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Ph.D.(Mass Communication)

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Ph.D. Programme in Mass Communication and Journalism (Practice based)


Internationally, research in the field of arts and media now acknowledges the importance of practice based methods which use practice 'as a process of inquiry' that facilitates new understanding. In the UK, Australia and Europe a large number of universities offer practice based PhDs. Closer to home, China and Singapore also have practice based PhD programs. A significant part of the academia and arts schools now acknowledge the role of practice-based research in creating new knowledge and pushing the boundaries of existing art and media practices within academia.

Key concepts in Practice Based Research

  • since arts as a discipline is distinct from social sciences, research in arts should adhere to a set of subject specific guidelines.

  • Practice based research relies on a model of experimentation where the researcher is 'thinking through art'. It acknowledges a mode of knowledge creation which integrates theory and practice. The practice based researcher experiments with a particular area of arts practice to arrive at a new knowledge which can push the boundaries of the concerned art form. To attain this objective, s/he will make use of the existing theoretical and practical frame work in the particular field.

  • Practice based research is different from art practice. In art practice, the aim is to create a work of art whereas in practice based research there is a clearly stated aim to create "new knowledge" through art practice and to articulate it in historical and theoretical context. In practice based PhD, the researcher must make an original contribution to knowledge, and cannot reproduce existing knowledge.

  • To obtain a practice based PhD, the researcher should conduct primary research through the production of artifacts and it should not be an illustration of theory. Practice should be the major component of the research process as well as the end product of the research. The new knowledge produced through practice will be contextualized in a written academic thesis which will frame the practice within the existing theoretical and historical debates.

  • Since strict codes and dogmatic structures can restrict experimentation which is the core of practice based research, methodology in this form of research is a frame work for experimentation. Methodological tools should be used to 'guide and to help, not to restrict or limit'. The practice based PhD candidates are expected to come up with a workable methodological guideline in consultation with their supervisors. These guidelines should adhere to the basic principles of practice based research

  • The film, photography project, or any other particular artifact produced by the practice based PhD candidate should demonstrate considerable ambition, complexity and appropriate conceptualization, execution and artistic rigour. The length and scope of the art work should be able to demonstrate this and the research should generate new knowledge.

  • In practice based PhD; the research question will be a starting point for experimentation. Rather than proving or disproving a particular hypothesis, the candidate will be engaged in a mode of inquiry which necessitates constant reframing of the research question based on the progress of the exploration.

  • The written and practical parts of the thesis will have equal weightage. The written part of the thesis should critically engage with theoretical/historical debates and should not be a mere analysis or record of the process of producing the art work. It should include a literature and context review of the concerned topic of exploration. The context review should include a review of other works of art in the relevant field to establish the historical background. The candidate should be able to situate the research within a theoretical framework which is constructed using existing critical discourses like feminist theory, visual anthropology, documentary theory, film studies or other appropriate disciplines. Thus the thesis is 50,000 words written component accompanied by the substantial artifact of practice (e.g. visual, factual writing, radio work etc).

Ph.D. Programme at AJKMCRC

AJK Mass Communication Research Centre's practice based PhD program adheres to the above mentioned principles of practice based research. The centre offers PhDs in its areas of expertise like film, photography, radio, animation, factual writing etc. The candidates will be expected to undertake an enquiry through practice which can result in original contribution to the existing knowledge in the field. They will be expected to produce an original artwork which can push the boundaries of the concerned art form or media practice and 50,000 words written thesis which will contextualize the practice within a theoretical and historical frame work. The same criteria will be applicable to Practice Based PhD in the field of journalism. A mere reportage will not qualify as practice based research. To obtain a practice based PhD the candidate should produce new knowledge which can reframe or modify existing practices in journalism.

Guidelines for Candidates:

  • Candidates should refer to the existing Jamia ordinance on PhD.


  • Practice Based PhD program is designed for candidates who can demonstrate a considerable level of expertise and strong previous work in the chosen field of media practice. They should have a good conceptual and technical knowledge of the concerned practice. The program will not provide any technical training.

  • Candidates should be familiar with academic research. They should have an idea about practice based research methodology. They should be equipped to undertake a process of research and artistic experimentation which can result in the creation of new knowledge. The research proposals should demonstrate the scope, ambition and complexity of the research project.

  • To secure an admission, the candidates should pass the entrance tests stipulated by the Jamia ordinance on PhD. As part of the application process, the candidates will be required to submit a statement of purpose. They should also submit a portfolio which demonstrates their ability to undertake the research. In addition to this, the candidates should submit a detailed research proposal with bibliography and should be able to defend their proposal and portfolio at the interview stage. A detailed description of the application procedure is given below.

  • Candidates' access to equipment will be as per availability. While borrowing equipment, all the existing rules will apply.

  • Availability of a suitable supervisor and the resources available at the center will be taken into consideration while selecting research proposals.

  • Candidates are encouraged to get in touch with their prospective supervisors before applying. The supervisors will be able to advice about the feasibility of the research project.

Application Procedure

  1. Admission regulations of Jamia ordinance on PhD will apply. A few extra regulations are suggested to suit the subject specific needs of practice based PhD.

  2. Candidates who are short listed on the basis of the entrance test will be required to submit a portfolio and a research proposal of 2,000 words and a bibliography.

  3. The portfolio should demonstrate the candidate's conceptual and technical expertise to undertake the proposed practice based research and it should be in the same practice in which the candidate proposes to do a practice based PhD. In case of audio visual material, the portfolio should be submitted as a DVD. Portfolios which consist of work which has been exhibited nationally or internationally will be received favorably.

  4. The candidates should submit a written research proposal of 2000 words and bibliography which should clearly indicate the following:

    • Details about the proposed research including theoretical, historical and practical context.
    • An outline of the practice based methodology which will be used.
    • Project's possible contribution to knowledge.
    • The way in which theory and practice will be integrated in the research.
  5. The final list of the selected candidates will be announced after the interview. During the interview, the candidates should be able to defend their research proposal and portfolio.

  6. The candidates are advised to get in touch with their prospective supervisors well in advance to discuss the research proposal.

Guidelines for Supervision

  1. Jamia regulations stipulated in the PhD ordinance will be followed. The co- supervisor could be from a foreign University. The supervisors should be chosen after considering the needs of the research project.

  2. At least one of the supervisors should have a critical engagement with the concerned art practice.

  3. The principal supervisor will be the primary guide for the research project. The other supervisor can have less frequent contact with the student. The supervising team should meet with the student at least once in six months as a team. In case of a supervisor who is based out of a foreign country, Skype meetings or video conferencing may be arranged. The minutes of the meeting should be maintained as a written tutorial log and logged in the PhD office. It should be signed by both the supervisors and the candidate. The tutorial log should include minutes from every supervising session.

  4. The candidate file should include a six monthly progress report jointly signed by the supervision committee and the candidate. The candidate should submit work in progress and this should be evaluated by the supervision committee and the Committee of Studies. The progress report should indicate the evaluation of the work in progress.

Admission and Progression


Candidates who are shortlisted after the selection process will be invited to enroll for the practice based PhD program. AJK Mass Communication Research Centre offers only full time PhDs. Regulations of Jamia ordinance on PhD will be followed.

Attendance rules will apply as per university regulations.

A detailed syllabus of the course work is given below.


Regulations of Jamia ordinance on PhD will be followed for registration. If ethical considerations are crucial to the project, specific details about this need to be provided and approval should be obtained. The synopsis should be a detailed plan of work of 3000 words and references. In addition to the sections mentioned in Jamia ordinance on PhD, the synopsis should include:

  1. Overview of existing work in the concerned field.

  2. Concise description of the proposed practice work and its relation to theory.

  3. Details of the proposed research design.

  4. Details of access and other factors which can affect the project.

  5. Statement of the required technical facilities and a plan for accessing them and any related financial information.

  6. A statement of the research's new contribution to knowledge.

  7. If the project requires links with other institutions, evidence of such links.

  8. A realistic time line for completing the PhD.

The candidate will be registered if the committee of studies approves his/her application and synopsis. If the application and synopsis is not approved, the candidate will be given six weeks to re-submit the application. If the application is rejected for a second time, the admission will be cancelled.

Pre-PhD Submission Seminar

The Pre-PhD submission seminar will follow the regulations of the Jamia ordinance on PhD. The candidate should submit the art practice work and accompanying written thesis in the seminar.

Evaluation of the PhD Thesis and Viva

The evaluation will follow the regulations of Jamia ordinance on PhD. The following guidelines will be added to make the evaluation pertinent to practice based PhD.

For evaluation purposes, the art work and the accompanying thesis will be send to examiners. For viva, the department will organize a screening or exhibition of the practice based work for the examiners in an appropriate space. The screening or exhibition can also happen in a public space. After going through the artwork and the thesis, the examiners will submit a detailed evaluation report. At least one of the examiners should have successfully guided a practice based PhD to completion. Examiners can be invited from international universities which offer practice based PhD degrees.

Course work:

Students will be studying the following courses for one semester. The syllabus will be updated time to time with the approval of committee of studies.

Duration: One semester

PAPER CODE                    NAME OF THE COURSE

MCR.Ph.D.-I                      Communication Research and Evaluation

MCR.Ph.D.-II                     Practice Based Research Methods: Theory and Practice

MCR.Ph.D.-III                   Theoretical approaches to Media, Communication and Culture

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