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Cinemas and the Movies: An Exploration of the History of Film Exhibition

Course Times & Enrolment

Tuesdays from 16th January 2024 (Code FM153-202) Tuesdays from
16th January 2024 1:30pm - 4:30pm • (10 classes)
Dominion Cinema, Newbattle Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 4RT • Tutor: Derek Wilson MA BA
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

The nickelodeon, the picture palace, the movie theatre, the pictures, the flicks; cinemas in their various forms have had a major influence on individuals, societies and cultures since their humble beginnings. Through extracts, shorts and feature films we explore the relationship between film exhibition and film audience.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No specialist knowledge is required but an interest in aspects of cinema is essential.

Content of Course

From the Nickelodeon, the Picture Palace, the “flea pit”, Movie Theatre to the Multiplex, film exhibition has affected us as individuals and societies. We explore this through many films which allow us to consider issues including: cinema as propaganda, as escapist entertainment, as art, as realism or fantasy, the “cinema experience “. Within the context of national and international developments, the focus will be on the local and personal relationships with movies and cinemas.

Teaching method(s)

Each class will follow the same pattern: introduction (which may include extracts); viewing of full-length film; discussion. 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. Outline the history of film exhibition.
  2. Discuss broadly the social impact of cinemas at different historical periods.
  3. Reflect on their individual relationship with the cinema.


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.

  • Jancovich, M. and Faire, L. (2003) The Place of the Audience, Cultural Geographies of Film Consumption. London: BFI.
  • McBain, J. (1985) Pictures Past, Scottish Cinemas Remembered. Edinburgh: Moorfoot Publishing.
  • Thomas, B. (1984) The Last Picture Shows Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Moorfoot Publishing.


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.