Students Staff

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Film Studies

PhD study

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

We offer a uniquely interdisciplinary environment for undertaking a PhD in film studies as a critical thesis and based on creative practice. We combine expertise in film history, theory and practice, including cinema from the Americas, Europe, and Asia, documentary and experimental films, as well as feminist, psychoanalytic and Marxist theory, and postcolonial studies.

As a PhD student in our department, you will be part of an active research community where graduate students and staff work together in a creative and intellectually challenging environment. We run weekly research seminars with speakers invited from the UK and abroad, as well as hosting weekly film screenings and discussions in our film theatre introduced by our academic staff.

Our research students organise and present at our annual PhD conference and we regularly host major conferences such as the recent Migration: British Comparative Literature Association XIII International Conference and Translating Myth.

A range of scholarships and funding are available to help fund your studies.

PhD routes

A research degree in film studies allows you to conduct original research on a subject of your choice and can include a Creative Practice component. We offer a range of routes for PhD in film studies.

  • PhD Film Studies

    The minimum duration for our PhD Film Studies is three years of full-time study or six years part time. Assessment is on the basis of a thesis (80,000 words maximum).

    We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to conduct independent research and are required to submit a detailed research proposal. You attend regular supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.

    Read the full course description on our course finder:

  • PhD Film Studies (Creative Practice)

    The minimum duration for our PhD Film Studies (Creative Practice) is three years of full-time study and six years part time.

    Assessment is on the basis of either:

    • an original screenplay or equivalent short screenplays (80-120+ minutes of screen time, approximately 30,000 words), and critical commentary (40,000 words); or
    • or a full-length film or equivalent of short films (80-120 minutes screen time), sample screenplay excerpt (10,000+ words), and critical commentary (30,000-40,000 words).

    We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to produce a creative project, conduct independent research and are required to submit a detailed project proposal. You attend regular supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.

    As a Creative Practice film studies student, you will have supported access to our Media Centre, equipped with state-of-the-art studios, cameras, audio and lighting equipment, as well as professional editing facilities offering a range of industry standard film production software including Avid, Final Cut and Pinnacle.

    Read the full course description on our course finder:

  • Other research degrees

    Our MPhil Film Studies can be taken full-time over a two-year period or part time over a four-year period and is assessed on the basis of a thesis (40,000-60,000 words maximum). We normally require a good BA in a relevant discipline and you must demonstrate your capacity to conduct independent research, and submit a detailed research proposal.

    MPhil candidates can be upgraded to become a PhD candidate if your initial research is of sufficient quality and your supervisory board consider the upgrade appropriate.

We accept PhD students in all areas in which our academic staff are researching.

  • Supervision areas

    Our film studies staff and research interests include:

    • Mr Nic Blower - film production, documentary, contemporary film
    • Dr Shohini Chaudhuri - world cinema, film theory and affect, gender and feminist theory, technology and the body, psychoanalysis
    • Dr Jeffrey Geiger - US cinema, films of and about Asia and Pacific regions, film practice in critical and theoretical contexts, documentary and ethnographic film
    • Dr John Haynes - Soviet and Russian cinema, US independent cinema, film and history, cinema and social justice activism
    • Dr Karin Littau - film adaptation, intermediality, comparative literature, translation studies, silent cinema, history of reading
    Joint supervision

    Our department offers a broad range of research expertise and we welcome applications for doctoral study involving joint supervision with literature, creative writing, drama and theatre studies.

    Current PhD theses

    Our list of current doctoral researchers shows the wide range of critical and creative practice projects being carried out in our department.

AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Essex is a member of CHASE: Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England, which has over 375 fully-funded PhD studentships to award over the next five years funded by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) and the seven CHASE partner institutions. Applicants for doctoral study in film studies at Essex can apply to CHASE for AHRC studentships through our department and we will work closely with you on your application.

Postgraduate modules

New PhD students often take our postgraduate module Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis module as an introduction to both practical and theoretical aspects of research study in film, literature, drama and creative writing. You are also welcome to sit on other MA modules relevant to your research with the approval of the seminar teacher.

Professional teaching experience

We employ many of our research students as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). These paid positions are valuable opportunities for professional development and give you experience of teaching and marking essays at undergraduate level, a significant advantage when applying for academic positions.

Professional skills development

Our University’s Proficio scheme helps to develop your skills and knowledge and increase your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by providing specialist training across a range of areas including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

Languages for All

Reading texts and understanding films in their original language can be a real advantage for postgraduate research. Our University's Languages for All scheme allows you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.

Fees and scholarships

Fees and scholarships

Find about our fees and scholarships. If you would like any further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

Our academic staff

Our academic staff

Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across literature, film, creative writing and drama. Find out more by reading their staff profiles.

Doctoral training

TBC

Proficio is our innovative doctoral training scheme. Our University gives you funding to spend on a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.