 114 hours (76%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading and preparation time for seminars, plus research time for essay/seen examination.

Other activity description



Category Description Funded by Cost to student
Books and learning materials Department $0.00

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Written Assignment (5000 words) 100% 100 hours

Choice between 1 x 5000 word essay or 1 x 2 hour centrally timetabled seen examination

Assessment group B
Weighting Study time
Online Examination 100%
  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

Tabula feedback plus optional tutorial

Past exam papers for FI354


This module is Core for:

  • Year 3 of UFIA-W620 Undergraduate Film Studies
  • Year 4 of UFIA-W621 Undergraduate Film Studies (with Year Abroad)
  • Year 3 of UFIA-QW25 Undergraduate Film and Literature
  • Year 4 of UFIA-QW26 Undergraduate Film and Literature (with Study Abroad)

This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 4 of UHPA-RP43 Undergraduate Hispanic Studies with Film Studies

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 4 of UGEA-RP33 Undergraduate German with Film Studies

This module is Option list A for:

  • Year 4 of UFRA-R1WA Undergraduate French with Film Studies