Genre Theory Applied to Coursework

Today we are going to start to look at how to apply advanced genre theory to coursework in preparation for the Theoretical Application of Coursework exam (Section A Question 1b)


I have taken the following from the Edusites Media page, so it is really useful! We are going to go through in class and then look at wider reading to help support you. You’ll be having a timed exam question next week.

Analyse Genre in one of your Coursework Productions

“I will be analysing my thriller opening sequence which I filmed and edited as my main task which formed part of my Foundation Portfolio in Media. In class, we studied genre in existing Thrillers such as Psycho, Seven, Man with the Golden Arm, Taken 3 and to learn about genre hybridisation – Skyfall and Escape Plan. This enabled us to fully understand how genre can be applied to our own productions”.

  • Example early analysis – my opening sequence uses an emotive, dramatic range of diegetic and non-diegetic sound to build tension – shouting, helicopters sounds, explosions and a smash of glass. Think about developing Steve Neale’s theory of repetition and difference in your early statements.
  • Do you have close ups of the protagonist (which is not necessarily a convention of the Thriller) but ultimately helps to anchor any underlying dramatic tension and plants narrative enigmas – it is wholly appropriate to link narrative to an essay on genre as narrative elements can be ‘typical’ of the genre.
  • Analyse the non-diegetic soundtrack (important in thrillers) – think about how you establish mood and tone and how audiences become familiar with the mindset of the character/s and his/her/their intentions. Hitchcock’s Psycho takes a similar approach. Link this with John Hartley who suggests that genre is interpreted culturally (by the audience – so link your audience here).
  • Do you use of SFX/violence – common to the genre? If not, link this with possible hybridisation – do you evidence comedy, social realist conventions for example. Narrative action sequences are likely to mix with narrative enigma codes – thrillers often have bigger budgets to attract a wider audience (John Fiske suggests genre “is a convenience for producers and audiences”) in relation to production and distribution.
  • Genre hybridisation (or not) should be a key focus using Henry Jenkins: “Genres should not be understood as rules or restrictions” (pro hybridisation)- “my sequence is arguably a hybrid of a thriller and (for example social realism) with its gritty urban representations and a frustrated, aspirational central protagonist who is trying to escape from a downward spiral”.
  • Does your trailer have a standard, mainstream opening sequence as part of a three-act structure – setting, character and problem introduced? Again, common to the genre withProppian protagonists often introduced early on (hero, false hero, villain).
  • Is your thriller typically British or Americanised? Link this with the thrillers you have studied. Using Hartley again, British thrillers tend to have more obvious, encoded narrative themes e.g. “my film is a culturally British Thriller that would have initially independent distribution and more critical success that some more commercially successful American Thrillers like Escape Plan”.
  • David Buckingham is a useful theorist to end on: “Genre is not simply given by the culture; rather it is in a constant process of negotiation and change” (reflects changing societal norms). Discuss how your film reflects how society has changed (think about the examples your have studied) and how this would be understood by audiences within the framework of the narrative.

Remember, as with all 1b answers your 30-minute essay will need to balance close textual analysis and theory applying relevant media language.



Genre Theory

For Section A Question 1B on Media Concepts

Read through article and apply theories to ONE piece of your coursework in preparation for your exam.genretheory



Understanding Genre

Click below for a detailed presentation on Film Genre. 


Here is a presentation about Genre Theory that refers to Steve Neale. Click here if the link below is not working.

Rick Altman

David Buckingham

John Fiske – Genre Theory

John Fiske
  • “Attempts to structure some order into the wide range of texts and meanings that circulate in our culture for the convenience of both producers and audience”
  • A way of categorising texts in our media – saturated culture
  • Prepares audiences expectations
  • Culturally dependent – different cultural groups construct different expectations
  • Constructed through a series of signs (visual/aural) associated with that genre or through use of generic narratives and ideologies