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.

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.

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.

Related staff

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17:

  • Home / EU £4,110 full-time; £2,055 part-time*
  • Overseas: £13,680 full-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.

* 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 2016.

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 tuituion fees and funding.

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

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.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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.

Our doctoral researchers have gone on to forge successful careers in a variety of industries, including the media. 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.”

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.

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.