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You are here Disciplines > Film > Postgraduate > M.Phil./P.Grad.Dip. Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice

M.Phil./ P.Grad. Dip. Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice

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Course Co-ordinator - Dr Paula Quigley (

Apply for M.Phil. in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice

Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin is an exciting area of study. Along with our undergraduate Film Studies programme, there is a vibrant postgraduate and research culture. The M.Phil. in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice plays a central role in that thriving postgraduate community, offering students the opportunity to blend film and digital media theory, as well as history and practice. Many of our graduates go on to further study at PhD level, and others pursue careers in the film industry, in film journalism and other related areas in the arts and media.

The M.Phil. in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice is a unique opportunity to embark upon a detailed investigation into the intellectual currents and aesthetic concerns surrounding the study and practice of film and digital media. From the outset, questions of history, theory and context combine with issues of close analysis and interpretation. Modules in screenwriting, creative documentary and editing allow students to balance film and digital media theory with practice. In addition, the course aims to develop the key transferable skills required for further postgraduate study. These include dissertation preparation, time management, and oral and written presentation, alongside an emphasis on independent critical thinking.


Film Studies is located on the main campus of Trinity College in the heart of Dublin's city centre. It is just a stroll away from the city's major cultural attractions, including the Irish Film Institute, The Abbey and Gate Theatres, and the Temple Bar and Docklands areas.


The M.Phil. in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice is a one-year full-time course, running from late September to the end of the following August. Formal teaching and coursework will be completed by May, after which students will focus on their dissertations and need not be resident.

Admission and Entry Requirements

The minimum requirement for consideration is a good honours degree of upper second class (2.1) or above, or an equivalent qualification, in a related or relevant area. All applicants who require an IELTS qualification (academic version) must achieve a minimum score of 6.5 overall (no individual band below 6). Applicants may be asked to submit a sample of written work and may be interviewed by Skype or in person. Applications should be made online by the 30th June 2019. Applications from serious candidates may be considered after this date.

Course Structure

Students take six taught modules and a Dissertation or Dissertation with Practice module that includes Research Methodologies.

Dissertation or Dissertation with Practice and Research Methodologies (30 ECTS)

The Research Methodologies module prepares students for the formal processes of research and writing at M.Phil. level. Classes will cover library use, archival skills, electronic resources, use of Endnote, research skills, note taking, writing and oral presentation, and Powerpoint techniques.

Dissertation: Students will write a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words on an approved topic to be supervised by an appropriate member of staff.

Dissertation with Practice: As an alternative method of presenting your research, students may submit a proposal to make a film or films, write a screenplay, or create a video essay as part of their final dissertation. Successful applicants will accompany this with a written component of 8,000-10,000 words that will offer a critical perspective on their practice. Acceptance on this strand will depend on the viability of the proposal, the availability of appropriate supervision and resources, and demonstration of the requisite critical and practical skills.

Elective modules

  • Critical Approaches to Cinema (10 ECTS)

This module will consider key critical approaches to the study of cinema. We will discuss debates around the organisation of editing, film style and mise-en-scène, issues around gender, genre and authorship, as well as questions of representation and spectatorship. We will consider how the medium has been used creatively and approached critically at different times in its development.

  • Cinema and Ireland (10 ECTS)

This module will examine and analyse the industrial developments, international influences and local productions relating to Irish cinema from The Quiet Man to the Celtic Tiger period and its aftermath. We will consider funding opportunities, specifically in relation to the Irish Film Board, and the consequences of the growth of digital filmmaking during this time. We will discuss changes in gender representation and the representation of race. We will further cover the evolving relationship between the city and the country, and cinema and history. Classes also will cover the legacy of the Troubles and the auteur cinemas of Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and Lenny Abrahamson.

  • Current Trends in World Cinema (10 ECTS)

This module will explore the development of world cinema with particular reference to films from the last twenty years. Including examples from the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America, the module will explore the historical development of film-making with reference to specific national and cultural identity. With reference to the idea that cinema is a powerful ideological medium, the module will examine how film is used to express marginalized political positions, specifically through the work of female Middle Eastern directors.

  • Current Trends in European Cinemas (10 ECTS)

This module will examine the development of European cinema in the context of the radical upheavals that have recently transformed the continent. European national cinemas have a long and successful tradition. However, the idea of 'national' cinema is challenged by the transnational production models that facilitate contemporary filmmaking in Europe. At the same time, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, new European national identities are being formed and expressed through cinema. These dichotomies, their outcomes, and the history of European cinema will be considered through films from the past twenty years.

  • Digital Media and Culture (10 ECTS)

In the era of digital media, media themselves are being transformed as platforms, content, and producers multiply. In this module, we will approach digital media from both theoretical and practical perspectives, including its relationship to digital culture more broadly. We will theorize the impact of digital technologies on storytelling, particularly the move towards transmedia and interactive narratives that take advantage of the turn towards social media and participatory forms of culture. Students will engage with questions of remix culture, digital aesthetics and seriality, as well as the role of amateurs and fans in digital productions. In order to question the assumption that digital media forms and uses are inherently 'new', we will consider how formats such as GIFs, podcasts and desktop documentaries fit into a longer history of experimentation with the possibilities and limits of emerging mediums. These include the formal and affective links between the 'cinema of attractions' and current trends on YouTube and within short-form looped media. Throughout the module, students will also develop an experiential understanding of these concepts by creating and reflecting on their own digital media objects, such as GIFs, Instagram stories and podcasts.

  • Editing (10 ECTS)

This module will introduce students to the craft of editing, giving students an understanding of the essential technical and creative skills involved: how a scene is assembled and seamlessly put together; cutting dialogue; creating tension and drama using editing; editing to rhythm; cutting to music and beats. It will also provide students with a thorough knowledge of the editing software, Final Cut Pro X, covering all aspects of the software, from capture and system-settings, editing tools and shortcuts, to effects, transitions and colour correction. The overall aim is to give students the knowledge, tools and confidence to complete their own work to a professional standard.

  • Creative Documentary Practice (10 ECTS)

The aim of this module is to expose students to the possibilities of creative documentary film making with a strong emphasis on learning thorough practical application. The module will take a critical look at current practices in the genre with an emphasis both on the techniques of documentary filmmaking and the practicalities of how films are made.

  • Screenwriting (10 ECTS)

This module will introduce students to the techniques and conventions of screenwriting. Class exercises will involve the analysis of screenplays and short films, and the module will cover both the conventional three-act structure and other models of screenwriting.

Please note: all modules are subject to change and/or availability. Students must take three modules in Michaelmas term and three modules in Hilary term, subject to timetabling.

Guest Lectures and Workshops

Talks from visiting academics and film practitioners are regular aspects of the M.Phil. programme. These enhance the core learning experience by providing a variety of perspectives along with practical advice regarding working in the film industry.

Students are encouraged also to attend the School of Creative Arts Research Seminar (SCARF), a weekly forum for the presentation of current research by School staff, Ph.D. students, and visiting lecturers. The Research Seminar is held in Trinity Long Room Hub, Arts & Humanities Research Institute.


Assessment is by a combination of coursework and dissertation:

  • Each module will be assessed by a combination of written and/or practice based assignments, as appropriate to that module, and class participation (total ECTS: 60).
  • Dissertation or Dissertation with Practice and Research Methodologies assessment (total ECTS: 30).

Postgraduate Diploma

A Postgraduate Diploma in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice may be awarded in certain circumstances on the basis of coursework alone (60 ECTS). Entry is the same as for the M.Phil. programme.


Ruth Barton is the author of a number of books and articles on Irish cinema and international stardom. Her research interests include national cinemas, diaspora studies and performance studies. She is a regular contributor to RTE Radio's Arena and to other arts programmes and documentaries.
Justin MacGregor is the John Sherlock Assistant Professor of Screenwriting. He has written, produced and directed documentary and narrative films, as well as theatrical productions, in Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. His practice-based research includes developing new audiences and new works.
Conor O'Kelly is a Teaching Fellow who teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, supervising Sophister and M.Phil. theses. With a background in software development and network infrastructure, he is interested in how different media reflect and affect the human condition.
Paula Quigley is Director of the M.Phil. in Film Studies - Theory, History, Practice. Her research interests include film theory, film style, genre and gender, and aspects of European and American cinema.

Further information
Please check the Study at Trinity website for fees and other information.


Course admissions and applications

The Graduate Studies office is part of the Academic Registry.
Opening Hours: 9.30 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday
Telephone: 01 896 4500
The Graduate Studies Office
Academic Registry
Watts Building
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2

Course content and structure

Dr. Paula Quigley,
School of Creative Arts, Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin.
Tel: (00 353 1) 896 3512

The Constantia Maxwell Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses (2019-20 intake)

The School of Creative Arts is pleased to announce that we will be awarding one €5,000 bursary to the top ranked applicant to the M.Phil. programmes running in the School - M.Phil. in Film Studies: Theory, History, Practice; M.Phil. in Theatre and Performance; M.Phil. in Music Composition. Applicants will be ranked on the basis of previous academic qualifications, the quality of their supporting application, their letters of reference, and their potential for higher level research. Existing applicants should indicate to the M.Phil. co-ordinator whether they would like to be considered for this bursary.

All applications for these courses and this bursary must be received by 28th June 2019.

For further details, please contact the Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning, Dr Paula Quigley.