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Contemporary Performance Making MA

Subject area: Theatre Apply Full-time

Apply Part-time

Mode of study

1-year full-time; 2-year part-time

PG Code


Start date


Contemporary Performance Making MA


Please note the application deadline for this course is Friday 25th August 2017, any applications after this date will be considered on an individual basis, subject to course vacancies.

Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2016, students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2016/17 of up to £10,000. Find out more

About the course

The MA Contemporary Performance Making is a practice-focused programme designed for aspiring artists who want to develop their artistic practice in one or more of Brunel’s specialist areas:

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

The programme draws upon the expertise at Brunel and the resources of London, offering a combination of critical engagement and practice-based research.

A broad training in practices and theories of contemporary performance is delivered through a number of compulsory modules and you will work toward your final project in collaboration with one or more of Brunel’s internationally renowned artists and theorists, including Johannes Birringer, Sue Broadhurst and Fiona Templeton. The programme features regular guest seminars by some of the most influential artists and theorists of today (past guests include Simon Vincenzi, Stacy Makishi, Ron Athey, Kira O’Reilly, Julian Maynard-Smith and Wendy Houstoun).


  • 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 274000

Programme Convenor: Fiona Templeton

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)

Teaching blocks in various skills vary from year to year. Students explore each skill as groundwork for their final performance project or written dissertation in the final two terms. You will produce two practical pieces together with documentation.

Digital Performance Technologies

This is a practice-based module, also offered as groundwork for your final project. It focuses on providing practical instruction in a laboratory setting for sustained experimentation with vocabularies and strategies of multimedia and digital performance composition. You work with video shooting and editing techniques, sound recording and processing techniques, interactive sensor environments (utilising 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 attention to the multiplicity and diversity of approaches to performance making used over the last 100 years. You will study a variety of practical and theoretical approaches that will contextualise your own work.

Research Methodologies​

This module aims to enhance the development of independent thought and an understanding of interdisciplinary research methodologies in performance studies. You engage with abstract concepts, advanced ideas and current trends. In this way, you will discuss and analyse your own and others' approaches. This will also serve as a platform to test your ideas and present a series of short papers on selected topics.

Professional Placement

In the first term of the module you 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, you will undertake a placement/apprenticeship with an established partner organisation, such as a national or international theatre company, festival, 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.

Final Performance Project/Dissertation

During the spring and summer terms you will work towards your practical performance project or written dissertation. The performance project should be a final performance either in directing, performance writing or solo-performance, supported by a written document. Or you may choose to submit an entirely written dissertation.

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 London'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 Assessment


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 2016/17 entry

UK/EU students: £7,300 full-time; £3,650 part-time

International students: £15,400 full-time; £7,700 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).

Entry Criteria 2016/17

  • 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 Entry Requirements

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.