Aspiring playwright? Teacher, director, actor or theatre enthusiast who wants to gain experience of writing for dramatic performance? This course is for those who want hands-on opportunities to develop their playwriting skills, knowledge and awareness. You'll develop your own plays across different forms and styles, from monologues and single-authored plays to the writing of experimental dramaturgies for live art and collaborative or devised projects.
Since we think writers learn best from writers, you'll be taught by experienced playwrights and academics. Recently the course has been taught by award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta and we've had visits from Simon Stephens, April de Angelis, Roy Williams, Dennis Kelly, Linda McLean and Duncan Macmillan amongst others. As you let established voices push you to be more ambitious and creative in your writing, you'll also explore your own voices and style. You'll explore how dramatists past and present have used conventions – and broken them – in the creation of structure, metaphor, character, scene, dialogue, image and action.
As you go through the course, you'll also work on an independently-researched project - a chance to get your teeth into an area of specialist interest. Part of the course is taught at our creative hub in the centre of London, 11 Bedford Square, plugging you into the heart of theatre production and a busy creative scene in the city.
In this module you develop an understanding of the craft of the playwright in terms of structure, dialogue, story, image, and cultural and political dynamics. You will work on the development of your own work, looking at the principles involved in constructing a contemporary play. A mixture of in-class writing exercises, discussion of others' work, and analysis of both classic and modern existing texts will help you learn how to become your own dramaturg and develop greater control as a writer. You will become immersed in London's new play culture, visiting a range of theatres during the year, with the opportunity to meet professional writers.
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.
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.
All modules are core
Teaching & assessment
We use a range of assessment methods including essays and performance analyses, practical projects and a final dissertation. You'll sometimes complete practical projects in groups and you may be assessed for your contribution to group work.
Professional qualifications and work experience in an associated area will be considered.
A successful applicant will usually have the following qualities:
- a demonstrable passion for and experience in relevant theatre practice
- a commitment to collaborative as well as independent working
- an understanding of the ways theory and practice might mutually inform each other.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider a high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications and work experience in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘high 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.Applicants will need to submit two pieces of writing:
- an original piece of playing writing (at least 6 pages) and;
- 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.)
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here. For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students (PDIS), a one-year full-time programme that will prepare you for postgraduate study in the UK. For more information please see here.
Your future career
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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £7700
International students tuition fee per year**: £16400
Other essential costs***: £50 (general materials costs)
* and ** 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.