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Media and communications research

In REF 2014, the School made a submission to unit 36: Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management. Sixty percent of the outputs were rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

Film and television feature in the expertise offered by the School. Dr Maria Mellins is the author of a monograph on vampire subcultures and other scholarly articles. Dr Jon Hackett publishes on film, popular music and film-philosophy. Walt Disney is another research interest, with Lee Brooks and Dr Seán Harrington publishing on theme parks and animation, respectively.

The School also researches media representations and their links with public understanding. Prof Karen Sanders researches the fields of public sector communication and ethics. Dr Daragh Minogue researches political and sports communication and ethics. Dr Allyson Purcell-Davis conducts research into the communication of science. Her particular focus is on emerging technologies.

The school is also funding exciting interdisciplinary research involving staff from the Sociology and Criminology and Film and Screen Media departments, considering screen representations of human trafficking, as part of the school's contribution to St Mary's  Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery.

Dr Richard Mills has published widely on popular music and culture, and is preparing a monograph on the Beatles. The recent journal issue of Clothing Cultures (March 2015) edited by Dr Maria Mellins and Dr Brigid Cherry, as well as the School's forthcoming edited collection Mad Dogs and Englishness: Popular Music and English Identities (Bloomsbury Academic, forthcoming). Both feature articles by researchers who locate fashion and popular music history through the concept of identity, whether cultural or gendered. This extends to other aspects of popular culture such as subcultures, fandom and comedy.

Lee Brooks conducted research for his book Mouse to Mouse, In Search of Walt Disney's Mythical America (Theme Park Press, 2016). The book is a story of a 4,000 mile road trip from Disneyland in California to Walt Disney World in Florida chasing the shadow of the man who, more than any other figure in American history, created an all consuming obsession with the world's ultimate fantasy nation. 

Jon Hackett is researching a monograph Scary Monsters: Masculinity and Monstrosity in Popular Music Culture, with Dr Mark Duffett of University of Chester for Bloomsbury Academic. Jon is also, with Seán Harrington, editing a collection of essays following the successful Beast of the Deep Conference in June 2016.

Richard Mills is working on a monograph entitled The Beatles and Fandom, exploring the ways the Beatles and their fans are discussed in public (public lectures and literary festivals) and media (press, radio and television) fora.

Maria Mellins is currently working on a project entitled Grow Fins: a School for Mermaids and Water Folk, a mermaid swim-school that promotes self-esteem and physical activity in developing children and young adults. Alongside the obvious health benefits, Grow Fins is a project that is devoted to being more than just exercise; it would use 'the mermaid' as an entry point for creativity and discussions about issues facing young girls and boys today. For instance body confidence, acceptance of difference and environmental concerns.

PhD students

All research degree students at St Mary’s are part of the Doctoral College. All potential research students must first submit an online enquiry form with details of their proposal.