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

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

Full-time annual tuition fee 2020/21:
UK/EU: £4,880 (Performance), £4,380 (other routes)
International: £18,380 (Performance) £17,880 (other routes)
More detail.

Our Drama and Theatre Studies Practice-Based programme allows academic research to be conducted through practical experimentation.

It also 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.

The Department’s diverse expertise and exceptional 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 aesthetic theories.

Your 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. The practice-based PhD thesis is 40,000 words. The MA by Research is assessed by a shorter thesis of 20,000 words.

In addition to the thesis, the programme will be assessed by a practice-based component appropriate to the research specialism. For guidance, typical assessment methods for the practice-based component are as follows:

Playwriting strand
The practice-based component would most commonly be a playtext, with a playing time of up to 90 minutes for the MA by Research and up to three hours for the PhD, or a combination of shorter pieces of comparable length.

Dramaturgy strand
The practice-based component would most commonly be a dramaturgical casebook, which collates and documents the dramaturgical practice undertaken on one full-length production. This would usually include character biographies, production histories of the play, relevant research materials, images used for image boards, rehearsal diaries, a programme, and lobby displays. You may also offer a series of shorter casebook submissions focusing on distinct aspects of the usual dramaturgical process, or previously unchartered aspects of dramaturgy.

Performance strand
A range of possible models include:

  • Direction of a site-specific or studio-based theatre production of a maximum length of 45 minutes for the MA by Research and three hours for the PhD, or a series of shorter pieces of comparable length
  • Performance in a site-specific or studio-based theatre production of a maximum length of 45 minutes for the MA by Research and three hours for the PhD, or a series of shorter pieces of comparable length
  • A series of work-demonstrations of actor-training to a maximum length of 45 minutes for the MA by Research and three hours for the PhD

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.

AHRC funding for UK/EU PhD students

The University of Birmingham is part of the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C DTP), offering Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD studentships for campus-based programmes across the eight M4C DTP partners. These include a number of Collaborative Doctoral Award opportunities. Each studentship includes full research fees, a substantial maintenance grant and additional research training support. Applications are open until 12pm, 14 January 2020.

Find out more

At Birmingham, you also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your research activity.

Why Study this Course?

  • World-leading research: In the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise 30% of research at the University of Birmingham for Drama was awarded the top 4* rating as ‘world-leading’. A further 39% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Excellent resources: You can take advantage of our exceptional resources for theatre research, such as a large number of studio spaces, the Orchard Learning Resources Centre, with its own well-stocked library and computer suites, and a purpose-built theatre and high-definition cinema facility in the George Cadbury Hall.
  • Links with The Shakespeare Institute: Students are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities afforded by The Shakespeare Institute campus in Stratford-upon-Avon and the University’s collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company at The Other Place.

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 2020/21 are as follows:

Performance PhD route

  • UK/EU: £4,880 full-time; £2,440 part-time*
  • International: £18,380 full-time

Dramaturgy and Playwriting PhD routes

  • UK/EU: £4,380 full-time, £2,190 part-time*
  • International: £17,880 full-time

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/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 2020.

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2019/20 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2019/20 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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

Funding opportunities

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. 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.

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, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2020.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2020. 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.

Before you make your application

Full details of our requirements can be found on our Applications page.

As part of the application for admission onto our MJur, MPhil and PhD programmes, you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study. For more information, please see our guidance on how to write a research proposal.

Please also see our 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

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.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

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


Research in the Department of Theatre Arts encompasses both the historiographical and contemporary, with an emphasis on political and critical theory, and the relationship between theory and practice.

The department also specialises in research-led practice, particularly in actor-training, writing for performance and directing. Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance. A summary of our key research areas, and staff working within those, can be found below.

 

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.

Over the past 5 years, 97% of Drama and Theatre Arts postgraduates were in work and/or further study 6 months after graduation (DLHE 2012 - 2017). Some of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has especially prepared them, such as playwriting, directing or teaching drama; others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations ranging from production management to marketing or have pursued careers in academia. Employers that our graduates have gone on to work for include Birmingham Hippodrome, Welsh National Opera, the National Film and Television School and the University of Birmingham.