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.

Find out more about our Drama postgraduate opportunities at our virtual chat event on Thursday 8 October from 12 noon - 14:00. Find out more HERE.

Jonathan Lloyd

“The facilities in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts specifically are really good and expanding year by year. They’ve just added a new studio for practical work, and as my PhD is both practical and theoretical based, it’s always great to have the use of those studios”

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 research strengths lie in: contemporary practice, playwriting, directing and performer training; Russian theatre; theatre and politics; 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.

Why study this course

  • The department celebrated excellent Research Assessment Exercise 2014 results. 30% of research at the University of Birmingham for Drama was top 4* rated as ‘world-leading’. A further 39% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • You will have access to a range of academics working in related fields across the College of Arts and Law and will be supervised from a leading expert in your field of research
  • You can advantage of Birmingham's exceptional resources for theatre research as well as the University and Department links with world-class theatre in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, London and beyond.
  • 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.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

Performance PhD route

  • Home / EU: £4,610 full-time*
  • Overseas: £14,180 full-time

Dramaturgy and Playwriting PhD routes

  • Home / EU: £4,110 full-time *
  • Overseas: £13,680 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2016. 

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

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.

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 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 has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

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.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.