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Paul joined the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s in August 2015 as Professor of Cultural and Creative Industries.

He is currently Vice Dean (People and Planning) for Arts in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and was previously Head of Department for Culture, Media and Creative Industries.

Previously he held the positions of Professor of Cinema and Media Industries at the University of Nottingham (2011-15), Professor of Cinema at the University of Portsmouth (2007-11), Reader in Film at Roehampton University (1999-2007), Senior Lecturer in Media at South Bank University (1996-1999), and Senior Lecturer in Media and Performance at the University of Salford (1990-96).

Before entering academia, Paul trained as a professional actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and worked in various areas of the media industries including animated film production, film exhibition, studio photography and publishing.

Paul hold a PhD in Film Studies from the University of Warwick, and a BA Honours, First Class, in Film and Drama (major) with Philosophy (minor) from the University of Reading.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

Paul’s research is located in the general field of critical media industries research. Specific areas of interest include:

  • conceptual and methodological approaches to media industries research
  • digital distribution of film, television and music
  • media piracy
  • cities as hubs for media industries

He welcomes applications for PhD research in any of these areas. For more details, please see his full research profile.

He is currently working on three books:

  • McDonald, P. Screen Entertainment Industries. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • McDonald, P., Brannon Donoghue, C. and Havens, T. (eds) Media Distribution in the Digital Age. New York: New York University Press.
  • McDonald, P. (eds) The Routledge Companion to Media Industries. Abingdon: Routledge.

Working with colleagues in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, Paul coordinated the international conference Media Industries: Current Debates and Future Directions at King’s in 18-20 April 2018. Several professional associations or their media industries sub-divisions partnered in this initiative:

  • Media Industries Scholarly Interest Group, Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS)
  • Media Industry Studies Interest Group, International Communication Association (ICA)
  • Media Production Analysis Working Group, International Association of Mass Communication Research (IAMCR)
  • Screen Industries Work Group, European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS)
  • Media Industries and Cultural Production Section, European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA)
  • European Media Management Association (EMMA)
  • Screen Industries Special Interest Group, British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS)
  • AG Medienindustrien, Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaft (GFM)

With Professor Michael Curtin (University of California, Santa Barbara), since 2002 Paul has co-edited the International Screen Industries series from British Film Institute Publishing. To date, this series has published studies of regional film or television industries in Africa, Europe, East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States, together with studies of the global television marketplace and the video game business.

From 2010 to 2014, Paul was co-investigator for Channel 4 and British Film Culture, a project led by Professor Justin Smith (De Montfort University). Examining C4’s contribution to the UK’s cultural life as both a producer and a broadcaster of film, this work was made possible by a four-year Research Grant (Standard) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. A key outcome from the project was the Channel 4 Press Packs 1982-2002 database, produced in collaboration with the British Universities Film and Video Council. 

Paul has also received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and an AHRC Research Leave award. His research has also benefited from the financial support of the British Academy.

In collaboration with Dr Elizabeth Evans (University of Nottingham), Paul has led two projects on audience engagements with online services for the distribution of film and television content: the first looked at the market and audiences for video-on-demand in the UK; the second conducted similar work in Brazil, India and South Korea. These projects were run under the auspices of the Connected Viewing Initiative, co-ordinated by the Media Industries Project of the Casey-Wolf Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara and funded by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Paul is a founding member of the Editorial Collective for the journal Media Industries.

He is the founder and former co-chair of the Media Industries Scholarly Interest Group in the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and founder and joint co-ordinator of the Screen Industries Work Group in the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies

Paul has previously served on the Strategic Reviewers Group and the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Paul convenes the option module Entertainment Industries.

His teaching is informed by perspectives and insights from a range of research traditions, including: critical media industries research, political economy of the media, media economics, media historiography, film studies, and cultural history.

Combining these influences, Paul’s teaching continually aims to lead students towards developing insights and skills for interrogating the industrial and market conditions in which media are produced, circulated and consumed. Foundational to this work is an understanding of media content as both symbolic and commodity form.

Since 2003, Paul has been a member of the Higher Education Academy.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Paul McDonald is happy to speak to the media on any aspect relating to Hollywood cinema, film stardom, media piracy, and the online distribution of film and television.

From 2011 to 2016, Paul was a Trustee of the British Universities Film and Video Council.