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Communication & Media Studies (7)

  Department of Journalism Studies PhD with a Practical Element

  Faculty of Social Sciences

 Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Programme

By pursuing a PhD with a practical element you will do two things: first, write a doctoral thesis of 40.000-50.000 words and develop a practical element that exemplifies and illustrates your argument and conveys it and its significance to a non-University audience. This type of PhD encourages you to carefully reflect on the usefulness of your research to the non-university world and to also reflect on how you could best communicate your contribution via a practical element. It is an opportunity to engage with the non-university world, network and collaborate even before you finish your PhD, to make a contribution outside of the academy. 

There are countless examples of what kind of practical element you could choose to mediate and communicate your research. Here are a few examples – but please, be creative and innovative and feel free to think beyond this indicative list. Just remember that the practical element has to illustrate the findings/argument of your thesis. 

  • Print Portfolio (series of articles for targeted newspaper or magazine)
  • Series of podcasts (audio storytelling, often with a contextual element, available for streaming or downloading)
  • Substantial broadcast piece for TV (for example, an hour-long documentary, educational films, cartoons)
  • Series of radio broadcasts including soap operas
  • Substantial multimedia package (using various social media such as Twitter and Instagram, and video and audio).
  • Campaign (journalism, election campaign, public information campaign)
  • Creation of datasets and databases 
  • Policy reports/guidelines/recommendation
  • Design of and material for training workshops
  • Magazine or brochures 
  • Ceremonials, memorials
  • Exhibitions
  • Crisis communication plan and package 
  • Blogs/vlogs
  • Mediation/negotiation packages
  • Participatory media
  • Theatre plays
  • Communicative strategies and tool kits
  • Curricula, syllabi
  • Cartoons, memes 

This practical element has to account for ‘half of a traditional PhD’ but you will figure out the length/size and exact nature of your practical element with your supervision team. So do not worry too much about the details – what counts is an original idea of what topic you would like to write about in the first part of your thesis and communicate in the second part via a practical element to a specific audience chosen by you. We expect you to submit your thesis at 36 months.


For this PhD you will be supervised by a supervision team of two or three colleagues. One or two of these will have a research background. If you decide to go for a journalistic/media practical element, then one of your supervisors will be one of our practice-based staff who have an incredible expertise in anything related to journalism. They will make sure that you develop the practical skills you need to nail the journalistic element. You can find a list of our supervisors and their expertise here.

Eligibility criteria 

Applications will be assessed on a case-to-case basis via your application package and a follow-up interview. The aim is to establish that your academic research ability and professional experience enable you to undertake this type of PhD.

The following two requirements are compulsory:

  • A strong BA degree
  • For non-native speakers: You must have either completed a degree within the last five years from a country classed as ‘majority English speaking’ by UK Visas and Immigration; or hold an IELTS qualification scoring at least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in each component (or equivalent). 

To apply please make sure that; your intended research project falls into our supervision expertise you fulfil the entry requirements listed here above and provide a statement that clearly shows your ability to undertake this type of PhD by drawing on professional experience and academic ability you fill in the proposal form that we require 

We have various annual intake dates: 1 October, 1 November, 1 December, 1 February, 1 March, 1 April and 1 May.

Funding Notes

The PhD opportunities on this programme do not have funding attached. You will need to have your own means of paying fees and living costs and / or seek separate funding from student finance, charities or trusts.

Register your interest for this programme

Where will I study?

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