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Unit of study_

FILM3003: Screening Reality Since the 1960s

In the age of reality television and instantaneous sharing of social media, why do documentary's truth claims, and modes of representing reality, continue to be so compelling? This unit introduces students to the history and poetics of documentary cinema, its codes of realism and its reality effects. It focuses in particular on transformations since the 1960s, including the impacts of new film technologies, television, new media, computerisation and the Internet.


Academic unit Art History
Unit code FILM3003
Unit name Screening Reality Since the 1960s
Session, year
Semester 1, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Remote
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

12 credit points at 2000 level in Film Studies
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Susan Potter,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Blog
A short online essay on a documentary film
25% Week 05
Due date: 31 Mar 2021 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3
Assignment group assignment Documentary Treatment
A treatment for an original documentary
20% Week 09
Due date: 09 May 2021 at 23:59
1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO3
Presentation group assignment The Pitch
Pitch your group's proposed documentary
15% Week 09
Due date: 09 May 2021 at 23:59
500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Essay
A research essay
40% Week 13
Due date: 06 Jun 2021 at 23:59
2000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
group assignment = group assignment ?

See Canvas for further information.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see


Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 SCREENING REALITY SINCE THE 1960s Introduction Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 02 SCREENING REALITY SINCE THE 1960s Introduction Tutorial (2 hr)  
DIRECT CINEMAS Public subjects Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 03 DIRECT CINEMAS Public subjects Tutorial (2 hr)  
FLY-ON-THE-WALL Embodied observations Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 04 FLY-ON-THE-WALL Embodied observations Tutorial (2 hr)  
TALKING HEADS Faces, voices Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 05 TALKING HEADS Faces, voices Tutorial (2 hr)  
COLLECTIVE REALITIES Activist documentary Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 06 COLLECTIVE REALITIES Activist documentary Tutorial (2 hr)  
DOCUMENTING THE SELF Performance Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 07 DOCUMENTING THE SELF Performance Tutorial (2 hr)  
RE-ENACTMENT Representing the past, documenting the present Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 08 RE-ENACTMENT Representing the past, documenting the present Tutorial (2 hr)  
REMEDIATIONS Repurposing the archive Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 09 REMEDIATIONS Repurposing the archive Tutorial (2 hr)  
THE RETURN TO OBSERVATION Technological mediation and contemporary life Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 10 THE RETURN TO OBSERVATION Technological mediation and contemporary life Tutorial (2 hr)  
COLLECTIVE WISDOM Working across cultures Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 11 COLLECTIVE WISDOM Working across cultures Tutorial (2 hr)  
PLACING FACES Documentary ethics Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 12 PLACING FACES Documentary ethics Tutorial (2 hr)  
BEARING WITNESS Grief, love and embodied listening Lecture (1 hr)  
Week 13 BEARING WITNESS Grief, love and embodied listening Tutorial (2 hr)  
REFLECTIONS Documentary now Lecture (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

See Canvas for further information.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

See Canvas for further information.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate an advanced understanding of the history of documentary film in the context of the history of film more generally;
  • LO2. identify and analyse the modes, genres and representational strategies of documentary film, and their production and reception contexts;
  • LO3. critically reflect on documentary film as socio-political text, art practice, industry, and film/media commodity, and key debates in documentary studies concerning (among others) re-enactment, performance, production ethics, and the use of archival materials;
  • LO4. draw on the concepts and issues explored in the unit, as well as further independent research, to construct arguments and perspectives on documentary film.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
Changes have been made to due dates so that assessment is spaced evenly across semester, blog assessment has been simplified and number of submissions reduced, and assessment instructions have been revised.


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