Jemma Saunders

Jemma Saunders

Department of Film and Creative Writing
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Birmingham on Screen: Gritty City or Location Chameleon? (working title)
SupervisorDr James Walters and Dr Richard Langley
Film Studies with Audio-Visual PhD


  • BA Medieval and Modern History (University of Birmingham, 2010)
  • MA History, Film and Television (University of Birmingham, 2011)
  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2019)


After completing my MA in 2011, I developed a portfolio career; working in a library, a theatre and at a small film production company in a researcher/coordinator role, in addition to pursuing various freelance writing projects. I returned to the University of Birmingham to manage the Placement and Training module for the MA in Film and Television: Research and Production (an evolved iteration of my postgraduate degree) and have also undertaken part-time roles in Careers Network. I am studying for my PhD part-time, alongside my work as Placement Coordinator for the MA.


I am exploring how the city of Birmingham is represented in film and television, asking the central question ‘when does Birmingham play itself?’.  My thesis will comprise both documentary and written components, interrogating aesthetics of the city in its role as both narrative setting and filming location across a range of texts (including Peaky Blinders, Man Like Mobeen and Ready Player One). Together, the audio-visual and written research will examine and challenge Birmingham’s on-screen identity.

Other activities

  •  ‘Gritty City: small screen aesthetics of class, crime and family in the Birminghams of Peaky Blinders and Benefits Street.’ (Paper for 2nd annual B-Film PGR Symposium, University of Birmingham, March 2019)