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Postgraduate research

Postgraduate research

We run a successful postgraduate research programme for UK and international students.

We offer MPhil and PhD programmes in any area related to film and television studies, cultural theory and media practice but prioritise proposals in those areas in which our staff have particular expertise.

We also welcome applications from students who want to combine traditional research with creative practice. Doctoral candidates who pursue this route can submit creative work, such as a film or screenplay, alongside a significantly shorter PhD thesis.

You’ll work closely with your supervisory team. If you’re taking a practice PhD, the team consists of a media practitioner and a member of staff with the relevant theoretical expertise. As well as working on your research project you’re required to participate in a research skills training programme. If you would like to teach in the Media Arts department you’ll obtain prior training through Royal Holloway’s InSTIL programme.

Additional research training and development opportunities are offered by the London Screen Studies Group, which runs regular seminars and workshops on a broad range of film and television topics, and a cross-faculty Critical Theory Reading Group.

Our postgraduate research students are part of a vibrant research culture. We host a series of research seminars to which speakers of national and international acclaim contribute. All MPhil and PhD students are invited to present their work at the department’s Annual Postgraduate Summer Conference.

You also have the opportunity to bid for funding to organise your own conferences and workshops so you can develop additional skills in research management.

All research students in the Media Arts Department are registered for the degree of MPhil. In the first year of your research degree, your supervisor will advise you on the initial planning of your research project and provide you with feedback and suggestions as your project takes shape.

You’ll be asked to attend tutorials with your supervisor on a regular basis. You’ll also participate in centrally and departmentally organised training programmes that enable you to develop and continuously enhance your research skills.

The Media Arts Department, along with other members of the London University Screen Studies Group, offers intensive research training specifically organised for postgraduate research students working on MPhil/PhD projects in film, television or other screen media and on practice-led research projects in media arts across the University of London.

We also offer a Practice Based PhD Training designed for research students to help develop their skills alongside their research. Some of these courses are specifically designed to help you complete your degree, while others assist growth of more general skills and aid your employability.

Our Annual Postgraduate Summer Conference, where all research students present their work to staff and fellow students, gives you another invaluable opportunity to practice your presentation skills. You’ll also have the chance to meet leading scholars in the field when they deliver keynote lectures. Recent keynotes have been given by Professor Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam), Professor Yosefa Loshitzky (University of East London) and Professor Laura Marcus (Oxford University).

You’re also encouraged to participate in the department’s research seminars to which members of staff and high-profile guest speakers contribute. You’ll also have the opportunity to bid for funding in order to organise their own postgraduate conferences and workshops so as to develop additional skills in research management. Over the past few years, our students have organised a number of international postgraduate conferences on themes including:

  • Questioning Transnationalism: Culture, Politics and Media.
  • World Cinema in the Context of Postcolonial Studies.
  • Experiments with Narrative Cinema.
  • The State of the British Film Industry.
  • Welcoming Strangers

The progress of your research is monitored carefully by your supervisor and advisor, and, annually, by the Research Committee on the basis of the annual review documentation. In June of each year, you’ll be required to go through the Annual Research Review.

If you have made sufficient progress and produced satisfactory written work (normally two chapters of a thesis or the equivalent of 10,000 words), a formal evaluation for transition from MPhil to PhD status will be scheduled. Such evaluations usually take place in the second year of full-time studies or third or fourth year of part-time studies.

The supervisory relationship is the most important element in the successful completion of your research programme. The relationship is two-sided with obligations on both yourself and your supervisor.

Your supervisor will offer guidance about the subject and methodology of your research and about designing a research programme with realistically achievable goals and deadlines. S/he will also be able to advise you on relevant libraries, archives and other research sources and direct you to generic and specialised research training provided by the College and the University of London.

You’ll be expected to meet your supervisor on a regular basis (usually once a month during term time for full-time students) to discuss your project. S/he will give you feedback on any written work submitted, providing constructive criticism. However, as a PhD student you take on certain responsibilities such as the progress of your research and ensuring it is completed within the agreed timeframe.

You’ll also be assigned an advisor, with their primary role being to participate in the annual review process as an external assessor of your work. Your advisor can also be called upon if your relationship with your supervisor breaks down or if they become ill, retires or moves to another university.

If you’re working on a practice-based PhD, such as making a documentary film or writing a screenplay, you’ll be working together with a supervisory team consisting of a member of staff who is a media practitioner and someone with a more traditional academic background. Their joint guidance will ensure that your project will be a successful synergy between creative practice and critical investigation.

This Masters has been devised for students who wish to develop advanced research skills in the areas of Film and Television Studies or Digital Production but who prefer, for practical or other reasons, not to attend a taught Masters programme.

The MA is assessed entirely on the research dissertation (maximum 40,000 words), which is supervised one-to-one. It is intended to give you scope to explore your area of interest in depth, test out a possible research topic, and learn the skills of extended scholarly writing and/or film production.

In addition to one-to-one supervisions, you will be expected to attend an interdisciplinary core course on Critical Theory and Methodologies, which will provide you with an overview of key thinkers and critical approaches that will underpin your individual research project.

This is an attractive advanced qualification which is particularly suitable if you are seeking a career in academic research and as a first step towards a PhD. Please contact Dr Manishita Dass (, Director of Postgraduate Research, if you wish to find out more about our Masters by Research.

Media Arts staff are particularly interested in receiving proposals in the following areas.

Dr James Bennett

Television studies, public service broadcasting, digital media, production culture, celebrity studies

Professor Daniela Berghahn

European cinema, national, transnational and diasporic cinema, representation of family in film

Dr Manishita Dass

South Asian film and cultural history, global art cinema, silent cinema, modernism

Professor John Ellis

Documentary, television and digital technologies, television genres, British cinema 1930-1950

Adam Ganz

Audiovisual narrative and production, scriptwriting for radio, television and film

Professor John Hill

National and transnational cinema, British and Irish film and television, political cinema, film industry and policy

Professor Barry Langford

Hollywood genres, Holocaust film and television, critical theory, theories of mass culture, urban studies

Dr Jacob Leigh

European cinema, auteur theory, film aesthetics, theories of narrative

Helen Littleboy

Documentary filmmaking and producing

Victoria Mapplebeck

Documentary filmmaking

Professor Mandy Merck

Psychoanalytic, feminist and queer theory, Hollywood cinema, melodrama, celebrity culture

Gail Pearce

Interactive digital installations

Professor Chris Townsend

Modernism and avant-garde film, photography and performance, especially during the 19th and early 20th century

Dr Richard Wright

Animation and media arts (especially moving image), computational and interactive media arts, the essay film, Constructivism, the history of art and technology. (Particularly practice-based research

Dr Olga Gorinuova

Digital media art and culture, media and cultural theory, philosophy of technology

Applying & funding opportunities

The minimum entry requirement for postgraduate research leading to a PhD is the equivalent of a UK Upper Second Class Honours (2.1) degree. Applicants in Media Arts will normally be expected to have a Masters degree.

The College does not have a formal deadline for applications but research students usually commence their studies in late September of the academic year. If you seek financial support for your studies from the College, department or the Arts and Humanities Research Council you should note their deadlines for applications.

Prospective doctoral students who are interested in applying for a studentship in the Department of Media Arts should proceed as follows:

1. Contact Dr Manishita Dass to talk informally about your research proposal and what supervision might be available. Email

2. If Dr Dass agrees that the proposal may be suitable for a TECHNE or College studentship, complete both a College application form and a TECHNE application form. The College application form is available here and the TECHNE application form here.

(Note that by completing the TECHNE application form students will be considered for both TECHNE scholarships and College scholarships.)

3. When completed please send your TECHNE application form to Dr Dass.

You should hear in early April whether the Department will be forwarding your application for consideration by TECHNE. If your application does go forward to TECHNE you will hear in early May whether or not it has been successful. Unsuccessful TECHNE applicants will be considered automatically for a College scholarship by a Faculty Panel and you should hear the outcome in early May.


Those intending to study for PhD in the Department are able to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships and for College studentships through a single process. The AHRC studentships (stipend and fee waiver) are offered through the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership which is led by Royal Holloway and comprises six other universities in London and the South East. TECHNE offers a rich and diverse training programme for doctoral students with a focus on interdisciplinary. The training programme is enhanced by input and placement opportunities provided by TECHNE’s 13 partner organisations (including the Barbican, Natural History Museum, Museum of London, BFI and Science Museum) in the cultural sector.

The Department is also able to recommend students for College studentships (which may consist of a stipend and fee waiver or just a fee waiver). Approximately £380,000 is available for postgraduate studentships across the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In the main College scholarships will be awarded by a Faculty Panel to students who are unsuccessful in their application for a TECHNE scholarship.


Supervision for PhD research is offered in the following areas:

*Transnational cinemas, especially migrant and diasporic film.                                                              

*Film policy and national cinema debates.                                                                                                                                                            

*Post-war German film, British and Irish film, the Hollywood Renaissance.                                         

*Film genres, especially Melodrama, the Western, Film Noir and the Musical.                                                                                                                     

*Gender and sexuality in the cinema.                                                                                                

*Exoticism and cultural difference in contemporary cinema.                                                                      

*Film and the Holocaust.                                                                                                                              

*Film and the metropolis.                                                                                                                                       

*Film and TV technologies.                                                                                                                                                          

*British and Irish TV, including UK regional documentary television.

We are also interested in PhD’s by Practice

For more about the department

For more about the technē scheme

For further details please contact Manishita Dass Director of Graduate Studies ( .

PhD applications are invited for TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership, which offers Arts and Humanities Research Council awards for those commencing postgraduate study in September. The Media Arts internal TECHNE applications deadline is in early January.

If you have queries regarding the application process, please contact the Admissions Office (Tel +44 (0)1784 414944).

For questions relating specifically to pursuing postgraduate research in the Department of Media Arts, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies (research) Dr Manishita Dass


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