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Director Focus: Alfred Hitchcock

Course Times & Enrolment

Tuesdays from 26th September 2023 (Code FM052-104) Tuesdays from
26th September 2023 1:30pm - 4:30pm • (10 classes)
Dominion Cinema, Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT • Tutor: James Dunnigan MA
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

An introduction to the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock from the early British work onwards. The films will be studied with particular reference to genre and the star system. The key focus will be an examination of Hitchcock’s work in the light of the auteur theory.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No prior knowledge required.

Content of Course

The course considers Hitchcock as an auteur and focuses on themes and stylistic devices recurring in his films. Over ten weeks, we will discuss a wide range of topics: from Hitchcock’s emergence as a major film-maker in his silent movies, through his innovative transition to sound in Blackmail (1929) and Murder (1930), to the examination of propaganda elements in his wartime films and, finally, Freudian readings of Psycho (1960) & Marnie (1964). We will look at Hitchcock’s remarkably successful English thrillers and his adaptation to the USA and the Hollywood studio system.

Teaching method(s)

Each three-hour class is organised as follows: introductory lecture, full screening and teacher-led group discussions with textual analysis of the films above. Feedback on students’ progress and understanding will be provided during in-class discussions.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Examine various approaches to studying film, such as genre theory and auteur theory.
  2. Develop an understanding of representation and narrative techniques in the work of Hitchcock.
  3. Reflect on (re)visited and re(read) films.
  4. Discuss and evaluate auteur theory and Hitchcock as an auteur.
  5. Examine Hitchcock’s relationship with the American and British studio systems.


Core Readings

There is no essential reading. The recommended titles below may be of interest to students, but there is no expectation to purchase any of these books.

Allen R. & S. Ishii-Gonzales (eds.) (1999) Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays, London: BFI.

Gottlieb, S. (1996) Hitchcock on Hitchcock, 1st ed., London: Sage.

Spoto, D. (1994) The Dark Side of Genius, 1st ed., London: Plexus.

Wood, R. (1989) Hitchcock's Films Revisited, London: Faber.

Further reading:

Cook, P. (1997) The Cinema Book, 2nd ed., London: BFI.

Modleski, T. (1983) The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory, 1st ed., New York: Routledge.

Russell Taylor, J. R. (1981) Hitch, 1st ed., London: Abacus.

Truffaut, F. (1989) Interviews with Hitchcock, 1st ed., London: Sage.


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.