Why pursue a doctorate in Film and Moving Image Studies?
Film and moving images are the dominant forms of contemporary visual culture. Their reach transcends territorial borders and disciplinary horizons, and they can influence our views and our understanding of the world in complex ways. Moving images ask us to continually re-examine, re-interpret, and re-evaluate both where and how we stand in the world individually and collectively.
Film and moving image scholars are committed to investigating the multiple forms and practices of the ever-evolving medium of moving images. We train academic researchers to make sense of its histories, philosophies, and meanings, as well as the ideological perspectives that help shape and transform the ways we interact in a global society. The doctoral program in Film and Moving Image Studies endeavors to train the next generation of moving image scholars. We provide them with the critical tools with which to revisit the past and map the future of one of the most vibrant fields in the fine arts and humanities. The landscape and boundaries of this field continually shift in order to pose new possibilities and challenges, and actively respond to artistic, economic, cultural and technological change.
While Montreal is a throbbing cultural metropolis with an exceptional range of film venues and museums, galleries and artist-run centers, the program provides an ideal environment for students to deepen their understanding of cinema and other moving image media from a wide variety of historical, cultural and theoretical perspectives. Our program fosters interdisciplinarity in both research and teaching, while being deeply rooted in the discipline of film and media studies and the aesthetic, philosophical, social and political debates that have shaped it. Students are encouraged to expand their critical skills and develop a wide variety of research methods for investigating film and moving image practices in different national and transnational contexts and periods.
Incoming students are expected to have an MA in Film Studies (or cognate field) and a minimum B+ average or GPA of 3.30. Applicants will also be assessed by the School of Cinema’s doctoral program sub-committee on the basis of a writing sample, letters of recommendation, research ability, and a letter of intent outlining research interests, to be submitted with their application. Prior to final acceptance, the student should have identified and contacted a potential supervisor. Final decision regarding supervision will be made by mutual agreement between the student, the doctoral program sub-committee, and the potential supervisor. Feasibility of proposed research and availability of a faculty member to supervise will also be considered. In certain instances students may be asked to complete qualifying graduate coursework. A detailed description of the program may be obtained from the PhD Program Director, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema.
Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.
Credits. A fully qualified candidate is required to fulfill 90 credits. The requirements are: 15 credits of coursework, six credits in the form of one comprehensive examination and one specialization examination essay (three credits each), six credits of thesis proposal, and 63 credits of research and thesis.
Language. While English is the dominant language for activities in the School of Cinema, applicants must demonstrate a level of competence that would allow them to read technical material in French (or another pertinent language with regards to their research). Students may write reports, examinations, and theses in English or French, as they choose.
Examinations and Thesis Proposal. Students must pass a comprehensive exam (three credits), followed by a thesis proposal (six credits), followed by a specialization exam essay (three credits) to be admitted to candidacy.
The written comprehensive examination (three credits) pertains to the candidate’s major subfield of research and is based on a reading list (with an appropriate filmography) prepared by the student with the assistance of his/her supervisor. The reading list and essay are evaluated by an examination committee comprising three faculty members, including the student’s supervisor. The reading list and filmography are first approved by the supervisor and then by the other members of the examination committee, who may suggest further changes. Three to four months after the final approval of the reading list, having indicated his/her readiness to the supervisor, the student receives up to four examination questions from the supervisor, based on the reading list. The student has two weeks to produce an essay answering two of the questions. This exam should be completed by the student no later than December of his/her second year in the program (fourth term).
The thesis proposal (six credits) consists of a 20- to 25-page document outlining the object of study of the thesis, its objectives, the research hypothesis, and the methodology that will be used or developed. A detailed bibliography must accompany the document as well as a preliminary table of contents. The thesis proposal must be defended orally before a jury consisting of the student’s supervisor and two faculty members (the student’s dissertation committee), which ideally is the same as his/her examination committee. The proposal is submitted by the student to the supervisor, and approved by the supervisor no later than April of the student’s second year in the program (fifth term). Upon approval of the proposal, an oral defense is scheduled.
The written specialization examination essay (three credits) is a written case study intended to demonstrate the student’s capacity to perform critical analysis of research material and address the research questions in the thesis proposal. The essay is normally 6000 to 9000 words, following the professional criteria for publication. It is followed by an oral defense before the examination subcommittee. The specialization essay is submitted by the student to the supervisor and his/her examination committee, and is approved for submission no later than December of his/her third year in the program (seventh term). The oral defense is then scheduled for the following January. Upon successful completion of the specialization examination essay (and contingent on the completion of the required 15 course credits), the student is admitted to candidacy.
Research and Thesis. A major portion of the doctoral program is the planning and execution of innovative and original research under the direction of a supervisor. The student’s research will be presented in a written thesis and defended orally in conformity with the regulations outlined in Concordia University’s Graduate Calendar. The candidate will submit his/her doctoral thesis to an examining committee consisting of at least five faculty members: the candidate’s supervisor, two faculty members from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, a faculty member from another department within Concordia (external-to-program examiner), and an external-to-University faculty member.
*Late applications may occasionally be considered, at the discretion of the Program Director and subject to space availability. Please inquire directly to the Program Director.
Priority will be given to those who apply within the official deadlines listed above. Some programs may continue to accept applications after these deadlines. For more information, please contact the department.
Our seminars are designed exclusively for doctoral students. They cover a robust range of scholarship in film and media history and theory that recognizes the value of pluralism in moving image research. At Concordia, students join a vibrant and enthusiastic research community, and are mentored by acclaimed prize-winning faculty members while pursuing individual scholarly goals and developing original scholarship.
All PhD students in Film and Moving Image Studies receive funding and are eligible to work as Teaching Assistants as well as Research Assistants, and a variety of University bursaries and fellowships are also available. Opportunities also exist for designing and teaching undergraduate courses. International fee remission is available for foreign students who then pay only local fees for tuition (amongst the lowest in North America). Students entering the program with a SSHRC or FRQSC fellowship receive a $10,000 top up from the School of Graduate Studies.
All PhD applicants are advised to identify faculty members in the program whose expertise and interests would allow them to serve as potential supervisors for the applicant's doctoral project, and to contact these faculty members, prior to application, to inquire about their interest and availability to supervise. Applicants can contact several faculty members, and are encouraged to consider more than one potential supervisor. Potential supervisors should be identified in the statement of purpose submitted as part of the application package.
While a formal acceptance from the potential supervisor is not required at the application stage, the availability of potential supervisors is a factor in determining the ranking of an applicant.
Upon matriculation, students are expected to have established a formal relationship with a PhD supervisor in the first year of the program. Students who do not have a supervisor by the end of their first year will be withdrawn from the program. Students may request to be allowed to remain registered in the program after this point for a maximum of four months in order to secure a supervisor.
The vibrant culture of the program includes opportunities for students to get involved in Concordia-based film journals, research groups, yearly conferences and active reading groups.
Our students position themselves at the forefront of new scholarship by organizing screenings, workshops and seminars that interface with Montreal’s rich cultural and arts scene and beyond. They are encouraged and supported to actively disseminate their own research through conferences and publications. A plethora of distinguished guests participate in departmental and University-wide events, while faculty and students from other fields and institutions contribute to an active schedule of discussions and activities.