Module code: ELIM055

Module Overview

Over the past 90 years, only three women have won the Oscar for best director and only 4 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

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 22

Independent Learning Hours: 83

Seminar Hours: 22

Tutorial Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 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. This enables students to explore and develop key transferable skills in audiovisual and written communication.


 Formative assessment and feedback

  • In-class participation in verbal analysis of films and readings. This allows students to practice the skills required to carry out the final assignment, including textual and thematic analysis of films.

  • Seminar workshops introducing alternative assessment options (podcasts and video essays). In these workshops we will look at the different types of assessment (podcasts, video essays, written essays) and consider issues of quality, execution and content. This allows students to make an informed decision about which of the assessment types they will complete for their final assignment.

  • Essay/ podcast/ video essay outline. This is submitted towards the end of the semester and written feedback is provided from the module convener. The outline is then discussed in a one-to-one tutorial with the module convener, followed by a class ‘workshop’ where the outlines, and students’ approaches to their final assignment, are discussed.


  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Weekly participation (during teaching weeks). By including this as an ‘assessed’ part of the module, this recognises the significant amount of work students put in on a weekly basis and the fact that the success of a module is a collaborative effort between convener and the students.

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

Module aims

  • This module aims to: look at the different ways in which women have contributed to filmmaking across history and around the world
  • examine women¿s contribution to film in different contexts, such as mainstream film industry, independent film and amateur filmmaking
  • critically investigate the types of roles women undertake in filmmaking, including and beyond the high-profile creative roles
  • assess how we assign value, creative or otherwise, to the roles women undertake in filmmaking
  • consider how film theories and concepts, such as feminist film theory and historiography, can help us explore gender, labour and film
  • provide the opportunity for students to use their resourcefulness and develop their digital capability by undertaking an alternative mode of assessment (podcast or video essay)

Learning outcomes

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

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)

  • provide preliminary guidance on alternative modes of assessment

This module depends on a level of professionalism and participation from the students who therefore become active agents in their own education and the module’s success. By fostering this collaborative learning environment, this module develops students’ confidence and confidence in working with others.


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

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

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability: This module develops students’ awareness and understanding of the structural inequalities that underlie cultural production, historically and in the contemporary landscape. As with all modules on this programme, students develop key transferable skills in critical thinking, communication, writing and analytical reasoning through the learning and teaching and assessment strategies.

Digital Capabilities: Students are enabled and encouraged to explore alternative assessment options (podcast and video essays) which require using a range of digital platforms and resources including video editing and sound editing software and sound recording hardware and software.
Students also engage with Surrey’s VLE and other digital platforms as part of their engagement with the module.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: This module covers a range of global filmmaking contexts and as such students develop knowledge, understanding and respect for non-Western, non-White cultural practices across the history of filmmaking.  Students develop an understanding of the inequalities in cultural production, consumption and value and how these are inflected in particular by gender, race, sexuality and geography. Students are encouraged to interrogate their response to the module’s material with respect to their own socio-cultural context and background and to respect and value difference. 

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students will develop resourcefulness in deciding which type of final assignment to undertake, identifying their own strengths and abilities whilst also offering an opportunity to challenge and expand these in the process of taking ownership for their own learning outcomes. Through exploring and acquiring the skills required for completing a podcast or video essay, students will further develop their skills as independent learners that have been fostered in earlier modules on their programme. The module content has the potential to challenge students’ world views and therefore encourage openness to different perspectives and cultural objects.

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 2025/6 academic year.