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MPhil Courses

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


MPhil in Film and Screen Studies by Thesis

The MPhil in Film and Screen Studies by Thesis at Cambridge provides an opportunity to study the theory and history of film and other screen media in a vibrant interdisciplinary context. The moving image is explored in relation to the development of modern and contemporary culture, and to the history and theory of other media (literature, music, the visual arts, architecture, the digital). Students are immersed in a research environment that emphasises work on geopolitics, early cinema, art cinema and the avant garde, theory, aesthetics, and gender and sexuality.

The majority of students will follow the MPhil by Advanced Study course.  The MPhil by Thesis course is for students falling under exceptional circumstances: it is designed for students whose already have a substantial level of familiarity with the study of literary texts or other cultural material in the relevant culture, and who already know the area they wish to research for their thesis. The MPhil in Film and Screen Studies by Thesis is for students whose already have a substantial level of familiarity with the study of film and literary texts in the relevant culture, and who already know the area they wish to research for their thesis. To be eligible for consideration, applicants will need (a) an appropriate level of linguistic and/or cultural expertise and (b) a clear idea of the area in which the thesis will be written.

Educational Aims:

The main aims of the course are:

  • to develop and test the ability to carry out a substantial advanced project of independent research in an area of  film and screen studies, presented in the form of a 30,000-word thesis
  • to develop and test the ability to make a significant contribution to learning that reflects one academic year of dedicated Masters-level research.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the programme students will have:

  1. developed a deeper knowledge of the history and theory of film and screen studies in a cultural context;
  2. developed a conceptual understanding of the debates which have shaped that field of study, and of current research methods;
  3. acquired or consolidated skills appropriate for research in their chosen area;
  4. demonstrated independent judgement, based on their own research;
  5. learnt how to timetable independent research to produce written work of a high standard to a clearly defined deadline.
  6. managed a sizeable research project (of 9 months duration, culminating in a 30,000 word dissertation) which will represent a considerable achievement in its own right and prepare students for longer research projects (in particular a PhD).


Students will follow some elements of the MPhil by Advanced Study, but formal assessment is by a 30,000 word thesis alone.

MPhil by thesis students will normally attend the Core Course in Michaelmas Term (which is attended by students on the MPhil by Advanced Study). There is the option of attending MPhil by Advanced Study modules, subject to the approval of the Course Director and relevant module leaders. 

Applicants may find it useful to look at staff research interests within the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages to find out more about potential supervisors in their fields of interest.


  • End of Michaelmas (winter) Term: Submission of developed thesis proposal and first 5000 words (precise content to be agreed with supervisor)
  • Early June: Submission of the thesis


Students following the MPhil by Thesis will normally have discussed their proposed research in advance with a staff member specialising in the relevant subject area, and this person or an equivalent will be appointed as supervisor throughout the year. It is expected that a student will be capable of largely independent work. For equity, there are norms for the amount of supervision each student can expect to receive: seven hours of supervision throughout the course is provided.  Supervision for the thesis can be taken in half-hour units, as appropriate and as agreed with the supervisor. The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.  


The examination process is very similar to that of the PhD, and consists of two parts: scrutiny of the thesis by one internal and one external examiner, and a viva involving both examiners and the candidate. Some candidates may be asked to carry out corrections to their thesis which may mean graduating in October rather than in July.


Students receive the overall outcome of pass/fail.  No mark is awarded for the MPhil By Thesis.

Part-time students:

It is also possible to take a part-time route, and the expected timeframe would be 20 months, with a thesis submission date of early June in the second academic year of study.

Part-time students will be required to attend the Core Course seminars in their first term.  Students attend one Module in the Lent term of the first year. 'By Thesis' students do not submit essays for lectures, seminars or modules.  The rest of their first year and all of their second year is devoted to the thesis. The thesis will be submitted in early June of the second year.

Early October, year 1: course starts

Michaelmas (autumn) Term, year 1: Core Course seminars 

Lent (winter) Term, year 1: Students take one module (optional)

End of Lent (winter) Term, year 1: Submission of a developed thesis proposal

Early June of year 1:  Submission of first 5000 words (precise content to be agreed with supervisor)

Early June of year 2:  Submission of the thesis.  Around two to three weeks later there is an oral examination (viva) on the thesis.


Centre for Film and Screen website