Theoretical Thematics for Theatre and Performance Studies

Theoretical Thematics for Theatre and Performance Studies will introduce you to inter/cross/transdisciplinary theoretical themes or concepts key to the fast-changing fields of Theatre and Performance Studies. In each of the three units in the module, you will explore a specific thematic through major theoretical texts from a range of disciplines. Each unit is taught by a different staff member and topics on offer will vary from one year to the next. The module’s three units will be chosen from the following topics:

Research Methods

This module is aimed to equip you with the key concepts and skills needed to plan and undertake theatre and performance research. This module will be divided into units with each unit being taught by different staff members. We will begin by outlining key issues from our discipline, the difference between quantative and qualitative research methods, and the ways that research questions affect research design. We will then move on to consider other approaches to research, such as:

Practice-as-Research will introduce the notion of doing as both an interrogative and presentational research tool, including a survey of current thinking in the field and an examination of some case-studies (seminar and practice-based session). It could also include approaches to creative practice and auto-ethnographic writing.

Archival Research will consider both the theory and practice of archival research, considering theatre historiography: exploring how we investigate, interpret and document the theatrical past through an exploration of written, pictorial and other forms of evidence with reference to contextual knowledge and current theories of history; the ideological apparatus of the archive itself; and strategies for cultural readings of various documents, including contemporary new media formats.

Research as Action will investigate various aspects of research that interacts with subjects, whether through collaborative practices or through social intervention; and reflect on questions around subjectivity, readership, impact, and authority. This unit is aimed to enable students to position themselves within their work and their work within broader socio-political landscapes; and how understanding specific methodological approaches like interviews, oral histories, ethnography, participant observation, and specific cultural paradigms may affect research outcomes.


You will undertake supervised and theoretically-informed independent study on a selected area of Theatre and Performance Studies, leading to either a written dissertation or to a practice-based presentation supported by written analysis.

Written: This route enables you to complete an individually written dissertation of 15,000 words on a research topic of your choice, based on your investigation of primary and secondary sources. You will be allocated a single supervisor and the topic must be one that can be appropriately supervised by a member of staff in the Department. The written dissertation must be based on clear historiographical, dramaturgical, and/or theoretical/conceptual principles. It should make apparent the context of the research, the research methodology involved and the research questions it is posing.

Practical: This route enables you to use forms of practice as the primary research methodology. The practical work can take several forms, including (but not limited to) live performance, performance installations, site-specific performance, video work, multi-media work, the writing of plays, curatorial work (including recording what has happened in the past or organizing an exhibition), historical performance reconstruction, space and/or costume design, organizing and running participatory workshops, and video documentaries. Assessment is based on a presentation and 6,000 word written analysis.