What you will study
From the extraction of natural resources in order to manufacture film formats, to the production of movies that tell stories about climate change, the course enables you to explore a wide range of multimedia texts from around the world that offer different perspectives on film and the environment. Throughout the course, you’ll gain knowledge about the benefits and challenges of cinema’s ongoing relationship with the natural world and participate in discussions about the ethics of its past and future.
Week 1: Film and its Environments
You’ll be introduced to the building blocks of the course through two approaches: firstly, the material history of film’s relationship with the environment (such as manufacturing processes and industry practices); and secondly film’s ability to communicate stories about different environments (for example, how films represent different eco-systems). You’ll learn key words and concepts to support your learning and begin to analyse short film clips.
Week 2: Making and Showing Movies
Building on Week 1, you’ll look in-depth at material histories of film manufacture, production, and exhibition. In doing so, you’ll consider issues of power and ethics that emerge from the film industry’s reliance on the environment. Three case studies will explore: the raw materials used to make film formats; repurposed film sets built for the Star Wars franchise in Tunisia; and waste production in movie theatres.
Week 3: Fuelled by Fossils
You’ll further develop your knowledge and understanding of ethical debates about cinema’s reliance on the environment – and its contribution to climate change – by looking at relationships between the film, coal, and oil industries. You’ll explore how films have represented coal and oil, how fossil fuel producers have funded filmmaking, and what the benefits and challenges of navigating cross-industry relationships are for filmmakers.
Week 4: Onscreen Worlds
Focusing on film aesthetics, you’ll develop your analysis of onscreen storytelling about different environments. Drawing on examples from around the world (including films from Kenya, Iran, and New Zealand, among others) you’ll consider how cinema represents people and places and how the storyteller’s perspective can inform audiences’ perceptions of different environments.
Week 5: Environmental Catastrophe
Week 5 builds on the film analysis you undertook in Week 4 to focus on movies about environmental disaster. Through two main categories of film – apocalyptic and Anthropocene (an era of human activity impacting on the environment) – you’ll learn how cinema communicates people’s anxieties about natural and unnatural worlds, and how the film industry benefits from the spectacle of environmental catastrophe.
Week 6: Film Futures
Finally, you'll consider the ethical debates, practical challenges, and potential benefits of sustainability initiatives such as ‘net-zero’ carbon emission goals. You’ll be introduced to research that aims to persuade the film industry to improve the onscreen representation of environmental issues and learn how an emerging film sustainability sector is making cinema more eco-friendly.
You will learn
By the end of this course, you should gain the following learning outcomes.
Knowledge and understanding of:
- relevant histories and theories of film
- how the film industry has affected the natural world and been changed by environmental factors
- ethical debates about how films represent environmental issues.
The ability to:
- use relevant concepts and vocabulary to communicate your ideas
- engage with and analyse a range of multimedia sources
- reflect on your own and others’ perspectives.
A practical and professional skillset to help you:
- plan and manage a sequence of work
- communicate with and learn from others in an online environment
- use feedback and self-reflection to improve your own learning
- understand future study opportunities.
This course has relevance for those interested in understanding the impact film and cinema has had on the global environment.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, dedicated website and computing helpdesk.
If you have a disability
The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.