Contemporary Performance Making MA

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

The MA Contemporary Performance Making is one-year (full time) or two-year (part time) practice-focused programme designed for highly motivated aspiring artists who want to develop their artistic practice in one or more of Brunel University London’s specialist areas:

  • writing/directing
  • live-art/installation
  • digital performance.

The practice-focused programme draws upon both facilities and expertise at Brunel University and the vast resources of London and offers a combination of critical engagement and practice-based research.​

In addition to a broad training in practices and theories of contemporary performance, which is delivered through a number of compulsory modules, you will work toward your final project in close collaboration with one or more of Brunel’s internationally renowned artists and theorists. These include Johannes Birringer, Sue Broadhurst, Stelarc and Fiona Templeton, among others.

The programme also features regular guest seminars and workshops by some of the most influential artists and theorists of today (guests have included Ron Athey, Franko B Kira O’Reilly, Julian Maynard-Smith and Wendy Houstoun, among many others).


  • The programme will provide you with a bridge between academia and the professional world, giving you the opportunities to network and engage in a variety of supervised and self-managed projects.
  • The course has a particular focus on preparing you for the challenging working conditions of today's cultural climate. Accordingly, in addition to training in traditional theatre and performance settings, the programme has a strong emphasis on producing work in less conventional and underground venues with limited facilities. It offers students guidance in building their own low-cost DIY interactive technologies if required.


College of Business, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department of Arts and Humanities
Brunel University London
Middlesex UB8 3PH

Tel +44 (0)1895 267214

Programme Convenor: Fiona Templeton

Related Courses

Course Content

The MA Contemporary Performance Making has a strong practical focus and students may choose to do a practical dissertation creating a performance piece of professional standard. This has proved a very popular and highly successful element of the course and students have gone on to present their degree shows as part of events such as National Review of Live Art and East End Collaborations. Another very popular element is the professional placement and several students have gone on to receive employment after graduating as a result of their placement.

The MA programme has a flexible modular structure designed to accommodate both full-time (30-40 study hours per week) and part-time students (15-20 study hours per week). All students will undertake five compulsory modules and a practical project or, if preferred, a written dissertation.


Typical Modules (all compulsory)

Exploring specialist options in Performance Directing, Solo Performance, and Performance Writing

Students explore each option, as groundwork for their approach to their final performance project or written dissertation in the final two terms. Students will produce two practical pieces together with documentation of their work.

Specialist option in Digital Performance Technologies

This practice-based module, which is also offered as groundwork for students' approach to their final project, focuses on providing in-depth practical instruction in a laboratory setting for sustained experimentation – with vocabularies and strategies of multimedia and digital performance composition. Students work with video shooting and editing technique, sound recording and processing techniques, interactive sensor environments (utilizing Brunel's unique sensor toolkits), and multi-media real time integration. 

Approaches to Performance/Mise-en-Scène Making

This module addresses the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary performance. It will give close attention to the multiplicity and diversity of approaches to performance making used over the last 100 years at an advanced level. Students will study a variety of practical and theoretical approaches that will contextualise their own work.

International students may obtain help towards their studies from the British Council in their country of residence and can undertake work placements. Taught by Johannes Birringer.

Research Methodologies​

The aim of the module is to enhance the development of independent student thought and an understanding of interdisciplinary research methodologies in performance studies. This will be achieved through an engagement with abstract concepts and group discussions of advanced ideas and current trends in performance. In this way, students will be encouraged to discuss and analyse their own and others' approaches. This will also serve as a platform for students to test their ideas and present a series of short papers on selected topics. Taught by Sue Broadhurst.

Professional Placement

This module runs in the second term. In the first five to six weeks of the module students will attend lectures and workshops on professional development with staff and guest lecturers/leading experts in the field. In the second part of the module, students will undertake a placement/ apprenticeship (minimum three weeks/90 hours) with an established partner organisation, such as a national or international theatre company, festival organisation, or university with whom we will sign a learning contract. We have had MA students on placements throughout the UK, the US, Canada, Hungary, Romania and France. Taught by Fiona Templeton.

Final Performance Project/Dissertation

During the spring and summer terms you will work towards your practical performance project or dissertation.

The performance project will take the form of a final presentation-performance either in directing, performance writing or solo-performance. It will last approximatley 50 minutes and will inlcude documentation with visual material and a written commentary.

In term two, students will start preparing for their performance project. In the first part of term two there will be a set of intensive workshops where students will be working within their chosen specialist area with guest artists. Then in term three students work independently with dedicated rehearsal spaces and staff supervision where needed. Taught by all staff members.


Contact Hours​

Full time

  • Term 1 – 8 fixed hours per week not including individual tutorials or feedback meetings or rehearsals, which can be booked at mutually convenient times. May need extra hours for performances. Classes are generally Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Term 2 – 10 fixed hours per week for the first half of term, changing to 5 fixed hours plus meetings and rehearsals, plus a 90-hour placement. Classes are generally Tuesday and Thursday plus occasional Wednesday.
  • Term 3 – no fixed hours, but meetings, rehearsals and performances. Spaces booked on Thursdays plus others as needed.

Part time

  • Term 1 – 5 fixed hours plus meetings, rehearsals and maybe performances. Classes generally Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Term 2 – 5 fixed hours per week plus meetings, rehearsals and maybe performances. Classes generally Tuesday and Thursday plus occasional Wednesday.
  • Term 3 no fixed hours but possible time to do 90-hour placement
  • Level 2 Term 1 – 3 fixed hours per week plus meetings. Classes generally Thursday.
  • Level 2 Term 2 – 5 fixed hours per week for the first half of term, changing to no fixed hours plus meetings and rehearsals, plus a 90-hour placement if not already done. Classes generally Tuesday and Thursday plus occasional Wednesday.
  • Level 2 Term 3 – no fixed hours, but meetings, rehearsals and performances. Spaces booked on Thursdays plus others as needed.

For both routes, MA students are also expected to attend a further 1.5 hours subject seminar, offered by staff members and guest artists and theorists, 3-4 times per term in Terms 1 and 2 on a Wednesday. Very occasionally hours are moved to other days to accommodate guest lecturers.

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Special Features

Internationally Recognized Staff

All our members of staff are internationally active as artists and/or theorists, and some are world-renowned pioneers in their field. A highly research-intensive department, 100% of our staff have participated in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF).

State of the Art Facilities

​​The MA programme is taught in Brunel University's Antonin Artaud Performance Centre, a purpose-built venue which encompasses a large scale performance space with a capacity of up to 350 people. It frequently hosts public events, two professionally equipped theatre studios, and a number of additional rehearsal spaces. The centre also hosts media editing suites, as well as a workshop/electronics lab where students can build their own performance artefacts with expert support from our team of professional theatre technicians.

Unique Equipment

​In addition to a wide range of professional lighting, sound and projection equipment, the programme features a set of unique plug-and-play sensor toolkits. These user-friendly toolkits enable students to experiment with a wide range of interactive performance setups, regardless of their level of technical experience.

Good Location​​

Located in Uxbridge in the west of London, students have easy access to the vast range of performance activity in the city, from international names in established venues such as the Barbican Centre and Tate Modern, to the latest emerging artists in artist-run spaces and abandoned warehouses in the East End. London also features numerous venues where students find opportunities to show their own work.

Teaching and Learning

The course is approximately 70% practice and 30% theory. It is an ideal programme for practising artists developing their own work. Graduating students have gone on to show their work nationally and internationally, work with key UK and international companies and secure funding and support for their work. Full-time students can take the course over one full year.


Brunel's proximity to the diverse performance and theatre environment of London allows for direct contact with the work of established as well as cutting edge professionals working in the industry. Through placement learning in collaboration with our national and international partners and through the development and presentation of a final project you will engage with the most current trends in contemporary performance practice. The programme offers you the opportunity to develop skills, increase employment possibilities and build up a network of professional contacts.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2015/6 entry

UK/EU students: £7,000 full-time; £3,500 part-time

International students: £14,750 full-time; £7,375 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

  • A UK first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification usually in theatre or a related arts discipline. Other qualifications and relevant professional or practical experience will be assessed on an individual basis.
  • Applicants will be required to attend an interview.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Thursday 12 November 2015