Film and Philosophy - 2017

This unit contains mature content including Adult Themes, Coarse Language, Drug use, Nudity, Sex / Sexual References and Violence and may not be suitable for some students.
Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Unit summary


  • Level of Study: Undergraduate Level 3
  • Study load: 0.125 EFTSL
  • Delivery method: Fully Online
  • Prerequisites: Yes
  • Duration: 13 weeks
  • Government loans available: FEE-HELP, HECS-HELP
  • Availability for 2017: Sem2 , Sem3
  • Availability for 2018: Sem2 , Sem3
  • Assessment: Assignment (15%) , Essay (40%) - Learn more

Unit provided by

2017 Fees
Domestic 793.00
HECS 793.00
International 1,043.00

This unit was previously known as PHI350 Film and Philosophy.

Please note: This unit is available in Macquarie Semester 3. This is an intensive semester which spans only 9 weeks (including recess). Students are advised to enrol in only one or two units in Semester 3.

What can philosophy teach us about cinema? What can film show us about philosophy? Can films do philosophy? This unit explores these questions across a range of writings dealing with philosophical, aesthetic and ethical aspects of our engagement with film. Rather than treating film as an illustration of various theories or ideas, we examine the ways in which film itself can explore philosophical problems in visual and narrative terms. We begin with the problems of cinematic representation, visual perception and the ontology of the moving image. We consider how film represents our subjective experience by exploring the phenomenology of perception, movement, emotional engagement and time-consciousness. We also analyse how films can explore philosophical ideas, focusing on the provocative claim that films can do philosophy by cinematic means. Finally, we examine some of the ethical, moral and ideological implications of film in modern culture. Throughout the unit we analyse the work of philosophers who investigate the philosophical dimensions of film, or who construct new ways of thinking about film philosophically (eg. Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze and Stephen Mulhall). We also study various films and filmmakers from a philosophical point of view with the aim of demonstrating the creative intersection between film and philosophy.

At the completion of this unit students will have the ability:

  1. to find, analyse and evaluate primary and secondary sources and present a well-argued philosophical discussion in an essay format
  2. to interpret and examine developments in philosophy of film that deal with theoretical problems as well as broader philosophical and cultural issues
  3. to analyse and explore the relationship between theory and practice in contemporary cinema and its link with philosophy
  4. to apply philosophical theories to specific film examples
  5. to locate and evaluate contemporary media discussions of film from a philosophical point of view
  6. to create or design a means of communicating your own reflections on philosophy of film
  7. to participate actively in group discussion and learning activities.
  • Assignment (15%)
  • Essay (40%)
  • Journal (25%)
  • Participation (20%)

Equivalent units

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following unit(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • PHI350 — Film and Philosophy

You must complete some Level 1 and 2 studies before starting this unit. Prior study in Philosophy is recommended.

  • Additional materials — Some films will need to be purchased or hired

This unit addresses the following topics.

1What is Philosophy of Film/Film-Philosophy?
2Ontologies of the Moving Image
3Understanding Film Narrative
4Cognitivism Goes to the Movies
5Affect and Emotion in Cinema
6Cinematic Ethics
7Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Film
8Stanley Cavell's Philosophy of Film
9Film as Philosophy: Pro and Contra
10Film Philosophy Case Study (1): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
11Film Philosophy Case Study (2): Fight Club
12Film Philosophy Case Study (3): The New World

This unit is delivered using the following methods and materials:

Instructional Methods

  • Discussion Forum/Discussion Board
  • Online assignment submission
  • Podcasting/Lecture capture
  • Standard Media
  • Web links

Online materials

  • Printable format materials
  • Resources and Links

This unit is an approved elective in the following courses:

This unit may be eligible for credit towards other courses:

  1. Many undergraduate courses on offer through OUA include 'open elective' where any OUA unit can be credited to the course. You need to check the Award Requirements on the course page for the number of allowed open electives and any level limitations.
  2. In other cases, the content of this unit might be relevant to a course on offer through OUA or elsewhere. In order to receive credit for this unit in the course you will need to supply the provider institution with a copy of the Unit Profile in the approved format, which you can download here. Note that the Unit Profile is set at the start of the year, and if textbooks change this may not match the Co-Op textbook list.

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a unit.

Click on the titles of the listed books below to find out more:

Required textbooks

  • New Philosophies of Film

    By:Sinnerbrink, Robert

    ISBN: 9781441153432


    Supplier:Go to The Co-op Bookshop

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