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More in this section Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate Research

Mariam3 The Department of Drama and Theatre offers s upervision in a variety of fields and we welcome diverse projects . We have a large group of about 70 PhD students in the department at any one time, so you’ll always feel supported as part of a research community .

As a research student, you’ll be a member of our research groups and regularly invited to participate in seminars with academic staff. You’ll also present your work at national and international conferences; many students’ panel presentations have been accepted at Performance Studies International in Leeds and many more have participated in conferences organised by the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA).


Ways of Working

We offer you rich and varied training opportunities. First year MPhil/PhD students participate in our , which offers discipline-specific workshops and the chance to get to know your fellow students. 

The College provides training in generic research skills such as academic writing, while the Humanities and Arts Research Centre offers a programme of lectures, seminars and reading groups that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.

Practice-based PhD students attend training about the processes and creative methodologies of practice-based research across the arts, sharing experiences and expertise with PhD students in creative writing, music, media arts and theatre .


Platform is a thriving online journal for postgraduate and Early Career Researchers, created and edited by PhD students in the department.

logoIts editors work closely with a team of leading international academics, and its editors and reviewers gain valuable experience into the world of academic publishing. This publication is regularly tied to a conference organised by a team of postgraduates, most recently organising a conference on representing the human.


A list of current and very recently completed students can be found here.

The profiles by students such as Charlotte Hammond, Liam Jarvis, Louise LePage, Emer O’Toole, Diego Pellecchia, and Grant Peterson provide you with an idea of the range of research undertaken in the department. Many of our successful doctoral students have been appointed to full time lecturing posts in a range of universities both in the UK and overseas.


For advice on the application process please click here

Practice-based research degrees


We welcome applicants who wish to pursue their research partially by practice. Current student research topics in practice-based PhD projects include, for example, 

  • The implications and possibilities of a kinaesthetic approach to devising physical theatre
  • Performing community in Goat Island and Body Weather
  • Site-based strategies in text-based theatre.

Broadly there are two approaches. Firstly, some students write dissertations that are based upon and document their own practice, submitting a full-length written thesis accompanied by an appropriate portfolio of documentation. 

Secondly, a small number of students offer live practice as a core component of their thesis, with practice itself conceived as a central mode of enquiry. This practice is viewed and assessed by the examiners as part of the final submission. In this second model of practice-based research, the written component will be shorter (by approximately one third).  

If you wish to be examined in this way, you’ll need to clarify how you’re going to present research findings through your live practice – pronouncing what kinds of insights and knowledge can be explored or conveyed in performance, and cannot be communicated only through discursive writing and other forms of documentation. Although this undertaking is challenging, a number of exceptional candidates have demonstrated that this is an appropriate and productive route for students who can combine intellectual rigour with disciplined creativity.


The period of study for a Research Degree will be no less than two calendar years of full-time study, or four years of part-time study.

A) For programmes of study leading to the award of MPhil, the thesis must be submitted within three years of full-time study or six years of part-time study.

B) For programmes of study leading to the award of PhD, the thesis must be submitted within four years of full-time study or eight years of part-time study.

Applicants who wish to undertake their research should have, or expect to be awarded, a Masters degree in a relevant field, or have the equivalent postgraduate experience. 

Financing postgraduate study needs careful planning. There are no mandatory awards for postgraduate study, so prospective students need to be clear about costs and possible sources of financial support.

Royal Holloway has established an enviable record for helping students secure funding, made possible in no small measure by our status as a premier research-led university. In addition to the awards we are able to offer, the College is well supported by external funding bodies.

For further details about sources of funding, including TECHNE please visit our Funding page.


If you are interested in applying, please visit our Admissions page where you can find general information on the application process and access the online application form.

It is essential that you spend some time investigating the research projects undertaken by our staff to check that your proposed research topic fits within our research expertise. It is also helpful for you to contact the member(s) of staff who you have identified as most appropriate to supervise your proposed research in advance of you making a formal application, so that you can discuss your proposal with them and ascertain whether they have the capacity to take on an additional postgraduate research student.

Where applicants are applying for TECHNE funding, the College application should be submitted at least one month before the TECHNE deadline. All other applications should be submitted by 31 July. 

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

  • research proposal outline
  • two samples of written work in English, which should take the form of short academic essays or reviews of theatre productions (2,000 words each);
  • 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);
  • a copy of the degree certificate / transcript from your previous 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;
  • a supporting statement, explaining your motivation for studying your chosen programme;
  • and copies of any other qualifications that are relevant to your chosen programme.

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



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