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Creative Practices and Direction MA

Course Description

Why Surrey?

Our unique Creative Practices and Direction programme will develop your creative-practice and leadership skills through engagement with practice-oriented theory and new collaborations.

As a student of this programme, you will develop strong relationships with active professionals in your discipline and learn within a leading theatrical conservatoire that benefits from the intellectual stimulus of a major research-led university.

Programme overview

This unique programme is aimed at creative producers and directors and those who train and work with actors and performers to develop and direct their skills.

The programme offers three specialist pathways, including choreography and movement direction, directing, musical theatre creation, and you will also have the opportunity to develop a specialist practice within your chosen pathway.

The programme is primarily designed for graduates in drama, theatre and dance from universities and conservatoires, but will also appeal to those who have established themselves professionally and wish to refresh their skills and perspectives and take on leadership, coaching, creative or directing roles.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time over two academic years. It consists of eight taught modules and an Advanced Creative Practice module.

Students enter the MA Creative Practices and Direction to a specified pathway, personally supervised by their pathway leader, an expert in the subject area.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.


Movement Direction and Choreography pathway

Students on this pathway follow and practically investigate a number of techniques and ideas dealing with onstage physicality.

The focus is also on the development of movement language, through the investigation of the ideas and practices of seminal dance-based ideas (Laban, Bausch, Cunningham, Fosse, Graham, Horton, etc.) and methods for working with music and sound.

Directing pathway

This programme is a practice-led pathway incorporating methodologies and techniques that focus on approaches to theatre directing, dramaturgy, collaboration with other practitioners.

Musical Theatre Creation pathway

This pathway is designed for those who wish to study writing, and creative roles specifically in Musical Theatre. These might be as a director, choreographer, composer, librettist, musical director or creative producer.

Educational aims of the programme

  • Provide advanced study and practice in creative leadership and direction in theatre-making and/or the training of theatre artists, specific to the pathway chosen
  • Equip students for employment in the theatre industry and/or related performing arts industries as specialist practitioners in one of the following areas:
  1. Directing
  2. Movement Direction and Choreography
  3. Musical Theatre Creation
  • Provide students with integrated practical and theoretical knowledge of specialist creative and/or pedagogic practices relevant to their chosen pathway; contemporary technical and scholarly contexts; and industry-specific contexts
  • Enable students to develop intellectual and practical skills to inform and articulate self-reflection and critical awareness, through specialist study and practice, and work with other students in cognate fields
  • Develop critical and independent practitioners imbued with a sense of learning as a lifetime pursuit via a commitment to professional and personal development

Facilities, equipment and academic support

The School of Arts facilities include the 200-seat theatre in the Ivy Arts Centre, dark and light studios, digital creation stations and editing facilities, scenic, props and costume workshops, and interconnected sound recording and music facilities.

Teaching and workshop activity takes place largely in GSA’s dedicated rehearsal rooms, performance studios and design workshops. Lectures, presentations and seminars will occur in rooms across campus.

The University Library contains the majority of set texts, key journals, scripts, play texts and video materials necessary for the programme. Students have access to extensive facilities through the virtual learning environment, SurreyLearn, and IT Services.

Additional support is available in the Learning Resource Centre in the University Library.

Equipment is provided on a project-by-project basis according to the nature of the work in hand and the parameters of the project, which are negotiated with the tutor.

Facilities and equipment for production work will be booked by students according to specific project briefings and advertised resource parameters.

Academic support is provided by way of ongoing contact with the programme director and module leaders, group briefings and feedback, individual tutorials, and mentoring.

The programme makes use of a peer feedback system designed to provide a useful and supportive account of areas of strength and effectiveness, along with areas for improvement.

You are encouraged to identify personal learning and creative objectives that can be pursued in alignment with group project work.


The School of Arts includes study in dance, digital arts, film, music, sound and theatre, with research activity in all areas, often with significant interdisciplinary connections.

With an integrated approach that comprises documentation, analysis and performance, Surrey’s agenda for research aims to engage critically with the past and present, while rigorously articulating new frameworks for understanding and practising the arts and culture in the twenty-first century.

Research infrastructure includes the Digital World Research Centre and the Laban Archive in the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD).

The School of Arts hosts and supports established research centres, research groupings and networks as well as individual research projects. Our research extends to partnerships with the artistic community, for instance, in support of public debates or in the dissemination of documentation for arts practice through the digital and print media.

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Visit the Creative Practices and Direction MA page on the University of Surrey website for more details!

Student Profiles

TECHNE (AHRC) Studentships - No. of awards TBC

As a member of the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership, University of Surrey students are eligible to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships (stipend and fee waiver). TECHNE is a consortium of seven universities in London and the South East offering a rich and diverse training programme for doctoral students with a focus on interdisciplinarity and developing career potential both in and beyond higher education. Studentships are awarded by TECHNE to the best students put forward by its member universities. The TECHNE training programme is enhanced by input and placement opportunities provided by TECHNE’s 13 partner organisations (including the Barbican, Natural History Museum, Museum of London, BFI and Science Museum) in the cultural sector. Please visit TECHNE to find out more about the aims and opportunities of TECHNE.TECHNE – the Consortium is named in reference to the Greek term for craft – will create a new model for collaborative research skills training for PGR students across seven higher education institutions (Royal Holloway, Brighton University, Kingston University, Roehampton University, Royal College of Art, University of Surrey, University of the Arts London). TECHNE’s vision is to produce scholars who are highly motivated and prepared for academic, public or professional life. Students will benefit from a diversity of training opportunities and be able to draw on supervisory expertise from across the Consortium.It is not possible to apply directly to TECHNE for a studentship; applications for students wishing to be based at Surrey must be made via the University of Surrey. Your TECHNE application will therefore go through a two-stage process, being considered firstly by either the School of Arts or the School of English and Languages, to go forward to TECHNE and, if successful, secondly by a panel of subject specialists from TECHNE members.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Fee and Maintenance


Open to Home and EU candidates; please see guidance on residency requirements outlined in the RCUK’s Conditions of Research Council Training Grants
Studentships will be awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. This is an extremely competitive process and only very high calibre candidates will be successful

Application Procedure

The first step for all Candidates is to approach their prospective academic school and supervisor.
More Information is available at: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fass/research/studentships/ahrc/index.htm

Further Information



Faculty Studentship Competition - No. of awards TBC

Faculty Studentships are available in the following areasSchool of Arts:Cultural Production, Creative Practices, Dance, Digital Arts, Film, Interdisciplinary Arts, Music, Performance, Sound Recording, Theatre.School of English and Languages:English Literature, Creative Writing, Translation Studies, Modern Languages, Theoretic Linguistics (Morphology) and Applied Linguistics (Intercultural Communication).School of Social Sciences:Criminology and Criminal Justice; Developments in Methodology; Identities, Diversities, and the Life Course; Media, Culture and Communication; Science, Environment and Technologies; European politics; International politics; Social politics and methodology

Value of Scholarship(s)



Under the FASS Studentship Scheme Home / EU and International Students are eligible to apply for 2016 entry. Successful International students will be awarded a fees at the Home / EU Rate and a stipend. Please note that full international fees are not covered: candidates should ensure that they are in a position to cover the outstanding costs.Studentships will be awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. This is an extremely competitive process and only very high calibre candidates will be successful.

Application Procedure

The first step for all Candidates is to approach their prospective academic school and supervisor.More information is available at: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/fass/research/studentships/faculty/index.htm

Further Information



Scholarship Awards for Masters Programmes in the School of Arts - 4 Awards

MA Creative Practices & Direction
(pathways in Actor Training, Choreography & Movement Direction, Directing, Musical Theatre Creation and Practices of Voice & Singing)
MMus Music
(pathways in Composition, Conducting, Creative Practice, Musicology, Performance)As part of the University of Surrey’s commitment to providing excellent learning opportunities for all, we are delighted to offer 4 x £3,000 scholarship awards for study on the MA Creative Practices & Direction and the MMus Music. The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016.The University of Surrey is a top 10 UK University (4th in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 3rd for Drama & Dance, 4th for Music) and University of the Year in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. It is a global university with a world-class research profile and an enterprising spirit. The Arts at Surrey are dynamic and interconnected, in keeping with today’s cultural industries.Scholarships will be awarded on merit to applicants who demonstrate potential for excellence in their area of practical and/or scholarly research. Once offered a place on the respective programme, to apply for a scholarship award please complete the application form available at the link, below, and submit to [email protected] by 6 May.http://www.surrey.ac.uk/subjects/music-and-sound
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/postgraduate/creative-practices-and-directionMA Creative Practices & Direction offers a unique opportunity to develop your aptitude as a theatre maker and/or trainer of theatre artists, by working within a specialist pathway alongside specialists in cognate pathways. The programme is organized around two main streams of activity. One is aimed at creatives who lead in the generation of work and the conception and direction of productions or aspects of performance. The other is aimed at trainers who work with actors and performers to develop and direct their skills and capabilities, both in terms of their personal requirements and the needs of particular production projects.MMus Music is distinctive in its range of musicological, vocational and practice-based elements. You will take two modules which develop academic, writing and presentational skills, as well as providing an introduction to contemporary developments in musical practice and research. You will then take a combination of pathway-related modules and options and submit a folio of work in your chosen specialism.Further details
For more information, please contact the relevant Programme Leader:
- Grainne Byrne (MA Creative Practices & Direction): [email protected]
- Dr Milton Mermikides (MMus Music): [email protected]

Value of Scholarship(s)



The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016

Application Procedure

Download and complete the application form: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/School%20of%20Arts%20Scholarship%20application%20form_final.docx

Further Information



Discounts for Surrey graduates - No. of awards TBC

If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford, you could be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught postgraduate Masters programme fees. This scheme is for applicable to Postgraduate Taught entry students only and is reviewed annually.Students who graduated in 2013 are eligible, as well as alumni from previous years, on receipt of evidence of the award from Surrey and where we can identify that you actually studied in Guildford. Students from SII-DUFE are eligible for this scheme.Associated Institution students are not eligible. Not available to modular self-pacing students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

10% tuition fee discount


If you are a self-funded UK, EU or international student who has studied for an undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey campus in Guildford

Application Procedure

If you have any enquiries regarding this matter please contact the Student Fees and Funding Office on [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Bachelors degree (minimum 2:2) in a relevant field, as well as previous engagement with drama, theatre and performance.
Applicants without a Bachelors degree who can demonstrate relevant experience at the appropriate standard will also be considered.
Suitable applicants will be called to interview and participate in a collaborative activity appropriate to their discipline. Overseas candidates will in most cases be assessed remotely and through evidence of the ability to work collaboratively.

Last Updated

15 August 2017

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