Theatre Practice

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Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
Theatre Practice
University of Essex
University of Essex
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
MA W81212

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A mid 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages or Art History.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Dr Anthony Fisher

Reader in Theatre and Philosophy

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 27 January 2020 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 TH981-7-FY Dissertation: MA Theatre (10,000 - 12,000 Words) Core 80 Core
02 LT905-7-FY Research for Creative Practice Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory
03 Autumn option from list Optional 20 Optional Optional
04 TH984-7-SP Theatre-Making 2 Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory
05 Spring Option from list Optional 20 Optional Optional
06 TH983-7-AU Theatre-Making 1 Compulsory 20 Compulsory Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

• To engage with a range of theatre and performance practices, explored in a critically informed context.
• To develop advanced knowledge of different processes of theatre-making, international performance traditions, different approaches to practice-as-research (PaR), and methods of writing/devising in professional contexts.
• To deliver a programme encompassing practices such as contemporary devising and production dramaturgy, writing for performance, site-specific and locational performance, autobiographical performance, global theatres and socially/politically engaged practice.
• To encourage the development of a reflective, rigorous and critically informed approach to theatre practice.
• To extend the roles of performer, director, writer, dramaturg, puppeteer, or creative thinker in new and unexpected ways within a supportive atmosphere of discovery and innovation
• To offer cutting edge teaching in web-based technologies and digital media, building on the tradition of theatre making as a communicative medium of exchange
• To enhance acquaintance with practice and theory of creative production across genres and disciplines, providing courses that open paths to fertile areas of interdisciplinary work
• To provide students with a structured introduction to advanced material and advanced perspectives in their fields of specialisation
• To improve student’s research and performance skills by offering the opportunity to work with practising theatre-makers and arts organisations.
• To deliver research-led teaching using the professional practice of academic staff.
• To enrich and enhance student’s creative work and furthering their careers as theatre/performance practitioners.
• To create the conditions for students to extend their practice and launch their own companies and take new work to audiences beyond Essex, having opportunities to take work made on the course to festivals and events outside the University.
• To encourage students to work independently as writers and scholars in specific fields of investigation and to formulate and present a reflective and critical view of their work
• To prepare qualified students for progression to doctoral research, with a view to entering the industry or academic professions

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1: Analysis of a range of creative practitioners in theatre, literature, film etc. in areas such as devising and ensemble, global theatre, dramaturgy and playwriting, applied theatre, political theatre, poetry writing and spoken word, art and curating.

A2: Context for the study of the writers and artists taught

A3: Critical understanding of key disciplinary concepts and debates in areas such as devising and ensemble, global theatre, dramaturgy and playwriting, applied theatre, political theatre, poetry writing and spoken word, art and curating.

A4: Appropriate research techniques and methodologies applied in student praxis (theory informed and theory generating practical experimentation)

A5: Advanced methods of critical and/or creative practice

A6: Appropriate research techniques and methodologies applied in student praxis (theory informed and theory generating practical experimentation)

Learning methods

A1-6 are met through self-led performance-making, practical workshops, lectures and seminars, which will include: reflection on work-in-progress; visiting practitioners; analysis of key texts (including performance texts/plays and scholarship); practical work and exercises; field trips, visits and viewings; in-module placements; desk-based research

Assessment methods

The MA is built on continuous assessment to assist students towards the development and enhancement of their skills, with a final piece of assessed work created at the end of the module teaching.

Formal assessment is by coursework (five pieces) and Dissertation.

Assignments are usually the equivalent of 5000 words, normally a piece of practical work, creative writing with a commentary or accompanying essay, professional portfolio documents, or an essay.

Dissertations may be delivered as a piece of practical work with a 5,000-6,000 word commentary, or a 12,000 word written essay (excluding references and footnotes)

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: Question received thinking and practice

B2: Develop own thinking and critical and creative writing

B3: Analyse and evaluate creative and critical work at advanced levels

B4: Reason critically and creatively in an environment of complex ideas

B5: Argue coherently and persuasively

B6: Adopt critical positions in reading relevant scholarship

Learning methods

B1-B6 are developed through seminars, workshops, presentations, performance-making, visits and viewings, in-module placements and desk-based research.

Assessment methods

B1-6 are assessed through essays, or creative practical outputs with a commentary or accompanying essay, and a dissertation.

Students will be required to independently create a range of practical outputs across the MA course, using their knowledge of historical and contemporary theatre making to extend and enrich their own practice. These practical pieces will be developed through the span of the module to form part of the assessment, culminating in the making and delivery of the Dissertation project.

Each module requires a critical commentary, written essay, or written creative response to the taught content. Written assessments might also include devising workshop plans, written plays and scripts, or creating professional documentation such as rehearsal plans or pitching presentations.

C: Practical skills

C1: Demonstrate an advanced deployment of practical and professional skills in their chosen module of study

C2: Utilise an advanced set of creative and critical writing skills across the course

C3: Work on simultaneous projects and outputs to allow cross-fertilisation and interdisciplinary conversations across the pieces of work

C4: Develop, structure and refine extended creative work, demonstrating clear methodological choices and adopting processes germane to desired outcomes.

C5: Evidence an ability to seek feedback and input into the making of new work, sharing outputs with others at an early stage, and planning evaluation methods

C6: Conduct independent research to create a repository of knowledge for each project, considering the work in theatrical contexts, as well as cultural, social and political frameworks

C7: Provide references according to accepted conventions and compile systematic bibliographies.

C8: Work in a collegiate and professional manner, supporting the work of others by providing thoughtful feedback and constructive criticism

C9: Organise and structure an extended written piece of work, advancing clear critical positions

Learning methods

Students develop C1-9 through independent research/performance-making, lecturer feedback, peer feedback, and their own critical reflection.

Assessment methods

C9 is assessed through the submission of an original dissertation or critical reflection on a practical component.

C1-8 are assessed through essays, creative assignments and commentaries. Practice is evaluated throughout the first two terms through continuous assessment of contribution to module activity combined with performance and practical assignments, along with critical commentaries reflecting on the process of making the work in the broader context of contemporary theatre practice. Peer assessment also forms a part of the evaluation process.

The course prepares the student for the Dissertation project. Those undertaking the MA can make a Practice as Research project where a new creative work will form the majority of the assessment, accompanied by a short critical commentary, or they could also formulate other plans and interventions that could contribute towards future professional practice.

D: Key skills

D1: The ability to communicate information, arguments and ideas cogently and effectively in a range of different contexts, both orally and in writing

D2: Typing and word-processing skills; use of electronic library catalogues, online archives and email

D3: Management of projects and timetables. Researching, understanding and organising information

D4: Ability to interact with others and to understand and grasp different perspectives

D5: Leading and collaborating with others on practical work; developing independent time management skills and initiative, working autonomously and making use of feedback from others to improve the work

Learning methods

Students develop D1-6 in class discussion, seminars, rehearsals, class discussions, class preparation and performance making, as well as writing and interaction outside the classroom.

Assessment methods

Key skills are assessed through class participation, workshops and rehearsals, and performance outcomes, as well as through written outputs such as essays, creative writing accompanied by a commentary and the dissertation.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: