Spanish Cinema Studies at GCSE, A level and Undergraduate Level: An Analysis of Practices, Policies and Priorities

  • Mark Goodwin

Student thesis: Phd


The contents of this PhD thesis shine a light on recent and current practices in the teaching and learning of Spanish cinema, within Spanish studies at GCSE, A level and undergraduate level in England. The methodology draws on the most relevant scholarly activity in the fields of Spanish studies, film studies and education, and the research presented aims to balance equally between all three academic disciplines. In addition to presenting and reviewing core literature from scholars and (film) critics, the research relies on the quantitative and qualitative responses (gathered via a series of questionnaires) of examiners, teachers, lecturers, trainee teachers and, most importantly, students (a total of 293 completed questionnaires). The data analysed furnishes a much needed, student voice – a core contribution to the research field - with regards to Spanish film pedagogy, and the findings presented within each chapter provide a framework for building on and improving practice for future students and educators of Spanish. In the opening chapter, opportunities for learning via film are identified in a curriculum review, involving the national curriculum, DfE frameworks, Ofqual requirements, exam board specifications and undergraduate module outlines. It is underlined that approaches to foreign film education require careful planning, adequate training and access to research-led, supportive and transparent methodological frameworks, such as those provided by this thesis. In Chapter 3, it is argued that this should begin with an informed approach to visual, film and multimodal literacy, and a plethora of theories and hypotheses are tendered in support of this initial step for educators. A wide variety of Spanish film education enthusiasts from the past twenty years, such as Herrero (1998-2010), Champoux (1999), Stephens (2001) and Bazalgette (2009), are called upon to frame recent thinking and evidence-based outcomes in the field. Direct inspiration is then taken from renowned authors - Delgado and Fiddian (2013), Smith (2000) and Allinson (2001) - of staple publications devoted to recurring filmmakers; mostly, Pedro Almodóvar and Guillermo del Toro. Both directors’ cinematic oeuvres are considered at length; particularly regarding the works, Volver (2006) and Matador (1986) (Almodóvar) and El laberinto del fauno (2006) (del Toro), although several other films are incorporated. Similarly, other cineastes provide the context for the establishment of ‘core’ concepts (and key terms) in the third chapter; namely, José Juan Bigas Luna, Víctor Erice, Juan Antonio Bayona and Achero Mañas. Their works are scrutinised in relation to thematic and aesthetic deconstruction, pre-Transition film-making, child-centred genre films used to echo past traumas, and contemporary, sociopolitically-driven narratives, respectively, and, in some cases, collectively. It is confirmed that film is an increasingly popular and important aspect of Spanish-related undergraduate degrees, and it has been a prominent feature of the A level for some time. However, its use at GCSE is found to be highly inconsistent and, as is argued, insufficient, both in terms of making the GCSE more appealing, accessible and meaningful, and preparing students appropriately for the demands of A level and beyond. A series of theory- and practice-led arguments are put forward in favour of Spanish cinema’s ability to deeply enhance GCSE students’ understanding of Spanish language, history, society and culture. Concerns unique to the legacy and reformed Spanish A level are outlined, particularly in relation to the assessment scheme. The A level is exposed to be missing out on a number of opportunities to improve the quality of Spanish film-related studies, and recent changes are confirmed as having improved in some areas, but still failing to address pre-existing, substantial challenges for students and teachers. Inspiration is taken from a variety of undergraduate modul
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChris Perriam (Supervisor) & Alexander Baratta (Supervisor)


  • Spanish
  • Film Studies
  • Education
  • Pedagogy

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