Media and Cultural Studies - PhD

Attendance:
Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
Starting:
February 2018
Campus:
Fees:
£4,195 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2018 entry (view all fees)

Our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree will help you achieve a career in media research or academia.

The PhD enables research into a broad range of interests within the fields of media, communication and cultural studies. Your research will be delivered over three years (full time) or four years (part-time or distance learning).

We support both traditional PhD research presented through an academic thesis and PhD research through practice.

What's covered in the course?

Our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree offers individual programmes of research across many areas of interest. Our PhD gives you the opportunity to spend time researching and developing a deep understanding of a unique area of interest whilst contributing world leading insight to the Birmingham Centre of Media and Cultural Research, and the wider School of Media.

On successful completion of your PhD research degree your findings will have either contributed new knowledge or extended existing theory and understanding of an area of interest. You will have proven yourself as a scholar, be an expert in your field and be eligible to use the title ‘Doctor’.

Our Media and Cultural Studies PhD is research based and does not include taught modules of study

Why Choose Us?

  • When you join us you will become a member of the thriving research culture at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR).
  • Your PhD research will be organised as a programme of professional and academic development.
  • You will receive individual support and guidance from our team of supervisors, meeting on a regular basis to review your progress and plan your next steps.
  • You will feel a strong sense of community amongst students and supervisors in the School of Media and wider Faculty of Arts, Design and Media.
  • You will attend regular research seminars, conferences and symposia and you will receive a dedicated workspace that acts as the hub of your PhD research activity.
  • You can strengthen your PhD research and personal/professional development by participating in wider international research communities and conferences, and by helping to teach degree modules to undergraduate students.
  • There are opportunities for studentships through the AHRC funded Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership and University supported initiatives. The latter are advertised on the website when they are available.

This course is open to International students

Birmingham School of Media

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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

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Teaching Excellence Excellence Framework

Birmingham City University has been awarded silver status for its quality of teaching in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

What is a PhD?

PhD degrees are research programmes. They allow you to learn as you work through the issues associated with solving a particular problem. Each research degree student is supported by a team of supervisors appointed for the particular study. In all years of study, students will be required to present their work in meetings of fellow students and staff conducting parallel research.

As a student on this programme you will become part of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR) and be invited to participate in its thriving research culture. BCMCR was founded in 2009 with a mandate to develop excellent research as a core activity within the Birmingham School of Media

BCMCR engages in collaborative work across six research clusters:

  • Creative industries
  • Popular Music
  • Screen Cultures
  • Media for Social Change
  • History, Heritage and Archives
  • Jazz Studies

There are now in excess of 30 research-active staff, many developing their academic careers based upon years as professional media workers. You can read about our research in a range of international journals and in books from leading academic publishers.

Since 2009, BCMCR has delivered more than 10 major externally-funded research projects with a total value in excess of £1.4 million. They have covered diverse work on radio, music culture, citizen journalism, hyperlocal media, digital R&D for the arts, and archives.

Current interests

We particularly invite your initial PhD enquiry for Media and Cultural Studies PhD research within the following areas of interests:

  • Popular Indian cinema studies
  • Diasporic and transnational media
  • Media and cultural history
  • Media heritage and archives 
  • Creative industries, cultural policy and cultural work 
  • Popular music culture
  • Songwriting
  • Jazz studies
  • Radio studies 
  • Sexuality, gender, the cultural construction of masculinity 
  • Screen melodrama
  • Pornography studies 
  • Cult cinema 
  • Media fandom 
  • Cultural entrepreneurship 
  • Film and television audiences 
  • Comedy 
  • Media and conflict 
  • Austerity and the media
  • Community media and media activism
  • Gaming cultures
  • Amateur/informal cultural production
  • Hyperlocal journalism
  • Media practice 

Past research projects

BCMCR has collaborated with national organisations such as the BBC, The British Library and The Arts Council and international partners in the Arab region, Africa, and North and South America. In total, these projects were built on inter-disciplinary partnerships with 13 other universities and over 150 non-academic organisations.

Over twenty research students work in the Centre on their PhDs supported by experienced supervisors, and our research-active staff teach MA and BA classes in music industries, radio, social media, online journalism, screen studies, media for social change, enterprise and cultural policy.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years £4,195 per year
PT 4-7 years £2,098 per year
DL 4-7 years £2,622 per year

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years £12,000 per year
DL 4-7 years £7,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Entry Requirements

To apply for our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree you should have, or expect to be awarded, a Masters degree in a relevant subject area from a British or overseas university.

Exceptional candidates without a Masters degree, but holding a first class Bachelors degree in media studies, may be considered.

We also welcome enquiries from potential PhD researchers without formal academic qualifications but with appropriate levels of professional experience.

Please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing your brief PhD research proposal (max. 500 words), and/or any questions or queries you may have.

We will review your initial enquiry to ensure your research proposal compliments one of our PhD research interests and if so we will ask you to make a full application.

Research proposal guidance

Your research proposal in the full application should address the following areas:

Aims and objectives

Please outline what the purpose of your research is; e.g. "The objective of this research project is to….."

Scope

Explain the scope of the project and the range of activities that you imagine this will involve; e.g. “The following tasks will be undertaken as a part of the proposed research”

Research content

Explain why this research is needed.  Outline previous work in the field (if any exists).  What do you imagine the wider benefits of this research will be? 

Methodology

Explain what methods you will use to conduct your research and why? Explain the reasons for your choice of methodology and why it is appropriate. Try and think of potential problems that you may encounter.

Resources required

Are there specific facilities that you will need to conduct your research (e.g. hardware or software)? If so are these already in place?  How do you propose to fund your research?

References

Provide a full bibliography of any sources utilised in the research proposal.

As each PhD is an individual research project, it is impossible to specify what additional costs may be incurred. Whilst we are able to offer limited financial support towards the direct costs of research (e.g. the purchase of books or digital reproductions of primary sources; attendance at conferences and workshops, etc.) you may need to supplement this.  Any potential costs should be identified in your application.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

This course is available part-time

Initial PhD Enquiry

Before you apply, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing your brief PhD research proposal (max. 500 words), and/or any questions or queries you may have. 

Send your inital PhD Enquiry

A day in the life of a PhD student

If you're considering doing a PhD there's probably a lot of questions going through your mind: how am I going to pay for it? Should I quit my job? Will I cope with the workload? But most importantly, what is it really like? Karen Patel, a full time PhD student, shares her experiences of juggling life, a part time job and her studies. Read more in Karen's blog.

The PhD Journey

Our PhD gives you the opportunity to spend time researching and developing a deep understanding of a unique area of interest whilst contributing world leading insight to the academic specialisms at Birmingham School of Media.

You will present your research developments regularly to supervisors and have opportunities to present to the research community at various events across the Faculty.

Full-time students are expected to complete within three to four years, whilst part-time students may take four to seven years.  In your first year (two years for part-time students) you will spend time reviewing the field and refining your individual PhD research proposal and projected plan. You will be supported in this by your supervisory team and through attendance at the PGCert in Research Practice, which runs for the first semester of your studies.  At the end of your first year (second year for part-time students) you will complete a Progression Assessment Panel.  Your second year (years three and four for PT students) is likely to be spent undertaking in-depth research in your chosen area, with the third year (years five and six for part-time students) involving writing up your results and presenting them in a suitable format (whether that be through composition, performance, or entirely written). 

On successful completion of your PhD research degree your findings will have either contributed new knowledge or extended existing theory and understanding of an area of interest.

You will have proven yourself as a scholar, be an expert in your field and be eligible to use the title ‘Doctor’.

Supervisors and Support

As a PhD research student you will be guided through your programme of study by a team of supervisors.

Your supervisors will help you create your individual PhD research plan which, in your first few months, may include study for a research methods qualification: PG Cert Research Practice.

Your supervisory team will include a Director of Studies whose role it is to ensure that you are meeting targets and following the correct processes and systems for conducting PhD research.

You will also be supported by a second supervisor (and sometimes a third) who will provide guidance based on their knowledge of your specific PhD research interest.

You will meet with your supervisors on a regular basis to review your progress, receive advice and plan the next stages of your PhD research.

You will present your research developments regularly to supervisors and other members of your PhD research community at Birmingham School of Media.

Modes of Study

Our PhD is offered full-time, part-time or by distance learning.

These three modes of study ensure that we can create a PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment or oversees.

Full-time PhD Research: three years

As a full-time PhD research student you will undertake much of your research on campus using the facilities at Birmingham School of Media.

You will usually spend at least 37 hours per week engaged in research.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.

Part-time PhD Research: four years

You would chose part-time PhD research if you opt to study whilst in employment or if full-time study is impractical.

You will be encouraged to use the campus facilities when you can and may often work from home.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

Distance Learning PhD Research: four years

Distance learning is possible, under carefully controlled circumstances, if you normally live outside of the UK but wish to conduct PhD research with Birmingham School of Media.

You will still be required to have some level of face-to-face engagement with us each academic year, often by conducting research on campus at Birmingham School of Media in Birmingham (UK).

Face to face research will be arranged for a period of time during the summer months, or at a mutually agreed time.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

Extracurricular Activities

Full-time student Sarah Raine talks about some of the activities she has been involved in while a student studying at BCU:

You can read some of our postgraduate student work in the Riffs Journal.

How the PhD is assessed

We support both traditional PhD research presented through an academic thesis and PhD research through practice.

The nature of your Media and Cultural Studies PhD research will be determined by your area of interest. It will be agreed by your supervisory team during your application process.

A traditional route will require you to conduct a piece of unique PhD research, submit a thesis for examination and sit an oral exam (viva voce) in which you defend your thesis before a panel of experts.

PhD research through practice enables you to use your practical skills to investigate a research question. You will submit your final practical work supported by a written account for examination and sit an oral exam before a panel of experts.

PGCert in Research Practice

For the first six months of your PhD you will undertake the PGCert in Research Practice, which is a taught and compulsory part of the PhD programme. You will meet with your supervisors and attend classes every week. This is an essential part of the PhD which will help you to get your research started and set you up for the rest of your PhD journey. The PGCert programme covers literature review and research methods which are specific to your faculty.

You will also be supported through the activities of our PGR Studio. The PGR Studio  seeks to promote an experimental, creative and practice-based space that resonates across all the academic Schools and disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media. A studio can be an artists’ studio, a design studio, a recording studio, a rehearsal studio or a writing studio.

The PGR Studio aims to enhance our postgraduate research (PGR) community and student experience through supporting routes into and out of PhDs through professional and career development within and beyond Higher Education as well as the transition throughout PhD study. We run workshops, training, social events and other activities in partnership with our PGRs for our PGRs

You can also strengthen your PhD research and personal/professional development by participating in wider international research communities and conferences, and by helping to teach degree modules to undergraduate students.

The value of a PhD to employability

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry or commerce. Our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree has been designed to help you achieve a career in Media and Cultural Studies research or academia.

After the PhD

PhD graduates often continue their research through post-doctoral fellowships and academic posts. Others choose to become consultants or return to working in the media industry. 

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Past graduates

Previous graduates of our PhD programme now work in academia, work in the media industry or are researchers. Several of our graduates work in the School of Media as lecturers, postdocs, or researchers. One such graduate is Dr. Yemisi Akinbobola, who talks about her experiences in the video below.

Careers

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry or commerce. Our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree has been designed to help you achieve a career in Media and Cultural Studies research or academia.

Placements

PhD researchers funded under the Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership have the opportunity to undertake industry placements as part of their research. For more information visit the Midlands 3 Cities website.

For those students not funded by Midlands 3 Cities, the PhD still allows you the opportunity to work with other institutions and companies as part of your research. You can discuss your options with your potential supervisors, if you feel a placement would benefit your research. 

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Past International Graduates

Nigerian researcher Ezinne Igwe, currently investigating the state of the contemporary Nigerian film industry known as describes her experience as a PhD student:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £260 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

Birmingham School of Media is recognised as a key centre of excellence in interactive media training, television production and education by Creative SkillSet, the UK Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries.

State-of-the-art facilities

You will learn in our state-of-the-art facilities - including the £62m fully-digital Media Centre - located on the City Centre Campus. You will enjoy access to extensive studio and workshop space including four TV studios, six radio studios and broadcast-standard edit suites, as well as cutting-edge equipment and software.

Facilities include the largest TV floor of any university in the UK, a ‘green screen’ and the MILO motion control camera - we are one of just two universities in Europe to offer MILO technology.

Research Supervisors

We will appoint you a team of supervisors from our academic staff, selected for their expertise in your specific area of PhD research:

Our Staff

Our teaching staff comprises specialists in their respective fields, including academics and industry professionals, all of whom are perfectly placed to offer a wealth of experience and knowledge. Birmingham School of Media students also benefit from access to high-profile guest speakers from across the industry.

A dynamic community that is responsive to the changing face of the media industry, Birmingham School of Media is the perfect starting point to your media career.

Dr Oliver Carter

Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Theory

Dr Oliver Carter is a senior lecturer who is both a fan and researcher of Euro-Cult cinema. His doctoral thesis, Making European cult cinema: fan production in an alternative economy, is to be published by Amsterdam University Press. He has also carried out research into fantrepreneurship, online file-sharing communities, fan filmmaking, the British hardcore pornography industry, radio documentary and media education.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295