SOAS University of London

Centre for Global Media and Communications

Research Degrees: Media Studies (2022 entry)

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Overview and entry requirements

Media and Film Studies at SOAS has an expanding programme of doctoral research with some thirty research students currently enrolled. Our research students work on an exceptionally wide range of topics, both theoretical and empirical, with about half coming from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and half from Europe and North America.

The Centre puts emphasis on the acquisition of critical theoretical skills and in-depth regional, linguistic and cultural knowledge of media and film forms and practices.

The PhD in Media and Film Studies is a research degree, involving original research on some aspect of contemporary theoretical and global issues in media and film. Our approach to media and film studies involves a developed critique of Eurocentrism. Our speciality is the analysis of the film and media industries, their contents and their audiences in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and their diasporas, an approach equally well-suited to research on Latin American, East European and mainstream ‘Western' media.

In 2007 we opened a PhD stream designed to integrate and interrogate the relationships between theory and practice. The submitted work comprises 60,000 words of written work and up to one hour of audio-visual materials.

A research degree in media and film normally takes three years, or up to a maximum of four years should extensive periods of fieldwork be required. Part-time registration is also possible.

The Centre stresses interdisciplinarity and draws upon expertise right across the School. So the PhD Programme is equally suited to researchers who wish to engage in detailed study of media and film in Asia or Africa and to those who wish to combine media and film studies with other disciplines, ranging from the study of language and culture through the humanities to the social sciences.

We consider research students to be one of our main research strengths and advise them to develop a portfolio of projects, whether individual or collaborative, which will be relevant to their future careers. In their final year, we also encourage them to organize symposia and film festivals based on their fields of special expertise and aimed at a broader audience. For example, the student-led Sacredmediacow collective organised a conference on media in India and produced an edited book, Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change, which was published by Routledge. Other students have become involved with the organization of the Small Media Initiative events every autumn.  Many students also give papers at national and international conferences and some publish in academic journals.

Our research in film and media has been ranked in the top 20 in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, with more than a third of our research publications assessed as 4* (world-leading). See Centre for Global Media and Communications

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

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Fees 2022/23

Home students fees:
Overseas students fees:

Fees for 2022/23 entrants. The fees are per academic year. Please note that fees go up each year. Further details can be found on the Postgraduate research tuition fees page



The research degree has two paths. The first is the standard research route comprising a thesis of 100,000 words. The second is a research stream with a practical component designed for film and media professionals who wish to combine PhD research with practical production. The research will consist of a thesis of 60,000 words with an hour of film/video production (subject to approval).
You will be registered as a research student in the Centre for Media and Film Studies, which is an autonomous entity within the School. Degrees are awarded by the University of London.

Your research will be guided throughout by a research committee of three staff members, consisting of two supervisors and a head of the committee, who is normally the Postgraduate Tutor. Depending on the nature of your research, there are two possible kinds of supervision.

  • You may either have a primary supervisor, who will be the main person responsible for guiding your research, and a second supervisor with a lesser role, who will provide additional expertise.
  • Alternatively, it may prove more appropriate for you to have co-supervision,
    commonly one supervisor being a media or film specialist, the other being a specialist in the area you are researching or the discipline that you are linking to media or film.

In the first year, you prepare for research by following an MPhil training programme. The aim of the training programme is to give you a thorough grounding in theory, methods, regional, cultural, linguistic and any special disciplinary expertise you may require for your research.

Required courses

  • MPhil Training Seminar – a weekly course of seminars specially for first year research students, the syllabus being determined by the interests and requirements of the students in that particular year
  • CMFS Research Seminar – a weekly seminar attended by the entire academic staff and student body of the Centre at which contemporary issues in media research and practice are presented by leading scholars in media and film studies, independent film directors and NGO and media activists.
  • Research Methods Course – a weekly course over one term, designed to provide a solid grounding in methods required for different kinds of research. It includes emphasis on discourse and interpretive analysis.

Other elements will be agreed between you, the Postgraduate Tutor and your supervisor(s). These might include

  • Media or Film Theory – you will probably be asked to take the first term of one or more media or film theory courses, depending on what theoretical background you already have. The aim is to provide you with a range of theoretical approaches necessary for your research.
Current courses include:
  • Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Media and Cultural Studies
  • Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Global Media and Post-national Communication
  • Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Media, Communication Technologies and Development

Further optional elements may consist of specialist disciplinary, language or regional culture courses, which you and the Centre staff agree are useful to your research.

Multimedia and video production –  The Centre is firmly committed to the link between theory and practice, especially in the digital era. We have a well equipped multimedia unit and training is available to meet a range of multimedia needs.

Apart from your formal doctoral research, we encourage you to develop a portfolio, which includes downloaded and scanned materials, smaller projects (individual or collaborative), that may well be important for your future career.

Also London is one of the media and film capitals of the world. So we encourage you to make full use of what is available. Apart from the British Film Institute, we have formal institutional collaboration with the main colleges in the University teaching media and film, including Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, Kings and Queen Mary. We are a member of the Screen Studies Group comprising the main film and media departments in the University of London, which runs its own research training event and conference series.


In May of the first year, you submit  an Upgrade Research Report  of 15,000 words, outlining your proposed research questions, empirical background and the theoretical framework that you propose to use. This is assessed by two academics, usually your second supervisor and someone outside the Centre who are specialists on the topic. On successful completion of the Upgrade Report, you are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the research phase, which conventionally lasts up to a year. If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the Report, you will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before you can proceed to research.  

The second year is normally spent engaged in research. This may be by any combination of fieldwork, research in libraries, film and media archives, international film or media festivals as agreed with your supervisor(s).

The third year is devoted to writing up your research for your PhD thesis. During this time, you will normally give a presentation to the Postgraduate Research Seminar which comprises  both staff members and other research students. During this time you will present draft chapters to your supervisor(s) for comment, before writing the final draft for examination. Your thesis will be examined by two leading authorities on media or film studies. One will be Internal to the University of London.  The external examiner is always a scholar from outside the University of London.

If you are studying part time, you take the required theory courses in your first year and attend the MPhil training seminar and write your Research Report in the second year. The length of time for field or other research, and writing up, is adjusted accordingly.

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching & Learning

Academic staff and their research areas

Dr Dina Matar, MSc PhD (London)
Middle East, especially the Arab world; international political communication; Arab cultural politics; Arab cultural studies; memory studies and oral history; Islamist  movements; social movements and media; diasporas; ethnic minorities; transnational movements and communications.

Dr Somnath Batabyal, MA (SOAS), PhD (SOAS)
Southeast Asia with a focus on India; transnational news spheres with a special focus on India; Development discourses in India and its articulation in mainstream and alternate news forums; environmental politics.

Dr Matti Pohjonen, MA (SOAS), PhD (SOAS)
East Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia; critical theory; digital anthropology; digital methods; social media and conflict; online extremism and hate speech; big data and artificial intelligence.

Associate Members

Professor of International Relations

Senior Lecturer in African Film and Performance Arts

Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema

Ms Narguess Farzad BA(LONDON)
Senior Fellow, Persian Language and Literature

Dr Sian Hawthorne BA(LONDON) PHD(LONDON)
Lecturer in Critical Theory and the Study of Religions

Dr Dana Healy PHD (PRAGUE)
Senior Lecturer in Vietnamese

Professor Michel Hockx DRS PHD(LEIDEN)
Professor of Chinese

Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Reader in Anthropology with reference to Japan

Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iranian Studies

Dr Parvathi Raman BA PHD(LONDON)
Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Dr Justin Watkins BA(LEEDS) MA PHD(LONDON)
Senior Lecturer in the Languages and Linguistics of South East Asia

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Fees for 2022/23 entrants per academic year

Home students Overseas students
Full-time £4,670 £20,800
Part-time £2,335 £10,400

Please note that fees go up each year. 

See full details of postgraduate research tuition fees

CHASE AHRC Studentship 2022

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 12:00

Elisabeth Croll Scholarship for fieldwork in China

Application Deadline: 2021-04-30 00:00

Felix Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-01-28 15:00

JRC Fuwaku Scholarship

JRC Fuwaku Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

Meiji Jingu Japanese Studies Research Scholarships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

Neil Kreitman Studentship

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships

Application Deadline: 2022-04-17 00:00

SOAS Research Studentships - School of Arts

Application Deadline: 2022-05-06 00:00

Saraswati Dalmia Scholarship

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

Sasakawa Postgraduate Studentship

Application Deadline: 2022-04-05 00:00

Tibawi Trust Award

Application Deadline: 2022-05-02 00:00

For further details and information on external scholarships visit the Scholarships section



Graduates from the Centre for Global Media and Communications gain expertise in media, communications and film production within a global framework. Graduates develop a portfolio of transferable skills including communication skills, interpersonal skills and team work, which are highly respected by employers.

Recent Centre for Global Media and Communications graduates have been hired by:

  • Africa Mediaworks Ltd.
  • Al Jazeera
  • Associated Press
  • BBC
  • Breakthrough Breast Cancer
  • British Film Institute
  • Channel 5
  • Comic Relief
  • Cordoba African Film Festival
  • Discovery Communications
  • Equality Now
  • Hackney Film Festival
  • International Channel Shanghai
  • Internews Europe
  • Merlin
  • Novus
  • Office for National Statistics
  • Royal College of Art
  • The Institute of Ismaili Studies
  • Unilever
  • United Nations
  • Westminster City Council

Find out about our Careers Service. 

A Student's Perspective

If you have ever wondered why you are the only person you know who is remotely interested in the Sogdian language, Achaemenid legal codes or Biblical references to the playing of the lute, take heart. SOAS is waiting for you.

Fiona O’Cleirigh


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