The Role of Independent Cinema in the Age of On-Demand Culture

Collaborative Doctorate fully funded by the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership

Watershed Cultural Cinema, Bristol

UWE Bristol

University of Exeter


This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a fully-funded collaborative doctorate analysing the role of independent cinema in the age of on-demand culture, beginning in October 2020. The project explores independent cinema’s approach to curation, audience development and community-building; its relationships with funders and policymakers at local, regional, national and international levels; and the strategies it has developed to survive in the face of far-reaching changes to the ways in which films are distributed, exhibited and consumed notably the emergence of Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) services. The project will focus on the role of Watershed Cultural Cinema in Bristol but also engage with the UK independent film exhibition centre as a whole. Although the independent exhibition sector has been affected by the Covid-19 virus, as has every area of public and professional activity, how the sector has responded will be a consideration of the research but not a determining focus.

You will be jointly supervised by Mark Cosgrove, Film Curator at Watershed, Professor Andrew Spicer (UWE Bristol), Professor James Lyons (Exeter University) and Dr Steve Presence (UWE Bristol). The studentship is fully funded for three years thanks to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP2) and you will enjoy all the advantages of working within that collaborative framework that includes a number of training events. Although part of SWW DTP2, you will be registered as a UWE student.

In order to be considered for this opportunity, you need to submit:

  • A UWE application form quoting reference 2021-OCT-ACE02 and include a 1,000-word statement where you should explain:
    • Why you wish to apply for this collaborative doctorate.
    • How you would approach investigating this subject.
    • What you see as the advantages in working with Watershed, UWE Bristol and Exeter.
    • In what way your interests, education and existing knowledge makes you well suited to undertake this project.

Further details are available on the UWE Graduate School website.

  • A completed SWW DTP2 application formSWW DTP2 Application Form, Personal Information Form, Research Project Form, in completing this form, please take note of the SWW DTP2 Guidance for Applicants document Guidance for Applicants though please ignore the dates for application submission etc. found in that document since they do not apply to this particular studentship.
  • Copies of your academic qualifications (both certificates and transcripts of module/course marks).
  • Two references (at least one should be an academic reference from the institution where you gained your highest degree).
  • Appropriate proof of English Language Requirements
  • Please also complete the SWW DTP2 Equal Opportunities form found in the Personal Details section of the Application form.

The application deadline is 17.00 on Friday 19 June 2020. Please note that you must be available to be interviewed (online or in person in Bristol depending on government restrictions) during w/c 13 July 2020.

For an informal discussion of the project please email Andrew Spicer or

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