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Text and Performance (MA)

Course Description

This highly distinctive MA course, 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 both 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.

What our students say

'Since finishing the MA course, I have worked on projects as a writer, director, and teacher - this is largely thanks to the way this course nurtures you as both artist and academic and helps you develop a diverse skill set.'

'Perhaps the best 2 years of my life.'

'The MA course allowed me to change my career path and gave me the skills and confidence to launch myself into an arts career.'

'The course helped to refine my approach as a theatre practitioner, while widening my scope for theatrical discourse and inspiration to create work. It encourages the intertwining of the creative and the academic, resulting in thought provoking and unique theatre. Most importantly, the course taught me to risk, to dare to create something new, to have an opinion and express it through my art.'

'Mature students can give at least as much and get as much out of this course as young people and taking the risk to do it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.'

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
Taking the dramatic text as a critical starting point, our course encompasses drama from the early modern period to the contemporary.
In the rehearsal room, 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.
Student projects are tutored by a combination of faculty and visiting artists. In 2015-16, visiting artist tutors included A.C. Smith, David Slater, Karen Christopher, Peader Kirk and Rachel Mars.
We also offer informal, unassessed creative enhancement opportunities: RADA’s TheatreVision initiative, which brings together students from the MA Text and Performance and the MA Theatre Lab to explore writing for theatre; Birkbeck’s Centre for Contemporary Theatre runs a postgraduate reading group and offers opportunities to show work in progress as part of the School of Arts summer festival Arts Week.
RADA and Birkbeck are just 3 minutes' walk apart so you will study in a campus-style environment. Our close proximity also allows us to draw on the rich range of resources available across both institutions, including: studio space; technical support for group and individual presentations; RADA’s excellent library of playtexts and theatre and performance literature; and Birkbeck’s world-class research resources in the arts and humanities.
The course incorporates visits to London theatre and both institutions are well placed for you to access the extraordinary array of theatre available in London.
The renowned British Library is also located nearby.

Visit the Text and Performance (MA) page on the Birkbeck, University of London website for more details!

All Available Videos:

(Student Profile)

Cath Day

4058.jpg Cath says: ‘I finished my undergraduate degree twenty years ago (!) and Birkbeck was very good at providing sessions before the course began to help us prepare for returning to study. They were very good at emphasising the need for good time-management – which proved essential.

‘Despite the long break in my studies I didn’t feel too daunted about coming back to university. It was only after I began the course that I realised just how intellectually rigorous and academically challenging it was, but for me that was very positive and pleasant surprise.

‘A key benefit of the course was that it provided a plethora of opportunities for students to build networks and make contacts within the theatre world. Both Birkbeck and RADA organised guest lectures and provided a forum in which you could make contact with playwrights, theatre directors and other industry professionals. It put me in touch with people that I just wouldn’t have come into contact with otherwise.

‘The regular lecturers on the course were also fantastic - not only engaging and challenging but also able to meet the needs of every level of ability in the class. The staff within the School of Arts were incredibly accommodating in terms of finding us rehearsal space and the library staff were able to source materials from other libraries for me whenever I needed it. Of course Birkbeck’s location is also fantastic for arts students – it’s so close to London’s theatres and galleries.

‘My ideas about what I wanted to do professionally changed during the course. Initially, I wanted to be a theatre director but am now setting up my own theatre company - Hell Bent Theatre - with another student from the course. We are currently developing my dissertation project – UKIP! The Musical – and are taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

‘I remember reading in the prospectus people saying ‘Birkbeck changed my life’. For me, I think it freed up the creative side of me that was only partially fulfilled through teaching. It has nudged me down a route that I wouldn’t have been able to access if I’d stayed doing what I was doing. I think of it as a career reboot – and a very energising one at that.’


Postgraduate Support Scheme for final-year undergraduates (full-time) - 20+ Awards

We are pleased to announce that, for October 2015 entry, Birkbeck has a limited number of new £10,000 postgraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students progressing from a full-time undergraduate degree to a part-time Master’s degree starting in 2015/16.

Value of Scholarship(s)



To be eligible for the scholarship you must be:Starting a 2-year part-time taught Master’s degree in 2015/16
Domiciled in the UK/EU
Progressing from an undergraduate course for which you were charged the higher tuition fee (applicable since 2012–13)
Studying at postgraduate Master’s level for the first time

Application Procedure

If you want to apply for this support, you must follow these steps:Submit an application for your intended course
Submit an application for the Postgraduate Support Scheme

Further Information


Entry Requirements

You will need to have, or be expecting, a good honours degree, usually in an arts subject. In exceptional circumstances, appropriate career experience - for example in theatre - may be considered as an alternative qualification. Students must be prepared to engage in practical theatre-making, as well as class discussions. The requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

Course Fees

Part-time home/EU students: £ 5475 pa Full-time home/EU students: £ 10450 pa

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Recipient: Birkbeck, University of London
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