Film Studies MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

UCL sits at the centre of the vibrant, multicultural and cinematic city of London. The university, which was the first to establish Film Studies in Britain, houses a thriving graduate research culture in the subject alongside remarkable resources for the study of cinema across its history and across the world.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
£6,035
£3,015
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
£28,100
£14,050
Duration
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper second-class UK Honours degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard, and a Master's degree with Merit in a relevant field. In the first instance, candidates should establish a dialogue with a potential supervisor before making a formal application. Admission is normally dependent on the submission of a detailed research project proposal.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

UCL has research strengths in particular in cinema and cultural history across the world. We have interests in early cinemas, new wave cinemas, and political cinemas. Supervision and mentorship is available from world-leading researchers from SELCS and CMII, with 83% of SELCS-CMII research activity being graded 4* ‘world leading’ and 3* ‘internationally excellent’ in the REF 2021.

Who this course is for

The programme is for graduates with a background or interest in cinema history, film theory or relevant disciplines. It is suitable for both recent Masters graduates as well as early or mid-career professionals. This MPhil/PhD is for applicants with a strong interest in conducting multi-disciplinary research, who may have completed post-graduate training or study and want to develop an advanced critical analysis in a specific research area.

What this course will give you

UCL provides a uniquely rich research environment for the study of cinema at the heart of the dynamic city of London. Students can draw on faculty expertise from across the university, in particular from the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, Social & Historical Sciences, the School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS), and the Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry (CMII).

Students are supported by a dynamic research culture, a stimulating environment and excellent opportunities for research training. UCL houses numerous seminars and guest lectures, and researchers have access to world-class libraries at UCL, the University of London, the British Library and the British Film Institute.

The foundation of your career

PhD students demonstrate the ability to produce original research and to construct convincing and original arguments. Many have gone on to significant academic positions and teaching roles elsewhere, as well as pursuing careers in writing and research.

Our research students have entered a variety of professions including law, public policy, media, publishing, journalism and many have pursued academic research or educational careers. Woking in a range of roles in international organisations, arts, heritage or cultural sectors, and the government.

Employability

Beyond becoming an expert in your chosen field, you will gain employable attributes including leadership, communication, teamwork, language and business skills, refined in a dynamic cross-disciplinary research environment.

Doctoral students develop a range of skills that are invaluable in academia and in numerous other fields where PhD holders are prized for their skills in communication, critical analysis, management of projects and deadlines, and intercultural mediation.

Networking

The Film Studies department has particular research strengths in cinema history, film theory, and in an exceptionally broad range of national and regional cinemas. Research students can benefit from links with various networks and research partners such as the Screen Studies Group, London's Silent Cinemas, Open City Docs Fest and The Cine-Tourist.

London is a vibrant centre for academic work, and regularly hosts seminars, symposia, and conferences. UCL is central to the city's research culture and students have access to specialist archives and library collections.

Teaching and learning

Research students undertake relevant induction sessions and can take advantage of the Doctoral Skills Development Programme. PhD students meet regularly in term time with their supervisors and may be offered opportunities to gain valuable teaching experience and participate in reading groups and conferences.

To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a piece of writing (this is usually based on one chapter from your thesis and a chapter plan for the remainder). You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the Faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

Depending on staff availability, there is provision for a small number of students to pursue the Documentary Track pathway, which allows suitably qualified PhD students to submit a thesis of 60,000-70,000 words and a within-copyright filmed documentary of 20-30 minutes in length in place of the standard requirement of a thesis of 80,000-100,000 words in length.

The documentary-track PhD is researched in a twofold manner as a text and a film project and developed in two parallel but interdependent modes of discourse. Thus the two projects are intended to overlap closely such that the documentary is part of the integrated whole of the argument of the thesis. An example of a research project which might be pursued using this methodology would be the study (in the form of an academic thesis) of the works of a living author or artist or film director along with a creative, research-led documentary film on the same individual's work. It is expected that the two parts of the research project will form a composite whole. It will also be necessary for the candidate to provide a statement explaining the research question and aims addressed by the documentary film including written production notes, and a discussion of the stages of research and choice of methodology.

PhD students should treat their research programme as a full-time job, which equates roughly to 35 hours per week, or 15 hours for Part-time students. Students agree to a timetable of regular meetings with the Principal Supervisor to effectively manage the progression of project aims. This is flexible, at some points it may be necessary to meet more or less often. Full-time students can expect to meet supervisors every two weeks during the academic year, and part-time students every four weeks. If a student has external funding, they should also ensure they meet the Terms & Conditions of the funder.

Research areas and structure

  • North and Latin American cinema history
  • European cinema history
  • Documentary cinema
  • Non-theatrical/radical cinema
  • The history of the discipline
  • Silent cinema
  • Film theory
  • The political economy of cinema

Research environment

Research students are encouraged to participate in research seminars across and outside SELCS-CMII including networks such as the Open City Docs Fest and the Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry. Students contribute significantly to the research environment through the organisation of annual conferences, and participation in seminars and online journals.

Students can access special collections in Modern Languages, Culture and History at UCL and other world-class libraries (Senate House and British Library) within walking distance of campus. As well as access to research support in the form of academic skills courses, student-led workshops and reading groups.

In the first instance, candidates should establish a dialogue with a potential supervisor before making a formal application. The length of registration for the research degree programmes is usually three years for full-time and five years for part-time. You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration. 

Upon successful completion of your approved period of registration you may register as a completing research student (CRS) while you write up your thesis.

In the first year, you will be required to take part in a mandatory Skills Seminar Programme. You are expected to agree with your supervisor the basic structure of your research project, an appropriate research method and a realistic plan of work. You will produce and submit a detailed outline of your proposed research to your supervisor for their comments and feedback and be given the opportunity to present your research to UCL academic staff and fellow PhD students.

In the second year, you will be expected to upgrade from MPhil to a PhD. To successfully upgrade to a PhD you are required to submit a piece of writing (this is usually based on one chapter from your thesis and a chapter plan for the remainder). You are also required to present and answer questions about this work to a panel consisting of your subsidiary supervisor and another member of the Faculty who acts as an independent assessor.

The length of registration for the research degree programmes is usually three years for full-time and five years for part-time. You are required to register initially for the MPhil degree with the expectation of transfer to PhD after successful completion of an upgrade viva 9-18 months after initial registration. 

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.


Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £28,100 £14,050

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Additional costs may include expenses such as books, stationery, printing or photocopying, and conference registration fees.

The department strives to keep additional costs low. Books and journal articles are usually available via the UCL library (hard copies or via e-journal subscriptions).

The wealth of departmental seminars / colloquiums / symposiums and student organised work in progress sessions give ample opportunities to present research, receive feedback and participate in discussion.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For more details about departmental funding available to postgraduate research students in the department, please refer to our Funding, Scholarships and Prizes (Research) webpage.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Quirk PhD Scholarship

Deadline: 26 January 2024
Value: Fees and maintenance (3yrs)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

All applicants must identify and contact potential supervisors before making their application. For more information see our 'Need to Know' page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.