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Home > Courses > Courses for 2017 > Postgraduate > Theatre Directing
More in this section Drama & Theatre

Theatre Directing MA

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


This is a unique opportunity to work intensively with Katie Mitchell OBE, one of the most acclaimed, important and innovative directors in Europe. You will combine your professional training with academic research providing you with complementary creative and intellectual skills.

This course is a rigorous, intensive, demanding training in theatre directing where you will work with professional actors to develop your directing skills. You will have the chance to direct in our new purpose-build performance space, the Caryl Churchill Theatre, a 150-seat flexible theatre on three levels, designed by award-winning theatre architects Foster-Wilson.

Royal Holloway's Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance is internationally recognised for the quality of its creative arts programmes. The Department has produced several theatre companies with a growing international reputation, including Ad Infinitum, Forest Fringe, non zero one and Analogue.

Core modules

A Director Prepares

In this module you will develop an understanding of the prepartory work that directors need to do before actors enter the rehearsal room, looking at how to study and read a play for performance. You will consider dramaturgical strategies, and examine decisions to take before working with actors. You will also assess the practical implications of intepretive decisions and their likely impact on performance.

Theatre Directing

In this module you will develop an understanding of how to take prepared text into the rehearsal room, articulating your interpretive choice and translate this into a legible performance. You will experiment with space, work with actors and other creative collaborators, and begin to develop a personal style and vision. You will plan a rehearsal schedule and manager the rehearsal process, and critically relfect on this process of training in relation to current directing practice.

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.

Dissertation

The dissertation offers you the opportunity to develop some of the concepts you have explored practically in written form. With a flexibile format, you may employ a number of critical methodologies. Katie Mitchell will open her rehearsal room for the autumn and spring terms for you to observe her practice, which can form the basis of your case study.

The full-time programme lasts 6 months, beginning in July, delivered in a single stage, equating to a full-time 52-week course.

Teaching and learning are primarily by means of intensive summer workshops, including eight hours of collaborative workshop and up to three hours of supervised rehearsal time a day for three weeks. These typically combine periods of seminar discussion with practical exploration and workshops. Where possible, these are student-led, with participants being encouraged to devise exercises engaging with the relevant issues and to direct their fellow-students.

Opportunities to visit theatrical performances and rehearsal rooms are also an important part of the programme, and you will be encouraged to use these as a basis for discussion and to deconstruct the performances they have seen from a variety of critical positions.

Assessment is by a variety of means including essays (both theoretical and critical) and etudes (practical directing exercises), practical projects as well as a final dissertation of 10-14,000 words. Practical projects are sometimes carried out in a group and may include an element of assessment for an individual’s contribution to group working and direction.

Entry criteria:

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

Extensive and recent practical theatre experience might compensate for a lack of the normal academic qualifications; however applications should be aware that completing a Dissertation is an important part of this degree.

Please submit the following supporting information when you make your application:

  • either an academic essay or two analyses of recent professional theatre productions that demonstrate how meaning is created in performance and are not merely a description of the show (approximately 2,000 words each);
  • a copy of the degree certificate / transcript from your undergraduate degree (this can be a transcript of your progress so far if you have not yet completed it);
  • a copy of your English language qualification (if English is not your first language) - if you have not completed an IELTS or recognised test yet, you can submit your application without it and then forward your results once they are available;
  • supporting statement, explaining your motivation for studying your chosen programme;
  • one academic reference - your referee can upload this directly to the online system or email it to the Postgraduate Administrator (ally.williams@rhul.ac.uk);
  • and copies of any other qualifications that are relevant to your chosen programme.

Please note that we will not be able to consider applications until we have received the writing samples.

We may invite suitable applicants for an interview, either in person or via Skype.

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:

  • Determination to learn
  • Creativity
  • Keen appetite for research
  • Broad interests in culture and society
  • Passion for live theatre

By the end of this course, you will have an enhanced understanding of the tasks and responsibilities of a director, and developed your abilily to work with actors and space. You will also have gained experience in working through the research and preparation necessary to direct a piece of theatre, and have the ability to research and articulate an extended analytic discussion of theatre directing.

Our graduates have started careers in professional theatre, film and television as well as training and education. 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, which may be fully written or include a practice-based component.

The department gives you access to other creative areas of study like dance, media and art. Part of our reputation as a creative campus comes from this cross-pollination of studies and disciplines, so you'll have a good chance to push into those fields and gain knowledge of theatres and the performance scene in London and beyond. You'll leave the MA able to navigate an intense and growing field with credibility and creativity.

Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £8,300

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

Other essential costs**: TBC

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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