Three Year PhD Studentship

Three Year PhD Studentship

Issued: Fri, 22 May 2015 16:55:00 BST

Three-year PhD studentship: Human Rights Film Festivals: Politics, Programmes and Practices

The University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts, the University of St Andrews, and Document International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival are pleased to announce a three-year PhD studentship funded via the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities Applied Research Collaboration Studentship (ARCS). The studentship will begin 1 October 2015 and covers the cost of home/EU tuition fees and provides an annual maintenance award of £14,057 (at 2015/16 rates). There are no nationality restrictions for this award, but please note that maintenance and tuition fees will be paid at current UK/EU RCUK rates. Students from outside the UK or EU will be responsible for any shortfall in fees.

Research Project

The student will conduct an in-depth, institutional study of the politics, programming strategies and working practices of Document International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.

Currently in its 12th year, the Glasgow-based festival is the Scottish member of the
38-strong Human Rights Film Network (HRFN). The study will examine how the concept of human rights is imagined and implemented in film festivals. The study will also examine the partnerships and interactions with international festivals, the HRFN and local community organisations and campaign groups. In doing so, the student will produce a thesis that maps the festival’s contribution to the discourse of human rights, which is mobilised locally and internationally by festivals, activists, filmmakers, and NGOs.

As required by the ARCS collaborative framework, the student will undertake a placement of between 4 and 18 months with Document, gaining first-hand insight on the organisation and helping develop research that can inform the Festival’s work. This placement can be organised flexibly and include travel to other festivals and screening venues where Document has a presence, as well as attendance and/or participation in the selection committee and board.

Aims of the Project

  • To analyse Document’s programming practices and place them in the larger context of global film festivals.
  • To map out and identify interactions between Document, other film festivals and local organisations.
  • To produce an analysis of Document that will illuminate the developments and forces that shape a human rights film festival and a conception of human rights.
  • To develop a methodological approach aimed at the further study of film festivals and film-related activism.

Research Questions

  • How are discourses around human rights interpreted and articulated within human rights film festivals?
  • How do these variable interpretations of human rights shape film selection and programming practice?
  • How do human rights film festivals operate in relation to both global media flows and local campaigning networks and movements?
  • What is the contribution of human rights film festivals to a discourse of human rights?

Research Methods
The research project coordinates interdisciplinary research approaches embedded within the arts and humanities with a particular focus on media ethnography. While films and their formal and textual aspects will be taken into account, the principle attention will be on the festival’s processes, infrastructures, and discourses that mediate human rights.

Methods include

  • Discourse analysis of festival materials such as programmes, publicity materials, and board minutes.
  • Site studies of the festivals across multiple years, with access to all aspects, secured by the partnership.
  • Observation of board meetings, secured by the partnership.
  • Observation and participation (as co-opted member) in the 2016 festival programming team, secured by the partnership.
  • Organisation of student-led screening/event at the 2016 festival with an NGO selected by the student, secured by the partnership
  • Interviews with a range of stakeholders including: festival staff and volunteers; board members; staff and volunteers from NGOs with which the festival works.
  • Interviews with organisers of festivals on the HRFN.

Dr David Archibald (University of Glasgow), Dr Leshu Torchin (University of St Andrews) and Dr Maria A. Velez-Serna (Document) will co-supervise the student.

The student will be based at the University of Glasgow and will take part in postgraduate development activities in Glasgow and at the University of St Andrews.

Requirements for Applicants

Applicants should hold (or expect to achieve in 2015) a Masters degree with Merit or Distinction, and an undergraduate degree with First-Class or Upper Second-Class Honours in relevant fields or subjects.

How to Apply
Applications should include the following materials:

  • CV
  • Covering letter describing in detail your interest in and suitability for undertaking this project
  • An example of scholarly work up to 3000 words in length (e.g. coursework essay, or a dissertation chapter)
  • Degree transcripts (this may be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • 2 academic references (these may be sent directly from your referees if they would prefer)

Please send application materials to Research Administrator, with the subject line ‘Document ARCS Application' by Friday 19 June 2015.

Further Information


Applications for the studentships are due no later than Friday 19 June 2015
Interviews will be held on Friday 3 July in Glasgow (interviews may be conducted using Skype).