Performance Practice as Research, MA/MFA

Duration: MA, One year, full-time, October start. MFA. Two years, full-time October start. (Some classes take place in the evening). Onsite attendance between July and September is not mandatory.

Award: Master of Arts in Performance Practice as Research (180 credits); Master of Fine Arts in Performance Practice as Research (240 credits)

MA/MFA Performance Pratice as Research

A course designed for innovators who wish to investigate and interrogate the concepts and practices within contemporary performance. We welcome auteurs, interdisciplinary performers and makers, practitioner/researchers and those with an established practice and/or background in performance theory, who wish to take their work to the edges of their specialism(s).

About the course

Students on this course become a part of a thriving community of interdisciplinary postgraduate scholars and practitioners, working within a School-wide framework for performance practice and practice as research experimentation.

Throughout, emphasis will be placed on a reciprocal relationship between theory and practice, where one always feeds into and enlivens the other. Students interrogate, test and apply the most recent thinking and practices within their particular fields, and are encouraged to experiment and innovate by developing their own work, which is presented as part of the Brink Festival.

Course Detail

These courses value the particular skills and personal proposals that individual students bring to them, and the interests that they express shape the timetable and content of course units.

Both MA and MFA students start by learning key vocabularies and skill sets within the Critical Contexts and Performing Practices units before moving into the individual laboratory work in the Developing Your Disciplines unit, while concurrently joining others in the MA community in the Performing Research unit. They then go on to produce the Brink Festival as part of the Laboratory of Performance Practices double unit while benefiting from select professional development sessions.

For MA students, the last term (July to September) is undertaken as a Sustained Independent Project (SIP), where students synthesise all the learning and development through a multi-modal output within a dissertation.

MFA students return in October for their second year, provoked by their own work in the Brink Festival and with new work presented to them, they engage in an extended MFA Sustained Independent Project (SIP). This is a supervised multi-modal thesis, gaining expertise in the various dramaturgies, modes and models of Performance as Research through the lens of the methodologies developed in their first year and others examined as part of their MFA research second year.

During the course students on the MA and MFA course might expect to:

  • Participate in workshops and seminars to investigate the relationship between the concepts and materials of performance
  • Analyse making, performing and spectatorship as interrelated activities
  • Engage and apply critical contexts and concepts
  • Explore different strategies and methods for doing research and disseminating the findings, leading towards a conference presentation
  • Undertake laboratory exploration of performance practice as a way of testing out ideas
  • Develop work towards a public presentation at Central’s Brink Festival
  • Undertake a Sustained Independent Project (SIP) culminating in a dissertation or a portfolio documenting practice-based research of equivalent weight.

Download MA/MFA Performance Practice as Research Course Specification 2016-2017.pdf (884.34 KB)

Professional Focus

Recent Visiting Staff

Louise Orwin, Mark Peter Wright, Kevin Logan, Salomé Voegelin, Dr Konstantinos Thomaidis, J. Luis Manuel Campos, Dr Tania Batzoglou Dr Nando Messias, Dr Jo Scott, Ita O’Brien, Ros Philips, Jon Davison, Deirdre McLaughlin, Dr Jessica Hartley.

Beyond Central

Graduate employment and career pathways include Choreographers, Composers, Creative Producers, Dramaturges, Directors, Artistic Directors, Performers and Visual Artists:

Assistant Designer, Berlin State Opera House

Producer with Franko B

Public Engagement Coordinator, Battersea Arts Centre

Assistant Producer, War Horse

Personal Assistant, Alexander McQueen

Administrative/Artistic Assistant, Clean Break

Assistant Designer, English National Opera

General Manager, National Youth Theatre

Artistic Director, Portmanteau

Dancer, Candoco Dance Company

Dramaturg, Young Vic

Venue Manager, The Rag Factory

Producer, Tiger Aspect Productions

In addition, performance work that was developed on the course as part of Central’s Brink Festival, has gone on to be presented at The Place, The Space, The Old Vic Tunnels, the Roundhouse, Camden People’s Theatre, The Brighton Festival, Beacons Festival and the Edinburgh Festival, among others.

The course has also proved to be a highly successful grounding for PhD research and an academic career (or portfolio career as practitioner-academic).

Entry Requirements and Admissions

You should normally have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, (drama, theatre or performance studies), although applications from students of other disciplines will be considered. Applicants without a degree will also be considered where appropriate provided they have at least two years relevant experience in a professional context. A portfolio may be required in support of your interview. An offer will normally only be made after interview.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.


If you are selected for an interview for a place on the Performance Practice as Research, MA or MFA course, we will require you to prepare the following:

  • a short (500 words) account of an aspect of performance which you would like to explore in greater depth. Your account should state why this aspect interests you and how it relates to broader issues or practices in contemporary performance;
  • a brief response (no longer than three minutes) to the interview image by way of notes/sketches/physical enactment, as if this was the beginning of a production/development process.

Performance Practices and Research interview image

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

Distance Interviews

Central does allow applicants to undertake a distance interview for this course. If you live abroad and are unable to attend an interview in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance interview. If you are selected for interview in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an interview. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The interview will be conducted by the Admissions Tutor in liaison with a colleague who will have sight of your submitted materials.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.


View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

Dr. Experience Bryon, BA (Hons), PhD

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader MA/MFA Performance Practice as Research

Dr Jessica Hartley BA, MA, PGCE, PhD, SFHEA

Lecturer, Theatre and Performance Studies


Notable graduates of this course include:

Ben Cooper-Melchiors (2010) Assistant to the Artistic Director at the Young Vic theatre. He is also Co-Founder of YourProspect, a creative business consultancy.

Lou Coleman (2010) Developed her own practice specialising in the area of Feldenkrais, autobiography and disability working with such companies as: Candoco Dance Company, Graeae Theatre Company, Unlimited and Oily Cart Theatre Company.

Louis Orwin (2011) Auteur, creator of Pretty Ugly and The Barbie Series, performs internationally. Work featured in Wired Magazine, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and on Woman's Hour.

Androniki Marathaki (2010 ) Choreographer, dancer and facilitator at Kinitiras, Greece, creator of 'modulated choreographies', a new practice. 

Sophie Robins (2012) Poet and performer, member of The Roundhouse Poetry Collective (2014), the Burn After Reading Poetry Collective (#BARPo) and Podium Poets. Co-founder of The Patchwork Paper (

Melissa Booth (2012) Artistic Director of the performance company Portmanteau, having presented work at Camden Roundhouse, Oval Theatre, Camden People's Theatre, Theatre Delicatessen, Rich Mix.

Related Courses


Hedda S. Rui
Hedda S. Rui

Graduated 2013, currently experimenting with the practice of speaking text in performance in Norway, having premiered a self-written and directed monologue in Chicago last year.

The course allowed me to interrogate my own practice as a theatre maker. Working within the methodology of practice-as-research enabled me to explore my own work in depth and has taken it to new and exciting places. The high level of theoretical reflections, combined with the rigorous practical experimentations, has truly given me the opportunity to question, understand, articulate and continuously develop my own artistic practice. I am currently working on the development of my post-dramatic performance practice of intertextuality, continuously questioning where and how the text can reside on stage and in speech: as music, as materiality, or as a body-in-itself between multiple speakers.

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