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MA Performance Practices

Start date
September
Duration
1 year full-time 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Distance learning, Taught
Fees
Annual tuition fees for 2022:UK: £9,810 full-time

International: £21,240 full-time

Part-time and distance learning modes are £1,090 per 20 credit module and £3,270 for the dissertation.

Find out more

Are you committed to ideas of community, inclusivity, sustainability and wellbeing in theatre practice? Are you interested in creating, thinking and writing about theatre that matters and that is socially engaged?

Our MA in Performance Practices allows you to develop as a practitioner, researcher and creative leader through exploring the ways in which theatre and performance can foster understanding, collaboration and wellbeing through various forms of engagement, intervention and participation. You will be involved in making creative work that addresses social and political concerns, developing your own practice and leadership skills through practice research, reflection and scholarship.

You might be a theatre practitioner or scholar, wanting to further develop your knowledge and understanding of performance as a tool for change. You might want a space to reflect on your skills and potential as a creative leader, or want to work creatively in a community of like-minded individuals with whom you can collaborate and share your ideas.

The course is located on our dedicated Selly Oak campus, where you will have access to our range of studio spaces, the George Cadbury Hall, which is our fully supported performance venue, an editing suite, production spaces and staff, as well as seminar rooms, a library facility and access to our internationally renowned academic teaching staff. Some of our staff are also professional practitioners whom you will work alongside to enhance your understanding of performance and of the industry more broadly.

  • Focus – the course offers the chance to develop as both a performance practitioner and scholar, with inclusion, diversity, wellbeing and resilience at the core of the work.
  • 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.
  • 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 – with options to undertake practice research as your independent final project or produce a written dissertation, you will be able to plan your future and work towards your aspirations as either a scholar or a practitioner.

Dr Claire French | MA Performance Practices Programme Lead

Photo of Claire French

Claire is a performance-maker, researcher and lecturer exploring multilingual documentary theatre and performance. She has developed work with new migrants, the diaspora, Indigenous training actors, older actors and intercultural teams of physical theatre performers across Germany, the UK, South Africa and Australia. As a researcher, she investigates multilingual methodologies and dramaturgies that legitimise minority and low-status languages and avoid reproducing harmful views about languages. Many of her recent findings have been in concert with, and guided by, South Africans, creating new challenges for research examining decolonising approaches to global collaboration. Claire obtained her PhD from the University of Warwick, UK; MA from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK; and BA from Notre Dame University and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Australia. Her starting point for debate is a queer, Anglo Celtic, multilingual, standard-English speaking, Irish-Australian dual national and migrant perspective.

Modules

Alexander Studies, Wellbeing and Performance 1

The Alexander Technique is an educational method that has been used for more than 100 years. It is widely taught in optimising performance in conservatoires in the UK and globally, to musicians learning to play their instrument and performers developing voice and stage movement skill. It offers a practical means for personal change that anyone can choose to apply to their lives. In recognising and letting go of habitual stress reactions you develop skills in orienting the psycho-emotional-physical system towards health and well-being and generally in gaining more control over how to live life.

This module introduces you to the practice and key concepts of Alexander Studies and their application to everyday performance as a basis for specialist performance practice. This practice can be stage performance, teacher’s classroom performance or other specialisms involving engagement with others and facilitation of groups. It begins to develop your critical and practical skills for building wellbeing into your specialism on the basis of the Technique and its particular approach to promoting wellbeing and flourishing. There is a focus is on why it is important to apply the principles of the Technique in everyday life and on how to develop a daily reflective practice which will support the demands of a career. There will be support for you to develop and refine the commitment and enjoyment, which are essential for building wellbeing into performance practice in accordance with the principles of the Technique. Each week, the delivery will be split between 1.5 hours of time in the studio and 1.5 hours online, in a hybrid format.

Assessment: Presentation (50%) and reflective essay (50%)

Communities and Cultures

The module aims to enable you to develop the necessary conceptual, critical and practical skills to engage with communities, whether these are bound by place, shared interest, background, or heritage. It will provide opportunities to critique a variety of perspectives and approaches and consider how core debates and discourses have shaped community engagement practices. It will interrogate notions of community, culture, and social change, address issues of identity and representation, explore the ethics of participation and interactivity, and introduce practical aspects of access, inclusion, and evaluating the efficacy of this kind of work.

Assessment: Case study review (50%) and performative presentation (50%)

Digital Practices

This module will introduce you to cutting edge and emergent dramaturgies in digital performance practice and the associated scholarship. You will have the opportunity to build an interdisciplinary digital performance toolkit and develop strategies for utilising those dramaturgies as routes to community building, ethnographic heritage capture, protest, digital activism, and interventions of resistance. Over the course of the module, you will explore modes of digital performance practice that utilise forms such as new media, social media, WhatsApp, binaural technologies, zoom, mobile device applications and digital gaming platforms.

Assessment: Digital performance artefact (50%) and performance documentation (50%)

Praxis: Practical & Embodied Research Methods

This module will introduce you to practice research in performance methodologies. You will work in a laboratory style environment to engage with and apply modes of praxis. This module will present you with the opportunity to develop a praxical understanding of the ways in which performance can be employed as a research strategy, documented, and disseminated as a robust approach to knowledge acquisition. You will explore different approaches to designing practice-based research projects utilising the most current scholarship in the field of practice research. You will have the opportunity to develop your own methodological approaches in response to existing scholarship including innovative ways to document, reflect upon and disseminate your emerging praxis.

Assessment: Process documentation (60%) and methodological rationale (40%)

Creative Leadership

An initial study of relevant cultural industries and allied resources, policies and funding bodies will provide vital context, enabling you to not only to develop research skills, but also to gain a broad understanding of key factors and approaches to developing creative leadership, orientated to socially engaged practice in real–world contexts. You will also conduct a study of a particular organisation or practitioner, allied to developing their own leadership ambitions and strategies. You will envisage, plan and present a proposed project, demonstrating how it could be realised, and will lead an exemplar work demonstration or participation session with peers.

Assessment: Case study and CPD report (40%) and portfolio (60%)

Performing the Political Body

This module interrogates the body as a site of political potential and as a creative force, individually and in relation to others. Through integrated workshops and seminars, you will explore your own embodiment and physicality within the context of live art and experimental performance practices. You will consider how the body in performance is framed and/or revealed as being subject to ideological and social structures. The course will invite you to consider the place of the body in contemporary culture through critiques of structures of power and knowledge, whilst simultaneously posing questions about the political efficacy of performance, its potential to promote social justice and the ethical implications of the work. Practical explorations will focus on solo and autobiographical work, where the body of the artist/performer is deployed as the site of political intervention.

Assessment: Performance (50%) and essay (50%)

Dissertation

The dissertation is one of the two options for the final project for the MA Performance Practices, that brings together the critical skills and knowledge that you will have learned across the course. You will demonstrate your ability to raise and investigate significant questions concerning the relationship between performance and politico-social concerns through an extended piece of academic writing.

You will develop an initial project proposal, which outlines title, research question, assessment weighting and criteria, and the form of your chosen project. You will work with a supervisor to develop this into a 15,000-word dissertation, that demonstrates independent research and highly advanced critical thinking in the subject area.

Assessment: 15000-word dissertation (100%)

OR

Independent Performance Project

The Independent Project in Drama is one of the two options for the final project for the MA Performance Practices, a module exploring practice research, that brings together the practical skills and social awareness that you have learned across the course, where you will develop a performance project. You will identify a research question concerning performance, conduct contextual and theoretical academic research and employ creative processes as research methods in their own right, to practically interrogate your topic. The module encourages expansive and varied approaches to the independent project, and examples could include traditional performance work, live art, immersive events, site specific work, or community engaged projects. It might also include a placement with a relevant organisation, which would not be directly assessed, but could be utilised as part of a creative project. It is possible for a small group of no more than 3 students to work together on a project.

Assessment: Performance project, including documentation and a 500-word piece of copy framing the work (75%) and viva (25%) 

Fees

We charge an annual tuition fee for campus-based, full-time study. Fees for 2022 entry are as follows:
  • UK: £9,810 full-time
  • International: £21,240 full-time

Fees for part-time and distance learning modes are £1,090 per 20 credit module and £3,270 for the dissertation.

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

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

A Bachelor’s degree (2:1) in a relevant field (such as Drama, Theatre, Performance, English or Philosophy). If your Bachelor’s degree is not in a performing or creative arts subject, you will need to provide evidence of your practical performance experience in your personal statement. This should include evidence of any training and/or production work you have been involved in. We may also request audio-visual evidence of your potential to undertake the course.

OR

Relevant professional experience.  This should be demonstrated in a portfolio which catalogues and contextualises your work in a relevant field (e.g., catalogue of a recent performance, performer’s or equivalent CV, transcript giving indication of professional training, web-based archive of recent work, etc.)

International/EU students

Academic requirements: 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, 20 Listening, 22 Speaking and 21 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 with no less than 64 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


This programme closely integrates theory and practice in our bespoke Drama facilities on the Selly Oak campus. Each module helps you to develop a range of conceptual and creative skills, including digital practices; practising strategies of wellbeing in performance arenas; developing communities of practice; understanding practice research; and, working with the body as a political tool. Critical issues around the ethics and politics of making performance underpin the programme and you will develop skills in theatre-making and other performance practices in a range of contexts, in creative leadership, in independent research and in practice research. There will be an attention to inclusion, diversity, sustainability and resilience, both within the content of the modules and in relation to your personal development as a scholar practitioner.

It particularly benefits from the expertise of staff in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts who research, publish, create, direct and teach on a wide range of aspects of performance and related creative practices.

Course delivery

We have two teaching semesters per year, the autumn semester and spring semester. Semester dates can be found on our website.

As a full-time student, you will typically take three modules in each semester, followed by your dissertation or independent performance project. Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation, as well as time on-site at the Selly Oak campus.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

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.

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