MRes Film Studies

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Giving you a critical and evaluative understanding of film within an interdisciplinary context, this programme encourages you to understand the role of film and cinema within a range of socio-cultural arenas. Forging the links between film theory and film practices, cultural politics and state or foreign policy, it will also allow you to assess the notion of film as a social process engaging with issues of  representation, production and consumption.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Combined research and taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 1 year full-time

Start date: September


Giving you a critical and evaluative understanding of film within an interdisciplinary context, this programme encourages you to understand the role of film and cinema within a range of socio-cultural arenas. Forging the links between film theory and film practices, cultural politics and state or foreign policy, it will also allow you to assess the notion of film as a social process engaging with issues of representation, production and consumption.

The programme is modular and offers a structured approach that includes taught core and optional modules such as Cold War Film, Death and the Moving Image, and Postcolonial Film. Alongside this you will undertake training in research skills, culminating in an independently researched 20,000-word thesis.

You will gain a firm grounding in different approaches to the analysis of film, a broad knowledge of the history of cinema and developments in film theory, and the ability to evaluate these in relation to films and film cultures.


You will complete the following compulsory taught modules:

Film, Theory and Politics

This module examines the interaction between film, film theory and politics. It will provide you with a solid grounding in some of the critical debates of the discipline, and in related cultural issues central to its development and our focus on North American Film. As such, it will enable you to assess the impact of politics on various levels of film analysis and production: from the ideology of the classical apparatus and text to the race or sexual politics of Hollywood cinema, from the censoring of the Production Code era to the attempted radicalism of post-modern film practices.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of 1970s film theory
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyse both classical and post-classical Hollywood cinema in terms of ideology, and race and sexual politics, and via textual and contextual approaches
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how legislation impacts upon film form and content, and how films position themselves outside of political convention
  • Research and use critically primary and secondary materials, including audio-visual material
  • Give a presentation, including the use of primary and secondary materials, demonstrating in-depth knowledge and application of film theory to interpret the ideological work of a single film example.

Research Skills and Methods

This module aims to develop your skills in research practices, including preparation and presentation of dissertations and theses. It supports the research planning for your dissertation/thesis.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • Understand the requirement to construct a methodological framework for your topic
  • Conduct web-based research
  • Construct a bibliography and use a recognised style guide in citations
  • Identify and analyse primary and secondary sources
  • Demonstrate ability to present a detailed analysis of one text or idea as a case study

Optional modules include:

Cold War Film

This module aims to examine films of the Cold War era c.1946-1965 and develop your skills in both film theory, and film history. It examines the political and economic context of the production of film, looking at issues such as political control via McCarthyism and the HUAC, and the economic demands that directed and constrained film production. You will then examine a series of films, in order to assess the extent to which film reflected or engaged with social, cultural and political debates of the time.

Death and the Moving Image

This module investigates the representation of death, and its surrounding debates, across a range of genres and aesthetic practices, to position it within a socio-cultural, historical, and critical context. Through consideration of the various forms and functions of the spectre of death, or of cinematic death itself, it explores their relationship to narrative, ideology and spectatorship.

Postcolonial Film

This module offers students the opportunity to study postcolonial film from different historical and national contexts and via a range of geopolitical and technological shifts. It will explore the changing relationship between colonialism/imperialism and film through the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The module begins by interrogating cinemas of and as Empire with an emphasis upon Anglo-American history, its ‘imperial gaze’ and neo-colonial Hollywood. It moves on to explore various case studies of colonial, de-colonial or anti-colonial film (for example, Indian cinema, Third Cinema and Palestinian film) and to consider key related themes such as questions of diaspora (via Accented cinema) and of ‘human rights’ (via specialist film festivals and online activist video).

Contemporary American and European Cinema: Dialogues and Discourses

Twenty-first century cinema is as subject to global transformations as it is to regional tensions and is characterised by the relationship between the two. Few films, if any, are made in isolation for specific and exclusive audiences, but enter into discourses and dialogues with films and audiences from a great many elsewheres thanks to global distribution strategies, the Internet, and a voracious exchange of influences and legacies at many levels of production, distribution and reception. Beginning with Dogme ’95, the last great film movement of the twentieth century, which also marked the 100th birthday of cinema, this module explores the range and impact of filmmaking in America and Europe in the last twenty years. Ranging from mainstream movies (e.g. the original Bourne trilogy, Inception, The Lives of Others, The Red Squirrel, Gravity) to art-house cinema (e.g. 4 Months 3 years 2 days, Hidden, Before Sunset, Frances Ha), from experimental films (e.g. The Idiots, En la ciudad de Sylvia, Quiet City, 5x2, Waking Life) to the white noise of the Internet (Lonely Girl, Manic Pixie Dream Girl and many short films and ‘anonymous’ examples), while erasing the boundaries between each, this module seeks to contextualise, structure and examine the dialogues and discourses that make up contemporary cinema. It concludes with an appraisal of contemporary American and European cinema from many angles and incorporates investigation into numerous new ways of understanding, producing and watching films.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Birmingham Masters Scholarship Scheme

For 2015 entry the University has 224 new £10,000 scholarships available for Masters students from under-represented groups. These scholarships have been jointly funded by the British Government; the allocation of the awards, which is the fourth highest in the UK, further cements Birmingham?s place amongst the very best higher education institutions for postgraduate study. The application deadline is 31 July 2015.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

Within the Department of American and CanadianFilm and Creative Writing Studies, we provide a supportive and friendly environment for pursuing high quality postgraduate study. 

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Research interests of staff

You’ll also automatically become a member of - and contribute to - B-Film: The Birmingham Centre for Film Studies. This multidisciplinary hub for research activities on film at the University coordinates various events like visiting speakers, film screenings and international conferences.

Related research



The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Postgraduates in the Department of Film and Creative Writing develop a range of skills including: the ability to lead and participate in discussions; critical thinking, and an appreciation of different theoretical contexts; the ability to develop opinions and new ideas; and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others. Such skills can be used in a variety of occupations.

In recent years our postgraduates have made their mark in a variety of careers – for example, in the media, in advertising, teaching, performing arts and in the heritage and cultural sectors.

A number of our film studies’ alumni have gone on to forge successful careers in the media industries, such as Hana Lewis who works for The Film Agency for Wales:

“My degree prepared me for practice in many ways, including the ability to think critically and strategically which is important in my current role where multiple projects run concurrently and I am required to make objective decisions about creative, critical and cultural filmmaking projects.”

Hana Lewis, Exhibition and Education Executive, The Film Agency for Wales