MA Performance Design and Practice

* Please note: the application deadline for Sept 2016 entry has been extended. * This course brings together artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers to set the agendas that will drive performance practice in the 21st century. Graduates go on to professional practice, working as influential directors, writers and producers in theatre, TV, film, opera or dance, or progress to research degree study.

This course is part of the Drama & Performance Programme.

Course event:

Report: Nitin Sawhney/Akram Kahn lecture

Scholarships available:

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships:
Home/EU | International
Jane Rapley Scholarships

European Placement Project, Jerez, May 2015

Olivier de Sagazan in collaboration with MA Performance Design and Practice

À la dérive, a performance in collaboration with Sénographie (HEAR) students in Strasbourg.

Performance installation created and performed by Stage 2 student Louis King
John Sturrock

Performance installation created and performed by Stage 2 student Louis King

A devised performance interaction created by Stage 2 student Kuan-Yao Liao
John Sturrock

A devised performance interaction created by Stage 2 student Kuan-Yao Liao

Reasons to apply

  • MA Performance Design and Practice enables you to pursue your studies whilst also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities. You are expected to commit 30 hours per week to your studies; your taught input will normally be scheduled over a maximum of two to three days per week during term time. 
  • You’ll take part in collaborative practical projects taking place in mainland Europe, throughout the UK and beyond.
  • Many of our graduates form their own creative companies and partnerships and go on to work in art, design and performance in a range of roles, including festivals, art centres and venues around the world. 
  • Our graduates work in theatre, television, film, opera or dance, go on to direct, write or produce or progress to research degree study. 
  • You’ll be encouraged to question how your work relates to the broader context of performance practices with a focus on the interconnected contexts of experimental theatre practice, live art and dramaturgy through design.
  • This course brings together fine artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers to set the agendas that will drive performance practice in the 21st century. 

Facts

Course Leader

Michael Spencer (Acting)

Course Location

King's Cross, London. Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 7023

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course LengthPgCert: full time over 15 weeks Masters: full time 2 years (60 weeks)
Home/EU Fee

Tuition fees for 2016/17: £4,375 per year, plus £750 mandatory placement fee in year one. Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

Tuition fees for 2016/17: £11,070 per year, plus £750 mandatory placement fee in year one.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Start DateSeptember 2016
Autumn Term DatesMonday 26 September 2016 – Friday 9 December 2016
Spring Term DatesMonday 9 January 2017 – Friday 17 March 2017
Summer Term DatesTuesday 18 April 2017 – Friday 23 June 2017
Application Route

Direct application

Content and structure

MA Performance Design and Practice responds to and engages with tradition and change in the arena of contemporary performance and experimental theatre practice. The postgraduate course contributes to the debates surrounding the core territories of performance making, design and time-based practices.

MA Performance Design and Practice also acknowledges the hybrid nature of contemporary performance work and promotes a critical exploration of conventional fixed boundaries between fine art performance and theatre.

Central to the MA Performance Design and Practice ethos is a recognition of international models of performance design and practice - models that have shaped the debates challenging many of the established definitions, functions and roles identified with performance making. From these debates key practitioners, organisations, events and texts have emerged. It remains a core aspect of the postgraduate course ethos to give you direct experience of these models and materials through an inspirational learning placement outside the UK.

Focusing on the sphere of performance culture where ideas and orthodoxies are in flux, the postgraduate programme brings together fine artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers to set the agendas that will drive performance practice in the 21st century.

About the course

  • MA Performance Design and Practice lasts 60 weeks structured as two consecutive periods of 30 weeks each, (ie, two academic years) in its 'extended full time mode.'
  • MA Performance Design and Practice is credit rated at 180 credits, and comprises 3 units. Unit 1, (40 credits) and Unit 2, (20 credits) run concurrently and last 15 weeks. Unit 3 (120 credits) follows after the completion of Units 1 and 2 and runs for 45 weeks.
  • Students successfully achieving Units 1 and 2 may exit at this point with the award of Postgraduate Certificate.
  • All three units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award of MA is derived from the mark for unit 3 only.

In year one you are expected to be able to commit an average of 40 hours per week. In year two your study is predominantly self-managed but you are expected to commit an average of 20 hours per week. Across the two years you therefore commit an average of 30 hours per week.

MA Performance Design and Practice encourages you to question how your work relates to the broader context of performance practices while developing approaches to design, composition/ authorship and performing located within the broad and interconnected contexts of experimental theatre practice, live art and dramaturgy through design.

  • Experimental theatre means innovative theatrical practices that exist outside of the mainstream of theatrical production and presentation. It particularly identifies work that challenges the formal orthodoxies of theatrical language and the nature of the theatrical event. Artists working in this area include: Station House Opera, The Wooster Group, Forced Entertainment and Robert Wilson.
  • Live art defines a body of performance practices, which have developed out of the traditions and concerns of fine art practice. By the nature of its origin in the visual arts, it crosses many disciplinary boundaries such as sculpture, installation, video, and performance art, and proposes alternative approaches to time-based work. Artists working in this area include: Franko B, Station House Opera, Laurie Anderson and Societas Raffaelo Sanzio.
  • Dramaturgy through design describes alternative approaches to performance design. Central to this definition is the recognition of alternative theatrical traditions where the principal language is in a visual register in contrast to that of mainstream theatrical performance, where the written text continues to dominate. Artists working in this re defined area place 'design' at the centre of the creative process and frequently claim primary authorship of the performance. Artists working in this area include: Robert Wilson, Robert Lepage, Societas Raffaelo Sanzio and Stefano Lazarides.

Unit 1 - Practice and Design in Context

This unit prepares and develops you practically and conceptually in preparation for the successful completion of the Independent Project Proposal, and subsequently the Independent Project itself.

Over the fifteen weeks of the unit you'll be asked to present three proposals for projects. Proposals can take many forms: models, scripts, storyboards, power point presentations, realised fragments of larger works, or works in progress. These proposals will form the basis of a tutorial dialogue that aims to channel your practice and scholarly interests into a coherent project proposal for Unit 3, presented at the end of the unit.

Unit 2 - Thinking as Practice (Research Methodologies 1)

This unit, common to all courses within our Postgraduate Art Programme, helps you engage with the postgraduate and research community at CSM.

Fundamental research skills are introduced to help you make informed decisions about appropriate methods to use in your chosen area of study and your professional future. The unit examines specific research skills and different kinds of research. Skills and knowledge areas covered include interviewing, literature search and review, archival skills, software for use in research and e-resources, feasibility studies, data analysis, referencing, citation and bibliographic conventions, and ethics. Seminars and workshops emphasise participation and the building of core research skills through practical exercises and small group projects.

Lectures ask how arts research and discourse is developed, shared and understood. The focus is on methods of learning, thinking, evaluation and interpretation as both practice based and theoretical forms of enquiry. The diversity of research activity at CSM provides a broad range of models and examples, with particular attention given to the place of practice in research projects.

Unit 3 - Independent Project

Your aims and learning are united in this unit, bringing the relationships between your ideas and research methods, the forms, theoretical and professional contexts of your practice to a level of resolution. This unit has two parts. You'll undertake the first in the second half of year one and the second (more independently) in year two. The unit's 45 weeks represent a major opportunity to bring your practice to a level of resolution. The first 15 weeks focus on your developing practice according to objectives defined in your study statement and the aims of your research paper. The unit takes an ambitious approach to practice, heightening your awareness of current ideas in the professional arena.

The first part consists of either a single extended or a series of shorter projects. Normally these projects take place in mainland Europe, but in the future they may also happen beyond Europe or within the UK. Organised by the MA Performance Design and Practice course team, they usually take the form of collaborative practical projects. Working alongside your peers, independently or under the direction of an artist or tutor, you'll realise collectively a particular brief in a particular context.

In the second part, (year two), you engage more independently to produce a body of work for presentation, combined with completing your written work.

You continue to meet for critical debates and tutorial support, and lead interim presentations about your work, in person and online, discussing progress, challenges and discoveries, and issues of form, audience and presentation.

You will normally be expected to produce practical work within one of two defined modalities:

  • As practice as research, in which case work should be clearly experimental and explorative of defined formal aspects of performance practice

OR

  • As professional performance, in which case work should be shown publicly, outside of the College, and engage with the specific demands of the context of its production

Throughout the second year there will be regular events designed to bring the cohort together at key points.

At the end of Unit 3 you are assessed through your practical work and the written paper, the finalised Independent Project Proposal, and a self-evaluative report documenting and analysing your progress through the unit. These different pieces of work should synthesise to reflect your conceptual, practical and professional abilities.

Staff

Course Leader (Acting):Michael Spencer

Lecturer: Pete Brooks

Associate Lecturer: Geraldine Pilgrim 
Associate Lecturer:Athina Vahla
Associate Lecturer:Julia Bardsley

Research Fellow/Guest Lecturer: Noel Witts
Guest Lecturer: Graeme Miller

Careers

MA Performance Design and Practice prepares you particularly for independent professional practice. Many of our graduates form their own creative companies and partnerships. MA Performance Design and Practice graduates have gone on to work in art, design and performance in a range of roles, producing and presenting work in many creative contexts including festivals, art centres and venues around the world.

MA Performance Design and Practice students leave with a specialist individual understanding of performance practice from a chosen perspective. The experience you gain on the postgraduate course enables you to progress to professional practice, working, for example, in theatre, television, film, opera or dance. Some students go on to direct, write or produce. Others progress to research degree study. MA Performance Design and Practice supports its graduates via a company that offers initial professional experience and publicity.

Recent alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject. Many graduates from MA Performance Design and Practice have gone on to achieve professional success. For example, 2010 graduate Catrin Osborne has been appointed Director in Residence at Circus Space, London, 2010 graduate Ruchita Madhok has an Internship at the V&A Museum, London, 2010 graduate Payal Wadhwa has gained a place on the Royal Court Theatre's writing programme. 2009 graduate successes include Susan Leen on a Studio internship with Lucy Orta and David Shearing, appointed to a teaching and research post at Leeds University. 2008 graduate Ingwill Fossheim has a Design Internship at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section.

Entry requirements

MA Performance Design and Practice entry requirements are: a relevant Honours degree; evidence of experiential learning equivalent to a degree; or 3 years relevant professional experience.

English language requirement

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the External English Tests page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

What we look for

MA Performance Design and Practice suits artists with a background or demonstrable interest in theatre design, visual performance or related practice including dance, film, video and time-based media. Although it particularly suits individuals interested in time-based or narrative art forms, it also attracts those involved in broader performance-related practices.

Appropriate related backgrounds include architecture, photography, installation, live art or other interdisciplinary art practices.

Student selection criteria

The application, indicative Project Proposal and supporting material will be assessed for:

  • The quality of the applicant's practice
  • Evidence that the applicant understands the nature of a practice based research or professional project at Masters level and has a grasp of the methodologies necessary for them to effectively deliver the project outcomes
  • The appropriateness of the applicant's practice and indicative research / professional interests to the programme to which they are applying
  • Evidence that the applicant has the confidence and ability to benefit from and contribute to the learning environment at postgraduate level

Applicants may be selected for interview following submission of the form, indicative Project Proposal and supporting work. The interview is used to evaluate the extent to which a candidate demonstrates:

  • An intelligent and mature approach to their practice
  • The capacity for independent research;
  • Appropriate critical abilities;
  • An awareness of the cultural and social context within which they practice
  • Appropriate communication skills and a preparedness to participate collaboratively in debate and practice

Portfolio and interview advice

References and interviews help determine whether the personal and professional aspirations of the applicant are compatible with the aims and outcomes of the course. Interviews also give the opportunity for the applicant to demonstrate an objective, critical and reflective relationship to their work. If possible, it is a good idea to bring examples of current work since application.

MA Performance Design and Practice welcomes discussion with potential applicants regarding the appropriateness of initial proposals, and encourages applicants to take every opportunity to make contact in advance of application.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • Referee details (this course requires two references, at least one of which should be an academic or professional reference).

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Initial project proposal

This proposal should demonstrate your understanding of contemporary performance design and practice and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course.

The initial project proposal:

  • Contributes to the structure of your ongoing practice
  • Helps you to position your interests academically and professionally
  • Begins to identify and prepare for the development of appropriate methodologies and technologies
  • Reflects your personal interests and direction at this stage; collaborative projects may develop during the programme;

As a guide, you will probably need to write between 800 and 1,000 words. You can use these headings as a guide:

Summary of proposed project. Briefly describe the project that you are interested in undertaking and developing, including the following: 

  • Overall aims, objectives and rationale
  • Personal relevance of work proposed - refer to your skills /experimental /experiential background and plan for continuing professional /educational development
  • What areas of performance design and practice will your work investigate, contribute to and/or challenge? 

Methods and resources. Briefly explain your proposed approach, demonstrating an awareness of planning and timescales, including the following:

  • Any problems you may encounter and how you hope to solve them
  • What resources will be involved, for example materials, processes, performers etc.

Sources and references. Indicate the importance and relevance of previous related studies by providing evidence of key theory/ approach/ source texts    

Any final points. Briefly indicate any particular questions or further points in relation to your project intentions.

Portfolio

Please note, you can submit text and as many website links as you need to, but the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files.

You are required to submit up to 20 images or relevant documentary material evidencing your current creative practice, accompanied by a short introductory contextual statement (200 – 400 words). This contextual statement should explain your previous work examples and maybe referred to in your initial project proposal.

Start your application now

Applications can be submitted throughout the academic year.

Deferred entry: Entry can only be deferred in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before submitting your application if you're considering applying for deferred entry.

Apply now

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

What happens next?

We read and consider all application forms and personal references. Please note that particular attention is given to the indicative Project Proposal and your references.

Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your Project Proposal, documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview. You’ll be asked to bring a portfolio of your latest work. For candidates applying for external funding, interviews will be scheduled prior to funding body deadlines.

Can't attend the interview?

If you're a home/EU or international applicant unable to attend for interview, the MA Performance Design and Practice Course Leader would hope to discuss your application by telephone.

In the case of applicants unable to attend for interview and unable to discuss their application by telephone, a decision regarding the offer of a place on the course will be made on the basis of a review of the application materials. We keep notes about decisions made following the initial application review and the interview process.

Selection is by two members of staff (normally the Course Leader and one other), and offers of places are made on the basis of our selection criteria. Applicants are informed of the decision via either the School Office or the International Office.

Open days

Open days are a great opportunity to meet staff and students and to find out at first hand about courses, teaching and student life. Visit the open day section for dates to book your session. Bookings can only be made online, not by phone or email.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

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