Film Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

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The Department of Film and Creative Writing offers promising candidates the opportunity to carry out research in one of the most dynamic institutions in Britain. We give all possible support to our researchers, developing the resources available at the University and encouraging an active postgraduate environment for the exchange of information and concepts.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Distance learning, doctoral research

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time; 6 years part-time, MA by Research – 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: January, September


The Department of Film and Creative Writing has a vibrant and fast-growing postgraduate community. The Department draws on the research interests and projects of our staff in postgraduate teaching and on contributions from staff in allied Departments at University of Birmingham. 

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision.

The PhD – the most advanced research degree - leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice and under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff. You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning.

We have recognised research strengths in the fields of European and Independent American Cinema, film theory, film aesthetics, Modernism, Cubism and Surrealism, Queer theory, ethics and film theory, death and film, television studies, Hollywood cinema, authorship, fantasy and ficitonal worlds, performance, authorship, documentary, digital media, social action filmmaking, adaptation; screen practice; film production and screenwriting. Staff contribute to joint initiatives in the presentation of research, notably through electronic publishing and the development of websites, and we work with staff in allied departments across the University so that you benefit from an interdisciplinary approach to teaching.

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

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 be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. 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.


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

Research interests of staff

• Film studies; queer theory; Ethics and Spectatorship; Jewish Cultural Studies’; identity and representation; representations of death
Contact: Dr Michele Aaron
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5750

• Spanish, Basque, Cuban, European and Independent American cinema; film theory and the politics of aesthetics; Modernism; Cubism; Surrealism; Basque cultural and visual studies
Contact: Professor Rob Stone
Tel: +44 (0)121 414

• Film production; documentary; digital media; audio-visual academia; social action filmmaking
Contact: Dr Richard Langley
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5745

• Film aesthetics; television studies; Hollywood cinema; authorship; fantasy and fictional worlds; performance; production communities; children's media
Contact: James Walters
Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 8333

• Screenwriting; adaptation; theories of screen practice 
Contact: Dr Richard House
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7964


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.

Doctoral researchers have gone on to forge successful careers in a variety of industries, including the media, and over the past five years, over 92% of our research masters and PhD students have been in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Michael Burns graduated with a PhD from the University, is now working as a freelance filmmaker, and has created five documentaries:

“The University of Birmingham gave me a strong moral compass and the confidence to create projects, in my case films, geared toward social change. Many academic institutions can give you a degree, but what Birmingham gave me was a world-class academic experience that allowed me to research and teach amongst students, faculty, and staff who care about learning.”