Surrey University Stag


Module code: ELIM055

Module Overview

Over the past 90 years, only two women have won the Oscar for best director and only 5 more have been nominated. Hollywood’s marginalisation of women’s authorial agency reflects a global pattern of women being shut out of the top creative jobs of director and screenwriter. Instead, women who work in film are more often found in roles that tend not to be recognised as creatively significant. Why is it that women have faced such barriers to entry and success in the world of film? Why are the roles that women typically undertake considered less important or valuable to a film’s success? Are women’s films less well-regarded critically and by audiences? Has this changed over time?

This module explores the relationship between gender and labour in film by looking at the types of roles women have played in filmmaking. Instead of thinking about how women are represented on screen via the characters they play, we will consider the part they play behind the camera in getting films, of all types, made. In doing this, we will be looking at, and questioning, perceptions of the types of roles women can, should and do undertake in filmmaking, both currently and in the past. We will consider the work of women who have risen to positions of prominence as writers, directors and producers in the mainstream global film industries as well as looking at the opportunities afforded to women in other arenas, such as independent and experimental film. Just as importantly, we will think about women’s ‘invisible’ labour in filmmaking, be that through low-valued, gendered jobs (such as make-up artists and secretaries) or through amateur and non-professional filmmaking activities.

As a whole, the module will question whether, and if so how, women’s creative power and agency in film has been marginalised, and the ways women have sought to overcome this.

This module is open to all students, whether or not you have previously taken any film studies modules.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

HONESS ROE Bella (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Personal Tutorial Hours: 1

Workshop Hours: 11

Independent Learning Hours: 127

Seminar Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content:

  • Early female film pioneers

  • Women in the Classical Hollywood era

  • 1970s and women in the global new waves

  • Women filmmakers and film genre

  • Women outside Hollywood: independent and experimental filmmakers

  • Female filmmaking collectives

  • Invisible labour: women below the line

  • Women and amateur and non-professional filmmaking

  • Feminist film theory, representation and labour

  • Gender and film historiography

  • Post-#MeToo: what next for women in film?

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation Weekly participation 15
Coursework Final essay (various formats) 85

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate: both orally and in writing their developing understanding and knowledge of women’s contribution to film, be it individual or collective, within broader contexts such as history, film history and film theory. Active weekly participation in the seminars’ ongoing discourse surrounding the module topic allows students to develop their skills in thoughtful and informed debate and discussion via oral exploration of the weekly readings and films with the module convener and their peers – this discussion takes place in small groups as well as with the whole class. The assessment strategy also allows students to explore and execute alternative methods of presenting their individual research and students have three options for their final assessment – a written essay, a podcast or a video essay.


  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Weekly participation (during teaching weeks)

  • 4000-word essay or 30-minute podcast + 1000-word critical commentary or 20-minute video essay + 1000-word critical commentary



  Formative assessment & feedback

  • Essay/ podcast/ video essay outline feedback via 1-1 tutorial around Week 9

  • Weekly workshops introducing and exploring the assessment format options

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

Module aims

  • To look at the different ways in which women have contributed to filmmaking across history and around the world
  • To examine women¿s contribution to film in different contexts, such as mainstream film industry, independent film and amateur filmmaking
  • To critically investigate the types of roles women undertake in filmmaking, including and beyond the high-profile creative roles
  • To assess how we assign value, creative or otherwise, to the roles women undertake in filmmaking
  • To consider how film theories and concepts, such as feminist film theory and historiography, can help us explore gender, labour and film
  • To provide the opportunity for students to explore alternative modes of assessment

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Identify theories, questions and issues surrounding gender and labour in film CKPT
002 Interpret the ways in which women¿s contribution to film has been written about CKPT
003 Critically interrogate how women¿s labour in film is valued CKPT
004 Analyse women¿s contribution to film in different contexts, such as history and film history CKPT
005 Express their understanding of issues of gender, labour and film in writing or via other alternative modes (such as aurally or visually) CKPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Give students the opportunity to explore women’s contribution to film in a variety of contexts such as mainstream filmmaking, independent film and amateur filmmaking, as well as explore the variety of roles women have undertaken in film production across history and around the world.

  • Expose student to a variety of work by women filmmakers, via screenings and discussions of readings

  • Develop students’ skills in critical reading (of literature and films)


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Seminars, film screenings and workshops


  • Reading using lecturer’s guidance


  • Researching and preparing final assessments

  • Participating in discussion of films and readings


Provide preliminary guidance on alternative modes of assessment

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
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELIM055

Other information


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sex, Gender and Sexualities MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% 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 2023/4 academic year.