BLURRED BOUNDARIES: FACT AND FICTION IN FILM - 2020/1

Module code: MFC1019

Module Overview

This module looks at non-fiction film and explores the issues and debates that surround documentary film and its associated fictional genres such as mock-documentary and drama documentary. Documentary, and its associated fictional genres, will be placed in a historical context and will be studied up to the most recent contemporary practice.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

HONESS ROE Annabelle (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

JACs code: P303

Module cap (Maximum number of students): 25

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None. This module has a capped number and may not be available to ERASMUS and other international exchange students. Please check with the departmental exchange coordinator.

Module content

 Indicative content includes:


  • Documentary film from early cinema to contemporary examples

  • Mock-documentary

  • Drama documentary


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Group PRESENTATION 30
Coursework 300-word essay 20
Oral exam or presentation Weekly participation in seminars 10
Coursework 1200-word essay 40
Coursework Written reflection on presentation Pass/Fail

Alternative Assessment

Recorded presentation or oral examination.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of important moments, theories and issues associated with documentary film and its related fictional genres, the ability to analyse a specific film in depth and to debate the issues surrounding documentary film and its associated fictional genres

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • 300-word essay on 'what is this film about' (due at the end of the Easter break)

  • 1200-word essay in response to a specific essay question (due in assessment period)

  • Group Presentation/ introduction on one of the weekly films (presentation slots will be assigned at the beginning of the module)

  • 1-page written self-reflection on the group presentation to be submitted within 1 week of presentation date. This is a pass/fail assessment - failure to submit this will result in a mark of 0 for the presentation. 

  • Weekly participation in class seminar discussions and activities (continuous and during semester)



Formative assessment and feedback


  • You will have the opportunity to practice and receive feedback on the 300-word essay topic throughout the period of the semester before Easter

  • In-class discussion and activities around the 1200-word essay topic in the period of the semester after Easter

  • In-class participation in verbal analysis of films and readings


Module aims

  • Explore a range and depth of documentary film and films from related fictional genres
  • Interrogate the labels ‘non-fiction' and ‘documentary’ and their historical and cultural specificity
  • Explore the intersection between non-fiction and fiction in cinema (contemporary and historica)
  • Survey and question the key issues, questions and theories associated with non-fiction film
  • Develop students' ability to think independently and to interrogate ideas presented in film and in writing

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Ref
1 Interpret non-fiction film in the context of the scholarly and theoretical debates concerning the nature of documentary film KCPT
2 Identify, and subject to critique, a range of definitions of documentary film KCPT
3 Position documentary, and related fictional genres, in a historical context KCPT
4 Explain the issues arising out of specific cases of documentary film and films from associated fictional genres KCPT
5 Engage in debate regarding a variety of concepts around documentary film and its related fictional genres (which may include ethics, representation, style). KCPT
6 Analyse and decode examples of contemporary and historical documentary filmmaking and filmmaking from associated fictional genres KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 33

Independent Study Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Methods of Teaching / Learning

 The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Provide students with a broad and/or in-depth knowledge of contemporary and historical documentary film and its related fictional genres

  • Provide students with the necessary knowledge and analytical skills to interpret and analyse documentary film and its related fictional genres

  • Allow students to practice these analytical skills verbally and in writing



 The learning and teaching methods include:


  • Lecturer and seminars

  • Reading using lecturer’s guidance

  • Film screenings

  • Researching and preparing presentations

  • In-class discussion


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for BLURRED BOUNDARIES: FACT AND FICTION IN FILM : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/mfc1019

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Film Studies BA (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.