First year - Modern Languages and European Studies

Approaches to European Culture: Methods, Theories and Histories

This module provides a detailed overview of the methods and theories used to study culture and texts in the field of the humanities. It considers what research is and how to go about it, on the basis of historical case-studies which are examined throughout the year. Students not only examine the key research methods employed by cultural studies (for example, semiotics, visual analysis, discourse analysis, content analysis, and textual analysis), but they are also regularly offered the opportunity to apply these various methods in order to investigate historical case studies linked to major European themes, such as the French Revolution, imperialism, nationalism, fascism, Post-War Western European consensus, contemporary European identity. Drawing upon case studies covering the continent from Spain to Russia and from Italy to France and Germany, this module offers a well-rounded set of historical perspectives on European cultures whilst providing robust training in a variety of key research skills which students will find particularly useful in the course of their degree.

Landmarks in European Literature

Beginning with the Renaissance and going up to the beginning of the twentieth century, this course offers the student the opportunity to establish a broader basis for literary study by reading important European works in their historical and cultural contexts. It provides an opportunity to read key literary texts in translation, whilst questioning why they are considered to be ‘key’ texts (part of the ‘canon’) and what it means to read them in translation. The course is taught by lecturers with a range of language expertise, and includes different text genres as well as short excursions into art and music. Weekly lectures are supported by fortnightly small-group seminars.

Landmarks in European Film

The module offers students an introduction to the development of European cinema. The first semester will focus on the development of film technology and film style, considering key stages such as silent film, the advent of sound and the role of studios. The second semester will focus more on the relationship between European cinema and social, political and aesthetic developments. Key topics will include gender and the cinema, the auteur, political film and historical cinema. The course topics will be linked to a set of key films, which will be screened and form the subject for seminar discussion.

Media, Culture and Communication

This module begins with an introduction to studying the media. In the first semester, students consider different forms of media, media environment, audiences, influences and effects. Students examine the key theoretical approaches to studying the media (including political economy, semiotics, Marxism, uses and gratifications theory, gender approaches). In the second semester students will investigate media representations focusing on issues of language and identity, ways of reading images, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, class and age.




Modules and courses are constantly updated and under review. As with most academic programmes, please remember that it is possible that a module may not be offered in any particular year, for instance because a member of staff is on study leave or too few students opt for it. The University of Birmingham reserves the right to vary or withdraw any course or module.