Culture and Creative Industries  PhD / MPhil


The Centre for Culture & Creative Industries is host to a vibrant research community concerned with current debates affecting:

  • Power in/of the creative and cultural sectors
  • Cultural geographies, heritage and the urban organization of culture
  • In/equalities and labour conditions in the cultural industries
  • Mediated identity, consumption and intimacy
  • Gender, ethnicity and sexuality

The Centre welcomes applications for research that is underpinned by empirical and/or theoretical methodologies. We have a strong commitment to the development of interdisciplinary approaches that take account of cultural and creative industries in historical, political and social contexts.

  • School of Arts and Social Sciences,
  • Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries,
  • Department of Sociology
  • Start Date:

    Admissions take place in late September each year.

    Entry Requirements

    Candidates should normally have or be expecting an upper second or first class degree in any related discipline. We also expect a Master's degree or equivalent with the dissertation component marked at Distinction level (70+). However, we also welcome applications from mature students with substantial research experience. Candidates can be considered for a PhD by Prior Publication.

    We also expect:

    • A mature and independent attitude to research
    • Adherence to the values of the Student Contract
    • Commitment to taking part in a community of scholars
    • An open attitude to the development of your own research
    • Generous and constructive criticism of the work of others presented in seminars
    • An understanding of the National Qualifications Frameworks
    • Willingness to present working papers in School of Arts Seminars and national and international conferences.

    English Language Requirements

    Under City regulations research theses must be submitted in English. Candidates whose first language is not English will be required to show evidence of a high standard of written and spoken fluency. Examples of this include a degree from a British university or a minimum overall score of 7.5 and no less than 7.0 in any of the subtests (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) administered by the British Council. For further information about IELTS, please see their website:

    Please note that TOEFL and Cambridge Advanced/ Preliminary tests are no longer accepted.

    Visa Requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area / Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa or entry clearance to come to the UK to study.

    The way that you apply may vary depending on the length of your course. There are different rules for:

    • Students on courses of more than six months
    • Students on courses of less than six months
    • Students on a pre-sessional English language course.

    If you require a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, you cannot undertake any City courses on a part-time basis.

    For more information see our main Visa page.

    Start Dates / Duration of Studies

    Start Date

    Admissions take place in late September each year.

    Duration of Studies

    Full time students are permitted a maximum of four years' registration. Part time students are permitted a maximum of seven years' registration. Students must submit a thesis and be examined within this period.

    As a full-time student, you will spend the majority of your working time in research at City. You are expected to dedicate yourself full-time to your research. As a part-time student, you are expected to spend the equivalent of two days per week on your research. This period shall not exceed 15 hours of organised daytime study per week.

    The Programme

    The PhD at City is designed to do two things: assist you with your research project and give you transferable skills for the years after you finish. With these aims in mind the PhD programme is structured as follows:

    Year 1 - In year one students work with their supervisor to develop the literature review in their specific area and outline their methodology and plan for the thesis. They participate in peer seminars and are expected to attend research events in the department.

    Year 2 - In order to progress from MPhil to PhD students present an upgrade paper no later than Spring of year two. This outlines their review of the literature, their methodology and gives an indication of the overall shape of the thesis.*

    Year 3 - The formal requirements in third year are focused around the writing up and submission of the thesis.

    Year 4 - The fourth year of a PhD is only used as a writing up year.

    *Students on graduate research programmes are initially registered for an MPhil award. Promotion to registration to PhD is not automatic, but contingent on the satisfactory outcome of a review process. This normally takes place towards the end of the first year of registration for full-time candidates and towards the end of the second year for part-time candidates.

    The programme will conclude with submission of your research in the form of a PhD thesis and attendance at a viva voce examination in front of at least two examiners, at least one of whom will be external to the University.

    Candidates are required to demonstrate the following:

    • a full understanding of previous research literature and current academic and professional thinking;
    • the ability to undertake sustained, high level research and master the theoretical (and where appropriate, practical) aspects of the subject areas relevant to the research field;
    • the ability to communicate the subject matter of the research field, and the conclusions of the particular research project, in the accepted academic form of a research thesis.

    The research thesis/dissertation must contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of the subject, either through the communication of substantial new information as a result of the research, or through a significant and novel reinterpretation of previous research and/or knowledge.

    An MPhil thesis should demonstrate evidence of systematic study and should be either a record of original work or a critical exposition of existing knowledge; a PhD thesis should similarly demonstrate evidence of systematic study and in addition make a new contribution to the subject, shown either by the discovery of new facts or analyses or by the exercise of independent critical judgement.

    For full details about the City PhD programme structure, please see the Guide for Research Students.

    PhD Supervisor

    CCI allows students -- in consultation with their supervisor -- to create a unique programme of study tailored to their needs within a broader framework of expectations. These cover: theory, history, methods/philosophy and substantive, detailed methods, as well as writing and presentation workshops.
    The supervisor offers advice, and guides the student to successful and timely completion of the thesis. This is likely to be more prescriptive and directive in the early part of the PhD career, and more advisory and dialogical in latter stages. Whilst the supervisor is an expert, one would hope that the PhD student's expertise of the subject area begins to exceed that of the supervisor by the end of the first half of the thesis. Clearly, the student must make the thesis their 'own'. The focus of the supervisory relationship is shaping the research project, issues of analysis and focus, and the writing project. The supervisor will introduce the student to the world of academic life, and facilitate contacts with researchers to help with the development of the thesis.

    The PhD student should take responsibility for project 'management' by taking notes and agreeing agendas for meetings, and keeping a long-term plan and milestones under review for regular discussion with the supervisor. The PhD student and supervisor should work as a team. Part of the early stage is to build up a relationship and a mode of working. The supervisor should keep the student prepared for deadlines, and the student should plan their time and their project accordingly, highlighting any potential issues and risks to smooth completion to the supervisor.
    Supervisors will also help students identify needs, and select additional relevant courses based upon previous student.

    A record of the agreed plan for first-year students must be lodged with the PhD director using City's Research & Progress (RaP) system and should be reviewed annually. Non-completion of this plan may lead to disqualification from further progress.

    Research Areas

    This list is divided into three strands. However, the boundaries between each are not fixed as themes overlap. Central concerns are methodology and interdisciplinarity.


    • Institutional frameworks for the making and uses of art and heritage (including theories of representation/display)
    • Media and culture, including questions of intimacy and selfhood
    • The transnational production of culture
    • Digital technologies of publishing and reading
    • Celebrity
    • Redefining notions of the universal (including critiques of multiculturalism, and cultural identity).

    Cultural policy and policy-making

    • Culture within the political realm (including public policy formation, in particular cultural policy and the political process)
    • Economy of the arts (including globalisation, political economy of the arts and changing markets)
    • Creative industries, both British and international/global
    • Urban Regeneration
    • Definition and measurement of employment in the cultural, or creative, industries
    • Cultural governance (international and local)
    • Cultural value (from a political perspective but also aesthetic).

    Management of culture

    • The politics of cultural and creative work
    • Impact and evaluation
    • Leadership (particularly gender and ethnicity)
    • Management practices and discourses, in particular corporate social responsibility
    • Critical theory of media and communication
    • Professional development of cultural practitioners (education and training).


    • Full-time EU: £4,500 per year
    • Part-time EU: £2,250 per year
    • Full-time Non EU: £12,000 per year
    • Part-time Non EU: £6,000 per year

    Fees for doctoral candidates are charged annually and cover registration, supervision and examination. Fees are subject to review each year and may vary during your period of registration.

    You pay the above fees (which usually increase each year in line with inflation) annually until you are ready to go into 'writing up' status, whereby you are no longer researching your research topic and are solely writing up your thesis for examination. You will not be required to pay further tuition fees but you will be charged the writing-up fee of £300 which will cover you for the duration of the writing-up period (a maximum of 12 months for full-time and 18 months for part-time students).

    If a student fails to submit their thesis within the maximum writing-up period, they will be reverted to full registration (full-time or part-time depending on their status before moving to writing up) and will be required to pay the full fees. Students will only be expected to pay for the time taken to complete the thesis and once the thesis has been submitted the remaining proportional fees will be refunded to the student.

    Fees are payable upon registration. Details of methods of the payment of tuition fees can be found on City's website, at:

    PhD Studentship 2017/18

    The School of Arts and Social Sciences is pleased to announce a PhD Fee Waiver Scheme for 2017/18. Applications are sought from exceptional UK and international graduates who have the potential to produce cutting edge research that will contribute to the research excellence of our core departments.

    Find out more about the PhD Fee Waiver Scheme

    Preliminary Enquiries

    Thinking about applying

    Completing a PhD is a demanding logistical as well as scholarly endeavour. Before applying for doctoral study, you should consider whether you have the motivation, dedication and self-discipline to work independently at advanced level for three years. It is important that you also have a clear idea of why you wish to do a PhD and how you intend to use it after completion, e.g. in pursuit of an academic career, or a career in the cultural or creative sector policymaking, etc. The more forethought you assign to this question before beginning a PhD programme, the better your eventual chances of success will be. Finally, you should have excellent abilities in personal organisation and time management.

    Your research topic

    It is essential that you have a clearly conceived idea of the topic you wish to research, as demonstrated in your research proposal. You will need to convince us with your proposal that you are aware of the field of study, and the key questions in it, and how your proposed research will contribute to it. Obviously, you can revise the proposal as you develop your research. However, we need a clear indication that you have thought out and planned your ideas, and that we have the appropriate expertise to supervise your work. For this reason you will need to identify which member of staff seems to have cognate research to your proposed study. It goes without saying that you should be able to demonstrate a strong attachment to and curiosity about this topic.

    Availability of supervision

    Before applying, please read carefully the further information about our research interests, and make sure that your research topic falls within one of these areas. Further information about research within the Department of Culture & Creative Industries can be found here.

    You should contact our admissions tutor for the PhD programme Dr Jo Littler to discuss your application.

    Also, to be considered for the MPhil/PhD programme, one of our staff must be willing to supervise your research. You are therefore encouraged to identify a staff member whose research interests accord with your own prior to making an application. Their profiles can be found on our website.

    How to Apply

    We accept applications on an ongoing basis for entry in late September. There is no formal application deadline, but it is advisable to apply as early as possible due to the limited availability of supervisors.

    To apply online, you will need to submit the following supporting documents:

    • A copy of your research proposal.
    • Copies of your degree certificates and transcripts.
    • Official work e-mail addresses (not private ones) for two academic referees (or one academic and one professional referee where appropriate).
    • Proof of your English language proficiency (if applicable).

    When this information is received the application will be assessed by the relevant academic staff. Further information or an interview may be required. The applicant will be contacted if this is the case. The outcome will be reported to the applicant as soon as is practicable.


    MPhil/PhD in Culture and Creative Industries (full-time) starting in September 2017

    MPhil/PhD in Culture and Creative Industries (part-time) starting in September 2017

    Writing Your Research Proposal

    The heart of your application is your research proposal. The ability to identify and propose a viable research project is a major indicator of your potential for doctoral study. This proposal should be a document of no more than 2 pages in which you explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it.

    A good research proposal typically includes the following components:

    • a clear statement of the proposed research question
    • an explanation of the importance and originality of the proposed topic. This may include a section on the lack or shortcomings of existing academic work in your proposed area
    • a section describing not only your proposed methodology but also an explanation of why this methodology is the most appropriate for the proposed topic
    • a prospective chapter outline of the proposed thesis
    • a timetable showing a realistic plan, including critical milestones, for the completion of your research and writing within three years
    • a concluding section showing why this research should be conducted specifically here, within CCI at City, rather than anywhere else.

    Please note: Candidates for the Doctoral Studentships will have to provide a 400 word non-technical summary of their research proposal.


    Research students are normally appointed a supervisory team consisting of at least two supervisors. One of these will be designated as the first point of contact with personal responsibility for ensuring that effective supervision is provided.

    Training Provision

    Find out more information on central provision for doctoral students.

    Research Environment

    The Department's PhD programme offers the support and resources you need to complete your doctorate, including:

    • Tailor-made supervision by our nationally- and internationally-renowned staff
    • Research training within the Department
    • Use of a specialist reference archive of more than 6,000 items unique to City as well as access to libraries and major London collections such as the British Library and the Arts Library of the Barbican Centre
    • Membership of the Department Seminar group, who meet regularly to participate in seminars given by research students and/or invited speakers from academe and the industry
    • The chance to publish your research in the Department's peer reviewed journal Culture, Criticism and Management
    • The support of the School's knowledge transfer programmes to provide insight into applied research
    • Working as part of a lively research community made up of students from all over the world with diverse educational and career backgrounds.