Research degrees in Film

Main contact: Director of Graduate Studies for Film, Dr Alasdair King: email -

Research in Film at QMUL is organised into four main areas, the Centre for Film and Ethics, Film Cultures, Film Philosophy, and Film Practice. We are always interested in receiving applications from highly qualified prospective PhD students wishing to work with us in these general research areas.

The department has particular strengths in:

European Cinema; British Cinema; World Cinemas; Film Stars; Performance Theory; Ethics and Continental Philosophy; Film Archaeology; Animal Studies; Eco-cinema; Iconic Images of Political Violence; War in Historical and Contemporary Frames; Cine-museology; Neoliberalism, Globalisation and Finance on Screen; Film Practice; Documentary Film; Artists’ Moving Image.

For more information about our research, please see here.

For information about our current and recently completed PhD projects, please see here and here.

Entry requirements

For entry at PhD level, we would normally expect candidates to have an MA or equivalent, and a strong undergraduate achievement. Applicants for these degrees are accepted on the basis of previous academic performance and, where appropriate, professional experience in film practice, and always subject to the availability of a member of staff to supervise their research project. 

Making an initial enquiry

The first step as you consider applying to QMUL Film for a PhD will be to look at the research interests of individual staff to see if we have a colleague who works in the area of your research interests. Our main research interests and publications are set out here

Next you should email one or two potential supervisors setting out your proposed PhD research area and your background, with key points covered as listed below:

  1. Title of research proposal
  2. Summary (max. 250 words)
    Please provide a brief summary  of the project.
  3. Project proposal (max. 1500 words)
    Please set out details of your research project:
    Central issues/aims (why)
    Methods (how)
    Objects of Research (what)
    Work plan for 3 years, please specify likely starting date and prospective completion date (when)
    Fit with research at QMUL Film (Film and Ethics? Film Cultures? Film Philosophy? Film Practice?)
    Self-funded or PhD dependent on securing funding?
    Full time (FT) or part time (PT)?
  4. Academic Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    Full Contact Details
    Professional information
    Grants, Honors, etc.
  5. Motivation for doing PhD research (max. 300 words)
    Please describe here your motivation for pursuing PhD research and how your experience to date is relevant for carrying out the project proposed.

This is likely to be a draft proposal at this stage, and indicative of your interests rather than binding. It will help you to organise your thinking and will give any prospective supervisor the most essential information. Your proposal may be refined and redrafted after discussions with your prospective supervisors before you apply. If you go on to make a formal application with us, you will be able to c+p sections across to your online application form.

Apply online

After discussing your proposal with potential supervisors, and subject to their support and guidance, you may wish to make a formal PhD application online. The application forms and instructions can be found at the bottom of this page.

Please read all this information carefully.

Your application must include:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Official Transcripts. If these are in a language other than English, a certified translation must also be supplied.
  3. Proof of English language ability (e.g., IELTS), where necessary
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  5. A 1500-word Research Proposal
  6. A one-page (A4) Statement of Purpose. This should set out your previous academic or other experience relevant to the proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary; your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD; and what ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking this research
  7. Two references. Please provide the contact details of two referees. At least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position to comment on the standard of your academic work and suitability for postgraduate level study. Where appropriate, a second referee can provide comment on your professional experience. 

Students should consider the research interests and expertise of a potential supervisor carefully and ensure their research proposals are appropriate for the supervisor(s) they approach. Proposals which do not meet this criteria will not be seriously considered. It is therefore essential to make it very clear in your proposal and your statement that you have discussed your proposal with a potential supervisor. Note that indication of interest on the part of a potential supervisor does NOT guarantee acceptance into the programme. Applicants are advised to treat the letters of reference as an important component of their application. Ensure that your referees are able and willing to give enthusiastic support for your application and that they have adequate time to write their letters. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure all elements of the application are submitted in time, including letters of reference.

Research Funding

For further details on funding a PhD at QMUL please see here

We have two main types of scholarship to support doctoral study within the department:

  • Queen Mary Studentships, open to any student applying for doctoral study within the School
  • The China Scholarship Council (CSC) award, open to Chinese students with an excellent track record wanting to study for a doctorate in Film Studies at Queen Mary.

The application deadline for both Research Studentships is typically 31 January for admission in the following September.

The QMUL College Studentships are extremely competitive and we can rarely anticipate being granted more than one or two for our Film PhD applicants each year. There is no separate application for funding process: you will be considered automatically for these awards if you have made a formal PhD application by 31 January for admission in the following September.


Apply online