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MA Performance: Design and Practice

Bearded, long haired man in pink boxer short and lipstick holding a large sign stating APPLAUSE
‘The Little Death’ by Mina Orak and Justin Atkins,
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2024
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

Bringing together artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers, this course sets the agendas that drive performance practice in the twenty-first century.

Applying for more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3. Find out more in the Apply Now section.

MA Performance: Design and Practice graduates go on to work 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 Performance programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Experimental practice: The course promotes adventure and risk-taking, and investigative and informed approaches to the creation of performance.
  • Transdisciplinary: The course encourages a transdisciplinary approach to performance-making across a range of platforms including live performance, moving image and digital technologies.
  • Advanced practice and research: The course is delivered by practitioners and research-active staff with international profiles producing work across a wide range of media.
  • Change-based approach: You will develop resilience, resourcefulness and independence as a practitioner.
  • Communities of practice: The course builds a richly diverse community of practice that is part of a postgraduate environment, at both College and University, offering connection across disciplines.

Open days

There are currently no open days scheduled for this course, please check back at a later date.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Course overview

MA Performance: Design and Practice explores performance making, and time-based work. It promotes hybrid practices, critically exploring the conventional boundaries between fine art, performance and theatre. The course encourages criticality and restlessness, alongside an exploration of new forms of practice. It asks: What is the context for contemporary performance? What is its purpose? Who is it for? 

The course will support you to become an independent practitioner in the fields of experimental theatre, live art and dramaturgy through design. You will create theatre which acknowledges the expanding and contested field of performance. You will interrogate conventions and traditional roles, such as that of the writer, designer, director and performer.  

MA Performance: Design and Practice has four principal concerns:  

  • Exploring compositional strategies for time-based practice. 
  • Challenging the relationship between media, performance, community and audience. 
  • Developing approaches to research practices and applied enquiry
  • Critical writing as an essential tool for understanding and articulating personal practice. 

Through an integrated and individual approach to practice and theory, the course aims to develop your creativity. You will be encouraged to analyse the processes which drive and define your practice and to question how your work relates to the broader context of performance practice.

MA Performance: Design and Practice focuses on the sector of performance culture where ideas and orthodoxies are in flux. The course brings fine artists, directors, writers, researchers and designers together to cooperate and purposefully engage with collective and individual visions for performance practice. In addition, the postgraduate community at Central Saint Martins is diverse and covers a range of subjects. Within this environment, there are opportunities for cooperation and collaboration across disciplines.

We are committed to developing ethical performance practices. To achieve this, we are working to embed UAL's Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice into the course. 

Course units

MA Performance: Design and Practice will address your learning through practice holistically. This encompasses the relationship between your ideas, research methods, chosen form and contexts of your practice. Your learning is supported and developed through “Collaboration and Context” and the “Performance Practice” units to prepare you for your final independent project.  

Central to the course is the recognition of different models of practice. These have significantly informed debates surrounding definitions, functions and roles within performance making. Such debates have spawned key practitioners, organisations, events, critical texts and seminal works. You will be expected to study and reference these in relation to your own practice. You will also be encouraged to engage with concepts of site, and space, both physical, digital and virtual reality.

Unit 1: Collaborative Practices

The first part of the course focuses on developing your conceptual and practical skills and your understanding of the context of performance making. There is a particular emphasis on cooperation, collaborative methods, composition and performance dramaturgy. During this unit, you will be asked to engage in a collaborative project – this could be a single extended project or a series of shorter projects. The length/scope of the project depends on the form and guidance on appropriate length/scope will be given as part of individual and group tutorials. 

Overall, this unit gives you the opportunity to develop your skills in the initiation, management, and presentation of performance though cooperative endeavour. The early part of the course is about bringing your individual position, concerns, and strengths into a collective and co-operative community. 

Forums, speakers, cultural visits and a seminar series will help you to engage with the art and performance landscape within which your work will be situated.   

Unit 2: Performance as Dialogue 

This unit focusses on how the work you make and the performance language you use can be understood and further developed.  To do this the unit looks into how the work you are making is likely be encountered interpreted and understood by an audience, viewer or participants. Throughout the unit you are asked to present proposals for performance-based projects; these may be presentations of performance fragments or short form experimental works. Your critical position, as a practitioner, and your developing concerns are expanded on through a deeper engagement with research or practice enquiry. The proposals that you conceive and develop through this unit will be further explored or realised in the final unit. 

Through a programme of studio critiques you will be supported in an interrogation of how you and your peers, as well as more established artists, communicate ideas and elicit emotional responses.

Unit 3: Independent Project 

This final part of the course will ask you to unite your ideas and research methods to a level of resolution. You will be required to generate a body of independent practice for presentation, alongside a written document. These outcomes combine to reflect your conceptual, practical and professional abilities and as such are graded holistically. In this final part of the course might you undertake an investigation of an aspect related to performance in the expanded field.  This investigation or Independent project should directly or otherwise help you to develop a body of practice and critical reflection.

Critical skills and methodologies 

This course will develop your critical and research skills, as well as your knowledge of relevant research methods. You will focus on practice-based research, with particular emphasis on the theories underpinning the work of key international practitioners. Developing your critical thinking alongside practice-based experimentation will help inform your work. For example, it may influence its structure, context and form of communication. The course also aims to facilitate greater insight into debates around contemporary art and performance.

Independence and professional preparation 

MA Performance: Design and Practice encourages independent study. This is the dominant focus of the second year, which is supported by seminars and discussions. You are provided with a supervisor or mentor appropriate to guiding the progress of your individual study programme.

These opportunities will consolidate thinking around contextual influences and drivers in your practice. In addition, the independent project combines practical work with research. This reflects the wide diversity of individual concerns and purposes on the course.  

Important note concerning academic progression through your course: If you are required to retake a unit you will need to cease further study on the course until you have passed the unit concerned. Once you have successfully passed this unit, you will be able to proceed onto the next unit. Retaking a unit might require you to take time out of study, which could affect other things such as student loans or the visa status for international students. 

Mode of study 

MA Performance: Design and Practice is offered in extended full-time mode which runs for 60 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit 30 hours to study and your developing practice per week, which includes teaching time and independent study.  

The course is designed in such a way as to enable you to pursue studies, while also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities.  

Credit and award requirements 

The course is credit-rated at 180 credits.  

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree).  

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only.  

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits.  

Learning and teaching methods

The learning and teaching methods devised for this course include:

  • Peer group meetings
  • Inductions and workshops 
  • Short collaborative workshops and group projects
  • Seminars and guest speakers 
  • Independent learning
  • Personal and peer group tutorials 
  • Critiques and presentations 
  • Recommended resources, viewing and visits  
  • Peer and self-critical evaluation  
  • Formative assessment and tutor feedback

European placement student film

Generations: A series of improvisation workshops and public showings

UAL Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

Student work

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  • OdS2.jpg
  • Sha-Lu.jpg
  • Nazari_Apr-17_.jpg
  • Mushrooms-2.jpg
  • Jerez-40.jpg



Associate Lecturer: Lea Anderson
Associate Lecturer: Gary Stevens 
Associate Lecturer: Harun Morrison 
Associate Lecturer: Sophie Jump

Specialist Technician Costume: Verity Cleary
Specialist Technician Lighting and Sound: Luke Cunningham
Specialist Technician Design and Projection: Michael Breakey
Specialist Technician Projection Mapping: Dimitrios Coumados

Fees and funding

Home fee

£6,980 per year

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£18,350 per year

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • An honours degree
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification.

MA Performance: Design and Practice suits designers and artists with a background or demonstrable interest in performance, theatre, visual performance or related practice including live art, dance, film, installation art, video/time-based media or other interdisciplinary art and design practices.

Although it particularly suits individuals interested in time-based or narrative art forms, it also attracts those involved in broader performance-related practices, such as fine art, photography, fashion and architecture.

AP(E)L – Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • A portfolio of creative practice or relevant experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • Recommendations from employers or professionals in relevant fields of practice. 

Or a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas as evidenced through the application, portfolio and personal statement: 

  • Prior experience as a creative practitioner evident through documentation in the portfolio 
  • Demonstration of independence in learning and research or enquiry. 
  • Awareness of cultural and social contexts of relevance to the candidate and their practice 
  • Appropriate communication skills and a preparedness to cooperate with others in the learning community 
  • Your motivation for developing your practice through study on this course.

Apply now

Application deadline


Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply now

Application deadline


Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply to UAL

Start your application

Apply with a UAL Representative

Based across the world, our local UAL representatives can support you with your application from your home country. Check to see if there is a representative available in your country currently.

Find your representative

How to apply

Follow this step-by-step guide to apply for this course

Step 1: Initial application

You will need to submit an initial application including your personal statement and CV.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 500 words and include:

  • your reasons for choosing the course
  • your current creative practice and how this course will help you achieve your future plans
  • any relevant education and experience, especially if you do not have any formal academic qualifications.

Visit our personal statement page for more advice.

CV advice

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If you have any web projects or other media that you would like to share, please include links in your CV. If English is not your first language, please also include your most recent English language test score.

Study proposal advice

Please provide a summary of your study proposal (500 words).

It should:

  • briefly describe what you plan to focus on for your major project
  • outline your aims and objectives for your projects as well as any predicted final outcomes
  • explain what skills, resources and materials are needed to develop this project such as spaces, equipment, performers, designers etc
  • outline any problems that you foresee arising and any potential resolutions.

Please note, your proposal serves to inform your application and we understand that your ideas will inevitably develop and change throughout your studies.

Step 2: Video task and Digital portfolio

We will review your initial application. If you have met the standard entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a digital portfolio.

You’ll need to submit this via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool.

Video task advice

We’d like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you. When recording your task, please face the camera and speak in English.

What to include in your video task:

  • choose 1 project from your portfolio that exemplifies your interest in performance, design and practice.
  • describe the project and your role creating it.
  • explain how this experience inspired you to apply to MA Performance: Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins.

Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept.

Digital portfolio advice

Your portfolio should consist of recent work that reflects your creative strengths.

It should:

  • be maximum 25 pages, including your video task
  • include work that demonstrates your current creative practice
  • include a contextual statement to explain your approach and which aspects of performance design and practice your current work engages with such as physical theatre, live art, installation art, socially engaged practices etc. (100-200 words)

For more support, see our Portfolio advice and PebblePad advice.

Step 3: Interview

You may be invited to an interview following our review of your application. All interviews are held online and last 15 to 20 minutes.

For top tips, see our Interview advice.

You also need to know

Communicating with you

Once you have submitted your initial application, we will email you with your login details for our Applicant portal.

Requests for supplementary documents like qualifications and English language tests will be made through the applicant portal. You can also use it to ask questions regarding your application. Visit our After you apply page for more information.

Applying to more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3 courses. You need to tailor your application, supporting documents and portfolio to each course, so applying for many different courses could risk the overall quality of your application. If you receive offers for multiple courses, you'll only be able to accept 1 offer. UAL doesn't accept repeat applications to the same course in the same academic year.

Visas and immigration history check

All non-UK nationals must complete an immigration history check. Your application may be considered by our course teams before this check takes place. This means that we may request your portfolio and/or video task before we identify any issues arising from your immigration history check. Sometimes your history may mean that we are not able to continue considering your application. Visit our Immigration and visas advice page for more information.

External student transfer policy

UAL accepts transfers from other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Read our Student transfer policy for more information.

Alternative offers

If your application is really strong, but we believe your strengths and skillset are better suited to a different course, we may make you an alternative offer. This means you will be offered a place on a different course or at a different UAL College.

Deferring your place

We do not accept any deferral requests for our postgraduate courses. This means that you must apply in the year that you plan to start your course and you will not be able to defer your place to start at a later date.

Application deadlines

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 equal consideration deadlines to ensure fairness for all our applicants. If you apply ahead of either of these deadlines, your application will be considered on an equal basis with all other applications in that round. If there are places available after the second deadline, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.


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.