Students Staff

Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Drama and Theatre Studies

Venetian masks

PhD study

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

We offer a uniquely interdisciplinary environment for undertaking a PhD in theatre studies either as a critical thesis or based on creative practice. You will benefit from expert supervision from leading theatre practitioners and theorists and be part of a department with internationally recognised research specialisms in English, comparative and world literature, as well as creative writing and film studies.

We run weekly research seminars with speakers invited from the UK and abroad, as well as hosting major conferences and symposia, and our research students regularly organise and present at our annual PhD conference.

Our campus is home to the Lakeside Theatre, which runs a diverse and challenging programme of plays, live art and comedy and has a fully equipped 200 seat auditorium and an experimental studio laboratory. You can develop your creative practice by becoming involved in the Lakeside Theatre Writers group and our Research Laboratory.

A variety of scholarships and funding for postgraduate study are available.

PhD routes

A research degree in theatre studies allows you to produce original research on a subject of your choice and can include a creative practice component. We offer a range of routes for PhD in theatre studies:

  • PhD Theatre Studies

    The minimum duration for our PhD Theatre studies is three years of full-time study or six years part time. Assessment is on the basis of a thesis (80,000 words maximum).

    We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to conduct independent research and are required to submit a detailed research proposal. You attend regular supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.

    Read the full course description on our course finder:

  • PhD Theatre Studies (Playwriting)

    The minimum duration for our PhD Theatre Studies (Playwriting) is three years of full-time study and six years part time.

    Assessment is on the basis of an original full-length play or equivalent short plays (70-100 pages or 70-150 minutes playing time, approximately 20,000-30,000 words) plus critical commentary (40,000 words).

    Your critical commentary typically addresses the originality and artistic relevance of your playwriting, as well as areas such as performance and staging, genre mode and tradition, stylistic and theoretical contexts, research, and the process of composition, development and revision.

    We normally require a good BA honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You need to demonstrate a capacity to produce an original playwriting project and conduct independent research, and are required to submit a detailed project proposal and playwriting sample. You attend regular supervisory board meetings throughout your doctoral study where the progress of your work is assessed.

    Read the full course description on our course finder:

  • Other research degrees

    Our MPhil Theatre Studies and MPhil Theatre Studies (Playwriting) can be taken full time over two years or part time over a four-year period and is assessed on the basis of a thesis (40,000-60,000 words maximum) or on a combination of original playwriting project with critical commentary (40,000-60,000 words maximum).

    We normally require a good BA in relevant discipline and you must demonstrate your capacity to conduct independent research and submit a detailed research proposal. For the MPhil Theatre Studies (Playwriting), you must demonstrate your capacity to produce a playwriting project and submit a playwriting sample in addition to the research proposal.

    MPhil candidates can be upgraded to become a PhD candidate if your initial research is of sufficient quality and your supervisory board consider the upgrade appropriate.

We accept PhD students in all areas in which our academic staff are researching and working:

  • Supervision areas

    Our Centre for Theatre Studies staff and research interests include:

    Joint supervision

    Our department offers a broad range of research expertise and we welcome applications for doctoral study involving joint supervision with literature, film studies, and creative writing.

    Current PhD theses

    Our list of current doctoral researchers shows the wide range of critical and creative practice projects being carried out in our department.

AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Essex is a member of CHASE: Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England, which has over 375 fully-funded PhD studentships to award over the next five years funded by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) and the seven CHASE partner institutions. Applicants for doctoral study in theatre studies at Essex can apply to CHASE for AHRC studentships through our department and we will work closely with you on your application.

Postgraduate modules

New PhD students often take our postgraduate Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis module as an introduction to both practical and theoretical aspects of research study in Literature, Film, Theatre Studies, and Creative Writing. You are also welcome to sit in on other MA modules relevant to your research with the approval of the seminar teacher.

Professional teaching experience

We employ many of our research students as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). These paid positions are valuable opportunities for professional development and give you experience of teaching and marking essays at undergraduate level, a significant advantage when applying for academic positions.

Professional skills development

Our University’s Proficio scheme helps to develop your skills and knowledge and to increase your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by providing specialist training across a range of areas including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

Languages for All

Reading plays in their original language can be a real advantage for postgraduate research. Our University’s Languages for All scheme allows you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.

Fees and scholarships

Fees and scholarships

Find about our fees and scholarships. If you would like any further information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

Our academic staff

Our academic staff

Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across literature, film, creative writing and drama. Find out more by reading their staff profiles.

Doctoral training

TBC

Proficio is our innovative doctoral training scheme. Our University gives you funding to spend on a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.