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

Between 2017 and 2020, he was Vice Dean (People and Planning) Arts in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and prior to then (2016-17) 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 performed on stage and screen before working in various areas of the media industries including animated film production, film exhibition, studio photography and art book publishing.

Paul holds 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 broadly located at the intersection of film studies and critical media industries research. Specific areas of interest include:

  • film and television industries
  • digital distribution of film, television and music
  • conceptual and methodological approaches to media industries research
  • media piracy
  • media industries and the city

He welcomes applications for PhD research in any of these areas.

He is currently working on four 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.
  • Cheung, R., Hill, J., Kawashima, N. and McDonald, P. (eds) Global Film Policies: New Perspectives.

With colleagues in the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, Paul is coordinating the second international Media Industries conference, Media Industries 2020: Global Currents and Contradictions, which take place 16-18 April 2020 at King’s. This follows the 2018 conference, Media Industries: Current Debates and Future Directions.

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 led two projects on audience engagement 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 served on the Strategic Reviewers Group and the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


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

Since 2003, he 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.

Selected publications

Recent publications include: