Audiovisual Arts and Media Studies

The programme facilitates two modes of study: creative practice based audiovisual arts studies and empirical media studies. The curriculum focuses on contemporary forms and phenomena of media and audiovisual arts, first and foremost media content and media production research. Special focus is given to the processes of change in media and arts.

Study level PhD studies

Duration of study 4 years

Language Estonian English

Number of studies 4

The importance of audiovisual culture and industry is on the rise in contemporary society and BFM has a special area of responsibility in Estonia to develop the Estonian audiovisual culture. Thus although the curriculum is planned to be interdiciplinary we put special emphasis on themes of audiovisual culture and contemporary digital culture. This means relying to a significant extent on humanities based approaches, but we lead an interdiciplinary dialogue with other approaches especially with economics based approaces to media and the audiovisual industries. A special kind of attention will be given to the role of media in education and to the questions of audiovisual literacy and didactics.

Autumn PhD Admissions 2019 open for the following topics:

Topic Number of Places  
Data based studies of audiovisual heritage 1 Apply now!
Data usage in contemporary media organisations 1 Apply now!
Enactive Co-presence in Narrative Virtual Reality: A Triadic Interaction Model 2 Apply now!

The curriculum has two parallel main objectives:

  • to support independent empirical doctoral research in contemporary media and communication cultures, primarily in the fields of digital and audiovisual media;
  • to support the production of media and film projects as practice-based artistic doctoral research projects;

In both study areas the focus is also on developing the necessary skills and knowledge to a high level. An additional objective is to support the students preparation for careers in teaching and conducting research by developing the necessary pedagogical and research organisation competences.

The central idea behind the practice-based doctoral thesis is that creative work can be also a form of research, only one accomplished using different means and modalities. In the context of this study programme, the research is carried out and/or reflected using different (above all, audiovisual) media, not only written argumentation.

In 2019, there will be two PhD students admitted to conduct research as part of the CUDAN project and two PhD students admitted to conduct research as a part of the EU Mobilitas Pluss Top Researcher project of Prof. Pia Tikka. One study place will not be attached to a project and is thematically free.

More information

Course Outline

Full-time studies

  • PhD studies consist of a course component and a thesis component. Many of the courses are based on individual work and demand close co-operation with the supervisor.
  • Some subject courses and all general courses will have contact meetings. Not all the general courses will be offered in English every year.
  • PhD students must participate in the PhD seminars throughout their studies.
  • The official full-time study period of PhD studies is four years.

Core course components

•    Introduction to Media and Audiovisual Culture Studies
•    Innovation Practices in Media and Arts
•    Transmedia
•    Film Theory
•    Media Evolution
•    Theories of Creativity
•    Special Seminar on Audiovisual Arts 
•    Special Seminar on Media Studies 

Study programme 2019/2020

Academic Staff

Both the academic staff responsible for the curriculum and those partly responsible for teaching the curriculum have well established networks and work on novel research. Katrin Tiidenberg is in the executlive committee of the Association of Internet Research. Ulrike Rohn is the president of EMMA: European Media Management Association and the editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies. Indrek Ibrus is a member of European Commission’s European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual, Dr. Pia Tikka is a filmmaker and EU Mobilitas Research Professor. Her research group Enactive Virtuality studies psychophysiological and emotional basis of narratives and cinematic systems etc. BFM researchers and the teaching staff have lately been granted European Union funded research and development projects. Doctoral students can also participate in these projects.

Study Support Facilities

BFM as a whole is focused on preparing students for work in a contemporary dynamically developing media system. Proof of this are the programmes for Crossmedia and those focused on developing video games and the the lately opened Contemporary Media programme next to the more traditional film and television programmes. All these programmes give input to the doctoral programme thus the programme focuses greatly on more contemporary media and audiovisual art forms, on questions on the renewal of media, the development of media markets and the reactions of media politics.

The programme is organically linked to Tallinn University’s Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture (MEDIT) which focuses on the renewal processes of contemporary media and digital culture. Both MEDIT and the doctoral programme are an expression of the development of TU’s focus filed „digital and media culture“.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

For general requirements, please read admission to PhD Studies here.

The doctoral candidate position consists of four years of full-time study. The studies at doctoral level include a documented research project and a course section.

The applicant must have:

  • a Master’s degree or equivalent within education programmes on audiovisual artistic practices or media and communication studies or have comparable experience of artistic work in audiovisual media or arts,
  • shown the purpose of and plan for the intended research
  • good oral and written English language skills.

The application 

The application should be written in English or in Estonian and be uploaded digitally into SAIS (for Estonians) or DreamApply (for foreigners). The application should consist of:

  • A research plan (no more than 5 pages) that contains the following (see also
  • A justification for the importance of the research topic
  1.  A description of the research project, its research questions, methodologies and research  strategies
  2. Your schedule for completion of required studies (60 ECTS)
  3. A plan for funding
  4. Any reference material you would like to include can be uploaded or enclosed as links.
  5. Names of the potential supervisors, who have agreed to supervise your thesis
  • CV (If the applicant has a portfolio or homepage (of previous works/projects) it should be linked to CV)
  • Motivation letter for choosing the Tallinn University as the site of doctoral research and motivation for selecting the doctoral programme.
  • A copy of your previous degree certificate (Master's degree or equivalent) and a copy of a detailed transcript of studies included in the degree.


The selection of applications to proceed in the process is based on the following criteria:

  • the quality of the project and the feasibility of it being carried out within the given time frame (i.e. in a period corresponding to four years’ full-time study);
  • the quality of the research plan with regard to the delimitations of the subject area, its relevance, originality, research questions, connection to and relevance for the related collective knowledge area and methodology development;
  • in case of artistic projects the applicant’s suitability for artistic research work and capability of benefiting from research education.

Guidelines for writing a dissertation research plan

The following outline may be used as a guide. You should address each of the areas that are relevant for your research.

Title of the project and abstract

The title should capture what is essential of the research project in just a few words.
The abstract should specify what is your research question and how do you plan to approach it? How does your research topic contribute to the field? Are there any effects and impacts beyond academia? Why does it matter, what is its social, cultural, economic, environmental or other kind of importance?
The abstract should not be longer than one page.

The research topic

Introduce your main research question. What is your aim and hypothesis? What are the sub-questions?
Add background information about your topic and previous research about related subjects. You can also share your previous work in the area.

Methodology/Theoretical framework

Describe the methodology, explain why you chose it and how will you use it. 
If your research involves the collection and analysis of research assets (e.g. photos, audiovisual recordings, texts) or data, explain how you will collect, manage, and preserve them (e.g., interviews, ethics application, and questionnaires). Discuss the tools employed for their interpretation.
We do not expect you to master topics related e.g. to open access or to the legal and ethical issues related to data management (e.g. data protection, copyright issues) when you apply. It is enough that you have given the topic thought and recognised the preliminary data management questions that might arise related to your research data.
If you plan to carry out artistic work as part of your doctoral research then present a plan for the artistic component. Explain the scope of the work, the practicalities of its production, when and where you plan to have your exhibition, screening, etc., how many will there be and what is their role in your research.

Schedule and funding of the doctoral studies and dissertation

Present a schedule for the doctoral studies that includes the required studies (60 ECTS), time needed for writing dissertation and possibly for the production of the artistic element(s).
Full time studies take approximately 4 years, plan your schedule accordingly. Be realistic.
Suitable time frame is to present the plan by academic terms (autumn and spring).
It is not necessary to list all the studies in course level, often credits are enough. E.g. autumn 2019, studies in the research field, 20 ECTS.

Funding: The way you plan to fund your studies affects their length. Present a detailed plan for funding. Especially in the case of productions (artistic components of your doctoral project), present your budget.


Describe your expected results and their significance. You may also present possible practical applications of research results. Do you have a plan for publications and other dissemination of research results?


List of the most important research literature. Only sources used in the plan should be listed.


In 2019, there will be two PhD students admitted to conduct research specifically in:

  1. Data based studies of audiovisual heritage (film and television, projects could focus on their histories, their databases and corpora, their metadata, the ways databases and corpora represent or mediate history)
  2. Data usage in contemporary media organisations (media organisations in smaller countries preferred, projects could focus on their data collection and analytic practices and opportunities, analysis of related value propositions)

These are a part of the CUDAN project.


And two PhD students admitted to conduct research specifically in:

  1. Virtual reality/Augmented reality storytelling in immersive narrative environments, practice-based work requiring skills in working with game engines, 3D character animation, and/or 360 cinematic production. Programming skills are considered a plus.
  2. Biosensor-driven interaction between the participant and immersive narrative and/or virtual characters, requiring relatively advanced skills in programming, experience in conducting psychophysiological experiments is emphasised.

These two doctoral positions are a part of the EU Mobilitas Pluss Top Researcher project of Prof. Pia Tikka

Contact Us!

Specialist of Doctoral Studies

Katrin Iisma

aaddressNarva mnt 25, 10120 Tallinn

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