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Home > Courses > Courses for 2017 > Postgraduate > Contemporary Performance Practices
More in this section Drama & Theatre

Contemporary Performance Practices MA

UCAS code
Year of entry 2017
View 2018 entry »
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department Drama and Theatre »

This MA provides a next step in performance-making skills, and in documenting and promoting your work. You'll develop your capacity for devising, physical theatre, directing, choreography, solo work and live art, building on your existing knowledge with new directions in collaboration, composition, and documentation. We work in studio spaces to allow a free flow between practical work and discussion.

You will have the opportunity to benefit from our close contact with a wide range of companies and artists based in London. Leading professionals we have worked with include:

  • Choreographer Jonathan Burrows (who holds an honorary doctorate with the college)
  • Lone Twin
  • Jasmin Vardimon Company
  • Non Zero One
  • Theatre Ad Infinitum
  • Analogue

You'll learn how performers can take different routes into the world of work – not everyone's routes have to look the same. We create an environment to support excellence in professional practice and we'll work with you to develop your portfolio of skills and documentation.

Through the course, you'll have the chance to take part in independent and group projects, and to engage critically and practically with a wide range of performance practices. While you develop your projects, you'll also be able to use our distinctive performance spaces on the campus – including the state of the art Caryl Churchill Theatre, a converted ‘found space’ Boilerhouse Theatre and the only permanent Noh stage outside of Japan. Towards the end of the course, you'll select a subject area that really interests you, working on your own independently-researched dissertation.

Core modules

Making Performance

In this module you will develop an understanding of current trends in, and new approaches to, contemporary performance practice, including playwriting, theatre directing, devised, physical and applied work. You will collaborate with students from the other MA programmes offered in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, encountering a broad range of performance making processes and contexts. You will also apply established techniques of research and enquiry to the conception of a new group or solo performance project, allowing you the opportunity to provide thought provoking response to the practices encountered.

Contemporary Performance Practices

The moudle will introduce you to concepts, practical strategies, methodologies and models for making performance. The emphasis will be on collaborative working methods to ensure extension of skills and understanding both within and beyond the art discipline familiar to you. You will be invited to engage with ideas and processes drawn from a range of performing arts, including choreography, directing, dramaturgy, theatre texts, improvisation, compositional and score or task-based structures.

Independent Project in Contemporary Performance Practices

You will take concepts, methodologies, models and creative projects experienced in the first two terms and further develop these for both final assessment and public viewing. Your final project outcomes may include a collaboratively devised performance, or live art event; a curated exhibition or installation; a series of workshops with accompanying documentation; or attachment to a company, with related documentation. You will be required to employ more than one form for your final project, e.g. curated exhibition, plus documentation, and will be encouraged to work collaboratively through offering a specific strand or contribution to a joint project, e.g. performing, dramaturging, directing, curating, etc.


In this module you will develop an understanding of how to undertake research in different branches of theatre studies. You will start to prepare for your dissertation, with basic training in how to use major resource archives, whether paper, electronic or material. You will consider how to employ theoretical knowledge of a selected range of creative techniques, exploring ways of engaging critically with research materials, analysing performance, and presenting research findings in written and practical forms, including workshop demonstration, advanced skill class, and comparison of two approaches to a moment in performance.

You'll be assessed on creative and critical responses to course content, and these could take diverse forms. The course addresses the centrality of diverse approaches to contexts within the world of work through the development of a portfolio of skills and increased capacities in documentation, as part of a means of self-representation for professional practice.

During the autumn and spring terms your modules will prepare you for your independent research final project. The shape of this assessment will be responsive to the areas of interest and expertise you have developed over the year. For instance, in addition to the more usual end of year performance that some students will pursue, we can support internships with reflective documentation, curation of an arts project with documentation or a series of workshops with analysis of progress, to name just a few.

You will also work over the year on a dissertation that arises from a specific research question or topic in the field of contemporary performance practices.

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1); or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Relevant professional qualifications and relevant experience in an associated area will be considered.

One academic essay that you have submitted for assessment on a previous course or an analysis of any theatre production that you have recently seen.

English language requirements:

IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5, for non-native English speaking applicants.

If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor your study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.


A successful applicant will usually have the following qualities:

  • Demonstrable interest and experience in one or more contemporary performance practices
  •  A commitment to collaborative as well as independent working
  •  The potential and desire to expand their artistic practice through open engagement with a variety of approaches to performance and documentation.
  •  An interest in combining critical and creative learning

Our graduates have gone on into professional performance-making both through development of collaborations begun on the course and through joining established companies. They have started careers in theatre training and in education including practical teaching at postgraduate level.

If you come to the end of the course and find yourself curious about an area of study – or want to take your dissertation topic further – the MA is a perfect grounding for a PhD, with many of our students going onto advanced research with us.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £7,000

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £14,500

Other essential costs**: None (optional Theatre Visits approximately £24)

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email student-fees@royalholloway.ac.uk for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.

** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

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