Film Studies Audio-Visual PhD

This programme gives you the opportunity to film and edit an hour-long documentary on your research, accompanied by a 30,000 word written defence.  

You will work with supervisors and technicians to develop this practice-based project, using our editing suites and filming equipment. 

You may wish to compare this programme to the Film Studies PhD where you will produce an 80,000 word thesis rather than the filming and editing requirement of this course.

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The Audio-visual PhD enables you to make an original contribution to the disciplines of film and television studies, preparing you for prospective careers in the media industries, academia and related disciplines.

The Department brings together the expertise of our Film Studies and Creative Writing staff, opening up exciting new opportunities for postgraduates to benefit from synergies between the two fields.

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.

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Why study this course

  • The department celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 2014 results. 30% of research at the University of Birmingham for Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’, a further 39% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • We offer 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.
  • Our staff include internationally renowned scholars and awardwinning writers, who are committed to creative and critical practice in teaching and research. Their work can befound in theatres, libraries, cinemas, newspapers, classrooms and bookshops, at festivals, on television screens and online.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home / EU £4,180 full-time; £2,090 part-time*
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2017.

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

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

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

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

The following summary indicates our principal areas of research expertise. Please view our staff profiles for further possible research topics.

Film aesthetics; television studies; Hollywood cinema; authorship; fantasy and fictional worlds; performance; production communities; critical practice.

Contact: Dr James Walters - Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 8333; Email:

American film, queer cinema, spectatorship, ethnicity and identity, sexuality and representation, representations of death.

Contact: Dr Michele Aaron -  Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5750; Email:

Spanish, Basque, Cuban, European and independent American cinema; further research interests in film theory and the politics of aesthetics, Modernism, Cubism, Surrealism.

Professor Rob Stone - Email:

Film production; documentary; digital media; audio-visual academia; social action filmmaking

Contact: Dr Richard Langley - Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5745; Email:

Screenwriting; adaptation; theories of screen practice

Contact: Dr Richard House - Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7964; Email:

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Over the past three years, over 95% of Film Studies postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. 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. While some graduates go on to careers in related industries - such as writing, media and television - others have used their transferable skills to pursue roles such as advertising, teaching, and in the heritage and cultural sectors.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.