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MA in Applied and Participatory Theatre

MA in applied participatory theatre

Convenor: Professor Helen Nicholson

This innovative MA programme in Applied and Participatory Theatre considers how artists, audiences and community participants might work together in new forms of cultural engagement.

Applied drama/theatre is an umbrella term, which includes the practice of drama in a wide range of settings. These include drama and theatre education, young people’s theatre, drama, health and healing, reminiscence and heritage theatres, theatre in prisons and theatre for development.

Twenty-first century artists have embraced innovative forms of cultural practice in new community settings; companies are developing ‘local’ programmes that interrogate the interactivity of place and audience, and practice outside conventional performance spaces often blurs distinctions between producer and audience. This MA offers students opportunities to work as artists and researchers in this aspect of theatre practice.

Course Content

The MA in Applied and Participatory Theatre will inform and be informed by the core courses where you’ll experience radically different approaches to performance-making in both conventional theatre spaces and in non-theatrical settings. This will enable you to consider the relationship between innovative performance practices and work in applied drama.


  • The first part of the course aims to reflect these theoretical issues by considering drama as a social intervention, questions of place and community and the aesthetics of participation.
  • The second part of the course is designed to be flexible: you’ll have the opportunity to develop the practice and research aspects of applied theatre in which you’re particularly interested and to share your research findings with others.
  • In the third part of the MA, you’ll develop your own practical project in your chosen field. For this project, you’re encouraged to be creative and innovative, and to apply your understanding of drama and theatre to specific educational contexts, communities, sites or settings.

The degree will also prepare you to work in different locations and help you develop skills as practitioners, workshop leaders and drama professionals.

The dissertation strand will allow you to critically interrogate your own practice and that of other applied drama specialists. Potential topics include the values and effectiveness of theatre in education, an analysis of learning in drama education, a study of ritual, performance and healing, the social and psychological benefits of reminiscence theatre and the role of education outreach work in theatre.

Students successfully completing the programme will be awarded the degree of MA in Applied and Participatory Theatre.

Course structure and assessment

Autumn Term:

DT5006 Applied and Participatory Theatre Workshop

(40 credits)

Practical assessment and written reflection

DT5203 Making Performance

(40 credits)

Practical workshop; this will be followed by an individual 1,500-2,000 word critique

DT5210 Dissertation

(60 credits)

Presentation and project outline

Spring term:

DT5006 Applied and Participatory Theatre Workshop

(40 credits)

Practical assessment and written reflection

DT5203 Making Performance

(40 credits)

Practical workshop; this will be followed by an individual 1500-2000 word critique

Summer Term

DT5119 Independent Practical Project

(40 credits)

Practical presentation scheduled during the Summer Term, plus viva and supporting written material.

Also throughout Spring and Summer Terms

DT5210 Dissertation

(60 credits)

Part time course structure

Year 1

DT5006 Applied and Participatory Theatre Workshop (40 credits)

DT5119 Independent Practical Project (40 credits) (not timetabled)

Year 2

DT5203 Making Performance (40 credits)

DT5210 Dissertation (60 credits)

Further Details & Applying

For general enquiries about applying for Postgraduate courses, please contact the Faculty Administrator (Postgraduate)

Director of MA Programmes: Dr. Libby Worth

50 weeks full-time;

The part-time programme lasts 102 weeks, beginning in September of year one.  Tutorials in respect of the dissertation would begin in the summer term of the first year.

We welcome postgraduate applications from candidates who have a 2:1 or above first degree (this does not have to be in Drama) and can demonstrate strong interest in/experience of making and analysing theatre. We welcome applications from candidates from non-traditional backgrounds.


 Please visit our funding pages for further information on the funding available for taught postgraduate students.


 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.

Applications should be submitted by 31 July.

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

  • a sample of written work in English, which should take the form of a short academic essay or review of a theatre production (2,000 words);
  • 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;
  • a 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.




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