Ulster University has pioneered the development of Media Studies in higher education, introducing one of the first media studies degrees in the UK and Ireland in 1978. Media Studies has also been at the forefront of research during the last thirty years and in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), it was ranked as the tenth best Media Studies research department in the UK. In the 2014 REF, the research profile for Media Studies shows that 60% of all work has been judged as being of ‘international excellence’; within this proportion, 21% is judged as having the highest accolade: ‘world leading’. The unit also scored highly in the Impact section of the REF, with 100% of its impact case studies scored at 4*/3*.
The University would welcome applicants interested in researching audio-visual archives; media and post-conflict issues; public space; media production studies; journalism and the public sphere; photographic history; media and information technology; Irish/Northern Irish media, and film, television & popular culture.
About this course
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The Centre for Media Research (CMR)
In 2003, Media Studies was awarded a £3.1 million grant from SPUR (Support Programme for University Research) to set up the Centre for Media Research and research is now conducted through the CMR. These research activities include historical studies and practice-related research in film, TV and photography; media policy and regulation in Ireland, the UK and internationally; the press in Ireland, Britain and internationally; archives and archiving; digital media and the internet.
As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.
Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.How to apply
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.
If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Careers & opportunities
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Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.
You should then apply using our online application system: ulster.ac.uk/applyonlineHow to apply
Fees and funding
A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.
Sources of funding
Fees (per annum)
Home and EU £4121
Home and EU £1455
Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2070
Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6225
Research facilities and groups
The Centre’s research has a number of focuses:
Visual History: Film, TV, Photography:
This strand of research explores the history of film, television and photography in neglected areas of Irish and British visual and media culture; it assesses the social and cultural importance of these media and how their histories have impacted upon the present.
Digital Cultures, Creativity and Pedagogy:
This strand considers national and international creative industries and creative work in digital media. There is a special concern with the issues facing the development of creative industries in regional, national, and international settings.
The Centre aims to provide an informed voice on contemporary matters of public concern, including the maintenance of national and regional cultures in the face of media globalisation, and to contribute to the public policy agenda in Northern Ireland, the UK and beyond. The Centre seeks to enhance public discussion of the media through authoritative, evidence-based research on media regulation, strategies of support for local media production, and the study of different audiences, including questions of media literacy.
Research as Practice
One area in which the CMR has been in the forefront of developments is in research with media practice and a number of PhDs have been completed successfully utilising elements of critical practice in digital media and in photography. There is also a particular interest in the theory and practice of documentary filmmaking.
Print and Broadcast Journalism
Journalism is a particular strength of Media Studies provision at Ulster University and currently we offer one of the country’s top industry- accredited postgraduate courses in print and broadcast journalism. This quality is also reflected in journalism research. A particular strength has been research in the local journalism industries
in Northern Ireland, the coverage of war and conflict generally and new and emerging forms of journalism.
The Centre runs regular seminars and events in these areas and welcomes collaborative ventures with other scholars and media organizations.
Facilities include a specialist Multi-Media Resource Unit (MMRU), which contains a large and unique collection of Irish film and television materials. There are also sound and television studios, editing facilities, a specialist computer lab and photographic facilities on the Coleraine campus. The Centre for Media Research is housed in a purpose-built suite of offices, close to computer labs, screening rooms and the MMRU. These offer further up-to-date facilities for research in comparative film studies, digital technologies and archiving.
Staff research areas
Dr Stephen Baker
Lecturer in Media Studies with an interest in film and television representations of the working class; media representations of Northern Ireland and alternative media. His publications include The Propaganda of Peace: The Media and Conflict transformation in Northern Ireland (Intellect Books, 2010) (with Greg McLaughlin); ‘The Alternative Press in Northern Ireland and the Political Process’ in Journalism Studies Vol. 6 No. 3, 2005 and ‘Vampire Troubles: Loyalism and Resurrection Man’ in Barton, Ruth and Harvey O’Brien (eds.) Keeping it Real: Themes and Issues in Irish film and television (London: Wallflower Press, 2004).
Dr Gail Baylis
Lecturer in Media Studies with an interest in photographic history in Ireland and Wales and in issues of gender and visual culture generally. She has written on domestic photography, visual culture in Britain, on photographs of nineteenth-century Welsh women ironworkers and on photography and cultural memory.
Mr Lee Cadieux
Lecturer in Media studies is a filmmaker and animator. His research is focused on new media, the creative industries and emergent technologies in the areas of film, animation, comics and games. He has made a number of documentaries and animation films and has published internationally on the potential of new media to film and animation arts.
Professor Sarah Edge
Professor of Photography and Cultural Studies, with an interest in feminism, the media and identity and photography. She is the author of a number of articles on the representation of gender and national identity in Northern Ireland in film and television as well as articles on contemporary and historical photography. Her research interests include post feminism, feminism and popular culture and early photographic history in Britain and Ireland. She is currently preparing material for publication and related art practice on the photographic collection of Arthur J Munby 1828- 1910.
Lecturer in Interactive Media whose research interests lie in digital media and game play. His research is primarily practice-led and focuses on new and emerging digital media and their dialogues with and use in creating playful narratives. His research gravitates towards a praxis-driven investigation into games and play, with an interest in Pervasive and Alternate Reality Gaming. He has recently co-authored the Alternative Reality Game [in]visible Belfast the pervasive game IMAKILLER and is currently working on a number of projects that explore the pedagogic potential of gaming.
Lecturer in Interactive Media Arts and Director of Academic Enterprise for the faculty of Arts. With nearly 10 years experience in the digital media content field, her areas of expertise primarily involve practice-led research into interactive media devices and their associated cultures, for which she has received national and international recognition. Previous projects include: the contextualisation of recent developments in narrative and new media thinking; investigations into hypertext and hyperreading and their implications for digital literacy and knowledge construction in online environments; and exploration of media art practice where interaction is concerned with subjectivity and creativity, visualization and interpretation.
Dr Colm Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Media Studies and Head of School, Media, Film and Journalism. He has a research interest in digital media, journalism, media management and regulation issues. His research interests are in the state’s role in the development of digital media industries; management of media companies; the media’s use of Freedom of Information legislation and international press freedom issues.
Dr Robert Porter
Lecturer in Media Studies, with an interest in contemporary social, political and cultural theory: aesthetics and politics. He is the author of Ideology: Contemporary Social, Political and Cultural Theory (2006), Deleuze and Guattari: Aesthetics and Politics (2009) and (with Iain Mackenzie); Dramatizing the Political: Deleuze and Guattari (2011). Currently he is co-editing (with Iain Mackenzie and Benoit Dillet) The Edinburgh Companion to Poststructuralism (forthcoming, 2012). He has published work in journals and edited collections such as: Contemporary Political Theory (2007), Political Concepts (2005), Social Semiotics (2003), Post- structuralism and Politics (2002), Ideology after Post-structuralism (2002).
I chose to do an MRes and a PhD in media studies at Ulster University as I had such a great experience there as an undergraduate. I knew how dedicated and helpful the lecturers were and my PhD supervisors were unbending in their support and advice throughout the postgraduate process. As well as regular supervision, Ulster University also provided a range of additional training courses for postgraduate students in a variety of other useful areas, such as teaching, project management and getting published. We also had sessions at the beginning of each semester which helped with planning and motivation as well as the practical elements of postgraduate study, such as organising the research process and preparing for the viva. The university also runs a postgraduate symposium every year which gives students a chance to network and present their work in a familiar environment.
Dr Stephen Baker
Lecturer in Film and Television Studies