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Film and Screen Media (MPhil / PhD)

The Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies offers an exceptionally stimulating environment, where interdisciplinary research flourishes across film, television and media topics, including journalism, media history, the creative industries, memory studies and practice-led research. Our research aims for critical engagement with technologies, old and new, and poses theoretical, aesthetic and political questions associated with the rise of digital media.

In addition to the Birkbeck Library, research students have access to the nearby Senate House Library, various libraries of the University of London colleges, the British Library, as well as other specialist collections and institutions in central London, including the British Film Institute library. They may also take advantage of practical film-making opportunities offered through the Derek Jarman Lab.

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation. The MPhil thesis is not more than 60,000 words; the PhD thesis is not more than 100,000 words. The thesis requirements for a practice-based project vary according to the nature of the research and can be discussed with the admissions tutors. Both the MPhil and the PhD are assessed by a viva voce examination.

At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck

Current research areas in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies include: cultural studies, digital media culture and technology, film industries and cinema cultures (British, European and worldwide), gender and sexuality studies, histories of television, journalism studies and investigative reporting, media studies, multimedia design, the music industry, and the visual arts. 

Highlights

  • Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.
  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A good degree including film, television, media studies, social sciences or related disciplines in humanities, history and visual studies as a major subject. Depending on your background and research experience, a BA might be sufficient. Generally we recommend that you apply with a good MA degree.

    You will also need to submit a specific indication of research interests with your application, and a 2000-word proposal.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £2296 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4327 pa
    Part-time international students: £6375 pa
    Full-time international students: £12625 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Outstanding MPhil/PhD researchers are encouraged to apply for our competitive scholarships and studentships, which cover fees and maintenance. Read more and apply now

    Find out more about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck. 

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    The Department is characterised by a strong research ethos, which has been enhanced by the foundation of the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI), directed by Professor Laura Mulvey. Along with Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture (BIRMAC), BIMI brings together the research interests of staff across the College and offers a stimulating range of events for staff and students as well as support for PhD students. The Department also hosts the London Screen Studies Collection, a unique archival resource of films about London.

    The research environment of the Department benefits externally from the activities of the Vasari Research Centre, and from its participation in the London University Screen Studies Group, which is an umbrella organisation covering all aspects of screen study across the colleges of the University of London.

    You will have the opportunity to get publishing experience through involvement with the School of Arts postgraduate journal, Dandelion. You are also encouraged to develop and run symposia, conferences and reading groups which include other students and staff members. Through the University of London Screen Studies Group, you take part in the biannual postgraduate training workshops.

    You are expected to participate in the Department's research events, including attending lectures, research skills sessions and other classes/workshops as appropriate. You also benefit from the extensive programme of activities organised by the School of Arts. Read more about our vibrant research culture

    Find out about our current MPhil/PhD students and their areas of research.

    Teaching opportunities

    As part of our commitment to professional development, you have the opportunity to gain experience in teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. There is also a 10-week lecture series, Teaching in the Arts, which is designed to prepare students for teaching humanities in higher education.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students.

    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

    4. Draft a research proposal of up to 2000 words (excluding references). This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal.

    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. If your research proposal meets our entry criteria, and we have an appropriate academic to supervise you, we will invite you for an interview, in person or by telephone. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress.

    Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

    For further information, read our guide for applicants to the School of Arts

    Application deadlines and interviews

    You can apply throughout the year for commencement in October or the following January.

    If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

  • Finding a supervisor

    Finding a supervisor

    A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in film and screen media studies is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

    Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

    • Dr Mike Allen: history of television; early cinema; digital culture; history of media technologies and multimedia design.
    • Dr Silke Arnold-de Simine: German literature of the nineteenth century, especially the uncanny and the fantastic; W.G. Sebald; early German film; cultural history of the museum; cultural memory and media; practices of remembrance; remembering the GDR.
    • Dr Andrew Asibong: twentieth- and twenty-first-century French and francophone fiction; theatre and film; cultural studies; psychoanalysis (especially the British school) and its intersection with the arts; the writer Marie NDiaye; ethics, aesthetics and politics of 'the fantastic'; cultural reconfigurations of kinship and community.
    • Professor Ian Christie: early film and related media; British cinema history; cinema/TV relations; Russian and Soviet cinema; European film policy and issues in media historiography; film and visual arts.
    • Professor Tim Markham: journalism; media sociology; media politics; phenomenology; conflict; audience research; social media; Arab media.
    • Professor Laura Mulvey: film, feminism and psychoanalytical theory; avant-garde film; British television in the 1960s; technology and aesthetics.
    • Dr Janet McCabe: contemporary US television; feminism and gender politics; cultural memory; the historical unconscious.
    • Dr Joel McKim: digital media technology; media, urban planning and architectural design; cultural memory; media theory.
    • Dr Dorota Ostrowska: culture and history of film festivals; European film production and film industry; Eastern European and French cinema and criticism; history of television in Europe.
    • Dr Scott Rodgers: media, politics and cities; geographies of journalism; media technology; relations of media and spatial theory; approaches to practices and materiality (eg actor-network theory); ethnographic methodologies.
    • Dr Emma Sandon: British colonial film and photography; ethnographic and documentary film-making; British television; law and film.
    • Dr Justin Schlosberg: media, corruption and political accountability; media politics and spectacle; pirate media; global and digital media; music industry.
    • Dr Michael Temple: history of French cinema; French film theory; audio-visual film theory; the work of Jean-Luc Godard.