Serious Fiction: Film in a Business School Classroom

In this workshop we will share our experiences of using film as a pedagogical tool. While our experiences originate in the Business School classroom, staff from other non-Art and -Humanities disciplines such as engineering, nursing, natural sciences, sociology, etc. may find this workshop useful.

Film, television and other visual/audio media are fundamental parts of many subjects across the university. However, in a Business School, the appearance of film is rare. When film is used in teaching, it often takes the form of a short example, illustration, or fun aside. Our intentions are more ambitious, and we follow Emma Bell’s (2008) recommendation to regard film as a ‘serious fiction’ that should sit alongside more traditional educational resources. Our thinking is also grounded in the management literature that uses fiction as an analytical lens (e.g. De Cock and Land, 2006).

We will share our own experiences of working with film. We will discuss the pedagogical objectives we pursued, including assessment, and how the notion of ‘serious fiction’ creates space for the inclusion of complex and challenging themes not usually part of management curriculum. The topics will range from using films as case studies where students can practice application of theory to employing films as deeper points of reflection that encourage students to expand their imagination. We will describe our students’ responses and discuss the practical challenges of using film in a Business School classroom. We will consider the benefits, limitations and potential of film and other media for reshaping and enhancing higher education teaching.

The workshop includes three activities:

  1. Sharing our experiences of using film in business education
  2. Workshop participant round table: Sharing experiences and examples of good practice across the university.
  3. Reflections and future directions for using non-conventional storytelling media for teaching, learning and assessment.


Bell, E. (2008). Reading Management and Organization in Film. Bloomsbury Publishing.
De Cock, C. and Land, C. (2006). Organization/literature: Exploring the seam. Organization Studies, 27(4): 517–535.