History of Art and Film at Leicester

Research degrees

History of Art and Film at Leicester has a proud reputation for research.

At doctoral level our students explore a fascinating range of traditional single-subject topics as well as undertaking more exploratory, interdisciplinary projects. We aim to set up the perfect supervisory team and training programme tailored to your research and career interests.

Our research students (MA by Research, MPhil and PhD) pursue advanced research in subjects ranging from medieval art and architecture to modern subject topics, such as screen culture and popular culture.

We supervise doctoral students across a broad range of topics, some of which are closely matched to the research specialisms of individual members of academic staff, and some of which require an interdisciplinary team of supervisors within the department or even in collaboration with departments and institutions further afield.

Apply for a PhD in History of Art and Film.

Research specialities

We are particularly well-placed to supervise topics in the following areas:

  • Italian art 1300-1700
  • The collecting of art
  • British and American cinema and television history
  • Women directors and the Hollywood film industry
  • Popular culture, comics, and film serials
  • East Asian cinemas
  • European cinema
  • Transnational cinema
  • Film theory and philosophy
  • Feminism, gender, and film
  • Cinematic cities
  • Film genres
  • Cinema, diaspora, and migration

You can also browse our individual staff pages for further information about the department's research specialisms. If your topic does not appear to be immediately and obviously represented, we may still be able to support your work. Please feel free to contact us if you have any PhD enquiries, or you can get in touch with individual members of academic staff to discuss your proposal.

Visiting lectures

For the benefit of all our research students we organise a programme of visiting lectures by distinguished scholars for the first semester of each academic year. As well as this, in the second semester we schedule our work-in-progress seminar series for research students and academic staff to present their latest research, ideas and methodological problems in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.

International students

We have a proven track record of successfully supervising international students to completion, and we can easily take into account a wide variety of different international qualifications. We can help connect you with the various vibrant international communities already studying here at Leicester, as well as set you up with spoken and written language courses for when you arrive. Please do not hesitate to contact us regarding your research ideas, qualifications and circumstances.


Your PhD will consist primarily of a series of regular meetings with your two supervisors. These meetings provide the opportunity to engage in close discussion and critique of the latest drafts of your written work, monitor your progress, set future milestones, and advise on the direction of your research.

Your supervisors will establish a programme of research training that is tailored to your topic and methodology, your career goals and aspirations, as well as your academic writing, referencing and spoken-language competencies. Extensive support programmes provided by the Doctoral College, the University Library and, where appropriate, the International Office and English Language Teaching Unit, will help you to meet your goals. Your supervisors will help you navigate these options and undertake a programme best suited to your needs.

It is important to note, however, that although you will be able to sit in on any number of academic courses that your supervisory team consider important to your studies, we do not offer a taught PhD programme. Our PhDs are research-based only, which means you will be assessed only on your final PhD and not on any taught coursework components. 

Application advice

Formulating a proposal

It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start with a PhD proposal, but it is useful to try to clarify and write down your thoughts under the following the headings:

  • What is the topic? Artwork/artist, film/filmmaker, group, genre, style, controversy, debate, commentary, philosophy, time period, region/nation etc.?
  • What are the research questions? What do I want to discover, affirm, disprove or challenge about my topic?
  • Why should the research be done? Has important material been overlooked in previous research into the topic? Were previous scholars blinkered by a particular interpretative agenda? Has a new research area, archive or set of issues come to light recently? 
  • How do I propose to do it? What are the resources, specialised libraries or archives that I need to access? Will I need to travel extensively abroad? Will I need to conduct interviews? What might the provisional chapter breakdown of my thesis look like? What are the cost implications for all of this?

To get our discussions off to a productive start, it would be helpful if you could email an outline of your research proposal to us in this format. Please try to keep your proposal ideas within 1,000 words at the initial stage.

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