SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Modern Film from Taiwan and the Chinese Diaspora

Module Code:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Term 1

This course introduces history, theory and methodology in the study of Taiwan cinema through examining key works by major filmmakers from Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora as well as the socio-cultural condition of their production, distribution, exhibition and consumption.  Special attention will be paid to issues such as the construction of local and national identities through film, national film historiography, as well as mainstream and alternative film practices.


The course is deliberately wide in scope and is suitable for students from a range of academic backgrounds. For students from Chinese-speaking countries or graduates of Chinese studies programmes, the course offers training in film theory and methodology, and provides a point of entry into one of the most exciting and fast-moving disciplines in the China field. The course also welcomes students – with or without a film studies background – who wish to study film from Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora alongside some of the many other screen studies options available at SOAS. No knowledge of Chinese is required (all films screened are subtitled in English), and extensive contextualization is provided throughout.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will obtain an in-depth understanding of the historical development of Taiwan cinema, major Taiwan film auteurs, as well as the socio-historical condition of Taiwan film production, distribution, exhibition and consumption.
  • Students will be provided with the analytical tools to study and interpret the films independently.
  • Students will be trained to report their interpretations and analyses orally and in writing.
  • Students will be provided with disciplinary skills in film studies and encouraged to consider the materials in the context of wider academic debates on national cinema, globalisation and identity.


4 hours per week, of which 2 hours are for film-screening and 2 hours for seminar-based lecture and discussion

Method of assessment

One short essay of 2,000 words to be submitted on day 1, week 7 of the term in which the course is taught (i.e. after reading week)  (30%); one long essay of 4,000 - 5,000 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1 of the following term (i.e. term 2 if the course is taught in term 1, or term 3 if the course is taught in term 2) (70%).

Suggested reading

A comprehensive reading list will be made available to students at the beginning of the course.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules