Hearing Film: Film Sound and Music (EAFM081)

StaffDr Helen Hanson - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

In fostering this engagement the module aims:  To consider the theoretical, aesthetic and methodological questions raised through the reading and critical discussion of film sound and music.  To discuss how the history of film sound technologies and their institutional practices have influenced film form, with reference to a range of films from the 1920s to the present day.  To explore the role that creative personnel, such as composers, sound editors and sound designers, have had in shaping and influencing the meanings of film texts.  To discuss the parts that sound and music play in the construction of national, racial and gendered identities.  To investigate the relationships between film sound and genre.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. exhibit an advanced knowledge of theoretical, critical and historical debates about film sound and music;
  • 2. demonstrate advanced skills in the textual analysis of an historically diverse range of film texts;
  • 3. display a familiarity with films of the 1920s to the present and their relevance to theoretical, critical and historical accounts of film sound and music;
  • 4. exhibit a sophisticated knowledge of approaches to the critical analysis of such films and the institutional and cultural contexts in which they were made;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate a sophisticated and intellectually mature ability to analyse film of different periods and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 6. demonstrate advanced and precise skills in the close formal, thematic, generic and authorial analysis of different kinds of films;
  • 7. demonstrate advanced and autonomous skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical and historical materials for the study of film;
  • 8. demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to films;
  • 9. demonstrate an ability to devise, research, and execute a programme of archival research;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate their views convincingly both individually and in groups;
  • 11. through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose;
  • 12. through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis;
  • 13. through the planning and organisation of research projects, demonstrate independence of thought and confidence in developing ideas and formulating questions;
  • 14. through responses to constructive feedback, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature ability to reflect upon and strengthen written and other work.

Syllabus plan

  •     Concepts & Terminology 1

  •     Concepts & Terminology 2

  •     Film Sound History 1  Transition to Sound

  •     Film Sound History 2  Early Talkies (Seminar in Bill Douglas Centre)

  •     Presentation Week

  •     The Voice in the Cinema

  •     The Film Composer

  •     Film Sound Aesthetics 1  The War Film

  •     Film Sound Aesthetics 2  The Musical

  •     Post-classical Film Sound

  •     Pop Soundtracks

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Guided Independent33study group preparation and meetings
Guided Independent 70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent175reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research report2525001, 3, 6, 10, 13, 14Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay7550002, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research reportResearch Report1, 3, 6, 10, 13, 14Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927)

The Testament of Dr Mabuse (Fritz Lang, 1933)

Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933)

Blackmail (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929)

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Blake Edwards, 1961)

American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)

The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

Saturday NightFever (John Badham 1977)

Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)

Jackie Brown (Quentin Tarantino, 1997)

The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)

The Lives of Others (Leben der Anderen, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2007)


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Reading for week 1

David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson, Chapter 9 Sound in the Cinema from their Film Art: An Introduction:

5th Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 1997).pp. 315-354

The Audiovisual Contract from Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen trans. Claudia Gorbman, (1990; New York:

Columbia University Press, 1994), pp. 1-137

Michel Chion, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen Rick Altman, Afterword: A Baker's Dozen Terms for Sound

Analysis in Altman (ed) Sound Theory/Sound Practice (London: Routedge, 1992), pp. 249-253

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date

February 2012

Key words search

Film, sound, music