Media practice, documentary and filmmaking (2016 entry)

Subject overview

The Department of Media and Film at Sussex:

  • offers exceptional opportunities for graduate study, with innovative taught MA courses and a range of supervision for MPhil and PhD research in theory and practice
  • has a thriving research culture in media theory and practice, with around 50 research students working alongside faculty each year
  • is ranked 7th in the UK for research impact in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • is ranked in the top 15 in the UK in The Complete University Guide 2017 
  • has dedicated state-of-the-art digital production facilities and links to the thriving creative and media scene in Brighton.
Academic activities

The renowned interdisciplinary research centres in our Department – the Centre for Material Digital Culture, the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, and the Public Culture Hub – provide a focus for developing and presenting research, running conferences and events. Our centres are open to all research students and faculty in the School. 

Programmes

  • PhD in Creative and Critical Practice
  • MPhil in Creative and Critical Practice

This innovative PhD combines creative media production and critically engaged writing. The creative element involves practice-led research, while the written component allows you to explore relevant issues such as form, genre, technology, representation, technique or narrative. Your work might involve video,
photography and imaging, interactive media, sound, digital and social media or a combination of these. The work may incorporate live performance and installation, elements of which must be documented in retainable forms for examination. The final project must demonstrate the integration of its practical and theoretical components, with written and production elements complementing each other.

We offer expert supervision across a wide range of critical and creative practice with specialist focus on documentary filmmaking, digital arts, photography, media practice for development and social change, sonic media. Research proposals in these fields are particularly welcome.

Supervision

You have two supervisors who together help you devise a detailed programme of study tailored to the individual research project, and who offer regular guidance and feedback until completion.

Research training

All new research students are required to participate in a programme of research training and to take other postgraduate modules that may be recommended by their supervisors (exemption from research training modules can be granted to those who have already taken such modules at MA level).

Throughout your studies, you are expected to take part in the research culture of the School and relevant research centres. This might include participation in reading and discussion groups, skills development training, research-in-progress seminars, etc.

You are expected to present your research both within the School and beyond. The School offers support for conference attendance and student-led symposia, from the second year onwards. There is a mentoring scheme within the School for PhD students, and you join a lively well-established interdisciplinary research community.

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

Coursework

You receive expert support from supervisors and technical advisors, and are expected to attend masterclasses by visiting practioners, but there is no time-tabled technical tuition. We therefore expect applicants to have had (and be able to demonstrate) a substantial amount of previous production experience in their chosen medium.

The first term (or first two terms for part-time students) is devoted to developing your research plan – typically refining research questions, designing a methodology and production plan, and engaging in a literature review. By the end of the first year (or second year part time), you produce and present your first research paper or project, moving to complete the production of the creative work and written component over the next two years (or four, if you study part time).

You have access to studios, editing suites and equipment. All our facilities are bookable online and available 24/7, via an access control system.

Assessment and progression

Progress is monitored by supervision meetings, annual reports and an annual interview by a review panel. The thesis is presented as a substantial body of creative practice and a written element of 20,000-40,000 words (PhD) or 10,000-20,000 words (MPhil).

Given the range of media and their differing potential within the research process, it is impossible to be precise about what ‘substantial’ means. In film and video, it would normally entail the submission of a work of about 60 minutes in length (or more), but detailed requirements are worked out on a case-by-case basis.

The practical component should fully exploit the medium (or media) in which it is working and should make a contribution to the thesis that could not have been made in words. It should not be merely illustrative of the theory but must make an original contribution in its own right, which relates back, in an integral fashion, to the theoretical component of the thesis.

The thesis is judged by internal and external examiners. The examination includes an oral defence.

Visit Completed Theses in Media, Film and Music

Entry requirements

MPhil in Creative and Critical Practice

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree with a Merit or equivalent in a subject relevant to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

PhD in Creative and Critical Practice

UK entrance requirements

Normally a Masters degree with a Merit or equivalent in a subject relevant to your chosen area of research.

Overseas entrance requirements

If you are an international student and wish to find out if you have the necessary qualifications for this degree, please refer to Overseas qualifications.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each section.

For more information, refer to What qualifications do I need?

Visas and immigration

Find out more about Visas and immigration.

For more information about the admissions process at Sussex

For pre-application enquiries:

Student Recruitment Services
T +44 (0)1273 876787
E pg.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

For post-application enquiries:

Postgraduate Admissions,
University of Sussex,
Sussex House, Falmer,
Brighton BN1 9RH, UK
T +44 (0)1273 877773
F +44 (0)1273 678545
E pg.applicants@sussex.ac.uk 

Fees and funding

Fees

MPhil in Creative and Critical Practice fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £14,8003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

PhD in Creative and Critical Practice fees

Home UK/EU students: £4,1211
Channel Island and Isle of Man students: £4,1212
Overseas students: £14,8003

1 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
2 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.
3 The fee shown is for the academic year 2016.

Find out more about fees

Visit Living costs

Scholarships

The sources of financial support listed below are for the subject area you are viewing and may not apply to all degrees listed within it. Please check the description of the individual source of financial support to make sure it is relevant to your chosen degree.

Visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2016

Visit Career development and part-time work

We are in the process of updating funding sources for postgraduate study in the academic year 2016/17. For general information, visit Postgraduate research scholarships 2016.

For more information on scholarships go to the Scholarships web pages.

Faculty interests

Our internationally respected research explores questions around the materialities, technologies and politics of cultural forms and formations. Researchers work on, across and through a range of media: film, television, radio, photography, and new and interactive forms. They specialise within three interlocking themes: cultural histories/ cultural politics; media technology, form and experience; and the politics of representation. 

Ms Joanna Callaghan
Senior Lecturer In Filmmaking
J.Callaghan@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Deconstruction, Film as philosophy, Film production, filmmaking, practice as research, practice led research, Practice-based research, video art

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Ms Wilma De Jong
Senior Lecturer in Media & Film Studies
W.Dejong@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Archives and media production, Documentary theory and practice, Film-based media (History, Theory & Practice), Interactive and web based documentaries, Media and international development, media and pressure groups

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Dr Emile Devereaux
Senior Lecturer In Digital Media
E.Devereaux@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Critical Gender Studies, Digital Art & Design, Digital Cartography, Digital Culture, Interaction design, media history and theory, Tactical Media, Visual Studies

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Ms Melanie Friend
Reader in Photography
M.Friend@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Media and film

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Mr Adrian Goycoolea
Senior Lecturer
A.P.Goycoolea@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: activism, Chilean History, Collage Film, Documentary theory and practice, Film, Film production, First Person Film, Found Footage Film, Human Rights, Installation, Political History, the avant garde, Trauma

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Dr Alisa Lebow
Reader In Film Studies
A.S.Lebow@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Activism and Documentary, Documentary theory and practice, Experimental Documentary, First Person Film, Jewish Culture and Film, Queer and Transgender Representation, Revolution and Film, Turkish and Middle Eastern Documentary

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Prof Sally-Jane Norman
Professor of Performance Technologies
S.J.Norman@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Embodiment and Technologies, Performing Arts, Practice-based research, Scenography, Sonic Arts, Theatre History

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Dr Martin Spinelli
Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies
M.J.Spinelli@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: Aesthetics, arts interviewing, Broadcast News, Broadcasting History, Digital Humanities, ethnography, Journalism, Life writing, literary journalism, memoir, podcasting, radio, radio drama, Radio Studies, Socio-cultural impact of new media, Sound Art

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Ms Lizzie Thynne
Reader in Film
L.Thynne@sussex.ac.uk

Research interests: art cinema, contemporary television, Cultural and Critical Theory, Documentary theory and practice, Experimental Documentary, Feminist Art History, Film drama, Gay & Lesbian Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Life writing, Queer studies, Television History, Theory and Criticism, Visual fields, women's liberation

View profile

Careers and perspectives

Our graduates have gone on to pursue careers in academia, production research, broadcasting, and project and cultural management.

Employers of our graduates include Scenestealer Interactive Video Solutions, Viasat Broadcasting, Autumn Publishing and Ofcom.

To find out more, visit Careers and alumni

Research training

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.

Visit the Doctoral School website

Visit Stages of doctoral study

School and contacts

Contact us

Sarah Maddox, 
Research and Enterprise Co-ordinator,
School of Media, Film and Music
University of Sussex, Falmer, 
Brighton BN1 9RG, UK 
T +44 (0)1273 873525
E s.maddox@sussex.ac.uk

Visit the School of Media, Film and Music

Discover Postgraduate Study information sessions

Our monthly information sessions help you discover more about postgraduate study and what Sussex has to offer.

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Around the UK

In addition to on-campus events, come and meet our postgraduate specialists at events across the UK.

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Other ways to visit Sussex

We run weekly guided campus tours year round.

Book your place on one of our guided campus tours

You are also welcome to visit the University independently without any pre-arrangement.

Our online campus tour can also give you an excellent introduction to the University.

Take our online campus tour

Overseas visits

Meet with Sussex staff in your country at exhibitions, visits to schools and universities, and at a wide range of other events. Forthcoming visits are planned all over the world:

Bahrain • Brazil • Brunei • Canada • China • Colombia • France • Germany • Ghana • Greece • Hong Kong • India • Indonesia • Iraq • Italy • Japan • Kenya • Kuwait • Malaysia • Mexico • Nigeria • Norway • Pakistan • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Singapore • South Korea • Spain • Sri Lanka • Taiwan • Thailand • Turkey • UAE • USA • Vietnam.

In-country representatives

In the International Office, we manage a network of overseas representatives who have been trained to support international students with their application to study at the University. Services representatives provide can include pre-departure information, support in submitting your housing application and advice regarding applying for a UK Student Visa.

Find out more about our overseas visits and in-country representatives

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