Course Title: Research history and theory to inform own arts practice

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2018

Course Code: GEDU6132C

Course Title: Research history and theory to inform own arts practice

School: 345T Media and Communication

Campus: City Campus

Program: C6160 - Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting

Course Contact: Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: George Viscas

Nominal Hours: 70

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

Building knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of film genre is central to your development as a screenwriter. This course looks at the skills and knowledge required to use investigative and critical thinking techniques when evaluating the history and theory of film genre and distilling key themes and ideas. It grounds this study in cinema language and provides a comprehensive overview of the way in which contemporary screen language has developed. You will research concepts and theories around genre in screenwriting, and explore ways in which these theories can be applied to your own creative work.   This course addresses the following unit of competency: CUARES403 Research history and theory to inform own arts practice


National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CUARES403 Research history and theory to inform own arts practice


1. Research history and theory

Performance Criteria:

1. Research history and theory 1.1 Discuss research ideas with appropriate people and identify implications for own arts practice 1.2 Identify and investigate new and alternative information sources for relevance to own arts practice 1.3 Use formal and informal research techniques to access information 1.4 Organise research materials and findings for current and future use


2. Link research to own arts practice

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Evaluate information in context of own arts practice and work of others 2.2 Assess ways in which different aspects of history and theory may be used, adapted and challenged 2.3 Extract key themes, ideas and opinions to assist in clarity of thought 2.4 Develop conclusions from research findings in consultation with appropriate people


3. Update and maintain knowledge of trends in own arts practice

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Identify and use opportunities to update and expand own knowledge of history and theory 3.2 Incorporate knowledge into own arts practice 3.3 Seek feedback on quality of research methodology and outcomes, and note areas for future improvement

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will have developed and applied the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate your competency in the performance criteria. You will be able to inform your own artistic practice through the application of the concepts and theories underpinning the craft of screenwriting, and have thoroughly researched screen language and genre relating to your own work.

Details of Learning Activities

You will learn through: 

In-class activities:

  • looking at examples of film genre
  • teacher directed group activities/projects
  • peer discussion and class presentations
  • guest speakers
  • group discussion

2. Out-of-class activities: 

  • independent project based work 

  • watching and critiquing films
  • building knowledge through reading 

  • online and other research 

  • independent study

Teaching Schedule

Please note: While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources. The last 30 minutes of every class is reserved for you to discuss your current research projects with other students or with your teacher.



Class Content

Assessment Due



Feb 7

Explanation and discussion of course content and assessment.

Identification of formal and informal research techniques.


Discussion of the nature of creativity in screenwriting. 
Early film history: Lumiere Brothers, Georges Melies and D.W. Griffith. 
Introduction to Screen Language: production and story elements



Feb 14

How to identify and prioritise authoritative sources of information


Development of montage from D.W.Griffith to modern day. 
Discussion of period of film-history and key contributions of selected filmmakers.

Screening of selected excerpts of films followed by class discussion – language, theories and applications


Assessment Task 2 starts



Feb 21


Using data bases for research – speaker from the RMIT library


German Expressionism and the Dark Side

Discuss characteristics of this; Expressionism in art and screen excerpts of selected films from various filmmakers. Expressionism in film and its theories – yesterday and today. Expressionism and its use in Hollywood.



Feb 28

Organising and making sense of your research – how to take good notes.


Silent film



Mar 7


How to create a bibliography – Harvard referencing style.


Film Noir in world film culture 

Study Hollywood’s use of Expressionism in this genre. WW2 and its effects on Noir and film culture. Screen excerpts from Noir films and Rules of Noir documentary. Class discussion.

Assessment Task 1 presentations start and continue until Week 12, as scheduled with your teacher


Mar 14


Rarely seen Film Noir 

Class discussion about film’s elements: Does it follow all the rules of Noir? What’s there? What isn’t? Does it hold up today? 
Can any of its theories of Noir be used creatively today? 



Mar 21



Its legacy from Expressionism to Film-Noir explored. Screening excerpts from selected Neo-Noir films; 
Discussion of its history; contrast past to present Noir.


Mar 28


Neo-Noir cont. 

Class discussion of Neo-Noir elements and the differences between these and the ordinary Thriller Genre. Contrast with remake and discuss cultural context in history and theory of genre and the differences of this remake as compared to its original Film-Noir concept. 


Discussion of research for Genre assignment – students to bring in their research to date.


Mid-semester break: no classes Friday 30 March – Friday April 6 inclusive




Week beginning

Apr 11



Looking at the elements of horror and its legacy from expressionism. Differences between past and present day elements. What makes Horror so easy to make and so hard to master? 
Screening of documentary.



Apr 18


Horror cont. 

Are the elements of Horror the same worldwide? Do the theories of one culture overlap with another? Screening and discussion of documentaries. Exploring various types of world horror and discussion of how the theory is applied in practice. 



Apr 23

Genre and censorship

Censorship, its history and role in film genre. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the censorship system.
 Screening of documentary examining censorship and its effects on various filmmakers. Is it a necessary evil? 




May 2

Study of a culture through film

Does film reflect daily life of culture? Fantasy of its inhabitants? Do the theories of film in the West necessarily fulfil other cultures’ requirements of what makes a film? Looking at a culture’s film history. Film screening. Discussion around similarities/differences to Western film practices and genre development



May 9


Contemporary filmmakers

Introduction to new filmmakers and their effects on modern day directors. How ‘influence,’ plays an important part as ‘homage’ in creativity.
 Screening of various scenes as well as full film in discovering new and /or forgotten filmmakers.

Discuss their importance/non-importance.




May 16


Review of history and theory behind genre development and how these are contextualised in aspects of the films studied. Exploration of how these concepts can be applied to your own work

 Assessment Task 3 due



May 23

No scheduled class



Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

You require access to a computer and to the internet for this course. RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems and access to specialised facilities and relevant software. You will also have access to the library resources.

While there are no prescribed texts it is strongly recommended you make use of the recommended references.  A list of recommended reading and viewing will be up on Canvas. You are advised to look at the course myRMIT site for ongoing updated information.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment is ongoing throughout the course. Assessment will incorporate a range of methods to assess performance and the application of knowledge and skills and will include participation in class exercises, oral presentations and practical writing tasks. Full assessment briefs will be provided.

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback from the teacher at the conclusion of each assessment task. You should refer to the assessment brief which is available on Canvas for full assessment criteria. Once you have demonstrated competency, you will also receive a grade for the unit of competency addressed by this course. (Refer to Canvas for grading rubric).


Assessment Task 1: To complete this assessment task, you need to research a film and use this research as the basis for a 15-minute presentation. In your presentation, you will choose two film elements and analyse them in relation to two scenes from your chosen film. You will discuss how they contribute to clarifying the film’s narrative and characters and establishing the film’s genre. You will also discuss the relevance of your findings to your own practice.

Due date: Weeks 5 – 12 (Mar 7 – May 1, as scheduled with teacher)


Assessment Task 2: To complete this assessment task, you need to select a film genre that interests you and watch a minimum of 5 films that fit this genre. You will be provided with a list of suggested films. After you have watched each film at least once through, you will post a response for discussion. Posts should be a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 400. You are asked to reflect on your response to the film and on how the filmmaker has used, adapted or subverted the genre and consider how this may inform your own practice as a screenwriter. You are also required to write comments in response to at least 5 posts from students in your class.   

Due date: Film discussion posts should be published in Canvas at 2 or 3 week intervals throughout the semester. Your last post should be made by Week 13 (May 9).


Assessment Task 3: To complete this assessment task, you need to select and research a film genre and submit either a 1500-word research essay or a 15-minute digital version of a presentation, discussing the historical development of that genre including an explanation of the constituents of the genre. In your discussion, you should consider films that demonstrate key aspects of the genre, referring to specific genre conventions, examples of typical story elements and typical production elements and features. As part of this assessment, you should also consider ways in which your findings can inform your own practice.

Due date: Week 14 (May 16)


Once you have achieved competency in this unit you will be graded according to a rubric covering all three assessment tasks (available in Canvas).

Graded assessment in this course uses the following grades:

CHD      Competent with High Distinction
CDI        Competent with Distinction
CC         Competent with Credit
CAG      Competency Achieved - Graded
NYC      Not Yet Competent
DNS      Did Not Submit for Assessment

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available through the course contact in Program Administration.

Other Information

Other information
Please refer to the RMIT student page for extensive information about study support, assessment, extensions, appeals and a range of other matters:

How to submit work
Your assessment brief will specify how you should submit your work – as hard copy, digital copy or electronically through Canvas. When you submit your work, you must include a declaration of authorship.

For submissions on Canvas, you need to agree to an assessment declaration when you submit.

For all other submissions, you must complete and sign a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work.;ID=x3ddsmsrwa1hz

Your learning experience will involve class-based teaching, discussion, demonstration and practical exercises. We strongly advise that you attend all timetabled sessions. This will allow you to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring you the maximum opportunity to complete this course successfully.

We request that you speak to your teacher if regular attendance becomes difficult.

Assessment feedback
You will receive spoken and written feedback on all your work.  Where relevant, this feedback will also include suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.;ID=qwxbqbg739rl1

Student progress
Monitoring academic progress is helps us to assist you in achieving your learning potential.

Adjustments to assessment
If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment satisfactorily by the due date, you can choose to apply for an adjustment to your assessment. RMIT University offers a range of adjustments designed to support you in your studies, including an extension of time to complete the assessment.;ID=kehn9bz22r41

Academic integrity and plagiarism
Academic integrity is about the honest presentation of work that is your own. RMIT University has a clear policy on plagiarism (see web page for more detail).

Credit Transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
Credit Transfer is the recognition of previously completed formal learning (an officially accredited qualification).

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an assessment process that allows you to demonstrate competence using the skills you have gained through experience in the workplace, voluntary work, informal or formal training or other life experiences.

Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) applies only if you have previously successfully demonstrated competence in a unit of competency, and now require to be reassessed to ensure that the competence is being maintained.

Please speak to your teacher if you wish to discuss applying for Credit Transfer, RPL, or RCC for the unit(s) of competency addressed in this course.


Course Overview: Access Course Overview