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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.

1,110 enrolled on this course

Film Genre

A Beginner’s Guide to Film Genres

1,110 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

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $189.99 for one yearLearn more

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.


  • Week 1

    Film Genre - an overview

    • Welcome to Film Genre

      Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the idea of film genres - what we mean by genre, how we recognise generic texts, how audiences understand them and why the idea of genre is important to the film industry.

    • Introducing genre

      What do we mean by the term genre and how is it applied to films?

    • The development of film genres

      Since the birth of cinema, how has the term genre been used as a way of classifying films. But how has this changed over the years? What genres have come and gone?

    • Issues around film genres

      The idea of genre in film study is not problem free and here we look at some of the issues around using genre as a way of grouping films.

    • Examining film genres - Superheroes and Thrillers

      Finally we look at two specific genres and ask how we might define them as genres.

    • Week 1 complete!

      A look back at the week's learning.

  • Week 2

    Identifying Genres

    • Welcome to Week 2

      This week we will look at how we, as members of an audience, identify genres – how a director and the production team bind us in to a film by relying on our prior knowledge of similar films.

    • Identifying Genres

      An examination of the ways in which we recognise specific genres and the ways in which a generic film tells its story.

    • Specific and non-specific genres

      Looking at how some genres are easy to identify and describe whilst others depend more on narrative construction.

    • The Science Fiction Genre

      Bringing together and applying the ideas that we have so far explored in the week and applying them to a specific genre.

    • Week 2 complete!

      A look back at the week's learning.

  • Week 3

    Genre and Audiences

    • Welcome to Week 3

      We will look at the ways in which our tastes in films has changed over the years and how we emotionally react to genre films.

    • Which genres do we like?

      We will examine the ways in which our tastes in genre change over the years and how this is reflected in the box office of generic films.

    • Audience and genre

      Do certain demographics prefer certain genres and what might attract them to these genres?

    • The Horror genre and audiences

      We apply our experiences of genre specifically to the Horror genre.

    • Week 3 complete!

      Congratulations on reaching the end of Week 3!

  • Week 4

    The Film Industry and genre

    • Welcome to Week 4

      In our final week we will be examining the ways in which the film industry uses the idea of genre when it comes to attracting audiences to watch films.

    • Genre and the film industry

      Looking at why genre films are important for the film industry.

    • Genres and audiences

      How does the film industry create interest in genre films with potential audiences?

    • Issues around genre

      Looking at a number of challenges to our idea of genre.

    • Week 4 complete!

      That's all folks!

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

$189.99 for one year

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

$69/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 2 Mar 2023

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

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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