Cinema Studies has been defined as nationally outstanding and internationally prominent by Stockholm University. The area of study encompasses moving images and image cultures from the pre-cinematic era to the various screen cultures and digital platforms of the contemporary media landscape. Cinema Studies comprises of a multitude of approaches with a significant focus on turning points and alterations of media from various theoretical, historical and contemporary perspectives.


Aims of programme

The aim of the doctoral programme is to give the student broad knowledge in, and a systematic understanding of, the field of research, together with deep and current specialist knowledge in a delimited part of this field, a thorough training in research methods and a good understanding of the problems occurring in the research and its practical application. Furthermore, an ability to identify and formulate research questions critically, independently, creatively, and with scholarly precision, as well as to plan and conduct research and other qualified tasks with appropriate methods and within specified time limits, and also to review and evaluate such work. The aim of the programme is to make the student suited, in the capacity of a researcher, teacher and expert, to complete such tasks where sound knowledge of the field of study is of value.


Description of the programme

The Swedish doctoral programme, is designed to take four years of full-time study. A doctoral degree will be awarded when the doctoral student has completed doctoral studies worth 240 higher education credits within one subject.

The programme comprises course work and the writing of a thesis. The course work comprises 60 higher education credits, the equivalent of two semesters of full-time study (of which some courses are obligatory and some are selected in consultation with the supervisor). The dissertation work amounts to 180 higher education credits, equalling six semesters of full-time study, including research, writing and seminars. The dissertation is either a monograph or a compilation thesis.

Studies at the doctoral level in Cinema Studies can be completed either with a licentiate degree or a doctoral degree.

In terms of the Swedish university credit system 30 credits correspond to one term of full-time study.


Language of instruction

The courses and seminars within the doctoral programme at the Department of Media Studies are generally given in English. Even though proficiency in Swedish is not a formal requirement for admission, it is very helpful for effective participation in other activities at the department.


Funding/Terms of employment

All doctoral positions at Stockholm University are salaried. Students can also apply if they have a grant that is considered (by Stockholm University) to be sufficient to cover four years of full time research. Students can also study halftime, e.g. while holding another job position, amounting to eight years of study. Please note that all applicants for doctoral positions, including those with funding, are involved in the same competition, and thus that all applications will be evaluated according to the same set of rules, that is on basis of CVs and the quality of previous work.

The total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study. However, the term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may then be extended for a maximum of two years at a time.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, administration and other research-oriented duties corresponding to a maximum of 20% of a full-time position.


Eligibility and entry requirements

Please note that one cannot apply for doctoral positions any time. Such positions are announced twice a year, normally mid-March and mid-September.

Also the application procedure is strictly formalized, and administrated by Stockholm University centrally, i.e. not locally by the Department. For general information on PhD studies and the application procedure, see

Generally speaking applicants are expected to hold at least a major in film of cinema studies to qualify as a candidate. On the other hand, current regulations do allow for the departmental board to consider applicants from adjacent disciplines with a strong research plan of (for instance) interdisciplinary nature. Therefore, whenever applying, make sure to submit as much of your written work as possible, and a detailed research plan.

In order to meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 must be in the second-cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

In order to meet the specific entry requirements, the general syllabus for doctoral studies in the field of cinema studies stipulates that applicants must have received a passing grade on course work of at least 30 higher education credits from the second cycle in Cinema Studies, including a degree project (normally a Master’s thesis) of at least 15 credits.

In addition, the applicant is required to be proficient in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish or English. This includes the ability to read, speak, and write in these languages.

The entry requirements can also be met by students who have acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. The primary assessment criteria in appointing a doctoral student should be the capacity to benefit from the training.


Assessment and selection criteria

Selection from among applicants meeting the requirements is to be made with reference to their ability to benefit from the programme. The selection is made by an admissions committee. The following criteria will be used to assess this capacity:

  1. Previous education in general. Assessment of both depth and breadth of previous education.
  2. Scholarly production. Based on a Bachelor’s thesis, a Master’s thesis or other academic papers, the potential of the applicant to benefit from the education. The assessment should also take into consideration the aspect of time, that is, to what extent the applicant has shown the ability to meet his or her previous scholarly obligations within given time constraints. In addition, the extent to which the applicant provides evidence of developing academic proficiency is considered. The scholarly production is judged with regard to critical and analytical ability, independence and creativity.
  3. The applicant must enclose a research plan which should cover the research problem and an outline of the research project. The research plan is to be assessed according to its relevance, originality and feasibility within given time constraints (that is full-time work during a four-year period of doctoral studies or two years for a licentiate).
  4. Availability of supervision.
  5. Ability to collaborate. The ability of the applicant to collaborate with others is to be determined by personal references, certificates or interviews.


Application administrator

Head of Administration Peter Erell


Director of graduate studies

Professor Marina Dahlquist


More information

Local admission regulations for doctoral studies in cinema studies

Admission regulations for doctoral studies at Stockholm University

Handbook for postgraduate students

Handbook for international researchers