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Professor Sarah Atkinson

Professor Sarah Atkinson

  • Academics
  • Supervisors

Professor of Screen Media

Vice Dean (People & Planning), Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Research subject areas

  • Media

Contact details


Sarah joined King’s College London in 2015 as Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures working across the Department of Digital Humanities and the Department Culture, Media & Creative Industries (CMCI). She was appointed Head of CMCI from 2017-2020.

Sarah was Principal Lecturer in Film & Media (2006-2015) and Assistant Head of School of Art, Design and Media (2012-2015) at the University of Brighton, having held previous positions at the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Salford.

Sarah has a BA Honours, First Class in Media with Cultural Studies (1998) and a practice-based PhD in Interactive Cinema (2009).

She has successfully secured funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for three projects - one of which was jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; InnovateUK; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Arts Council England, Creative Europe; the Higher Education Academy, the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Open University.

Sarah is co-editor of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. 

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Screen Industries, Convergence, Transmedia Industries, Audiences and Storytelling
  • Immersive Technologies and Experiences, Extended Realities (XR) including Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Media and Artificial Intelligence
  • Film Industry, Film Production and Filmmaking
  • Film and Cinema distribution, exhibition, promotion, and spectatorship. The convergence of stage and screen, event cinema, live cinema, interactive, immersive, participatory and digital audience cultures.

Sarah has published widely on the impacts of digital technologies on film, cinema & media audiences and screen production practices & industries. She has addressed her subject through analyses of narrative, text, process, industry, apparatus and audience.

Sarah also adopts practice-based methodologies through the creation of her own original works which include video essays, short films (including Live Cinema – walking the tightrope between stage and screen which was nominated for the Learning on Screen ‘Best Educational Film’ Award 2020), an interactive cinema installation - Crossed Lines – which has been exhibited internationally and The Anatomy of a Film – an interactive documentary featurette – which was included on both the Artificial Eye UK Blu-ray release and Lionsgate’s USA DVD release of Ginger & Rosa (Dir: Sally Potter 2012). Sarah co-produced Hangmen Rehanged in 2016 - a showcase collaboration between the National Theatre, Omnibus Theatre Company, and Edible Cinema which staged the first-ever immersive cinema event to unite the forms and aesthetics of ‘event’ cinema, ‘live’ cinema, ‘sensory’ cinema and promenade theatre. The collaboration centred around the themed screening of Martin McDonagh’s Olivier Award-winning play first produced at the Royal Court Theatre and streamed live to cinemas on 3 March 2016.

Sarah has undertaken extensive work into the Live Cinema economy and has worked on a number of funded immersive media projects including a Virtual Reality diversity initiative, a project which explores artificial intelligence and conversational interactivity in games and ‘XR Circus’ which brought together circus artists with immersive technologists.

Sarah was a co-investigator on the Social Science & Humanities Research Council of Canada funded five-year project Refiguring Innovation in Games project (ReFig).

Sarah would welcome PhD projects that are concerned with the examination of digital audience cultures; emergent screen spectatorship practices and behaviours, digital filmmaking cultures & industries; live, event and immersive cinema; transmedia industries and transmedia storytelling; Extended Realities (XR) including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR); computer gaming; and media & artificial intelligence.

For more details, please see her full research profile.


Sarah’s teaching is underpinned and influenced by a number of research traditions including cultural studies, film studies, media industry studies, production studies, and new media & digital media studies.

It is through the synthesis of these interests that Sarah advocates for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the screen industries. Sarah teaches a range of different empirical and practice-based methodological approaches within her modules.

In CMCI, she designed and convened the postgraduate elective modules Digital Media Production Cultures and Immersive Media and Extended Realities, and has taught on the Analysing Cultural and Creative Industries; Global Media Industries: Perspectives and Approaches; and Research Approaches modules. She has previously taught the elective module Transmedia Storytelling and across a number of modules in the Department of Digital Humanities.

Sarah has been an associate fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2006. She was Art Design and Media Subject Centre (ADM-HEA) Teaching Fellow in 2009 aand an Open University Fellow in 2011-2012.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Sarah has collaborated with a number of organisations in her research and engaged in a range of external engagement activities.

She was involved in the first piece of national industry research into the Live Cinema economy funded by Arts Council England Grants. As part of this collaboration, Sarah convened the inaugural Live Cinema Conference 2016 and established the Live Cinema Network. The project team received funding from Creative Europe to work with film festival partners across Europe.

Sarah initiated and led the women in VR project which resulted in the Vision for Women and Virtual Reality which recently launched at the Augmented World Expo EU 2018.

Sarah has spoken at various international technology forums including the IET Prestige Lecture Series, the international new.New festival, Develop: European Game Developer conference, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, and the European Women in Games Conference.

Sarah is also a regular contributor to The Conversation.