LSO478 - Movies and Meaning

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-06-29 11:21:11.496
Last review date 2018-07-16 00:15:01.504

Subject Title
Movies and Meaning

Subject Description
This course explains how the elements of film structure create meaning. Film is a complex collaborative art form with its own structural and syntactical patterns.  Audiences' subliminal and conscious absorption of meaning depends on elements of film structure. This subject will provide an introduction to how movies work. It will present examples to help students grasp each production element and get a sense of film's history. Students will follow a structured approach to understanding how meaning is relayed through light, sound, and motion and the language of visual media products. To "see" and "read" a film, television production, or music video with critical awareness requires learning how film technology creates and shapes meaning.

Credit Status
One upper level Liberal Studies Option (LSO) for Seneca degree students.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

  1. Describe basic film terminology and the major elements of film form and style, including cinematography, production design, actors’ performances, editing, sound design, and narrative structure.
  2. Explain how filmmakers use visual, aural, and narrative tools and techniques to express meaning.
  3. Investigate how audiences respond to, understand, and interpret audiovisual media.
  4. Examine historical film techniques.
  5. Differentiate various functions of film within broader social, economic, and cultural contexts.
  6. Develop critical analyses of films and filmmaking in class discussions, projects, and writing.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

ENG 106 and one lower-level liberal studies (LSO) or Critical Thinking course.

Topic Outline
Film Structure
Production Design
Sound Design
Visual Effects
Modes of Screen Reality
Art and Commerce
Film Theory and Criticism

Mode of Instruction
Your professor will use a variety of appropriate teaching modes and techniques, such as the following: lecture, question and answer, tutorials, classroom discussion, group work, individual and/or group presentation, computer-aided instruction, and consultation.

Prescribed Texts
Prince, Stephen. Movies and Meaning: An Introduction to Film, 6th Ed. Pearson, 2013. 

Promotion Policy
Grading Policy

A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

All term work assignments must be completed prior to the time of the final exam or last class.  Students must contact faculty in advance of an assignment due date to discuss the possibility of an extension.  Late assignments will be subject to a late penalty resulting in a lower grade.

Make-up opportunities for assignments must also be arranged in advance of the scheduled due date.  If an assignment is missed due to class absence, official documentation must be submitted to the faculty on or before the next scheduled class. Make-up opportunities may not apply to all graded assignments.

Tests (x2) 35%
Mid-Term Test 20%
Major Paper 20%
Final Exam 25%

Students are graded on form as well as content. Marks (up to 5% of the final grade) may be lost for poor organization of ideas and errors in spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation.
Students are not permitted to use instructional aids during tests or exams.
To be successful in this course, you must complete all course work as specified, and achieve an overall grade of 50% or more.  It is expected that students have a sufficient command of the English language to express themselves clearly in both written assignments and class discussions. For further information on evaluation and academic standing, see the Academic Policy at

Approved by: Fiona Bain-greenwood