Media and Cultural Studies - PhD
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)....
Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23
The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.
Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
- Level Postgraduate Research
- Study mode Full Time/Part Time/Distance Learning
- Location City Centre
- Award PhD
- Start date September 2022, February 2023
- School Birmingham School of Media
- Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media
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 this 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 Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership and University supported initiatives. The latter are advertised on the website when they are available.
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 Studies
- Screen Cultures
- Jazz Studies
- Journalism, Activism and Community
- History, Heritage and Archives
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.
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
- 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
- Media and conflict
- Austerity and the media
- Community media and media activism
- Gaming cultures
- Amateur/informal cultural production
- Hyperlocal journalism
- Media practice
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Sep 2022
Starting: Feb 2023
Starting: Sep 2022
Starting: Feb 2023
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 up to a maximum of five per cent.
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.
English Language Requirements for International Students
Valid Academic IELTS certificate with overall score of 7.0 with no band below 6.5 or equivalent.
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….."
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”
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?
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.
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?
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.
Course in Depth
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 in the video above.
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
Whether you study part time or full time, you can undertake your PhD through one of three structured approaches to learning.
As a PhD research student studying with attendance, you will undertake much of your research on campus using the facilities at Birmingham School of Media.
If you are studying full time, in your first term of study you will complete the PGCert in Research Practice, working alongside your supervisory team to produce an assessed research proposal, and a professional development plan.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.
If you are studying part time, you will complete the PGCert in Research Practice, working alongside your supervisory team to produce an assessed research proposal, and a professional development plan. 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.
International Blended Learning PhD Research: four years
Our international blended learning PhD is carefully structured with strict milestones to support you through to timely completion. This approach is particularly focused on international students who require the structure of their PhD to meet their previous experience, work commitments, and personal commitments.
You will be part of an international cohort of other postgraduate researchers, and have regular cohort supervision via video conferencing platforms. We particularly welcome expressions of interest in the area of gender and media.
You will attend an annual summer school at our Birmingham, UK campus, which will include workshops, lectures and your annual review. You will also take part in cultural visits, have face-to-face engagement and be involved in activities with your supervisory team, cohort and the wider BCU media and cultural studies research community.
You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-48 months.
Apply through the full or part time mode of study, but indicate in your application that you wish to be considered for the International Blended structured approach to Learning
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.
For your first term of study you will complete an online version of the PGCert in Research Practice, working alongside your supervisory team to produce an assessed research proposal, and a professional development plan.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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
Former Nigerian researcher Ezinne Igwe, investigated the state of the contemporary Nigerian film industry describes her experience as a PhD student:
Facilities and Staff
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses.
With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
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.
We will appoint you a team of supervisors from our academic staff, selected for their expertise in your specific area of PhD research:
- Dr Simon Barber (Popular music culture, songwriting)
- Dr Oliver Carter (Cult cinema, media fandom, pornography studies)
- Dr Gemma Commane (Gender, sexuality, identity)
- Professor Rajinder Dudrah (Popular Indian cinema, diasporic and transnational media)
- Dr Kirsten Forkert (Austerity and the media, community media, media activism)
- Professor Nicholas Gebhardt (Popular music culture, jazz studies)
- Professor John Mercer (Sexuality and cultural construction of masculinity, pornography studies, fandom, film and television melodrama)
- Dr Annette Naudin (Cultural entrepreneurship, cultural work)
- Dr Dima Saber (Media and conflict, community media and media activism)
- Professor Tim Wall (Radio studies, jazz studies, popular music culture)
- Dr Nick Webber (Gaming cultures, media history)
- Professor Tony Whyton (Jazz studies)
Dr Oliver Carter
Reader in Creative Economies
Dr. Oliver Carter is a Reader in Creative Economies at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University. His research focuses on alternative economies of cultural production; informal forms of industry that are often removed from a formal cultural industries discourse. He is the author of the monograph Making European Cult Cinema: Fan Enterprise in an Alternative Economy, and is currently writing his second monograph, which explores the cultural and economic development of the British adult film industry. This research has informed the award winning documentary series Sexposed and the feature Hardcore Guaranteed, both of which are distributed by Amazon Video. In 2018 he was awarded a British Academy Small Grant to explore the transnational trade in hardcore pornography between Britain, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, holding public research events in Copenhagen and Amsterdam that brought together those with knowledge and experience of the trade.More about Oliver