Postgraduate Research

PhD research represents an integral and important part of the activities of the Huston School of Film & Digital Media within the School of English and Creative Arts [SECA].

Two doctoral degrees are offered: thePhD in Film Studies and the PhD in Film Studies (Creative Practice). While the PhD in Film Studies is mostly focused on the writing of a major dissertation (approx. 70,00-80,000 words) the PhD in Film Studies (Creative Practice) has two components: practical and critical, combining research through practice with a written dissertation of approx. 40,000 words.

All incoming PhD students normally register for a Structured PhD which offers students a programme of supportive and developmental modules. All students are supervised by a supervisory team, or have a sole supervisor and a PhD advisor. The Structured PhD Programme requires successful completion and examination of the research thesis and 30 ECTS of modules, approved by the student’s Graduate Research Committee (GRC).

PhD research can be taken on a Full Time [4 yrs] or Part Time [6 yrs] basis.



Research Areas

Academic Staff at Huston School of Film & Digital Media are research-active and internationally renowned across a range of themes and areas. We are interested in all aspects of film and digital media but especially encourage applications in the flowing areas:

Digital media arts; film and philosophy; texts and contexts of Irish audio-visual production; media constructions of gender on screen(s) [especially maternity; masculinities]; sport, culture and society; representations of ageing on screen; Hollywood and European cinemas

For more about individual staff research interests, please visit the staff profiles.

Funded Research Projects

Creative Europe Funded Project: The Film Corner

The Film Corner for all, Digital innovative environments for film and media literacy

Application Procedure

The minimum qualification necessary to be considered for admission to the PhD programme is a high honours primary degree. It is more usual, however, for successful applicants to have already gained a Master's degree (in Film Studies or a cognate discipline). Applications can be made at any time of year; however, the closing date for application is normally June 15.

Before applying, we strongly urge prospective applicants to complete a preliminary proposal and/or discuss their plans with the Director of Post Graduate Studies at Huston: Dr Tony Tracy

Further information on our PhD programmes [including funding]

Current PhD research students/topics include:

Mairead Casey. Project: Playing Devil's Advocate: Cultural Expressions of Gender, Sexuality, and Sexual Violence in Possession and Exorcism Narratives of 21st Century American Horror

Kerry Kelly. Project: Slasher Icons and Digital Fandom: An Auto-Ethnographic Approach

Tianxiang [Jimmy] Wang. Project: Representing Urban Space in Contemporary Chinese Cinema: Space, Power, and Politics

Martin Jones. Project: Global Genres and Cinemas of Small Nations


Previous PhD students/theses include:

Temmuz Sureyya Gurbuz [2021], Punk Aesthetics in Cinema: The Intersections of Punk Movements, Queer Histories and Subcultural Filmmaking

Phillina Sun [2019] The Utopics of Improvement: Visual representations of Eighteenth-Century Irish demesnes

Cormac McGarry [2019], Comic books in the Digital age: Understanding Technological Co-Existence through Post-Medium Specificity

Barry Nevin [2016], Framing Open Space-Time in the Films of Jean Renoir: Society, Ideology, Technology

Patricia Prieto Blanco [2016], Transnational (dis)affect in the digital age: photographic practices of Irish-Spanish families living in Ireland

Nora Duggan [2013], Between realities: investigating temporal relations between stillness and movement in contemporary artists' lens-based imagery [practice-based]

Giacomo (Jack) Boitani [2012], Comedy, Italian style: an evolution of Italian neorealism

Liam Burke [2010], Comic Book Film Adaptation: Exploring Modern Hollywood’s Leading Genre

Sarah Arnold [2009], Motherhood in late Twentieth Century Horror Film


PhD Application Guidelines

The Huston School offers two Doctoral programmes: a traditional, thesis-only programme and a practice-based programme. Students will normally register in the College of Arts Structured PhD Programme. For further details on this programme see or contact  Dr Tony Tracy


The minimum qualification necessary to be considered for admission to the PhD programme is a high honours primary degree. It is more usual, however, for successful applicants to have already gained a Master's degree. Applications can be made at any time of year; however, the closing date for application is normally June 15.

Applications are made online via the CRM portal

In addition to your online application, you must submit in hardcopy a sample of academic writing (e.g. a recent BA or MA course essay) and a 1500-word research proposal. This proposal must be structured under the following headings:

1. Description of proposed research (800 words)
This section should describe clearly the subject and scope of your research. You should indicate the critical problems or questions you propose to investigate.

2. Critical context (350 words)
This section should describe, as far as you can tell, the extent of the scholarly work already done on your topic. You should be able to explain how your research will challenge or extend this existing knowledge.

3. Methodology (250 words)
Here you should describe the research methodologies you will employ, and explain why you have chosen them (e.g. semiotic analysis, feminist analysis, genre study, practice-based, etc.)

4. Sources and archives (100 words)
Give a preliminary indication of the primary and secondary material you expect to examine, and how much of the material may be found at NUI Galway. You will be able to avail of inter-library loans and will be eligible to apply for some travel funding during the course of your research .

Applications are first reviewed by the Huston School. If your application is approved by the Huston School it is then recommended to a relevant department of the Arts Faculty, who also assess the application. The success of your application will depend on a number of factors: the quality and viability of the proposal; your qualifications and achievements to date; the reports of two referees; and the availability of appropriate supervision.


The Huston welcomes applications from a wide range of research areas. For details on the research interests of staff members at the Huston please go to the staff page on this site.


Supervision is undertaken by a supervisory committee, including staff members of the Huston School and other departments and centres at University of Galway, as appropriate. Prior agreement by a member of staff to mentor a new student is an important consideration in acceptance of students into the PhD programme.


By the time of graduation, students should also demonstrate a mastery of knowledge-based and research-based competencies appropriate to their specialisation. Completion of a PhD dissertation demonstrates that the student has learned investigative and critical techniques, has made a contribution to knowledge, and has developed skills that will prove useful in assuming a professional role.


The PhD is awarded by the University of Galway within the regulations and terms for the PhD degree and subject to the guidelines and protocols of the University, as published in the General Calendar of the University, and other sources as may be in place from time to time.

Useful links

FAQ for Postgraduates
Guidelines on Thesis Submission
Structured PhD Programme details