Drama and Theatre Studies PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

The Drama and Theatre Arts department offers you the opportunity to carry out research in a dynamic environment which allows students, scholars and theatre practitioners to work together to achieve a new breadth and depth in the study of drama.

It also takes 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.

You may be interested in comparing this programme to our Drama and Theatre Studies Practice-Based PhD / MA by Research programme.

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 2019.

Find out more

Dr Trish McTighe

Dr Trish McTighe

“This programme is aimed primarily at people who are interested and perhaps have a burning question about Drama that they have not yet answered. It gives students an opportunity to really delve into a subject completely.”

The MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a thesis of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision. The PhD, the most advanced research degree, leads to a thesis of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice and under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff.

Research activity is led by staff and our traditional research strengths lie in: Contemporary theatre and new writing; playwriting, directing and performer training; Russian theatre; Shakespearean performance and adaptation; Victorian and Edwardian theatre; the history of film; popular theatre; theatre history - Renaissance to 21st Century and theatre and science.

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

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

  • World-leading research: in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise (REF) 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’.
  • Excellent resources: you can take 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.
  • Transferrable skills: Birmingham's Drama and Theatre Arts postgraduates develop a very wide range of skills and qualities during their degree. This includes time management, critical and analytical skills, the ability to formulate and solve problems, as well as developing opinions and new ideas, and an aptitude for thinking and working creatively with others.
  • 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. Transport to Stratford-upon-Avon is provided for special events, trips and workshops, to enable students to participate.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

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 2019.

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.

Scholarships and studentships

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.

Entry 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

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, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

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.

Please note: 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 the end of June.

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 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 employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two 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. 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 three years, 100% 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, directing or teaching drama; others use their transferable skills in a wide variety of occupations ranging from production management, to marketing, to arts administration; some choose to pursue 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.

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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.