Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit

Unit rationale, description and aim

Being able to analyse and critique screen content is an essential skill for all 21st century workplaces. The vast majority of representations of human drama are to be found within films, television shows and, increasingly, within video games. This unit enables students to understand the complexity and variety of screen content including film, television and video games while taking into account the modes of delivery. Students will learn how to analyse and critique the creative techniques used in these media, the boundaries of which are increasingly blurred. They will apply their knowledge of narrative conventions, technical considerations and aesthetic properties to generate insightful arguments about the cultural dynamics of screen productions. The aim of this unit is to equip students with the critical tools required to analyse rapidly evolving screen technologies, cultures and products, so that they may offer informed critiques of these imagined worlds.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate skills in the close reading of a film, television program, or video game to examine moving pictures and critique them using appropriate screen theories and terminology (GA1, GA4)

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written form using screen theory and criticism to identify and analyse key moments in the developments of screen technology and connect these to the social context (GA6, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Demonstrate knowledge of the conventions and practices of different film, television, gaming, and online genres in order to appreciate the diverse audiences for which screen content is created (GA4, GA8, GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics may include:

  • The language of film and television.
  • How to critique and analyse a moving text.
  • Critical approaches to screen theory: e.g. feminist theory, semiotics, queer theory, textual analysis, psychoanalysis, etc.
  • Narrative conventions on screen.
  • Genre on screen.
  • Auteur theory.
  • Exploitation on the screen: e.g. sexualisation of women actors, representations of minority groups, etc.
  • How technology influences the storytelling strategies of the moving text.
  • Social and industrial contexts which influence the production and reception of film and television.
  • Screen production: sound, music, special effects, etc.
  • Representations of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander peoples, and other world Indigenous peoples within television, movies and games. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

A range of learning and teaching strategies may be incorporated into this unit including formal lectures, film and television screenings, videogame illustrations, seminars, online learning resources, guided readings, and discussions.

This unit will be taught through face-to-face classes and/or through some mixed mode teaching. Students may attend lectures face-to-face and/or by accessing online recordings in order to ensure broad and ongoing access for all students to the key concepts and principles relevant to screen studies. Formal lectures will present key theories and model research and analytical skills. Online learning materials will include guided readings and synchronous and/or asynchronous discussions of key primary and secondary texts. Workshops will be face-to-face to  enable students to experiment with the practical aspects of this course and engage with other learners. These workshops will encourage students to engage with screen theories, film and television screenings, and video game demonstrations.

The study of drama upholds the values and mission of ACU as demonstrated by incorporating the Principles of Human Flourishing within its curriculum. This unit is concerned with how film, television and video games, and changing platforms complicate the boundaries that plays and performances contribute to our understanding and interpretation of the world around us. With its focus on analysing and performing plays, as well as its fundamental interest in critiquing theatre history, Drama both celebrates and interprets the contributions of screen and performance to human culture. The discipline promotes a critical evaluation of the structures of society and encourages students to focus on pondering the dignity of the human person and the moral and ethical conundrums brought to life on the screen.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments have been designed to provide students with a variety of tasks by which they are able to demonstrate achievement of the different learning outcomes of the unit. The assessment in this unit is designed to help students to develop their research skills as well as their analytical and communication skills. The focus will primarily be on helping students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of how to read screen images and apply appropriate critical theory to their analysis of moving pictures. 

The Textual Analysis Task requires students to provide a close reading of a film, television program, or videogame. This task provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their working knowledge of appropriate terminology and its application to a specific context.

The Research Task requires students to research a given topic in detail and apply this new knowledge to a particular film, television program or videogame.

The Historical Task requires students to critique films from different periods of time. Students will reflect on the technologies and narrative structures which were used to create them and comment on how this might relate to the society from which they emerged.

In order to pass this unit, students are required to achieve an overall score of 50% or more. The schedule in both online and multi-mode provide scaffolded learning with opportunities for students to monitor their own progress, practice their skills and receive feedback.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Textual Analysis Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to critically evaluate a film, television program, or videogame using appropriate terminology. 



GA1, GA4

Research Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to undertake significant research into a given question which will provide an opportunity for them to demonstrate their knowledge of screen theory and criticism.


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA6, GA8, GA9

Historical Task

The purpose of this task is to give students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of screen production and its relationship with the society that produces specific examples of film. They will also need to critically evaluate screen texts by referring to key examples from screen history.


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10

Representative texts and references

Audissino, Emilio. Film/Music Analysis A Film Studies Approach. 2017.

Barsam, Richard Meran, and Monahan, Dave. Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film. 5th ed. 2016.

Burucúa, Constanza, and Sitnisky, Carolina, (Eds). The Precarious in the Cinemas of the Americas. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Frey, Mattias, and Sayad, Cecilia. Film Criticism in the Digital Age. Rutgers UP, 2015.

Hagener, Malte, et al. The State of Post-Cinema: Tracing the Moving Image in the Age of Digital Dissemination. Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2016.

Kuhn, Annette., and Westwell, Guy. A Dictionary of Film Studies. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Langton, Marcia, and Bowers, Jennifer. Well, I Heard it on the Radio and I Aaw it on the Television...: An Essay for the Australian Film Commission on the Politics and Aesthetics of Filmmaking by and about Aboriginal People and Things. Australian Film Commission, 1993.

Mulvey, Laura, and Backman Rogers, Anna. Feminisms: Diversity, Difference and Multiplicity in Contemporary Film Cultures. 2015.

Rollins, Peter, (ed). Hollywood As Historian. The University Press of Kentucky, 2015.

Ruti, Mari. Feminist Film Theory and Pretty Woman. 2016.

Taylor, Aaron. Theorizing Film Acting. 2012.

Verhoeff, Nanna. Mobile Screens. Amsterdam University Press, 2012.

Whelan, Christal. Native Features: Indigenous Films Worldwide. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Woods, Houston, et al. Native Americans on Film: Conversations, Teaching, and Theory. University Press of Kentucky, 2013.


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