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.
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.
- 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
• Media Evolution
• Theories of Creativity
• Special Seminar on Audiovisual Arts
• Special Seminar on Media Studies
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.
Indrek Ibrus, PhD is professor of media innovation and head of Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Media Innovation and Digital Culture. He holds a PhD from London School of Economics and Political Science and a MPhil from the University of Oslo. He was the initiator of the Crossmedia Production MA programme at BFM. He recently served for two years as the audiovisual advisor at Estonian Ministry of Culture. In relation to this he was Estonia’s representative at the audiovisual working group of the European Council, at European Commission’s AVMSD Contact Group and at Council of Europe’s Steering Committe for Media and Information Society. Currently he serves as the member of Estonia’s Digital Cultural Heritage Council.
He is a co-editor of Baltic Screen Media Review, a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to audiovisual cultures around the Baltic Sea. He has edited also special issues of the International Journal of Communication and International Journal of Cultural Studies. Together with Carlos A. Scolari he co-edited Crossmedia Innovations: Texts, Markets, Institutions, published by Peter Lang in 2012.
Katrin Tiidenberg, PhD is the curator of the Screen Media and Innovation MA Program and Professor of Participatory Culture. She has published extensively on selfie culture and her main research interests focus on the intersections of (visual) self-presentation on social media and dominant normative ideologies. Her research topics include deplatformization of sex, technology and wellbeing, visual research methosd and digital research ethics. She is on the Executive Board of the Association of Internet Researchers and the Estonian Young Academy of Sciences
Ulrike Rohn, PhD is a professor of Media Economics and Management at the Baltic, Film, Media, Arts and Communication School (BFM). She is also President of the European Media Management Association (emma), Associate Editor of the Journal of Media Business Studies (Taylor & Francis), and Co-Editor of the Springer Series in Media Industries. Previously, Ulrike was a Researcher at the Arcada University in Helsinki (Finland) and the University of Tartu (Estonia). She has been a guest researcher and lecturer at universities in the UK, Sweden, China, and Austria. She has worked in leading media companies in Germany, Japan, India, and the US.
Ulrike received her PhD in 2009 from the University of Jena. Her MA comes from the Freie University of Berlin (both Germany). Her research and teaching includes topics on audiovisual industries, European audiovisual policy, (international) media strategies, media business models, media branding, and cross-cultural audience demand.
Andres Jõesaar, PhD has a long experience in the media and telecom industries, especially on the management, content side and media research. In the 90s he was one of the founding members of the private television channel RTV and the general director of the commercial broadcaster TV3. From 2000 - 2011 he was the director for the content services in the Estonian branch of the Tele2. Between 2000-2012. Jõesaar has been the chairman of the Council of the Estonian Public Broadcasting. He has been a member and chair of several Council of Europe’s and OSCE expert groups. During 2011-2018 he was head of media research department at the Estonian Public Broadcasting.
Riho Västrik is a documentary filmmaker and producer who has taught at BFM since 2009. He is the curator of the Audiovisual Media BA study program and the Documentary Film MA study program.
Read the interview with Riho Västrik conducted by Documentary Film students at the BFM Film and Media Blog.
Pia Tikka is Research Professor at the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School. She has joined MEDIT after winning Estonian Research Council’s Top Researcher Grant.
Dr. Tikka is a filmmaker and scholar whose research concerns psychophysiological and emotional basis of cinematic systems. Prior to her joining BFM, she was the Principal Investigator for the NeuroCine project at Aalto University in Finland. In 2010, she was a Fulbright scholar in the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California and a researcher in residency in Neuroaesthetics at the Minerva Foundation, Berkeley. She was also a Visiting Research Fellow in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, UK (2009-2011), and a lecturer in Film Theory and Film Analysis at the Baltic School of Film and Media at Tallinn University (2006-2007).
As a filmmaker, Dr. Tikka has directed the feature films Daughters of Yemanjá (1996) and Sand Bride (1998). She has also been involved in various interactive media projects, such as the Academy of Finland-sponsored Enactive Cinema, winning such awards as the Möbius Prix Nordic prize for interactive storytelling in 2005 and exhibiting her work internationally.
Dirk Hoyer is a German born filmmaker and scholar. He obtained his Master degree from the Sorbonne and his Doctor of Arts from Aalto University.
Dirk directed and wrote feature films and documentary films. In his research he focuses on Estonian cinema of the 90s, Dimitri Kirsanoff, the role of political imagination in contemporary culture and on storytelling.
Teet Teinemaa is a lecturer in Film Studies at Baltic Film, Media and Arts School. Teinemaa’s main research interests are Estonian and Eastern European film, nostalgia, and the representations of masculinities and aging. He defended his PhD thesis at the University of Warwick and his theses focuses on the American multi-protagonist film and the theoretical thinking of Jacques Rancière and Slavoj Žižek.
Teet Teinemaa has also studies at Maastricht University and has an MA from the University of York in Film and Literature Studies and an MA from Tallinn University in Cultural Theory.
The research work focuses on studying the effectiveness of creative solutions of advertising in the aim of achieving communication goals. How does creativity in advertising differ from general creativity? When creativity in advertising is needed? The primary focus is on contemporary scholarly literature, trying to find coincidences and differences in the views of academics and practitioners. Overview of scientific literature is based on the most recognized scientific journals in the field of advertising, and practitioners' view comes from Estonia's long-standing advertisers and professionals from creative and media agencies. The next step focuses on measurement of creative solutions. How to measure and what is the difference between consumer’s unconscious and conscious attention when exposed to advertising? Which methods provide more accurate data? Discrepancies between well-known and new creative solutions. The influence of communication between advertising campaign agents: advertising agency, media agency, and an advertiser, in preparing creative solution. Challenges of creative solution in a fragmented media environment.
I have worked in the field of advertising since 2000 and researched the impact of advertising since 2011. I have most researched the effectiveness of outdoor advertising, which in recent years has been supplemented by research on other media. In advertising research, I am most interested in the aspect of consumer’s acceptance.
BFM is an institute that combines various fields of media research and is a unique institution in Estonia with such comprehensive coverage. Experiences and knowledge are shared by high-level experts from different countries, and the training seeks to stay focused on the most up-to-date trends in media research. Now studying for second year here, I have to admit that it has proven to be more interesting, diverse and broader than expected.
The research aims to find out, how to provide an audiovisual work with a meta-level (diegetic musical soundtrack) that is capable of overthrowing the mainstream narrative and transmuting into a new reality? How many levels of "truth" does the viewer need (or tolerate) to form their own assessment and begin to respect the phenomenon as absolute? Can the balance between emotion and reason be deliberately tilted even when the viewer knows that he is being manipulated?
Mart Sander has a long and distinguished career as a musician and is nowadays active as an author and filmmaker.
Choosing this course, I was intrigued by the possibility to combine my two degrees – in music and in directing – and research something that can only be done by someone who has an in-depth knowledge of both disciplines.
I find Cinematic Virtual Reality (CVR) to be a fascinating new way to tell stories combining audiovisual storytelling and virtual reality, where much stronger emotions can be triggered and situations perceived more real as the user is sharing the same space with characters in a virtual environment.
As the project seeks for knowledge in a rather new field, I believe that it could be beneficial academically and to practitioners. Understanding how users are immersed in Cinematic Virtual Reality stories and what cinematographic techniques can be used will allow CVR developers to work more efficiently and effectively.
I have acquired both a bachelor's and a master's degree in the field of production and directing at the Tallinn University's Baltic Film and Media School. I started working in the television sphere few years before I started my undergraduate studies at TLU’s Baltic Film and Media School and I’m somewhat active in it till now.
I've directed and/or produced several TV shows, series, commercials and music videos, produced the Estonian National Selection for the Eurovision Song Contest entry – Eesti Laul – and worked as the Head of Social Media at Estonian Public Broadcasting (ERR).
Choosing Tallinn University as the place for doctoral research is quite logical for me as this is my – so to say – home university and it offers internationally recognized world class education in the field of audiovisual arts and media. More importantly, Audiovisual Arts and Media Studies curriculum, its high-level professors and lecturers with an international background, its facilities and technical capability offers the opportunity to conduct my research in technologically complex and artistically demanding topic.
Madis’ work explores the digital transformations in the relationship between media and music culture in Estonia. He is specifically interested in the state and status of music criticism and the symbolic production of the meaning of music in the digital age. Methodologically, his work builds on interviews with music critics, music experts, music industry professionals, and social media content analysis. Theoretically, his approach combines ideas from sociology, media and cultural studies, and innovation systems research.
Madis holds an MA degree in journalism from the University of Tartu and has studied the sociology of music and aesthetics of music at the University of Leeds. He has previously worked as an editor and music critic for Estonian Public Broadcasting.
BFM media studies doctoral programme appeared to be perfect for my interdisciplinary research between the humanities and sociology of technology in the context of digital creative and media industries. The seminar-oriented approach and cooperation with a set of top academics with various disciplinary backgrounds make it a great place to kick off Your career as a researcher or lecturer.
Against the backdrop of today’s diverse and digitized film consumption patterns that modify relations between audiences and content creators/providers, the research project explores the dynamics between players across the film value chain by approaching the field of film production, distribution, exhibition and consumption with a multidimensional focus on film audiences throughout the production and consumption path. As the project delves into the practices that different players take in relation to others on micro, macro and meso levels, it also aims to bridge notions (e.g. institutionalized audiences, imagined affordances, imagined audiences) from audience research, media studies and media management research with an ambition to do theory innovation as well. The project strives to provide insights into both film industry players’ and film audiences’ practice shaping activities and relations, and thereby contributes to the field from the highly vital audience focus.
Sten is a junior research fellow in MEDIT and a doctoral student in BFM. He holds an MA degree (social and cultural anthropology) from the University of Helsinki and has working experience in the field of education and in streamlining third sector’s digital services. When Sten is not researching the Estonian film and media sphere, he writes weekly film reviews for the biggest media outlets in Estonia.
The main reasons were BFM's unique position in the Estonian audiovisual field that covers research and creative work, BFM’s and MEDIT's competence in media research (innovation, evolution and culture) and my far-reaching desire to contribute to the Estonia’s film sector.
This research explores agency within the nodes of interactivity and how traditional dramaturgy and the poetics of cinema react when applied to an interactive film. Through a practice-lead and dramaturgical approach, this thesis will raise questions about character construction, conflict, and structure as well as address questions about the epistemic violence of traditional narratives and how they differ when interactive elements are applied.
Michael began working for BFM in 2015. He lectures on various forms of fiction writing, from Creative Writing to Screenwriting. Before moving to Estonia he worked for the British film and television industry for ten years, holding various positions, mostly in post-production, film restoration, and editing. First, he worked for Yorkshire Television, later at ITV when the companies merged. At the same time, Michael worked for a variety of independent film production companies, writing and directing award-winning short films and a feature film which was praised by Film Int. He holds a BA in Dramaturgy from Leeds University and an MA in Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies from Tallinn University.
First and foremost is the opportunity this curriculum offers for practice-based research; it’s no exaggeration to say that the resultant fusion of academic and creative works brings together two otherwise more disparate strands of my professional life and allows me to further explore both and deepen my understanding of both without neglecting one or the other. Secondly, the reputation of BFM for excellence and the opportunity to develop my PhD in such a young programme with a dynamic set of professors and experts to support me.
The practice based research builds upon a feature film cinematography and scientific experiments to find cinematographic unity and maximise empathy towards the film characters through the use of high contrast portrait lighting.
Elen Lotman graduated summa cum laude from Tallinn Pedagogical University with BA in cinematography and has shot numerous documentaries, shorts and feature films. For various film projects she has traveled to Japan, Tibet, China, Thailand, India, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Finland and Russian Arctic. Her films have won awards and been shown in competition at IDFA, BNFF, Montreal and others. Since 2005 Elen has been teaching cinematography in Baltic Film and Media School, in 2013 she became the head of Film Department and since 2015 Head of Arts Study Area (currently on a parental leave). Her PhD research focuses on aspects of human perception and cinematography. She's a Member of the Board of IMAGO, International Federation of Cinematographers.
Scientists are increasingly expected to use media for communicating their work and scientific knowledge in general to the public. At the same time, mediatization, an emerging theory in media studies, analyses how media influences and transforms societal institutions who use media for gaining public attention. My thesis combines these approaches and investigates how communicating science via media changes the attitudes, skills and behaviour of scientists. Based on interviews with the team who build ESTCube-1, the first Estonian satellite and other scientists visible in Estonia public, the thesis shows how scientists learn media skills and what are the effects on science and media when they apply them in science communication.
Arko Olesk has worked as a science journalist and has a science communication MA from London Imperial College. He teaches science communication at Tallinn University and participates in the Horizon 2020 science communication project QUEST.
The project aims to analyse data practices employed by local media organisations in comparison to how global new media companies handle data for segmentation, targeting in relation to advertisements and data employment for content suggestions. A comparative perspective aims to uncover differences between local and global players highlighting the logic of both to assess what accounts as strong and weak points. In addition to exploring exact business model related data practices, an assessment of the wider playing field- privacy, competitiveness and consumer protection issues- is an important complementing aspect. After uncovering the underlying data handling practices by local media organisations and the environment they operate in, ways forward (policy suggestions) can be addressed in the framework of cross-innovation.
I have a BA degree in Government & Politics from University of Tartu and an MSc degree in European Governance from University of Bristol. At the moment I’m finishing my MA degree in New Media & Digital Culture at University of Amsterdam. I have worked as a researcher at Unitas Foundation and Transparency International Estonia and as an adviser for digital and energy efficiency topics at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.
The doctoral program for media studies at Tallinn University offers a dynamic opportunity to explore different facets of new media characteristics and developments. It allows a thorough and critical look at the current mediatised society.
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“.
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
- shown the purpose of and plan for the intended research
- proof of English proficiency (B2 level).
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 www.tlu.ee/bfm):
- A justification for the importance of the research topic
- A description of the research project, its research questions, methodologies and research strategies
- Your schedule for completion of required studies (60 ECTS)
- A plan for funding
- Any reference material you would like to include can be uploaded or enclosed as links.
- 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.
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.
„Estonia’s contemporary film industry, film markets and eksport strategies“
The aim ist to enable a systematic multi-year research project focusing on the development of the Estonian film industry and their exporting capabilities in the context of the dynamic changes in contemporary International film markets. The methodological basis for the study would be mostly informed by economics and policy studies.
School of Humanities
Our Studies of Cultures is an umbrella PhD study programme covering fields like Cultural Theory, Estonian Literature and Culture, English Literature and Culture, German Literature and Culture, Romance Studies, Russian Literature and Culture, Middle Eastern and Asian Literatures and Cultures, Cultural Geography, Philosophy, and Social and Cultural Anthropology.
School of Digital Technologies
This doctoral programme provides conditions for preparing specialists with the highest scientific qualification in ICT area. It supports development of research based and innovative approaches for working on appropriate positions as well as readiness for continuous personal professional development and supports development of competences for working on academic positions (researcher, lecturer) or as senior specialist in public, private or third sector.