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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Prepare Your Application

1. The first step as you consider applying to the Department of Film Studies for a PhD will be to check whether you meet eligibility criteria and 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 your research proposal to the staff you have identified as your potential supervisor(s). It is essential to contact at least one potential supervisor to discuss your proposed PhD project before you apply for admission. We normally do not accept students who have not yet secured agreement from a potential supervisor. In fact, because all supervision at QMUL involves at least two supervisors (one of whom must be an "experienced' supervisor i.e., has to have already led at least one PhD student to completion), you stand to benefit by contacting and securing interest from two potential supervisors. The second supervisor may be at a different QMUL department or school i.e., they need not be from the Film Department. If you are unsure who may be an appropriate supervisor for your project, have a look here.

2. Your Research Proposal forms a vital part of your application. Its quality, originality and feasibility will all be judged in the entry process and if you are applying for funding. The best proposals are developed in close consultation with prospective supervisors and prepared several months before any funding competition deadlines.

Good proposals open new research questions and have a clear set of theoretical objectives. Your proposal should demonstrate a good awareness of the existing literature around your chosen subject, and you should show an understanding of how your own research will contribute to, as well as further, the scholarly debate. You also need to demonstrate a practical sense of the project’s feasibility. Your proposed programme of work should be achievable within the space of 36 months of full-time study. You should be able to complete your project within the necessary financial constraints of a studentship award or self-funding.

Every year, the admissions committee reviews a large number of applications, so it is important that your proposal is well written and clearly presented. Try to use short sentences, paragraphs and subheadings to provide clear structure. Research proposal should not be longer than 2000 words (including bibliography) and follow the format below:

  • Applicant’s name
  • Proposed title
  • Name(s) of proposed supervisor(s)
  • Summary of your aims and objectives: outline central research questions
  • Rationale and literature review: illustrate how your work builds upon the current literature (refer directly to wider scholarship) and establish the distinctiveness of your own theoretical position
  • Methodology: explain how you intend to pursue your research and the methods and perspectives you will use in analysing them
  • Work plan for 3 years: specify likely starting date and prospective completion date (when)
  • Originality and significance (in, and where applicable, beyond the academia)
  • Bibliography: provide a short list of the relevant literature in your research area

3. Prepare your Personal Statement (max. 4000 characters) and Academic Curriculum Vitae. In your personal statement, describe 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. In this document, you should also outline how your proposed research fits within the department of Film and QMUL.

Your Academic Curriculum Vitae (CV) should include the following:

  • Full Contact Details
  • Education
  • Professional information
  • Publications
  • Grants, Honors, etc.

4. After discussing your proposal with potential supervisors, and subject to their support and guidance, you may wish to make a formal PhD application online on QMUL’s MySis platform. 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.

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