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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Kingston University
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Kingston upon Thames
Surrey KT1 2EE

Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 9000

Film, Media and TV PhD students

Drama icon Kingston's distinctive research programme includes PhDs in both traditional Film Studies and through film making practice.

PhDs in Film Studies, normally around 80,000 words, are supervised by two or three members of the research team with expertise in your chosen area. Your supervisors guide you through the process of planning, structuring and research through a series of shorter pieces, which are then incorporated into your final thesis.

PhDs in film making are predominantly practical, and can involve a range of approaches such as a series of short documentaries leading to a feature-length drama; they also include a written component of 30,000-40,000 words, which draws out and addresses the research questions, and applies a critical, theoretical framework to your film practice.

Your first step will be to contact the Faculty research administrator who will tell you how to submit a detailed proposal. The Director of Research will then make sure we can supervise your proposal, and you will be invited to submit a formal application.

PhD in Film Studies - research students and topics

  • Christine Atchison – Religion, Interpretation and DC Comics
  • Will Brooker and Cathy O'Brien supervisors

This thesis investigates religious interpretations of DC Comics superhero narratives across various media. It focuses on long-standing characters like Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern and builds on the work of theorists, like Umberto Eco, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida, who claim that all texts carry with them a multiplicity of possible meanings. In an attempt to determine why some religious interpretations prevail over others, this thesis explores various processes and social factors, such as cultural contexts and the functions of symbols, involved in meaning making.

  • Phil Bevin – The United States of Superman: A Cultural and Political History of the Man of Steel
  • Simon Locke and Will Brooker supervisors

This thesis examines Superman's 75 year history. It includes case studies of texts across media, including comic books, television and film, from Superman's first appearance in 1938, to 2013's The Man of Steel. It places these texts within their historical and artistic contexts in order to examine the discourses which may have influenced their creation and, utilising these discussions, traces the development of Superman's cultural and political significance over the seven and a half decades of his existence in popular culture.

  • Stephen Mayhew Becoming John Ford: The Silent Period 1914 1930
  • Cathy O'Brien and Will Brooker supervisors

Drawing on extensive primary research into John Ford's early films, from the silent era up until the late 1920s, the thesis charts the evolution of what has become known as the 'Fordian sensibility' through a close textual analysis of the director's extant silent films, taking into account the implications of the auteur theory as applied to Ford's work. A major part of the research process has been devoted to the appropriation of the director's surviving early titles, in order that all existing film materials relevant to the thesis can be included.

  • Shweta Sharma – Motherhood in the Action Film
  • Andrea Rinke and Corin Depper supervisors

My PhD thesis explores the representation of the 'maternal action heroine' in Hollywood, a subject which is as yet under researched. Key films including Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Cell, Panic Room, Kill Bill 1 and 2, Flight Plan and Silent Hill are examined using a cultural studies approach (backlash against feminism, post-feminism) incorporating elements of genre studies (action adventure, melodrama) and star studies (Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Jodie Foster).

PhD in Film Making - research students and topics

  • Elissa Khoury Ayoub – The Battle for Women's Rights in Lebanon
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisor: Abbe Fletcher

The project integrates Elissa's masters studies of Human Rights and of film making to use the tools of cinema to engage with the historical, economic, social and cultural forces that limit the rights of Lebanese women. A series of film and written pieces addresses the experiences of this group from the perspective of a Lebanese woman film maker and academic.

  • Hayyan Jubeh – Catching the Wind
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisors: Abbe Fletcher, Fiona Curran, Nelson Douglas, Roy Perkins

Hayyan is a film maker and broadcast journalist currently working with the BBC's Arab Service. His doctoral project uses critical thinking and film making to interrogate the notion of Palestinianness. He is developing a series of films and writings that map the histories and narratives of his native land.

  • Freddie Osborne – The Black Market
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisor: Abbe Fletcher

The Black Market is a practice research project that uses film making and critical writing to reflect upon underground black cultural activities and models. A series of documentary and drama films presents the case for the black market model's emergence as the prevailing mode of popular cultural expression. Freddie is a full AHRC award holder.

  • Mitchell Panayis – The Ends Game
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisor: Abbe Fletcher

A series of documentary and drama films and critical writings investigating the London Olympics of 2012 from the point of view of the working class inhabitants of East London. Mitchell is a KU part-scholarship award holder.

  • Mulibir Rai –The Way of the Gurkha
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisor: Abbe Fletcher

Mulibir is a serving Gurkha soldier, his series of films and writings explore notions of identity, otherness and the material history of the Gurkha regiment and his own personal trajectory.

  • Shih-Yun Su – Floating Home
  • 1st Supervisior: Mick Kennedy, 2nd Supervisor: Abbe Fletcher

Floating Home addresses the complexities of Chinese diasporas by working with a group of women immigrants to the UK, their families and friends in order to develop a series of documentary and drama films. The portfolio of films is accompanied by a written theoretical critique the foundation of which is derived from theorisations of everyday life. Shih is a visiting lecturer at Kingston on the MA film making and founder member of the s.e.a. (South East Asian) group here.

All of our current candidates are graduates of our MA film making programme.


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