University Course Planner The University of Adelaide Australia

FILM 2001 - Persuasion and Propaganda: Documentary Cinema

Career: Undergraduate
Units: 3
Term: Semester 1
Campus: North Terrace
Contact: Up to 4 hours per week
Restriction: Students must be 18 years of age at the commencement of course due to the discussion of R-rated themes and materials.
Available for Study Abroad and Exchange: No
Available for Non-Award Study: No
Pre-Requisite: At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study
Assessment: Research portfolio 25%, Mini research essay 25%, Major research essay 50%

What different types of documentary are there? What are the differences between persuasion and propaganda? How does the form of non-fiction film affect the way viewers access reality? What ethical problems does the representation of real events trigger? What are the boundaries between fact and fiction? Is film advertising a form of persuasion or propaganda? These, and many more, are the questions that this course will explore through a combination of lectures, screenings, interactive seminars and readings. In the first half of the course we will examine five types of documentary as defined by Bill Nichols: expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and performative. Analysis of different types of documentary film will show how the seemingly distinct qualities of persuasion and propaganda are often significantly blurred. In the second half of the course we will focus on more specific documentary genres. Firstly, we will address questions raised by the cinematic representation of historical events, especially events that are considered 'unrepresentable' . Using the Holocaust as a case study, we will consider different effects use to inform and shock audiences . Secondly , we will examine the wildlife film, and consider the techniques that it uses in order to render its subject matter interesting and pleasurable for audiences. Thirdly, we will focus on the work of Werner Herzog, who has made a series of documentaries that deal with subjects that might be thought impossible to represent, such as the joy of a ski-jumper, the experience of religious ecstasy, and the inner lives of those who are born deaf and blind. Finally, we turn our attention to advertising in cinema, and in particular the role of the film trailer in 'persuading' audiences.

Course Fees

To display course fees, please select your status and program below:

Student Status


What type of place are you studying in

Commonwealth supported
Full fee paying

Study Level

Postgraduate Coursework
Non Award

Program of Study

Study Abroad student tuition fees are available here

Only some Postgraduate Coursework programs are available as Commonwealth Supported. Please check your program for specific fee information


Course Outline

A Course Outline which includes Learning Outcomes, Learning Resources, Learning & Teaching for this course may be accessed here

Critical Dates

Term Last Day to Add Online Census Date Last Day to WNF Last Day to WF
Semester 1 Mon 16/03/2020 Thu 26/03/2020 Fri 12/06/2020 Not Available

Class Details

Enrolment Class: Seminar
Class Nbr Section Size Available Dates Days Time Location
11724 SE01 50 10 4 Mar - 8 Apr Wednesday 1pm - 3pm Barr Smith South, 1063, Teaching Room
29 Apr - 3 Jun Wednesday 1pm - 3pm Barr Smith South, 1063, Teaching Room
Related Class: Workshop
Class Nbr Section Size Available Dates Days Time Location
18619 WR01 50 10 3 Mar - 7 Apr Tuesday 12pm - 2pm Barr Smith South, 1062, Teaching Room
28 Apr - 2 Jun Tuesday 12pm - 2pm Barr Smith South, 1062, Teaching Room