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Master in Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Theatre and Performance

Pool No Water Molly O'Cathain photographer

*Photograph by Molly O'Catháin

Course Co-ordinator - Dr Nicholas Johnson (

Apply for M.Phil. in Theatre and Performance

This taught masters focuses on theatre and performance in Irish, European, and international contexts, and is designed to strengthen the analytic, critical, and practical approaches of theatre students. The teaching occurs across lecture, seminar, and studio-based formats, unifying theory and practice, and culminates in an independent dissertation of 15,000 words. Special emphasis is placed on training in strategies of performance analysis, theatre in its Irish context, and embodied practices. The work normally takes 12 months, although students are required to be in residence only from October through the following June. Visits from practitioners and scholars supplement the teaching, and close connections with the theatre community in Dublin give students access to performances and work in development throughout the year.

Strategies of Performance Analysis

This core module introduces various methodologies of critical enquiry in theatre and performance, focusing on the learning outcome of Masters-level academic analysis and writing. The seminar covers historical approaches to performance analysis, in particular semiotics and phenomenology, with strong engagement in the theoretical areas of Marxism/cultural materialism, gender, postmodernism, postcolonialism, biopolitics, and socially engaged practice. Team-taught by drama staff rather than being treated as a single survey course, each seminar is taught by an expert in the given field. Though predominantly taught through reading, writing, and discussion, occasional embodied engagement with theory through practice is included and encouraged. (Convenor 2018-19: Nicholas Johnson)

Contemporary Irish Theatre in Context

This core module blends individual small seminars with larger group interviews with Irish and international theatre artists, administrators, and policy-makers, focusing on giving students the tools to critique contemporary theatre in a sophisticated manner and engage in public discourse. The invited speakers present or explore the theatre practice of contemporary Irish and visiting theatre productions, as well as the institutional frameworks that shape the production and reception of contemporary Irish theatre. These visitors discuss their work with students, and this connection is then supplemented by smaller breakout sessions focusing on contextual or background information that places the Irish community in its European and international context. (Convenors 2018-19: James Hickson, with guest artists)

Movement Practices and Applied Performance Project

This core module offers a consideration of movement practices in performance from both scholarly and practical points of view. In both semesters the class meets on a weekly basis to practically and theoretically explore movement forms and key texts, watch video excerpts and review recent productions that foreground the moving body. In Hilary Semester, the class will undertake a performance project, where students will get the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the body in performance and develop strategies for practice-based research. (Convenor 2018-19: Sarah jane Scaife)

School of Creative Arts Research Forum

M.Phil. students are expected to attend and participate in discussion in the weekly 'SCARF' sessions, a gathering where staff and current Ph.D. students from Drama and adjacent disciplines (Film, Music and, occasionally, English) present work or work-in-progress from their current research. This helps to engage students with contemporary approaches to research and to see their colleagues and teachers 'in action' as they deploy various methodologies, often providing useful common ground for discussion in other classes. (Convenors 2018-19: Ruth Barton and Nicholas Johnson)


M.Phil students are expected to undertake an independent research project at the culmination of their studies. Students usually begin to plan by the end of the first term, and then their topic is formally proposed in February. At the proposal stage, students are assigned an individual supervisor who is most suitable for their topic. When coursework ends in April, the dissertation is the sole focus. A document of approximately 15,000 words is then due at the end of August. (Individually supervised)

Teaching Staff

  • Prof. Matthew Causey
  • Dr Sarah Jane Scaife
  • Dr Bisi Adigun
  • Mr James Hickson
  • Dr Nicholas Johnson (Course director)
  • Dr Néill O'Dwyer
  • Ms Chrissie Poulter
  • Dr Melissa Sihra
  • Prof Brian Singleton
  • Dr Eric Weitz

The Constantia Maxwell Bursary for Postgraduate Taught Courses (2019-20 intake)

The School of Creative Arts is pleased to announce that we will be awarding one €5,000 bursary to the top ranked applicant to the M.Phil. programmes running in the School - M.Phil. in Film Studies: Theory, History, Practice; M.Phil. in Theatre and Performance; M.Phil. in Music Composition. Applicants will be ranked on the basis of previous academic qualifications, the quality of their supporting application, their letters of reference, and their potential for higher level research. Existing applicants should indicate to the M.Phil. co-ordinator whether they would like to be considered for this bursary.

All applications for these courses and this bursary must be received by 28th June 2019.

For further details, please contact the Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning, Dr Paula Quigley.