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Centre for Film Studies

Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Film Studies

Programme Code: P3Z1 (Full-Time) & P3Z2 (Part-Time)

Overview

The Centre for Film and Screen Studies invites applications for disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in Film and Screen Studies with particular reference to Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle East. The Centre’s geographical focus on film/screen industries and movements beyond the dominant Western ‘global’ Hollywood and European economies of production, distribution and exhibition, makes the Centre unique in its approach. We are also keen to promote research on the transnational, transcultural and multi-media nature of the image in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

In a ‘global’ industry, film and media scholars and practitioners are increasingly recognising the need for a move toward the study of image cultures and industries beyond the historical hegemonies of the European and Hollywood industries. The range of expertise in non-Western film/screen studies and cultures offered at SOAS provides a unique opportunity to respond and contribute to current critical and theoretical debates in these disciplines by providing a vibrant intellectual home for research students with an interest in film and screen studies.

Contact: Dr Isolde Standish is16@soas.ac.uk

Structure

All students register in year 1 of the programme as MPhil students. The upgrade from MPhil to PhD takes place at the end of the first academic session for full time students (or at the end of the second academic session for part time students).

All new MPhil/PhD students are provided with a supervisory committee of three members, comprising a main or primary supervisor, and a second and third supervisor. The split in time commitment across the supervisory committee is 60:25:15. In the first year students are expected to meet their main supervisor on a bi-weekly basis for a period of at least one hour.

The student’s primary supervisor is always a member of the Department in which the student is registered. The second and third supervisors, who act in a supplementary advisory capacity, may be from the same Department, or other Departments/Centres in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures or in Departments/Centres in the other Faculties of the School.

Depending on the nature of the research, joint supervision is sometimes recommended, under the direction of two primary supervisors. In such cases the student has only one further supervisor on their committee.

The student’s progress is further overseen by a Departmental Research Tutor.

In the first year, students prepare for research by following a research training seminar series (RTS) convened at the Faculty level by the Associate Dean for Research and supported by the generic training on offer in the Academic Development Directorate (ADD). See http://www.soas.ac.uk/add/

Students working in the fields of literature and cultural studies are also invited to participate in the additional training offered in the Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS). See http://www.soas.ac.uk/cclps/degrees/phd/

Students may also be encouraged by supervisors to attend additional taught courses relevant to their research and to their training needs. These may include specialist disciplinary, language or regional culture courses or research training in other Departments outside the Faculty.

Year 1 full time students (year 2 for part time students)  are required to submit a core chapter and research proposal (of about 10,000 words) by Friday 10th May 2013, typically including the following elements:

1. Research rationale and context of proposed research
2. Main research questions
3. Literature review
4. Theoretical and methodological framework and considerations
5. Proposed research methods
6. Ethical issues (where applicable)
7. Outlining structure of PhD dissertation
8. Schedule of research and writing
9. Bibliography.

Adjustments to one or more of these sections, including additions or deletions where appropriate, are possible by prior arrangement between the students and lead supervisors.

The upgrade process from MPhil to PhD status is based upon an assessment of the core chapter by the student’s research committee, and upon on a 20-30 minute oral presentation, followed by a discussion. The oral presentation is given to Departmental staff and research students. On successful completion of the extended proposal, students are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the second year. (If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the upgrade proposal, students will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before the upgrade to PhD status can be confirmed.) Students are not normally permitted to proceed to the second year until the upgrade process has been completed.

The second year (or part time equivalent) is normally spent engaged in research. This may be by any combination of fieldwork and research in libraries and material collection as agreed between the student and the supervisor(s).

The third year (or part time equivalent) is devoted to writing up research for the PhD thesis. During this time, students will normally give a presentation in a research seminar organised by the Departmental Research Tutor, comprising a select number of staff members with special expertise in the topic and other research students. During the third year (or part time equivalent) students will present draft chapters to their main supervisor for comment, before completing a final draft of the thesis. Once a full draft is complete, the work is assessed by all members of the supervisory committee and the student can either submit the thesis or move on to Continuation Status to be given a further 12 months to complete the thesis and submit for examination. The thesis must be completed within 48 months from the time of registration (or part time equivalent).

The thesis – not to exceed 100,000 words in length - is examined by two leading authorities in the field, one of whom is internal to the University of London and one of whom is external to the University.

PhD Degrees are awarded by SOAS from registration in 2013 and are subject to SOAS regulations.

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Cinema, Nation and the Transcultural & Theories and Methods in Film and Screen Studies

 

In addition to generic methods training offered through the Faculty of Languages and Cultures seminar series convened by the Associate Dean for Research, MPhil students studying on the Centre for Film and Screen Studies MPhil/PhD programme, Film Studies, are required to attend the one term MA course Cinema, Nation and the Transculutral in the first term (obviously applicants who have completed the MA Global Cinemas and the Transcultural degree or the MA Film and History degree are exempt from this element of the course) and a discipline specific training seminar in Theories and Methods in Film and Screen Studies in the second term. The aim of the Centre training programme is to provide a thorough grounding in theory, methods, regional, cultural, linguistic and any special disciplinary expertise that may be required for the research.

These first year MPhil training courses, Cinema, Nation and the Transcultural & Theories and Methods in Film and Screen Studies, map the historical, economic and political development of cinema from its invention as a western technology, (and importantly, its exportation to the non-Western world) to the twenty-first century and the impact of digital technology. The premise that underpins this approach, rests on the understanding that the technologies of visual media and the economies of their production and dissemination have historically, since the invention of cinema and its exportation to the non-Western world, played a major role in both the undermining of the nation-state as a geo-political bounded entity, while simultaneously facilitating the re-imagining of (national/ethnic/racial) communities as factitious entities through the maintenance of regional cinemas and television outlets (which are often state or quasi-state supported and funded). To this effect, emphasis is placed on film and screen media as systems of flows – technological, industrial and content based.

The principal aim of these first year training courses are to give students a sound theoretical and technical understanding of film and screen media as communicative mechanisms that are central to how people define themselves as individuals and understand their relationship to the community and the wider world, whether this be ethnic, in terms of the ‘nation’ and/or diasporas as reflected in ‘regional cinemas’, or racial in terms of ‘Black Culture’ as reflected in Third Cinema and Nollywood and related video film booms across Africa, and ‘Pan-Arab’ media sources (Al-Jazeera). It is therefore intended that these first year training courses provide students with the following:

• the conceptual tools and vocabulary with which to analyse critically (not just narrate or describe) a body of texts from the contexts of their production (both aesthetic and industrial) and reception;
• to engage critically with existing work and pursue their own particular research interests;
• skills to identify key research agendas in the study of Film and Screen Media either in an historical context or in the contemporary age of convergences and globalisation; and
• skills of engagement with critical scholarship and ways of constructing theoretical frameworks.

It should be noted that the Centre for Film and Screen Studies training seminars are workshop styled rather than lecture based. Therefore, students will be active participants as experts in their respective regions, cinematic and/or visual traditions.

Contact Dr Isolde Standish is16@soas.ac.uk for more information.