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Through Oscar's Eyes: American Values in the Academy Awards

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This interdisciplinary course looking at the Academy Awards from cultural, ideological and historical viewpoints in analysing a corpus of 10 major and popular films. The developing importance of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, its relationship to the film industry and to changing social/ political contexts will be examined through selected "Best Pictures". This course involves the screening of full features introduced by the tutor, followed by analysis and group discussion.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Experience of previous film courses not essential.

Content of Course

Each of 10 weeks discusses a different film from across eras and genres.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture and discussion based, Films will be contextualised by tutor before the screening and analysed with the students in a post-screening interactive discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Explain how the commercial importance of Academy Awards has developed over time;

  • Recognise competing agendas operating within the Award system;

  • Relate the ideologies within films to their American contexts and to diverse audiences;

  • Articulate a point of view on the artistic, commercial and ideological values of the Academy Awards.


Core Readings


  • Thomson, D. (2004) The Whole Equation, Little Brown

  • Manchester, W. (1990) Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America (1932- 1972) Bantam

  • Holden, A. (1993) Behind the Oscar, Simon & Schuster, New York

  • Finler,J.W. (2003) The Hollywood Story, Wallflower Press, London

  • Bordwell,K. & Thompson,D. 2002 Film History, McGraw Hill

  • Roud,R. 1980 Cinema; A Critical Dictionary Secker & Warburg

Class Handouts

There will be course-notes for each session including a reading and viewing list and questions for discussion.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.