PhD Research Degrees

We receive enquiries and requests for information throughout the year and do our best to respond to you as quickly as possible. We enrol students to research degrees at two points during the UK academic year in February and September.

If you choose to make a formal application to us you will be asked to complete an application form and this will need to include an initial proposal for your study. This is because a research degree contains no significant taught elements and you need to be able to establish an original piece of research at the outset.

You can find details on how to write a proposal below. We are delighted to advise you on your application proposal, but ultimately this must be your own work.

Once we have received your completed application we will make arrangements to interview you either in person or if this is not possible, using the telephone or the internet. This is not meant to be an intimidating process but rather it enables you to ask questions and us to make sure that you understand what research at this level entails. On the basis of both a successful application and interview we will make an offer of a place as a research student with the centre.

General Enquiries

If you have any general or specific questions about research degrees within the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research please do not hesitate to contact us. In the first instance you should address your requests to our Research Degree Officer Shelley Fray who will either answer your request or refer it on to the Programme Leader for Media and Cultural Research Degrees Dr John Mercer.

How to write a proposal

Writing a proposal is an important part of the application process for a research degree and is worth spending some time on. A proposal gives you the opportunity to articulate in clear and simple terms what it is that you are interested in researching and the reasons why this research is necessary. It helps you to think through where your interests lie and what your plans are and helps your reader to see if your idea is well developed and what you need to work on.

Following the list of headings below will help you to produce a coherent proposal and will also encourage you to begin to think about some of the practical and scholarly issues that you need to consider when embarking on this kind of work. This is a good discipline so it's worth following these headings as closely as you think is necessary.

Name and contact details

Make sure you have indicated who your are and have provided up to date contact details.


Try to clearly outline what the purpose of your research is. Keep it simple and keep it comprehensible e.g. "The objective of this research project is to..."


Make sure that you explain the scope of your research 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…"


You will need to explain why you think that this research is needed. There are specific things to consider here.

Indicate that you know what work already exists in your chosen field (if any).

What do you imagine the wider benefits of this research will be?


Clearly explain what methods you will use to conduct your research demonstrating that you have:

  • Explained the reasons for your choice of methodology and why it is appropriate.
  • Thought of potential problems that you may encounter.

Are there specific facilities that you will need to conduct your research? e.g. Do you need specific pieces of software or technical equipment?

If so are these already in place? e.g. Have you discussed these needs with a potential supervisor?

How do you propose to fund your research? Being confident that you are able to pay fees is vitally important.


Provide a bibliography indicating the sources that you have referred to in your proposal and indicative sources that you imagine you will use.