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Course overview

This highly distinctive MA course, run as a partnership between RADA and Birkbeck, brings together practice and scholarship in theatre and performance. Join us and you will work with both RADA’s faculty and visiting theatre practitioners and Birkbeck’s experts in theatre and performance studies to experience both making and studying theatre.

This course does not offer actor training, but will deepen your critical and practical understanding of theatre and performance practices in context and leads to a prestigious postgraduate qualification from the University of London. Application is via Birkbeck

Curriculum

Taking the dramatic text as a critical starting point, our course encompasses drama from the early modern period to the contemporary.

In the rehearsal room, you will create new theatre and performance work responding to set texts and themes. You will also engage with performance techniques to develop your skills as a playwright, director and dramaturg.

In academic lectures and seminars, you will encounter theoretical, historical, critical, and philosophical writings. You will theorise live performance and write about the ways in which new performance work is informed by both contemporary concerns and older theatrical traditions and legacies.

In the final Dissertation project, you will exercise your own creative voice as a director, dramaturg, playwright or scholar.

The curriculum includes a variety of teaching methods including:

  • study of texts in their cultural context
  • practical classes in performance skills and text analysis
  • scene study workshops
  • writing and directing classes
  • specialist lectures and seminars
  • talks from visiting artists and academics

RADA and Birkbeck are just five minutes’ walk apart so you will study in a campus-style environment. Our close proximity also allows us to draw on the rich range of resources available across both institutions, including:

  • studio space
  • technical support for group and individual presentations
  • RADA's excellent library of playtexts and theatre and performance literature
  • Birkbeck's world-class research resources in the arts and humanities.

The course incorporates visits to London theatre and both institutions are well placed for you to access the extraordinary array of theatre available in London. The renowned British Library is also located nearby.

We also offer informal, unassessed creative enhancement opportunities:

  • RADA’s TheatreVision initiative brings together students from the MA Text and Performance and the MA Theatre Lab to explore writing for theatre.
  • Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Theatre runs a postgraduate reading group and offers opportunities to show work in progress as part of the School of Arts summer festival Arts Week.

Course structure

MA Text and Performance combines both theory- and practice-based learning, where the rehearsal room meets the seminar room. We offer both full-time and part-time study options.

Full-time students

  • Autumn term: Theorising the Contemporary (3 hours a week); Approaches to Theatre and Performance Practice (6 hours a week); Scene Study (6 hours a week).
  • Spring term: Approaches to Theatre and Performance Practice (6 hours a week); Scene Study (6 hours a week).
  • Summer term: Research Skills seminars and dissertation preparation for practice- and theory-based work (1.5 hours a week plus 3 supervisions).


Part-time students

Year 1 (October to April):

  • Autumn term: Theorising the Contemporary (3 hours a week); Approaches to Theatre and Performance Practice (6 hours a week).
  • Spring term: Approaches to Theatre and Performance Practice (6 hours a week).

Year 2 (October to July):

  • Autumn term: Scene Study (6 hours a week).
  • Spring term: Scene Study (6 hours a week).
  • Summer term: Research Skills seminars and dissertation preparation for practice- and theory-based work (1.5 hours a week plus 3 supervisions).

Fees, entry requirements and applications

Fees are paid direct to Birkbeck. Please visit the Birkbeck website for further information on fees and funding.

Entry requirements

You will need to have or be expecting a good Honours degree, normally in the Arts. In exceptional circumstances appropriate career experience, for example in theatre, may be considered as an alternative qualification.The course should appeal equally to candidates with an academic knowledge of drama who wish to increase their practical and creative awareness and to candidates already involved in their own practice who wish to explore it through academic study. Students must be prepared to engage in practical theatre-making as well as class discussions.There are no upper age restrictions and the intake is normally enriched by a wide spread of nationalities, backgrounds and levels of experience. Students for whom English is not their native language must demonstrate IELTS levels of 8 or above for spoken English and 7.5 or above for written English.

How to apply

Applications are made direct to Birkbeck, University of London. Please visit the Birkbeck website to apply.

Please note: If you wish to apply for both MA Theatre Lab and the MA in Text and Performance (in partnership with Birkbeck), you must apply for each course individually.

Careers and employability

MA Text and Performance’s combination of practical and academic exploration of theatre and performance means you graduate from us equipped with a broad range of highly employable skills ideal for entering the creative industries or undertaking further academic study. Graduates work in a wide range of careers including:

  • teaching and education
  • theatre practice
  • advertising, marketing and public relations
  • theatre, media, film and the creative arts
  • journalism
  • arts administration and outreach
  • policy and strategy for political organisations, charities or NGOs
  • publishing.


MA Text and Performance does not take the place of training in a specific conservatoire discipline and is therefore described as non-vocational.