Professor Tim O'Sullivan

Job: Professor of Media and Cultural History

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: Leicester Media School

Research group(s): Cinema and Television History Research Centre (CATH), Centre for Adaptations, and Midlands Television Research Group (MRTVRG)

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7317




Personal profile

Tim O’Sullivan studied Social Sciences in the early 1970s and then was a postgraduate student at the Centre for Mass Communication Research at Leicester University.  Following early teaching experience at the (now) Universities of Northampton and Glamorgan and the Open University, he came to De Montfort in the early 1990s and from that point onwards he has played a leading role in developing undergraduate, postgraduate and research provision in Media, Film, Journalism and related areas.  In the intervening period, he has been Head of School, Head of Department and also has had a number of periods as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

He has a wide and extensive experience of the development of Media Education in the UK and his earlier work as author and editor on textbooks such as Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies (Routledge: 1983 -) and Studying the Media (Arnold: 1994 -) have been widely published and translated.  He was involved in the design and launch of one of the first ‘A’ levels in Media in the UK with the Welsh Joint Education Committee (1989) and he continues to work in an advisory capacity for this syllabus.

His teaching interests and activities combine a broad and ongoing interest in the historical development of and cultural impact of the modern media – press, film, radio and TV – on public and private social life.  His personal preference for the distinctive richness of radio (especially BBC Radio 4) has been the basis for his long-running final year undergraduate course ‘Forms and Practices of Radio’ which continues to offer students valuable applied practical and creative opportunities.

His research and scholarship has dealt with aspects of radio and advertising history, but his interests in the early post-war history of television in Britain and with the significant British film-making partnership of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph and their work together from the early 1940s onwards have been his principal focus for research and writing in the last few years.  He has recently researched and written two chapter length studies of the famous Ealing Studio Comedies as well as studies of the film adaptation of Arnold Bennett’s novel ‘The Card’ and a study of the Television coverage of the 1948 London Olympics.  His current research encompasses further studies of the ‘take-off’ of British TV in the 1950s and of the screen adaptations of the works of W. Somerset Maugham and John Buchan.

He has successfully supervised PhD and M.Phil research students on topics including: Film and the Co-Operative Movement, the History of Radio Drama, Cultural Policy and National Opera and In Cell Television.  He has been selected as a member of the forthcoming REF panel for 2014 and has been a long time member of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Subject Association Executive (MeCCSA).  He has recently been elected as the staff representative on the Academic Board and the Board of Governors at De Montfort University.

In his spare time he enjoys reading the novels of Alan Furst and Philip Kerr and regular visits to Crete.  As an antidote to the academic demands of his professional life he enjoys working on DIY and refurbishment projects – achieving practical ‘hands on’ solutions to practical problems.

Publications and outputs


Click here for a full listing of Tim O'Sullivan's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

O’Sullivan, T., Burton, A. (2009) The Cinema of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph, Edinburgh University Press.

O’Sullivan, T. ( 2007) Researching the Viewing Culture : Television and the Home,1946-1960, in Wheatley, H. ed. Re-Viewing Television History: Critical Issues in Television Historiography, IB Taurus.

O’Sullivan, T. (2012) Ealing Comedies 1947-57: ‘The Bizarre British, faced with another perfectly extraordinary situation’, in Hunter I.Q. & Porter, L. (eds.) British Comedy Cinema, Routledge.

O’Sullivan, T. (2012, in press) Television and the ‘Austerity’ Games: London 1948, in Hill, J. & Wood, J. (eds) Sport, History and Heritage: An Investigation into the Public Representation of Sport, Boydell & Brewer.

O’Sullivan, T. (2012, forthcoming) That ‘Ealing Feeling’: ‘Ealing Comedies’ and comedies ‘made at Ealing’, in Williams, M et al eds. Ealing Revisited, Palgrave/BFI.  

Research interests/expertise

Aspects of British Cinema and Film history, Historical studies of British Television and Radio, Selected literary adaptations for film, TV and Radio – currently the work of W Somerset Maugham and John Buchan.

Areas of teaching

Forms & Practices of Radio, History of Journalism, Research Methods, Undergraduate Dissertations.


BSc (Hons), MA.

Membership of external committees

AHRC Peer Review College 2007-2010.

REF Panel Member Sub-Panel 36, 2011-2014.

Membership of professional associations and societies

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association, Executive Member.


Conference attendance

Annual MeCCSA Conferences 2008 (Leeds), 2009 (LSE), 2010 (Salford), 2011 (Bedfordshire).  Media History Conference, Kings College London, July 2010, Aberystwyth July 2012.

Other forms of public presentation

Interview on ‘Night Waves’: Matthew Sweet on Dearden & Relph, BBC Radio 3, May 30th 2011.


Current research students

Victoria Knight, In Cell Television, Second Supervisor, submission Feb. 2012.

Hazel Collie (AHRC) History of Post-war Women and TV, Second Supervisor.

Catherine Mahoney Television and Film Construction of War-time Women, First Supervisor.

Externally funded research grants information

The Cinema of Dearden and Relph, AHRC, Research Leave Scheme, Sept-Dec. 2008, Sole researcher. AH/F014929/1: £30. 762.00.

HERA ‘Cultural Encounters’ Programme 2012 application November 2011, invited to Berlin Networking Event February 2012.

Professional esteem indicators

International Journal of Crime, Media, Culture

Member Editorial Board 2003 – 2010.

Journal Refereeing:

European Journal of Communication Studies

Criminal Justice Review

Sociological Review

European Journal of Cultural Studies

Other Reviewing Activities:

Routledge, Bloomsbury, Edinburgh University Press, Sage, Palgrave Open University Press etc.

Case studies

Reviews of Dearden & Relph book in Sight and Sound (book of the month) and Journal of British Cinema & Television. 

Interview on ‘Night Waves’: Matthew Sweet on Dearden & Relph, BBC Radio 3, May 30th 2011.

Tim O'Sullivan