Research ( full-time, part-time)
January, April, September
Distance-learning supervision available on this course.
This programme is located in Cambridge School of Creative Industries. Find out more about our research.
Our PhD research programmes will allow you to join one of our research projects or explore your own interests in Film Studies and Media Studies, supported by the expertise of our staff.
Find out more about studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.
You will be allocated two supervisors with additional staff members available if necessary. Our supervisors are experienced in most areas of film, media and popular culture, with a strong focus on digital media theory and practice, network culture and media research, cinema and sexuality, violence and spectatorship, contemporary European cinema, television genres, and popular music.
You will conduct your research in a collaborative interdisciplinary environment with strong links to research networks in our University and the wider community, including the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, Kettle's Yard, and the University of Cambridge's Centre for Research into Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH).
We host and take part in many research-oriented events for staff and postgraduate students, including regular Faculty and departmental research seminars, book launches, gallery events, film screenings and international conferences. Our seminars will give you the chance to present papers in a supportive setting.
We are also key contributors to the Faculty’s Anglia Research Centre in Media & Culture (ARCMedia) and the StoryLab Research Institute, who organise many events that you are welcome to attend, or even contribute to.
These networks, along with our online environment, will help you connect with other research students from a range of disciplines.
You could also benefit from financial support – we allocate a substantial sum every year towards postgraduate travel and conference expenses, as well as some bursaries.
All your subject-specific studies will be enhanced and supported by our University-wide training sessions, where you will gain important research expertise in areas like ethics, presentations, intellectual property and digital scholarship.
MPhil: full-time 1-3 years, part-time 2-4 years.
PhD via progression from MPhil, including that period: full-time 2.5-5 years, part-time 3.5-6 years.
PhD: full-time 2-4 years, part-time 3-6 years.
For further guidance on the duration of research degrees please refer to the Research Degrees Regulations.
Our permanent supervisory staff members are recognised experts in their field, and have produced a number of influential books, journal articles and practice-based research. Our expertise includes:
Dr Patricia MacCormack, BA, PhD: continental philosophy (Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault, post-structuralism, feminism); sexuality, gender and queer theory.
Dr Sean Campbell, BA, MA, PhD: popular music/culture; migration/ethnicity; Irish studies.
Dr Simon Payne, BA, MA, PhD: experimental video practice; digital video aesthetics.
Dr Tanya Horeck, BA, MA, PhD: feminist film theory; representations of sexuality and violence in contemporary cinema; crime narratives.
Dr Tina Kendall, BA, PhD: materialist film theory; spectatorship and cinematic unpleasure; the new extremism in European cinema.
Dr Nina Lübbren, PhD: nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century art, art and the fantastic, Bollywood cinema, visual narratives.
Dr Mareike Jenner, PhD: Television Genre, Television Studies, Gender and Television, Video-on-Demand, Postmodern Television, Contemporary Television, American Television.
Jennifer Nightingale, MFA: Artists' Film and Video, Experimental Animation.
Using our creative expertise and industry connections in Cambridge and beyond, we create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
At Cambridge School of Creative Industries, we believe in the importance of experimentation and risk-taking to create experiences that entertain, educate, inspire and improve lives.
Whether writing bestselling fiction, creating challenging documentaries or sharing a piano with people on the autism spectrum, the expertise of our staff goes far beyond teaching. Their research produces significant funding success, leading to important publications and international conferences.
You’ll have access to the University of Cambridge Library, the British Film Institute, and our own campus library, as well as our television studios, multi-media studios and video, animation and 16mm editing suites.
You’ll also be able to use our Faculty’s PhD room, where all our doctoral students can meet up to work and take an active part in our postgraduate student community.
In some cases extra costs known as bench fees will be charged for a postgraduate research degree. These are to cover additional/exceptional costs directly related to a specific research project.
Some examples of these costs are (the list is not exhaustive): equipment hire, access costs to specialist equipment/workshops, volunteer expenses, specialist tissue/cell culture, specialist reagents or materials, specialist software, access to specialist databases, data collection costs, specialist media, recording or digital storage needs.
We charge bench fees in bands. They may apply for every year of your course. These bands are the same for full- and part-time students.
If you have to pay bench fees this will be made clear at your interview, and stated in your offer letter.
For 2021/22 the bench fee bands are:
Initial registration: £1,300
Full registration: £4,000
Part time: £1,000
Full time: £1,800
You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.
ARU's academic excellence was recognised in 2021, as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an exercise which assesses the quality of academic research. Sixteen areas of our work were classed as generating world-leading research. The results showed that we're making a significant impact on the societies we live in.
We will provide you with many opportunities for career development and training, in areas like writing up a paper for publication; placing an academic article; giving a conference paper; the doctoral writing style; updates on research methods and literature searches; internet training; editing skills for doctoral research; subsequent monograph publication; and dealing with festivals, agents, and publishers. You might also be able to take on teaching responsibilities in the department, or organise research events like seminars and conferences.
In conjunction with the University’s research support, you can request specific support for writing-up, conference papers, general research methods and other research skills if you need it.
If you're interested in finding out more about research study opportunities in this area, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
MPhil or PhD with progression from MPhil: You’ll need a Bachelors degree or equivalent with first or upper second class honours, in a related subject area.
PhD: You’ll need a Masters degree or equivalent in a related subject area.
Please note we consider candidates for PhD with progression from MPhil in the first instance. If you want to be considered for direct entry to the PhD route then this can be discussed at interview if you are shortlisted. Please note you’ll also need to provide academic justification for this request.
If English is not your first language, you'll require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component (or equivalent test). If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the programme as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Contact our postgraduate research degree team for more information about studying a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate at ARU.
You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your research programme. Before starting, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.
Studying during COVID-19
Due to national restrictions all universities in England, including ARU, are only able to provide face to face access to research resources in limited circumstances where access can be justified under movement restrictions. Visit our restrictions page for details. All assessments and supervision are currently conducted online.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and related Government guidance, your research programme will be framed, wherever possible, to be conducted away from campus and in line with movement restrictions. For some types of research attendance on campus will be essential for some activities, and these activities will need to be undertaken in a COVID-19 safe manner in line with our risk management procedures.
In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place within the UK due to the pandemic, we may need all of our researchers to work online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.