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Drama and Theatre Studies Practice-Based PhD/MA by Research (through Performance, On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Start date
Flexible – September or January encouraged
Duration
Full time: PhD – 3 years, MA by Research – 1 year
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Doctoral research
Fees

Annual tuition fee 2024 entry:
UK: £4,786 full-time, £2,393 part-time
International: £21,840 full-time; £10,920 part-time (distance learning only)
More detail.

Our Drama and Theatre Studies Practice Research programme allows academic research to be conducted through practice. It provides a unique opportunity for you to specialise in a particular area of creative practice.

The Department’s diverse expertise and rehearsal and performance facilities open up a wide range of practical research opportunities, such as the investigation of the processes of theatre making or the practical application of particular performance ideas and theories.

Your thesis must fully contextualise the practice, substantiating the claim that your work is innovative and demonstrating how it extends the chosen field of research and practice. The practice research PhD thesis (written in conjunction with the practical output) is 40,000 words. The MA by Research is assessed by a shorter thesis of 20,000 words plus the practice element.

The practice research will directly address your research questions and will be determined by the needs of the project. Recent PhD outputs include solo performance pieces, playwriting, immersive practice, workshops and community-based projects. The number and length of project outputs will be decided in consultation with your supervisors and must align with the aims and scope of the individual research enquiry. Outputs can be live or recorded, depending on the needs of the research and the most appropriate method of delivery for your research questions.

You may be interested in comparing this programme to the Drama and Theatre Studies PhD/MA by Research, which is delivered without the practice-based element of this course.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships

You can study both programmes full-time or part-time, on campus or by distance learning.  The College of Arts and Law is experienced in delivering high quality distance learning to students all over the world.  Find out more on our distance learning website.

At Birmingham, Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your studies.

Why study this course?

  • Focus – the course offers the chance to develop as both a performance practitioner and scholar,  centring creative practice at the heart of your research project
  • Leadership - through reflection on your position and potential, alongside attention to the ethics and politics of performance practices, you will be equipped to develop and sustain a career as a creative leader.
  • Reputation – as one of the leading Drama departments in the UK, you will work within a community of internationally renowned scholars and practitioners. The department is one of the top 50 performing arts departments in the world (QS 2024). 
  • Facilities – situated on the dedicated Selly Oak campus, you will have access to our full range of studio and performance spaces, production resources, and teaching and learning spaces, whilst still being within easy reach of all the opportunities available on the Edgbaston site.
  • Further study and careers –  you will be able to plan your future and work towards your aspirations as either a scholar or a practitioner.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2024 entry are as follows:

  • UK: £4,786 full-time; £2,393 part-time *
  • International: £21,840 full-time; £10,920 part-time (distance learning only)

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme also includes one fully-funded visit to campus in the first year of study.

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

* For UK 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 2024.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Paying your fees

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

How To Apply

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September 2024, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 June 2024.

If the programme has a Distance learning option then students will usually attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 June 2024. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

Six easy steps to apply for a postgraduate research course in the College of Arts and Law

Six steps to apply for our Postgraduate Research courses

Do you have an idea for an interesting research project? You can follow our six easy steps to apply to study for our postgraduate research courses. These include guidance on identifying funding opportunities and writing your research proposal.

Please also see our additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Please note: While our PhD programmes are normally studied in three years full-time or six years part-time, and Masters-level research programmes one year full-time or two years part-time, many programmes have a longer length listed in course or funding applications. This is because the course length is defined as the maximum period of registration, which includes a period of supervised study plus a thesis awaited period. The maximum period of registration for a full-time PhD is four years (three years supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For a full-time Masters-level research programme, it is two years (one year supervision plus one year thesis awaited). For part-time programmes, the periods are double the full-time equivalent.

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK, usually in a relevant area.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent), usually in a relevant area.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 21 in Reading, 21 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 169 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements


One of the best of the established British university drama departments, the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham enjoys a highly respected national and international reputation for excellence in teaching and research in the study of Drama, Theatre and Performance.

Drama and Theatre Arts has a wide-ranging research and teaching culture which combines historical and political perspectives with theoretical and practical expertise. In terms of research, Drama and Theatre Arts focuses primarily on modern and contemporary British and European theatre and performance, performance histories, performance studies, and interdisciplinarity, with an emphasis on the relationship between theory and practice, historiography, practice research and its impact on society and culture.

 A summary of our key research areas, and staff working within those, can be found below.

 

The University of Birmingham is the top choice for the UK's major employers searching for graduate recruits, according to The Graduate Market 2024 report.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for your future career, but this can also be enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University and the College of Arts and Law.

The University's Careers Network provides expert guidance and activities especially for postgraduates, which will help you achieve your career goals. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated  careers and employability team who offer tailored advice and a programme of College-specific careers events.

You will be encouraged to make the most of your postgraduate experience and will have the opportunity to:

  • Receive one-to-one careers advice, including guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique, whether you are looking for a career inside or outside of academia
  • Meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs and employer presentations
  • Attend an annual programme of careers fairs, skills workshops and conferences, including bespoke events for postgraduates in the College of Arts and Law
  • Take part in a range of activities to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and enhance your CV

What’s more, you will be able to access our full range of careers support for up to 2 years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Drama and Theatre Arts

Birmingham's Drama and Theatre Arts postgraduates develop a very wide range of skills and qualities during their degree from research and analytical skills, to thinking and working creatively with others. 

Some of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as performing, theatre-making, creative leadership, directing or teaching drama; others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations ranging from recruitment consultancy to marketing or have pursued careers in academia. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include the BBC, Channel 4, Salisbury Playhouse, Birmingham Hippodrome, Welsh National Opera, the National Film and Television School and the University of Birmingham.