Film Studies PhD
Why choose this programme
We belong to the interdisciplinary School of Literature and Languages, which has research-active staff in English literature, creative writing, film studies, translation studies, theoretical and applied linguistics, and literary and cultural studies.
Our film researchers work on a range of specialist areas within the areas of cinema studies and visual studies, including:
- Issues of gender
- The connection between music and the cinema
- Documentary film and media
- Genre cinema
- Cognitive analysis of the moving image
- Animation studies.
Our researchers have close links to the Department of Music and Media at Surrey, which also carries out cutting-edge research.
We’re part of TECHNE, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded doctoral training partnership, which provides access to comprehensive academic and professional training programmes, as well as the possibility of funding for your studies.
The University of Surrey is 33rd in the UK rankings for overall research quality by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Forty-one per cent of Surrey’s research is rated as world-leading, the highest possible rating, up from 22% when REF last took place in 2014. The University is now also ranked in the top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs – research papers and other published works.
Our diverse mix of subject specialities means we’re a vibrant and imaginative community with plenty of opportunity for intellectual exchange.
What you will study
Our PhD in Film Studies will train you in critical and analytical skills, research methods, and knowledge that will equip you for your professional or academic career. It normally takes around three or four years to complete our full-time PhD.
You’ll be assigned a primary and secondary supervisor, who will meet with you regularly to read and discuss your work and make sure that you’re on track. For us, writing is essential for understanding and developing new perspectives, so you’ll be submitting written work right from the start of your course.
In your first year, you’ll refine your research proposal and plan the structure of your work with the guidance and support of your supervisors. As you go into your second and third year, you’ll gradually learn to work more independently, and your supervisors will guide you on how to present at conferences and get your work published.
As a doctoral student in the School of Literatures and Languages, you’ll receive a structured training programme covering the practical aspects of being a researcher, including grant-writing, publishing in journals, and applying for academic jobs.
After 12-15 months, you’ll submit a substantial piece of work for a confirmation examination. The examination will be conducted by two internal members of staff not on your supervisory team and will give you the opportunity to gain additional guidance on your research-to-date. The final two years of your PhD will be devoted to expanding and refining your work ready for submission of the final thesis.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination by a panel of one or more external examiners as well as an internal examiner. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate careers and employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
- Environmental humanities
- Cognitive analysis of moving image
- The film industry and popular film/culture.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Literature and Languages.
You’ll be allocated shared office space within the School of Literature and Languages and have full access to our library and online resources. Our close proximity to London also means that the British Library and many other important archives are within easy reach.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of a wide range of services to support and develop your writing and research skills, including the University’s Researcher Development Programme. In addition to a number of excellent training opportunities offered by the University, our PhD students can take additional subject-specific training and take part in the School’s seminars and events which provide a valuable opportunity to meet visiting scholars whose work connects with our own research strengths.
Applicants are expected to hold a a good first-class UK degree (a minimum 2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in a relevant topic.
Applicants are expected to hold an upper second-class (2:1) UK degree (65 per cent or above) in psychology (or a related discipline).
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Applicants are advised to contact potential supervisors before they submit an application via the website. Please refer to section two of our application guidance.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Selection is based on applicants:
- Meeting the expected entry requirements
- Being shortlisted through the application screening process
- Completing a successful interview
- Providing suitable references.
Start date: January 2024
Start date: April 2024
Start date: July 2024
Start date: October 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.
View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Read our application guidance for further information on the application process.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and procedures, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.