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Postgraduate

MA Performance Design and Practice

A person wearing a mushroom over their head
A person wearing a mushroom over their head - Credit: Image courtesy of UAL
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
October 2021
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.

Re-approval

Please note this course is undergoing re-approval. This is the process by which we ensure the course continues to provide a high quality academic experience. During re-approval there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about the course.

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

  • Professional course team: The course is delivered by an industry and research-active staff team. Most practice internationally across a wide range of media and approaches.
  • Collaborative projects: As part of the course you will have the opportunity to participate in a student-led collaborative project, culminating in public performances. Typically, these projects are part of an external residency.
  • Breadth of practice: Within the expanding discipline of performance practice, you will work alongside others with different skill sets and agendas.
  • Wide-ranging alumni success: Many of our graduates form their own creative companies and partnerships. They go on to work in art, design and performance in a range of roles in festivals, art centres and venues around the world.

European placement student film

Generations: A series of improvisation workshops and public showings

Student work

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

Facilities

Course overview

MA Performance Design and Practice explores performance making, design 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 three principal concerns:  

  • Exploring compositional strategies for time-based practice. 
  • Challenging authorship and the relationship between performer and audience. 
  • 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. The historical and critical framework of the course is predicated on European modernism and post modernism. Non-European traditions, particularly those of Japan and China, are also embedded in the curriculum.

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 establish the future of 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 collision and collaboration across disciplines.

Course units

MA Performance Design and Practice will address your learning as a whole. This encompasses the relationship between your ideas, research methods, chosen form and contexts of your practice. Principally, we will support your learning through the invention and development of a final project.  

Central to the course is the recognition of international models of practice. These have significantly informed debates surrounding definitions, functions and roles within performance making. These 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: Practice in Context  

This unit will help you focus your individual practice and to better articulate your concerns. Your development will be supported by regular seminars led by course tutors or visiting practitioners. You will focus on methodologies in the creation, contextualisation and evaluation of performance. You will be introduced to fundamental critical and research skills. You will examine specific theoretical approaches and research routes in relation to performance. Through site visits and critical-thinking seminars, you will develop a critical language. This will allow you to articulate contextual knowledge of the work of others in relation to your own practice.  

Unit 2: Collaborative Practice  

The second part of the course focuses on your conceptual and practical abilities. You will develop the collaborative skills and knowledge required to create performance in the professional realm. 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.

Overall, this unit gives you the opportunity to develop your skills in the initiation, resource management, marketing and presentation of performance.

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. 

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 modernist and post-modern 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.  

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 per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.  

The course has been designed in this way 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

During your course you will engage with learning and teaching that includes both online and face-to-face modes. Typically, this will include:

  • Peer group meetings
  • Inductions and workshops 
  • Lectures and guest speakers 
  • Student-centred learning 
  • Project based learning 
  • Personal and peer group tutorials 
  • Seminars and debates  
  • Critiques and presentations 
  • Recommended reading, viewing and visits  
  • Peer and self-critical evaluation  
  • Unit assessment feedback

Assessment methods

  • Research and preparatory work 
  • Documentation of performance-based practice 
  • Formative assessment
  • Presentations of performance-based practice 
  • Independent project draft proposals 
  • Independent project written submission 
  • Peer and self-critical evaluations 

Staff

Michael  Spencer

Michael Spencer

Course Leader, MA Performance Design and Practice

Pete  Brooks

Pete Brooks

Lecturer, MA Performance Design and Practice and BA Performance Design and Practice

Geraldine  Pilgrim

Geraldine Pilgrim

Associate Lecturer, MA Performance Design and Practice, Drama Centre London.

Athina  Vahla

Athina Vahla

Associate Lecturer, MA Performance Design and Practice, Drama Centre London.

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

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

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

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:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference

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 7.0 or above, with at least 6.0 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:

  • 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.

What we are looking for

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

Making your application

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Initial project proposal

Briefly describe the project you are interested in undertaking for your Independent Project (Unit 3). We do understand that this might develop over time so your proposal simply tells us what you are interested in now, rather than something we will expect you to complete in two years’ time.

  • A brief description of what you intend to do on this project - what do you think might be the final outcome/s? (150 words max)
  • Your aim - why do you want to do this project and how is it relevant to your future aims? (100 words max)
  • What skills that you already possess or would need to develop would you use in completing this project? (100 words max)
  • What resources - both physical (such as space, equipment etc.) and human (such as performers, designers etc.) - do you think you will need to complete the project? (100 words max)
  • Identify any problems you can foresee in completing this project, and if possible how you might go about solving them (50 words maximum).

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.ukeu@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.  Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

15 May 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

When you’ll hear from us

Once you’ve sent in your application, our course teams will review it closely. We’ll be in touch shortly after you apply with information about next steps. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

There are two ways international students can apply:

  • One of our official representatives in your country
  • A direct application.

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Initial project proposal

Briefly describe the project you are interested in undertaking for your Independent Project (Unit 3). We do understand that this might develop over time so your proposal simply tells us what you are interested in now, rather than something we will expect you to complete in two years’ time.

  • A brief description of what you intend to do on this project - what do you think might be the final outcome/s? (150 words max)
  • Your aim - why do you want to do this project and how is it relevant to your future aims? (100 words max)
  • What skills that you already possess or would need to develop would you use in completing this project? (100 words max)
  • What resources - both physical (such as space, equipment etc.) and human (such as performers, designers etc.) - do you think you will need to complete the project? (100 words max)
  • Identify any problems you can foresee in completing this project, and if possible how you might go about solving them (50 words maximum).

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal. We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.international@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

15 May 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

When you’ll hear from us

Once you’ve sent in your application, our course teams will review it closely. We’ll be in touch shortly after you apply with information about next steps. Find out more about what happens after you apply.


After you apply

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to submit a portfolio through your UAL Portal.

Portfolio Review

You are required to submit up to 20 pages or relevant documentary material (short videos etc.):

  • Evidencing your current creative practice, accompanied by a contextual statement (100 – 200 words)
  • This contextual statement should state with which aspects of the broad field of ‘Performance Design & Practice’ your current work engages such as Physical theatre, live art, installation art, participatory performance, socially-engaged practices etc.
  • You should also speculate as to where your work might be seen outside of education contexts.

The only files that can be uploaded as part of the portfolio are:

  • Images: bmp, gif, jpg, jpeg, png
  • Audio: mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, wma
  • Video: avi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, mkv, mov, wmv

Portfolio advice

Your portfolio should demonstrate creative development, whether for a college project or in your personal work. By creative development, we mean ideas that have originated through your own experience and research and progressed towards potential visual proposals. Ideas, visual research and experimentation are more important than finished design solutions and can be shown in 2D work, or through photos of 3D objects and maquettes.

It is important that the creative work you include reflects and demonstrates your thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project, theme or idea.  We are interested in you as an individual, your personal interests, your creativity and initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would also like to know about your favourite designers and artists, where you have seen their work at first hand and how you have acquired more information about the work that interests you.

For more portfolio advice please visit the Portfolio advice page.

Following the review of the portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an interview.

Interview

Interviews are held online or by telephone.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£5,870 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 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 resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020  or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£14,725 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.  For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

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.