Our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies has a distinguished history of combining critical and creative work, and we have long been home to poets, novelists, translators, dramatists and actors, alongside literary critics, drama scholars and film theorists. Our PhD Film Studies (Creative Practice) draws on this unique tradition, offering supervision for students in all fields of our wide-ranging staff research expertise, including an exceptional variety of approaches to mainstream and experimental practice, global cinemas, and comparative media.
This PhD offers you a choice of pathways for you to develop your creative practice. You will either work on a full length original screenplay or equivalent short screenplays (80-120 pages, equivalent to 80-100+ minutes of screen time and roughly 30,000 words) accompanied by a critical commentary of 40,000 words. Alternatively, you may choose to work on a full-length film or equivalent short films (80-120 minutes screen time), a sample screenplay excerpt (10,000+ words) and critical commentary (30,000-40,000 words).
We also offer an MPhil in this subject.
Please note that part-time research study is also available.
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, you will be allocated a supervisor whose role it is to guide you through the different stages of your research degree. In some cases, you may have joint supervision by two members of our staff.
The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your research student experience and you will have regular one-to-one meetings to discuss progress on your research. Initially, your supervisor will help you develop your research topic and plan.
Twice a year for full-time students, you will have a supervisory board meeting, which provides a more formal opportunity to discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.
Studying within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies will give you access to a range of exceptional resources and facilities to enhance your learning and research, including a dedicated 120-seat film theatre, fitted with a digital HD projection facilities.
Our Department houses a substantial collection of DVDs, which are available for student borrowing, and complemented by the extensive audio-visual holdings in the University’s Albert Sloman Library.
Our library has been acquiring exceptional holdings in film and media studies, as well the literature, culture, history, politics and society of the US, the Soviet Union, Russia and Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Our university was founded in the early 1960s, and has continued to expand both the volume and the global scope of these resources. You will also find in the library a number of special collections and rare archive materials, which are available for students as unique resources to support your research.
Our Centre for Film and Screen Media co-ordinates a series of weekly screenings, along with a variety of other film-related activities. We organise conferences, sponsor special screenings, and host speakers, attracting leading scholars and filmmakers from the UK and around the world. In addition, our University has a number of excellent film societies, which screen and discuss both recent blockbusters and less mainstream, arthouse films.
The Department also benefits from our Lakeside Theatre which, over the past three decades, has been established as a major venue for high quality drama. Not only do many professional touring companies bring their productions of new plays here, but there has also been a wealth of original work produced by our own staff and students, including a new production of Pantomime written and directed by Derek Walcott and the UK premiere of his play Moon-Child. An essential element of our Lakeside Theatre’s programme has been the opportunity it has given our students to write or direct new plays, as well as re-define classics and re-discover neglected masterpieces.
Our graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers in production and academia, as well as other careers. Other past students in the Department are now established as university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, and translators.
You will need a good Masters degree or equivalent, in a related subject. Some applicants may be accepted on the basis of an outstanding Bachelors degree. A well-developed research proposal is also essential.
You may be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.
From the first day of your research within our Department, we encourage you to plan your work so that you can expect to submit your thesis for examination by the end of three years. A typical first year of undertaking research within our Department would involve developing a statement in which you will define the aims, theories and methods proposed for the thesis and practical project, an indicative bibliography and a timetable for completion of all elements of the thesis. During this year, you will start collecting your primary and secondary research material according to your chosen topic and timeline, as well pre-production for practical elements.
Your typical second year should involve continuing to investigate and write, while further developing the practice-based elements. In this second year (or the end of your third year, if studying part-time), your first supervisory board of the year will be your Confirmation Board. This will review the evidence to confirm whether or not you should progress and whether your work is at PhD level. After confirmation of your status, you should undertake further substantial research and writing over the next 12 months.
In a typical third year, you should complete the practical project while also finalising draft chapters, then revise your work into a final version ready for submission.
Within our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, your PhD thesis is generally completed within three years and will align with the requirements for the PhD (Creative Practice) outlined above..
Your PhD is awarded after your successful defence of your thesis in an oral examination, in which you are interviewed about your research by two examiners,one of whom is specialist in the field from an external institution.
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
We hold open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.
We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
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