SOAS University of London

School of Arts

South African Film and Visual Culture: Before and During Apartheid

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1

In this course we will explore the ways in which South Africa has been represented through fiction and documentary films in the pre-apartheid and apartheid eras. The aim of the course is thus two-fold: to consider South African cultures and communities in historical perspective through film; and to chart the history of cinematic production in the South African context from 1900-1994. There is a significant focus on how film was used both as a propaganda tool by the apartheid government, and as a tool of activism and resistance against the apartheid regime. Prospective students should note that no prior knowledge of South Africa or film studies is required.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of the course, a student should:

  • have a sound knowledge of South African history, and South African film history, in the period 1900-1994
  • understand the relationship between film and propaganda, and film and activism/resistance
  • have a general knowledge of world film history and the history of film theory
  • have a general knowledge of different theoretical and critical methods for approaching film (e.g. through postcolonial theory, film studies, anthropology of media)
  • be able to analyse different kinds of films (including fiction and documentary)
  • show confidence in expressing his/her views both orally and in written form


This course will be taught over 10 weeks with a two-hour film screening, a one-hour lecture and a one hour seminar per week.

Scope and syllabus

A full syllabus will be given to students at the beginning of the course.

Method of assessment

An essay of 5000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1 term 2 (70%); 2 x 500 words reaction papers (20%); a 10 minute presentation on readings (10%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules