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A Beginner’s Guide to Film Genres

Explore what genre means in film and how it shapes both the narrative and the audience’s response to the story on screen.

3,838 enrolled on this course

Film Genre

A Beginner’s Guide to Film Genres

3,838 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Discover how cinematic experiences are shaped by the conventions of film genre

Whether you’re considering a career in the film industry or you want to improve your movie knowledge, this four-week course will prepare you to examine critical approaches to genre films and theory.

Explore film theory approaches in the context of genre and film narrative

On this course, you’ll investigate genre in film and in a wider artistic context, and discover how film genres have evolved over time. You’ll also explore three genres in depth and learn key storytelling techniques that highlight specific genre conventions.

With this understanding, you’ll be able to identify genre films and contextualise directorial decisions that emphasise the portrayed genre.

Investigate how genre impacts filmmaking decisions from film production to marketing

When a genre film is produced, it brings with it audience expectations affecting production choices and marketing strategies. You’ll discover the challenges that genre films bring to making and marketing a film and how these constraints are tackled by the industry.

With this knowledge, you’ll gain insights into the film production process and the impact audience expectations and thematic conventions can have on decision making.

Develop your knowledge of the film industry, guided by experts in film studies

On this course, you’ll learn from educators with expertise in film theory who can help you gain theoretical and practical insights into genre filmmaking.

Using a combination of interviews and film extracts, you’ll have the opportunity to bring your own cinematic experiences into the discussion, enabling you to explore different perspectives alongside other learners.

By the end of this course, you will understand what generic films are and how the film industry capitalises on the enduring popularity of genre films with audiences.

What topics will you cover?

  • The idea of genre
  • How we recognise a genre film
  • Conventions and codes of a genre film
  • How genres develop over time
  • Why the idea of genre is important for film audiences
  • Why the idea of genre is important to the film industry
  • How do we approach films which do not seem to fit into any particular genre?
  • A study of four specific genres - superhero, thriller, sci-fi and horror.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Evaluate the concept of genre, not only in film but across a wide range of art forms and in everyday life.
  • Identify the ways in which genres operate from both a narrative and also thematic perspective.
  • Describe the visual conventions of specific genres.
  • Assess the constraints and advantages of generic films for both audiences and the film industry.
  • Discuss different theoretical approaches to genre.
  • Explore the ways in which the film industry uses the idea of genre in both the production and also the marketing of films.
  • Reflect on the ways in which genres develop and change over time.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with a beginner’s interest in film. It would be particularly useful for those studying film at either A level or degree level.

Who will you learn with?

Ian is a teacher, author, producer, screenwriter and director and has worked on a number of European projects, including the Framework for Film Education. He has won 2 BAFTA's.

Who developed the course?

Film Distributors' Association

Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. (FDA) is the trade body for theatrical film distributors in the UK - the companies that release films for UK cinema audiences.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 15 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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