During the spring term, students take three academic modules, each lasting five weeks. In parallel with this theoretical work, students also take two practical works spanning the entire term.

Documentary

Documentaries show us situations and events that are recognisably part of a realm of shared experience: the historical world as we know it, or as we believe others to encounter it. It is this status of documentary film as evidence from the world that legitimates its usage as a source of knowledge. But while documentaries offer pleasure and appeal, their own structure remains virtually invisible, their own rhetorical strategies and stylistic choices largely unnoticed. Documentary films raise a rich array of issues: legal, philosophical, ethical, political, historiographic and aesthetic. This module looks at these issues within the context of viewing and discussing some of the seminal works in the history of the documentary film. It also brings a critical eye to recent developments in factual TV—video diaries, Reality TV, docu-soaps—which raise, in particular, questions of subjectivity, embodiment and privacy in the public space of television.

Narrative

Story-telling lies at the heart of nearly all communication. Even ‘objective’ genres of media communication, such as news, are all about telling stories and these narrative structures construct and constrain the way we see the world. This module introduces key concepts from narrative theory in order to inform students’ own narrative writing as well as raising important theoretical issues. Examples are drawn from a range of all genres and media, from TV documentaries to fairytales, and the module also explores the extent to which scientific discourse is itself narratival.

Sound, sign, meaning in radio

This module begins with a brief history of radio from Marconi to podcasting and then turns to the analysis of the medium’s primary code (speech) and secondary codes (non-speech sounds such as music, sound effects and silence). How the codes and conventions of radio convey meaning is explored further through the analysis of radio drama and the devices producers employ to create a sense of space and depth. Radio is a highly trusted medium and yet it is also one of the easiest to fake. The module finishes by considering this apparent contradiction and the ethical difficulties programme-makers face as advocates for the audience.

Radio production

This practical course introduces students to radio production, presentation and basic journalism.  During the term students work through the essential techniques of radio production—starting with writing and narrating for radio, moving on to interview technique and then producing short features and complete programmes. The module includes the live transmission of a’ weekly magazine programme from IC Radio. 

Documentary production

Working in small groups, students conceive, research, shoot and edit a short documentary film on a set theme. Although short, these projects provide an opportunity to practise all the skills required to produce a full-length television programme. Emphasis is placed on developing workable, televisual ideas and mastering the basic skills, both technical (research and planning, camerawork, sound recording and editing) and social (time-keeping and good co-operation) to realise them.

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Note: the modules listed here are those offered in 2017-18. The programme is substantially the same from year to year but there may be some changes.
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