Taught course

Text and Performance

Birkbeck, University of London · School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication

Entry requirements

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

In exceptional circumstances, appropriate career experience - for example in professional 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

January, October

Course content

MA Text and Performance is a highly distinctive degree delivered by one of the most exciting and impactful departments in the UK. Taught by world-leading academic researchers, artists and industry professionals, you will explore the dynamic relationship between text and performance through a combination of:

  • writing for and about theatre and performance
  • theatre practice
  • performance-making
  • academic study.

This postgraduate degree is ideally suited to those interested in learning about or working in theatre and the performing arts, including live, digital and screen-based arts, and an array of other career paths.

Our MA Text and Performance is offered in association with guest artists (recently including Dickie Beau, Karen Christopher, Brian Logan, Diane Page and Karen Tomlin) and Camden People’s Theatre, which is a leader nationally in producing cutting-edge performance and supporting the next generation of theatre-makers. An exciting feature of the course is the opportunity to create a new piece of theatre under the direction of Camden People's Theatre, and to present practice-based dissertation projects (including performances and readings) in the theatre as part of a graduation festival.

In the studio and workshop, we use voice, movement, playwriting, directing and dramaturgy techniques to create new theatre and performance. In lectures and seminars, we examine historical, philosophical and theoretical materials and ideas to understand contemporary theatre and performance and the ways in which they are shaped by current concerns, traditions and legacies. You will also have opportunities to engage with digital, visual and screen art practices, and some students choose to make digital artworks, including films, for their dissertations.

This unique course is supported by the creative and critical interests of Birkbeck staff and the theatre-making expertise of associate artists that include Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre Fellows. Learning from theatre professionals, you will develop skills that enable you to generate innovative theatre and performance and to work in the creative industries. You will also develop research skills, supported by the Graduate Research in Theatre (GRiT) seminar series, which will support you in pursuing further study, including PhD research. This course's industry focus offers you access to invaluable resources, including professional development workshops and career opportunities.

Careers and employability

This course uniquely combines the practical and academic exploration of theatre and performance, which means you will graduate equipped with a broad range of highly employable skills, ideal for entering the creative industries or undertaking further academic study. Graduates can also find ongoing support via the Birkbeck Theatre Alumni network, which is dedicated to creating networking opportunities for graduates of Birkbeck’s theatre courses and celebrating their achievements.

Our graduates can be found following a wide range of exciting career paths, including in:

  • academia and education
  • theatre and performance practice
  • film, media and the creative arts
  • arts leadership, administration and outreach
  • journalism
  • advertising and marketing
  • public relations
  • policy and strategy for political organisations, charities or NGOs
  • publishing.

Some of our recent graduates include:

  • Charlie Barker (actor and teacher)
  • Dzifa Benson (writer and critic)
  • Dr Jaswinder Blackwell-Pal (playwright and academic)
  • Neka De Costa (academic)
  • Isobel Dougill (dramaturg)
  • Emma-Louise Howell (writer and director)
  • Katherina Kastening (director)
  • Namsi Khan (screenwriter)
  • Chris Lawson (artistic director)
  • Emma Muir-Smith (writer, director, performer)
  • Dominic O’Hanlon (publisher)
  • Christina Schelhas (director and performance artist)
  • Miriam Sherwood (producer and theatre-maker)
  • Harriet Taylor (producer and theatre-maker)
  • Gabriele Uboldi (playwright and director)
  • Ali Yalgin (academic)

We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

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