Newcastle University has embarked on an ambitious programme of growth in film practice under the name of Film@CultureLab. It’s led by award-winning documentary filmmaker Dr Ian McDonald. Film@CultureLab is committed to developing a distinctive approach to non-fiction film practice pedagogy and research. This is rooted in an understanding of documentary film as a cinematic medium and filmmaking as a means of expression and of challenging, critiquing, and intervening in the social and historical world.
We offer practice-led, practice-based, or theoretical PhDs in Film Practice in the following areas:
- most areas of documentary/non-fiction film practice (see supervisor profiles for specialisms)
- creative documentary practices in the UK, India, South Asia, Africa
- intersections between the documentary and sociological, anthropological, cultural studies
- sports documentaries
- feminist film practice
- social linguistics, translation and documentary practice
- documentary theory and practice in the USSR / Russia
- theorising documentary as a critical and creative practice
- history of the documentary and of documentary movements
- studies of independent film production and exhibition
- world cinema
- Indian cinema
- film festival studies
Film@CultureLab PhD scholars are based in Culture Lab. You’ll have access to the superb facilities in Culture Lab and join a vibrant community of practice-led PhD scholars in film practice. PhD students are encouraged to regularly present their work to each other as part of the Film Praxis Forum ‘Work-in-Progress’ Series held each year.
Read more about our supervisors.
Supervisors in Film@CultureLab
Dr Ian McDonald is a sociologist and a documentary filmmaker. Ian is interested in supervising doctoral students in most areas of documentary theory and practice. He is particularly interested in supervising practice-based PhDs in documentary filmmaking, especially alternative, political and observational documentaries.
Dr Geetha Jayaraman, known as Geetha J, is a writer, filmmaker and producer. Geetha's research area is primarily film practice, both as director and producer. Geetha is interested in supervising practice-based research in fiction and non-fiction, as well as subjects under Indian cinema, world cinema, women and cinema. Her interests include:
- film theory and history
- film journalism and criticism
- film societies and festivals
Dr Alastair Cole is a documentary filmmaker, whose films have been broadcast, and screened in cinemas and film festivals internationally. His academic interests intersect documentary film practice with research in anthropology, language and politics, with regional interests in:
- sub Saharan Africa
- southern Europe
He is particularly interested in supervising any documentary film based research projects that aim to creatively inquire into subjects within the humanities and social sciences.
We currently co-supervise a range of film and film-related projects with academic colleagues from:
- Media, Culture, Heritage
- Fine Art
- English Language and Literature
- Architecture, Planning and Landscape
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How you'll learn
You will normally be taught on the Newcastle University campus. Attendance is flexible and agreed between you and your supervisors depending on the requirements of your research project.
Depending on your modules, you'll be assessed through a combination of:
We offer a wide range of projects for the thesis. These will be provided by our academics. You can also propose your own topic.
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We can offer you tailored wellbeing support, courses and activities.
You can also access a broad range of workshops covering:
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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS) researcher development programme
Each faculty offers a researcher development programme for its postgraduate research students. We have designed your programme to help you:
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Through workshops and activities, it will build your transferable skills and increase your confidence.
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Your researcher development programme is flexible. You can adapt it to meet your changing needs as you progress through your doctorate.
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As a PhD student in Film@CultureLab, you will be based in Culture Lab. Culture Lab is a centre for film practice and is situated in a Grade II listed building.
Subject to availability you'll have access to modern industry-standard shooting kits and edit suites.
These include a range of high definition cameras and supporting rigs. There's a high-spec PC cluster equipped with full Adobe CC, 27” monitors and TVs, and bespoke edit suites with Apple iMacs and Mac Pros, 27” dual calibrated displays and stereo monitoring. They run the latest Apple OS with Adobe CC, Final Cut and Da Vinci Resolve.
Culture Lab is supported by a team of dedicated film technicians.
Fees and funding
Tuition fees for 2022 entry (per year)
Home fees for research degree students
For 2022-23 entry, we have aligned our standard Home research fees with those set by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
For 2023-24 entry, we will again be aligning our standard Home research fees with those set by UKRI. The standard fee will be confirmed in Spring 2023 by UKRI.
If your studies last longer than one year, your tuition fee may increase in line with inflation.
Depending on your residency history, if you’re a student from the EU, other EEA or a Swiss national, with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll normally pay the ‘Home’ tuition fee rate and may be eligible for Student Finance England support.
EU students without settled or pre-settled status will normally be charged fees at the ‘International’ rate and will not be eligible for Student Finance England support.
If you are unsure of your fee status, check out the latest guidance here.
We support our EU and international students by providing a generous range of Vice-Chancellor's automatic and merit-based scholarships. See our searchable postgraduate funding page for more information.
What you're paying for
Tuition fees include the costs of:
- tuition (or supervision)
- library access
Some of our degrees involve additional costs which are not covered by your tuition fees.
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The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.
Qualifications from outside the UK
English Language requirements
How to apply
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Questions about this course?
If you have specific questions about this course you can contact:
Film Practice, PhD
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