Duration: 1 year full time
Institution code: R72
UK fees: £9,600
International/EU fees: £21,500
Theatre Directing (MA)
Please note: Unfortunately the MA Theatre Directing course is now at full capacity for entry in 2021. As such, we won’t be able to consider any further applications for entry this year.
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.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the preparatory 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 interpretive decisions and their likely impact on performance.
In this module you will develop an understanding of how to take a prepared text into the rehearsal room, articulate a concept for a text and translate it into legible performance. You will work with actors, begin to develop a personal style and focus on how to work with a creative team and their related disciplines. You will learn how to plan a rehearsal schedule, manage the rehearsal process from the first day to final performance, and critically reflect on this process of training in relation to current directing practise.
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.
The dissertation offers you the opportunity to develop some of the concepts you have explored practically in written form. With a flexible 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 dissertation can take the form of a Director’s Log which will include documentation of your directing practice.
Teaching & assessment
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.
Relevant professional qualifications and relevant 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 applicants should be aware that completing a dissertation is an important part of this degree.
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications 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 be required to submit one academic essay that they have submitted for assessment on a previous course or an analysis of any theatre production that they have recently seen (2000 words).
Suitable applicants are interviewed.
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
- 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.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
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.
Fees & funding
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,600
EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £21,500
Other essential costs***: TBC
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.
All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
** For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award a fee reduction scholarship which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.
*** 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.