MA Contemporary Performance Practice

University of Kent, School of Arts

Program Description

MA Contemporary Performance Practice

University of Kent, School of Arts

MA Contemporary Performance Practice

Our MA in Contemporary Performance Practice gives you the opportunity to work 'as' a theatre company, with training in company management and creative processes.

Contemporary performance involves creating theatre and performance from scratch using any means necessary: daily life, visual images, objects, materials, personal experiences, research, texts, history, the news and the media.

The term ‘contemporary performance’ encompasses practices and artists that extend the boundaries between theatre and other art forms (media, dance, photography, fine art, sculpture etc). At the centre of the specialism is an investigation of the relationship between performer, space and audience.

This programme is dedicated to producing innovative work and working with new technologies and ‘hybrid’ artforms alongside established techniques such as puppetry, in interactive performance environments.

To support your employability, the programme aims to equip you with excellent creative theatre skills, alongside transferable skills such as problem-solving. On completion, you are also well-placed to pursue your studies to a higher-level, or to start your own company.

A place to perform

The on-campus Gulbenkian Theatre seats 340 people and is regularly used for productions and post-performance discussions. Additional facilities include the Aphra Theatre courtyard venue, the Lumley Studio, two rehearsal and teaching studios, flexible seminar rooms, a fully equipped construction workshop and a sound studio.

Study resources on campus are excellent. Templeman Library offers over a million publications, films and images. It is particularly renowned for its Drama and Theatre Studies manuscripts, including collections of playbills, programmes, prints and other theatre ephemera, as well as theatrical biography and the history of the stage in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also has particular strengths as a research resource in English Renaissance drama and European theatre, especially Russian and French drama, as well as specialist collections on Jacques Copeau and Jerzy Grotowski. There are also over a thousand PCs on campus and a range of support services for help or advice.

Course structure

The programme's five compulsory modules (four of 30 credits and one of 60 credits) have been carefully designed to cater for diverse interests.

Contemporary Performance 1 is taught in the first term.

In the first half of term you receive skills workshops from lecturers and contemporary practitioners. These feed into your ongoing creative projects where you will work as part of a small company, but with continuing intensive weekly support, feedback and advice from staff.

The workshops are carefully planned to stimulate and inform your theatre making and develop your theatre-making skills within a pre-professional context. You will gain confidence in analysing a variety of performance genres and styles, including your own, and be exposed to the various contexts (historical, ethical, and terminological) that influence and inform performance practice.

Contemporary Performance 2 is taken in the second term.

During this term you create work independently as part of a small self selected theatre company, undertake a Research Portfolio (written work) and begin your Professional Study (an opportunity to undertake primary research and present in a student led symposium).

As in term 1, you will be expected to make a full-time commitment. You are timetabled to meet with your company most weekdays and some weekends, to make up a total of 40 hours of practical work per week. You see your tutor on a regular basis during tutorials or rehearsals. Your tutor monitors your practical project, research portfolio and professional study and there will be ongoing one-to-one feedback.

The Dissertation (worth 60 credits) is your final module, undertaken during summer term (with one-to-one tutorial support), for submission in early September.

During your studies you are encouraged to immerse yourself in contemporary performance, to feed into your own work and broaden your experience. The on-campus Gulbenkian Theatre and nearby Marlowe Studio offer frequent opportunities to see touring productions, and there is a rich theatre and performance arts scene in the surrounding area, such as Accidental Collective (who emerged from this course), programmes in Margate (the Theatre Royal and the Tom Thumb Theatre) and events linked to the Turner Gallery.

We are also conveniently located for the high-speed rail connection to London St Pancras via Canterbury West (journey time by train is just under an hour). In London you may catch Little Bulb Theatre at the Battersea Arts Centre, who are graduates of Contemporary Performance Practice at Kent. You can also connect from Canterbury West to the Eurostar terminals at Ashford or Ebbsfleet, enabling you to visit important clusters of contemporary performance in Ghent, Utrecht and Berlin.


Assessment is by written work, presentations, contributions to workshops and performance itself. The final dissertation requires you to research a project and present its findings in an appropriate form.

Postgraduate resources

The School of Arts’ award-winning Jarman Building offers professional standard drama facilities, along with social spaces and a dedicated centre for postgraduate students.

Additional facilities across the Canterbury campus include two theatres; the 113-seat Aphra Theatre (a courtyard-type gallery theatre space) and the Lumley Theatre, which is a flexible and adaptable white room space. Drama students also benefit from an additional rehearsal studio, a sound studio, a theatre design suite and an extensively equipped construction workshop.

The University’s Templeman Library is well resourced in our subject area and houses special collections of 19th-century manuscripts – playbills, programmes, prints and other theatre ephemera – theatrical biography and the history of the stage in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also has particular strengths as a research resource in English Renaissance drama, Russian and French theatre, and British theatre since 1900. We also house the Jacques Copeau Archive and the British Grotowski collection.

Conferences and seminars

We have strong links with organisations such as the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) and the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), and encourage postgraduates to present work within national and international conferences. Also, we run regular research seminars, workshops, and performance-related events led by members of staff, students, and invited experts and practitioners.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: New Theatre Quarterly; Contemporary Theatre Review; TDR: The Drama Review; Performance Research; Shakespeare Survey. Details of recently published books can be found within our staff research interests.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or better, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated August 16, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
1 year
Part time
Full time
Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom Canterbury, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 year
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