Drama and Theatre Studies Practice-Based PhD (through Dramaturgy, Playwriting or Performance)

This innovative new programme allows academic research to be conducted through practical experimentation, such as the investigation of processes of theatre making or the practical application of particular aesthetic theories. It provides a unique opportunity for you to specialise in a particular area of practice (Dramaturgy, playwriting, or Performance – which includes Directing) and prepares you for your chosen profession.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Doctoral research

Study Options: Full time, part time

Duration: 3 years full-time

Start date: January, September


The practice-based route to this PhD lets you conduct academic-based research through practical experimentation in performance, playwriting or dramaturgy, accompanied with a 40,000 word thesis. The thesis must fully contextualise the practice and substantiate the claim that your work is innovative and demonstrates extension of the boundaries of the chosen field of research and practice.

Research activity is led by staff and our traditional research strengths lie in: contemporary practice, playwriting and acting training; theatre and community development; theatre and political activism, theatre and critical theory, Shakespeare, theatre and science, theatre history – Renaissance to 21st century) and Eastern European theatre.

Profiles of our current Drama and Theatre Arts doctoral researchers

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are as follows:

Dramaturgy and Playwriting PhD routes: 

  • Home / EU: £4,052 full-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time

Performance PhD route:

  • Home / EU: £4,552 full-time
  • Overseas: £13,695 full-time

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

It is important that students wishing to apply for the practice-based PhD submit detailed information about how they intend to cover the costs incurred in pursuing the chosen field of practice beyond the facilities and space which the Department can allot. (Intending applicants should bear in mind that the range of taught Masters and undergraduate programmes means that such resources are in considerable demand).

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research interests of staff

Research interests of staff include:

  • Theatre history and Shakespearean interpretation
    Contact: Professor Russell Jackson
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5790
    Email: r.b.jackson@bham.ac.uk
  • Performance practice, especially directing and acting (and how these are brought together through rehearsal), devising and performer training
    Contact: Dr Adam Ledger
    Tel: +44(0)121 414 5998
    Email: a.j.ledger@bham.ac.uk
  • Victorian theatre; popular theatre studies; contemporary and historical popular entertainment; music theatre; contemporary theatre making and music performance; multi-media performance
    Contact: Dr Caroline Radcliffe
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 5998
    Email: c.radcliffe@bham.ac.uk
  • Contemporary theatre and performance; political and cultural theory; performance and devising techniques; new writing for theatre
    Contact: Dr liz Tomlin
    Email: e.j.tomlin@bham.ac.uk
  • Actor-training; Anton Chekhov and Russian and East European Theatre of the first part of the twentieth century; theatre and science
    Contact: Dr Rose Whyman
    Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6005
    Email: r.whyman@bham.ac.uk
  • Twentieth-century reception of tragedy; contemporary adaptation of the Greek tragic plays; postmodern theory and performance; theatre and fascism
    Contact: Dr Eleftheria Ioannidou
  • Contemporary British, European and American theatre; translation, adaptation and reception; ethics and spectatorship; aesthetics and politics; performance and space.
    Contact: Dr Vicky Angelaki


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Birmingham's Drama and Theatre Arts postgraduates develop a very wide range of skills and qualities during their degree. Performance develops communication, team working and confidence, whilst all of our postgraduates also develop time management, critical and analytical skills, the ability to formulate and solve problems, develop opinions and new ideas, and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others.

Over the past five years, over 94% of Drama and Theatre Arts postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as playwriting, screenwriting or teaching drama; others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations ranging from media sales and management to events and arts administration; and some choose to pursue careers in academia. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include: Arts Council England; Imperial College London; Musicleader West Midlands; National Theatre; North Warwickshire Council; University of Gloucestershire.