Taught course

Text and Performance

Birkbeck, University of London · English, Theatre and Creative Writing

Visit the institution website for COVID‑19 updates

Entry requirements

You will need to have, or be expecting, a second-class honours degree (2:2) or above, usually in an arts subject.

As part of your application, you will need to provide a 1000-word critical analysis of a production you have seen recently. This can include discussion of text-based performance or dance-based work and can also include art installations. This piece should offer a critical analysis of the production: describing it carefully and engaging with it critically in relation to the meanings it might have produced in performance and the means through which these meanings were produced. You will need to attach this written task to your application documents. Once you have submitted the main part of your application, you should allow up to 48 hours for the additional document upload link to become available on your application portal.

Please note that this written task is an essential part of the application, and we are unable to process an application, or invite to interview, until this written task is provided.

In exceptional circumstances, appropriate career experience - for example in theatre - may be considered as an alternative qualification.

The course should appeal equally to candidates with an academic knowledge of drama, who wish to increase their practical and creative awareness, and to candidates already involved in their own practice who wish to explore it through academic study. Students must be prepared to engage in practical theatre-making, as well as class discussions.

Applications are reviewed on their individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

Months of entry


Course content

This highly distinctive MA in Text and Performance, run as a partnership between Birkbeck and RADA, brings together cutting-edge practice and scholarship in theatre and performance. Join us and you will work with Birkbeck's experts in theatre and performance studies and RADA's faculty and visiting theatre practitioners to experience both making and studying theatre.

This course does not offer actor training, but will deepen your critical and practical understanding of theatre and performance practices in context, and leads to a prestigious postgraduate qualification from the University of London.

Taking the dramatic text as a critical starting point, our course encompasses drama from the early modern period to the contemporary. In rehearsal, you will create new theatre and performance work responding to set texts and themes. You will also engage with performance techniques to develop your skills as a playwright, director and dramaturg.

In academic lectures and seminars, you will encounter theoretical, historical, critical and philosophical writings. You will theorise live performance and write about the ways in which new performance work is informed by both contemporary concerns and older theatrical traditions and legacies. In the final dissertation project, you will exercise your own creative voice as a director, dramaturg, playwright or scholar.

  • In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), English Language and Literature at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 91% of eligible staff submitted research, of which 75% was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • Student projects are tutored by a combination of faculty and visiting artists. Visiting artists also provide masterclasses, workshops and public talks programmed at RADA and Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre.
  • Recent visiting artists include: Dickie Beau, Bourgeois and Maurice, Stockard Channing, Karen Christopher, Tim Crouch, Anna Himali Howard, Myah Jeffers, Ed Kemp, Mel Kenyon, Namsi Khan, Rachel Mars, Simon Nelson, Gbolahan Obisesan, Anthony Simpson-Pike, Ellie Clare Taylor, Andrew Upton.
  • We offer informal, unassessed creative enhancement opportunities alongside your studies. RADA’s TheatreVision initiative brings together students from the MA Text and Performance and RADA's MA Theatre Lab to explore writing for theatre. Graduate Research in Theatre is a postgraduate reading group run by Birkbeck's Centre for Contemporary Theatre. You can also show work in progress as part of Scratch Night, programmed as part of the School of Arts summer festival Arts Week.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students, as well as a 10% discount on fees for Union members.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
+44 (0)20 3907 0700