Critical Theory and Cultural Studies PhD

Qualification name
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PhD Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in an arts, humanities or social science subject; we would usually also expect you to hold, or be working towards, a masters degree in a relevant subject
7.0 (no less than 6.5 in any element) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Other requirements



Critical theory and cultural studies have grown rapidly in the University to their present location in an expanding department with integrated and highly successful degree and postgraduate programmes with international connections. The department attracts high-calibre research students from diverse academic backgrounds from the UK and overseas, including the EC, the Middle and Far East, Latin America and the United States. Much of our work is interdisciplinary and draws upon staff expertise in modern theory, political philosophy, cultural, literary, media and film studies, both in the department and in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies of which it is part.

The department also spearheads the Research Centre for Critical Theory.

The department is a rich intellectual community, and provides a stimulating environment for all our postgraduates. The interdisciplinary approach is enhanced by the network of staff interested in and contributing to critical theory and cultural studies programmes from across the faculty. We have a substantial number of postgraduate students from numerous different cultures, ensuring a cosmopolitan and international study environment.

Students are currently researching on a range of topics including: Waste and Consumer Society, Baudrillard and Architecture, Lacan and Realism, Deleuze and Music, Foucault in the Humanities, Hybridity in Argentinian and English Literature and Culture; Memory, Place, Imagination and Fiction; Suicide Authors: A Deconstructive Study; and Globalisation and National Cinema.



The Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies welcomes applications from students who wish to pursue MRes or PhD degrees in the areas of film and television studies, cultural studies, media studies and critical theory. These research programmes form a central and thriving part of the department’s activities, with over 40 students currently enrolled, either full-time or part-time. Research students come to Nottingham from the UK and overseas, including the EU, the Middle and Far East, Latin America and the United States. With their diversity of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds, they constitute a rich, rewarding and supportive postgraduate community. 

All research students are involved in the Postgraduate Professional Development Programme, which includes weekly work-in-progress seminars. The school's energetic research culture also involves a programme of visiting speakers and regular symposia organised by staff and students (these have included recent events on cultural borrowings, television and memory, digital archives, transmedia storytelling and sound in the media).

The department offers you:

  • advanced research training
  • expert supervision (each student is allocated two supervisors)
  • frequent reviews and feedback on progress
  • weekly 'work-in-progress' seminars
  • well-equipped work bases, with excellent library and IT facilities
  • support for research trips and conference attendance, inter-library loan
  • full participation in the department’s academic life, including opportunities to become a teaching assistant

Hallward Library

The Hallward library is dedicated to the Faculty of Arts and is situated in the centre of the campus, just a few minutes walk from our school. It has an ever expanding collection of books, journals and other materials covering including (for film and television studies students) a large collection of cinema pressbooks. In 2007, the Hallward library opened a state-of-the art screening room that students have access to. The department is also now able to offer students access to industry-standard film editing, sound-editing and script-writing equipment.

Language Centre

The Language Centre houses a Self Access Centre that provides facilities to support the language teaching in the school, such as books, audio/video tapes, satellite TV, reading, reference and multimedia materials.

You can visit the centre to improve your fluency in a language you are studying for your degree, or you can learn additional languages from beginners’ stage, such as Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Modern Greek, Italian, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. These languages can be studied independently on a self-learning basis, or as part of taught courses.

IT facilities

The University provides students with access to general IT facilities through a number of computer rooms spread across its campuses. Such areas are conveniently located around the University in all University libraries.

The majority of computer rooms are open to all members of the University and contain PC workstations and printing facilities. In some of the larger rooms, more specialised equipment is provided such as text and image scanners, colour printing and high powered Unix workstations.

Connected Campus Network Zones are areas in the University where you can either access wireless networking or plug laptops directly into the University network. This is a major development which provides students with roaming access to the internet and University network.


Research support

You will  benefit from the well-established research environment and professional training of the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies. You have the opportunity to participate in a range of vital learning experiences while studying in the department, including the Department’s Postgraduate Professional Development Programme and the University’s Graduate School research training courses. Many of our research students publish high-quality books and articles and have secured teaching positions in universities both in the UK and abroad.

Research supervision

In terms of research student supervision, the department does all it can to meet recommended practice in this area. You have two supervisors who regularly read and advise on your work and attend your  works-in-progress presentation. The work-in-progress is a weekly session in which you present your ongoing research to your peers, supervisors and to invited members of academic staff and research students from other schools in the University.

The department has a large number of research students whose welfare is monitored through the Research Committee, supporting the good work of research students and advising students who may find themselves in difficulties. In this way, the Research Committee monitors progress and intervenes, in consultation with supervisors, when progress is unsatisfactory.

Support for students

Research student support takes a number of different forms, including photocopying and printing expenses, and inter-library loans. You have dedicated study space within the school, accessing computers and the Internet. You are also offered advice on publishing and professional development by supervisors and through the Postgraduate Professional Development Programme, which involves stage-specific training sessions offered by the Arts Graduate Centre. Students organise and attend conferences, act as editors on the journal Scope: Online Journal of Film Studies, publish book review essays, articles and have successfully turned their PhDs into books. There are opportunities for you to act as teaching assistants on undergraduate courses. In order to do this, you are required to take training courses run by the Graduate School in the year prior to such teaching and to attend the school’s teaching induction sessions. Teaching assistants are supported and monitored by the module convenors, the Chair of Teaching Committee and the Director of Research.

Research seminars

The department runs work-in-progress seminars on most Wednesday afternoons. All full-time research students attend each week and part-time students attend whenever possible. The purpose of these sessions is to provide an opportunity for the academic community to discuss work in progress by students and staff members. Each full-time research student presents a paper once every academic year; part-time students give a seminar once every other year. Seminar papers are circulated two weeks in advance so as to allow the maximum time for discussion. This intellectual exchange is vital to the department’s ethos of intellectual support and is often followed by presentations from visiting speakers. The research programme emphasizes professional development and students attend sessions on publishing and conference presentation among very many other skills that are vital to new academics.


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors can be found on the departments website.


Fees and funding

UK/EU students

If you choose to study with us, there are various sources of funding to which you can apply.  Some are administered by the school, others by research bodies to which the school has links, and others by the University and central government sources.  These opportunities are often specific to particular degree programmes, or to the fee-status of a student, so it is important to read all related information very carefully. All studentships and bursaries are competitive and are awarded on academic merit.

Midlands4Cities funding

The Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership supports the personal and professional development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Studentships are available to UK/EU students.

How to apply to the University of Nottingham through Midlands4Cities

 Please see our school funding opportunities website for additional sources of funding.

Research students need to be accepted by the University in order to apply to external funding bodies in support of their studies.  The School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies offers advice on funding applications and all students who intend to apply for funding should keep an eye on the school website for notification of bursaries and studentships as well as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) website and other sources of funding.  Please note while the AHRC website normally has a May deadline for receipt of applications, the school deadline is normally February. Applications can only be submitted through the school and the University, and applicants may apply for AHRC funding only through one university. EU students are eligible to apply to the AHRC for fees-only scholarships, and those from new accession countries are eligible for special support.

The University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research - the Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas 21 funding. The Graduate School holds a list of other sources of funding.

Government loans for doctoral study

The Government recently introduced doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes. Applicants must ordinarily live in England.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

In 2016, 96.6% of postgraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £25,314 with the highest being £35,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

** Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career prospects and employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.

Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia. 


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Postgraduate and Research Office
School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
B7, Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park

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