Doctor of Philosophy in Cinema and Media Studies (PhD)
The Ph.D. program offers students the opportunity to pursue Cinema and Media Studies through coursework, comprehensive exams, a viva, and a dissertation project. Students are expected to give primary attention to an area of expertise of their choice while training in the broader theoretical, critical, and historical contexts of the chosen field.
Faculty research specialties include strengths in contemporary cinemas and media culture, one that highlights media and film theory, cult cinema, documentary studies, early cinema, feminist and post-feminist media studies, American, Canadian and European cinemas, television studies, and sound studies. There are particular strengths in contemporary Anglophone cinema and television products and cultures within a global context. Our students occasionally engage with professors and students in our renowned directing, design and film production graduate programs.
We accept up to two students per year, and we strongly urge applicants to consider whether their project matches our faculty’s past expertise or current research interests.
What makes the program unique?
B.C.’s favourable position as a hub for the international film and media production industry allows opportunities for research topics and case studies not easily available elsewhere.
As a selective boutique program, we provide close mentorship of all accepted students. We are usually able to provide teaching assistant experience to PhD. students in our large first and second year undergraduate courses. At the ABD stage, students may have the opportunity to teach an undergraduate course. Graduate students have the opportunity to work on the film studies journal Cinephile. The Visual Resources Centre provides access to nearly 10,000 DVDs. The Centre for Cinema and Media Studies in the Department occasionally sponsors visiting scholars. UBC has the second largest research library in Canada, including the 30,000 Videomatica collection, a unique resource.
Contact the program
Admission Information & Requirements
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 100
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
Prior degree, course and other requirements
Prior Degree Requirements
Master's degree in Cinema Studies, Film Studies or Media Studies.
2) Meet Deadlines
September 2022 Intake
Application Open Date30 September 2021
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date25 September 2022
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Cinema and Media Studies (PhD)
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
4) Apply Online
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
With strengths in contemporary cinemas and media culture, the current faculty offer a program that highlights media and film theory, cult cinema, documentary studies, feminist and post-feminist media studies, American, Canadian and European cinemas, television studies, and sound studies. There are particular strengths in contemporary Anglophone cinema and television products and cultures within a global context.
UBC Library is the home of the 30,000 plus Videomatica collection recently purchased and catalogued, a unique resource.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,732.53||$3,043.77|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,052.34 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,126.20 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)
All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.
Teaching Assistantships (GTA)
Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.
Research Assistantships (GRA)
Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
Financial aid (need-based funding)
Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.
All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.
Foreign government scholarships
Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.
Working while studying
The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.
Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Coulthard, Lisa (film theory and violence; film sound and violence, contemporary American and European cinemas, continental philosophy and Lacanian theory)
Frackman, Kyle (Cinema studies; Film, television and digital media; affect; Artistic and Literary Marginality; Artistic and Literary Movements, Schools and Styles; Artistic and Literary Theories; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Arts and Literary Policies; Arts and Technologies; Arts, Literature and Subjectivity; Cultural Industries; East Germany; film; Gender Studies; German studies; history of science; history of sexuality; Literary or Artistic Work Analysis; literature; Media; Media Types (Radio, Television, Written Press, etc.); queer studies; Scandinavia; sexuality; sexuality studies; Social Determinants of Arts and Letters)
Iurascu, Ilinca (Cinema studies; Film, television and digital media; Artistic and Literary Theories; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Arts and Technologies; critical theory; Cultural Studies; film studies; German literature; Media and Society; media archeology; media theory; Theories and Philosophies; visual studies)
Johnston, Kirsty (Dramatic literature and theatre history with particular interest in disability arts and intersections between health, disability and performance )
Karwowska, Bozena (Sexuality, Body and Gender in Nazi Concentration Camps)
Laird, Colleen (Japanese media and gender studies; Gendered image production, gendered reception, and women in industry; Video games, new media, streaming media, animation (anime), and comics (manga); Paratexts: distribution, exhibition, and production materials; Film theory, genre theory, transnational cinemas and star texts, and feminist and queer theory)
Liu, Siyuan (twentieth century Chinese theatre and Asian Canadian theatre)
Malakaj, Ervin (Artistic and Literary Analysis Models; Artistic and Literary Movements, Schools and Styles; Artistic and Literary Theories; Arts, Literature and Subjectivity; German studies; German Film Studies; German Media Studies; German Media History; Queer Theory and Queer Studies; Feminist and Queer Film Historiography; Critical Pedagogy)
Marshall, Hallie (Performing arts; Ancient Greek Theatre; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Classics; Contemporary British Theatre; Cultural Industries; History of the Book; Literary or Artistic Work Dissemination or Reception Contexts; Performance and Theatrical Productions; Poetry; Reception Studies; Religion, Culture and Space; Theatre; Tony Harrison)
Marshall, Christopher Warren (Cinema studies; Classical Greek and Ancient Rome history; Classical archaeology; Classical linguistics; Film, television and digital media; Religion and religious studies; Literary or Artistic Works Analysis; Performance and Theatrical Productions)
Mathijs, Ernest (film, alternative cinema, independent cinema, European cinema, horror film, David Cronenberg, film audiences, film festivals, censorship, fantasy film, Lord of the Rings, Film studies)
McIlroy, Brian (Critical film studies; Documentary; Early Cinema; Irish Cinema; Canadian and US Cinema; Television Drama; British Cinema; cultural history; Film genres)
Mota, Miguel (Post-1945 British literature, print culture)
Orbaugh, Sharalyn (modern Japanese culture (literature, film, manga, animation, kamishibai); East Asian women’s issues; anti-racist pegagogy, Japanese narrative and visual culture)
Rea, Christopher (Modern Chinese literature and cinema since the 19th century, Chinese cartoons and visual culture, Chinese print and popular culture, Chinese internet culture, humour and satire, Taiwan, Chinese culture, modern Chinese history, translation )
Santos, Alessandra (Cinema studies; Film, television and digital media; Latin American history; Latin American literatures; Spanish language; Artistic and Literary Analysis Models; Artistic and Literary Theories; Arts and Cultural Traditions; Arts and Technologies; Brazilian Literature and Culture; Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies; Latin American Literatures and Cultures; Modern and Contemporary Literatures and Cultures)
Scholte, Tom (Theatre, film, and television)
Smith, Tai (Art history and theory; Cinema studies; Curatorial and related studies; Film, television and digital media; Visual arts and media arts; Arts and Technologies; Economical Contexts; Gender; media theory; Modern and Contemporary Art and Design; Politics of Media and Mediation; Textiles)
Testa, Carlo (Italian literature, history of cinema, theory/film studies )
Tomc, Sandra (Nineteenth-century US literature, twentieth- century US entertainment and film, gothic literature and film, screenwriting, affect and psychoanalytic theory, fear and horror, film and image theory)
Walsh, Shannon (Media arts; Critical identity, ethnic and race studies; Social and cultural anthropology; South Africa; Afropessimism & Critical Race Studies; Documentary; Film Production; Indigenous studies; Environmental justice; Affect Theory)
Zuo, Mila (Cinema & Media studies; film studies; Contemporary Asian and transnational cinemas; Film philosophy; Acting and performance studies; Star studies; Digital and new media; Critical theories of gender, sexuality, and race and ethnicity)
The Cinema and Media Studies research specializes in contemporary cinemas and media culture, cult cinema, documentary studies, feminist and post-feminist media studies and sound studies among many others.