Film Studies

  • MPhil/PhD Film Studies
Degree typesTypes of research degrees explained
DurationDegree duration details
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Study modesFull time and part time
Distance-based research available Study mode details
Start date September, January or April

Research overview

Why study for a PhD in Film?

Hear from Chris Grosvenor (PhD student in Film Studies) as he explains why he chose to study for his PhD at Exeter.

The Film Studies’ research culture at Exeter is varied and rich. All members of academic staff are active researchers

Main areas of research focus

  • History and theory of American cinema
  • British and European cinemas
  • Transnational and world cinemas (African, East Asian, Latin American and diasporic cinemas and filmmakers)
  • Early and silent cinema
  • US TV
  • Film technologies and special effects
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Stars, acting and performance
  • Adaptation studies
  • Genre studies
  • Sound

Interdisciplinary Film Research

The Centre for Interdisciplinary Film Research (CIFR) provides a lively interdisciplinary research forum for research staff, academics, postgraduates and film practitioners. It encourages intellectual exchange between film theory, history and practice and regularly hosts external speakers from both academia and the creative industries to give papers, presentations and workshops. Recent speakers have included filmmakers Don Boyd, Mike Figgis, Mike Leigh and Nicolas Roeg, screenwriter Andrew Davies and sound designer Tom Sayers.

Recent theses

The wide range of expertise in film studies is reflected in the diverse range research projects that our current PhD students are working on. These projects include:

  • the political thriller in the 1950s
  • the politics of costume in 1950s French cinema
  • sound style and practice in contemporary US cinema
  • concepts of slow cinema; re-evaluating the western
  • HBO television and brand identity
  • female criminality in postwar US cinema
  • representations of history in Taiwanese cinema
  • rethinking narrative cinema
  • female fan culture in British silent cinema
  • visual perception in the films of Polanski
  • pop music and the Beatles films
  • the films of Nic Roeg and chromophobia.

Research culture

Film Studies’ postgraduates are part of a vibrant research culture at Exeter. Staff and research students regularly present their research in the Centre for Research into Film Studies forum, which also hosts visiting speakers. Film studies staff and students also regularly organise conferences. As well as receiving research training, mentoring and supervision to support their research projects, many PhD students undertake training and practice in teaching, leading to a recognised qualification in higher education teaching.

Students also get to meet film practitioners on a regular basis to test out their ideas and work. We have two honorary professors of film, Don Boyd and Nic Roeg, who make termly visits to deliver workshops and tutorials.


Exeter has unique resources which make it ideally positioned to support the advanced study of film. The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture holds a wide ranging collection of more than 70,000 film related artefacts. The collection is accessible for all postgraduates to use as a research and study resource. Housed in the University’s state-of-the-art study facility, the Research Commons, the diverse collection includes objects relating to the history of the moving image. These include optical toys, magic lantern slides, a Lumière cinematograph; film publicity such as posters from the Hollywood era to contemporary film; material on film stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn; and material on animation, particularly Disney films. Many of our film modules exploit these resources giving students a highly distinctive and valuable experience of studying and researching film using primary materials, documents and artefacts.

The main library also has significant holdings in the area of film studies including books, journals and more than 10,000 films and television programmes on videotape and DVD.  Our Audio-Visual collection in the University library comprises over 12,000 film titles, in addition to books and recordings of American music of all kinds.

All postgraduates enjoy access to excellent computing facilities. The postgraduate common room in the Queen’s Building provides a relaxing space where postgraduate students can meet and work together in reading and discussion groups.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Film Studies postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Job title
Vice President of creative content
Lecturer Creative Media
Information Systems Analyst IV

Entry requirements 2020

Students applying to enter directly into the MPhil/PhD programme would normally be expected to have a Masters degree with Merit or equivalent in Film Studies, or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2020/21

Following your registration, tuition fees for subsequent years of study may increase to take into account inflationary pressures – this will not exceed 3 per cent per year of study.

Tuition fees per year 2019/20

Following your registration, tuition fees for subsequent years of study may increase to take into account inflationary pressures – this will not exceed 5 per cent per year of study.

Current available funding

Contact us

Professor Linda Ruth Williams
Professor in Film Studies
Phone: +44 (0) 01392 723284

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online


Why study for a PhD in Film at Exeter?

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