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Contemporary Performance Practices

An interdisciplinary, practice-focused MA in performance supported by rich curriculum of critical and cultural perspectives.

This interdisciplinary taught postgraduate programme combines contemporary performance practice with imaginative and rigorous critical engagement for students who wish to establish or refine their artistic and professional practice in Drama, Theatre and Performance. The programme also helps you develop skills and abilities to work in FE/HE contexts or continue to advanced study (PhD).

The programme is supported by staff with internationally recognised research profiles in Arts and Health, Dramaturgy, Applied Drama, Irish Theatre, and Theatre for Young Audiences.

The programme responds to current developments in the creative industries across Northern Ireland, Britain, and the Irish Republic, to equip graduates for the workplace or for continuation to PhD. It benefits from the staff network of national and international connections in professional theatre, the community sector, and academia.

The MA programme is made up of taught modules with a value of 120 credit points and an MA research project module. The programme had been designed with one exit point, a Postgraduate Diploma. PGDip students must complete successfully the taught modules.

The programme's structure is anchored in the compulsory Approaches to Contemporary Performance Practice modules. These engage you in a range of aesthetic, critical and theoretical paradigms and practical processes for the creation of performance, underpinned by the integration of theory and practice as modes of inquiry. Alongside these, a second strand of modules develop your ability to engage with contemporary industrial processes and economic and social contexts.

Choice is a key motivating factor in allowing you to develop an individual programme of study to support your strengths and aspirations. Within modules, you negotiate aspects of your inquiry and, as appropriate, the modes and focus of assessment tasks and project briefs. The final Independent Project for those progressing to Masters level allows you to develop a practice-based or book-based project that is tailored to your interests and matched to your career ambitions.

You are empowered to take responsibility for your learning as a reflective practitioner, building a foundation to excel in the creative industries sector. We are responsive to the needs of the individual student and the sector, by providing high quality learning experiences that exploit the significant networks of practice of which staff are members to connect with partner organisations to enhance student employability.

Work placement / study abroad
This programme is targeted at students seeking to work in the creative industries on graduating, and those intending to progress to FE/HE teaching, or advance study. It prepares students for this in a number of ways.

Within modules, projects and tasks are focused on activities that use, test, refine and develop skills acquired in-class in real world situations. Some modules are tailored to develop specific skills and knowledge of working practices, to make contact with potential employers and engage with venues and organisations. There are opportunities for formal credit-bearing and informal voluntary placements, supported by staff members' professional networks and contacts.

It is anticipated that some students may arrive on this programme already engaged a professional career in the arts industries or in education, and that they may continue with this through the period of the course. Such work experience may contribute to assessed coursework, while the course would aim to enhance the student's performance-in-role.

Teaching and learning assessment
Teaching and learning on the programme takes place through a combination of lectures, seminars, presentations and supervisions, as well as demanding independent study. Participative approaches are central to the programme in terms of integrating the understanding and experience of the students into the teaching process.

Taught classes establish the foundations of student learning. Modes of teaching include lectures, seminars, practical workshops, rehearsals and production meetings.

Broadly, lectures set out the conceptual and intellectual frameworks and provide students with information relating to the relationships between theory and practice. Students are expected to use lectures as the starting point for private and more focused inquiry reflecting on their subject interests. In addition, tutors will provide guidance for further study.

Seminars are a means for students to develop their engagement in depth, including through structured exercises, small group activities, student oral presentations and guided discussion.

Practical workshops involve structured exploration that engage students in creative inquiry or in the development of specific skills and/or techniques, testing concepts and practices and developing experiential knowledge, practical skills and techniques.

Independent Learning, individually and within groups, is a defining characteristic of a postgraduate programme like this. It may be stimulated and directed by tutors on the basis of tasks set to be prepared by students in advance of tutor-led session; or guided by recommendations for future work provided within taught sessions. This is particularly so for the MA Independent Project when students independently complete a substantial research-led project with academic guidance from their supervisor.

Tutorials are scheduled within modules to provide opportunities for face-to-face supervision; and where appropriate, feed-forward and feedback on assessed tasks. Students may also make appointments to discuss individual issues in their learning, or in small groups where there is a shared issue that can be addressed together.

Online resources are used to support students' learning, made available primarily through the University's VLE, Blackboard Learn.

Assessment strategies include essays, presentations, performances, literature reviews, dissertations, workshop demonstrations, creative writing, vivas, reflective essays and vivas, portfolios, and websites. Assessment strategies are aligned with the learning activities for the module and programme overall. Final assessments are supported by a range of opportunities for formative feedback.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements
Applicants must:
(a) have gained
(i) a second class honours degree or better from a university of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, or from a recognised national awarding body, or from an institution of another country which has been recognised as being of an equivalent standard; or

(ii) an equivalent standard (normally 50%) in a Graduate Diploma, Graduate Certificate, Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma or an approved alternative qualification;


(b) provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent);

or, as an alternative to (a) (i) or (a) (ii) and/or (b):

(c) In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability
Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that

(a) they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level.

(b) no exemption shall be permitted from the Independent Project.


Students on the full-time route will take the programme over two semesters for the PGDip, with the MA project following over a further semester.

For each module, a set number of learning hours is specified (10 learning hours per credit). While students will normally be in class for 3 hours per module per week, considerable independent effort is required, particularly in the creation of performance work. All taught sessions are compulsory and governed by the University's regulations on attendance.

Classes tend to be timetabled around particular days, usually a Wednesday on the Magee campus.

Careers or further progression

Career options
You will be encouraged to think about your own future within the creative industries along with the help of our academic lecturers and professional networks.

Students graduating from the Masters programme are well-prepared to enter a variety of employment areas within the creative and cultural industries. The lecturers create links between the programme and the creative industries through, for example, student placement experience, visiting workshops and careers talks by visiting professionals.

Graduates are also equipped with the generic skills that prepare them for a variety of non-specialist graduate destinations. The work on Personal Development Planning and Entrepreneurship in particular creates learning opportunities that directly support students in maximising their career potential.

The Subject Team is committed to creating links between the programme and the creative industries through, for example, student placement experience, visiting workshops and careers talks by visiting professionals. There is close collaboration with the University's Career Development Service to publicise employment opportunities and opportunities for further study.

Further enquiries

For further information, contact the Course Director, Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick.
E: 
T: +44 (0)28 7167 5105


Academic profile
Staff on the programme combine expertise in teaching with research excellence and a track record of making performance.

In the Research Excellence Framework in 2014, Ulster's performing arts were the leading subjects in Northern Ireland. Our staff publish their research in international journals, edited collections and monographs. We serve on the boards of academic journals, on the AHRC's Peer Review College, and take leading roles in national and international research associations. Our creative practice work has seen us collaborate with a wide-range of local, national and international partners in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and beyond, in a range of professional artistic and consultative roles.

For more information on Drama at Ulster University, see

Application date

Application is directly to the University via an online system.

The deadline for submission of applications is 15th May. We will consider late applications but these may experience delays in processing.

Enrolment and start dates

Start dates: September 2018

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