Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy, MA

Duration: One year, full-time; two years, part-time, October start. Full-time on-site attendance between July and August is not mandatory.

Award: Master of Arts in Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy (180 credits).

MA Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy.

This unique theatre and performance studies Masters course offers routes to careers in theatre dramaturgy and criticism. Students will study theatre in London and experience the diverse theatre offerings of the city whilst developing their critical practice and scholarship.

About the course

The cultural hub of London is the venue for MA Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy. The programme balances theoretical study of theatre and performance with the development of diverse skills in dramaturgy and criticism. Graduates can apply this in academia and throughout the creative industries.

Engaging with theatre and performance practice of the past and the present, and attuned to the economy and ecology of the landscapes in which it takes place, students on this course embrace Central’s unique status as a conservatoire and a University of London college, a vibrant setting fostering the international theatre practice and scholarship of the future.

Course Detail

Students on this programme take six units followed by a final independent unit. Each unit is self-contained, focusing on a specific aspect of theatre and performance.

Units may include:

  • Reviewing Performance
  • Shakespeare in London
  • Archiving Practices, Practising Archives
  • Critical Contexts
  • Performing Research
  • Cultural Landscapes.

Each unit is intensive and, where appropriate, is delivered with the participation of relevant experts (e.g. theatre journalists, arts managers, academic specialists) or in partnership with cultural organisations. Students have the opportunity in the third term to take a unit hosted by another MA programme.

Learning opportunities include seminars and lectures, classwork, independent research, group work, and field study in and around London or other cities.

At various points, students on this course will work collectively with students from across Central’s Masters portfolio, emerging theatre practitioners and scholars with a range of specialisms.

Students can develop their particular research interests and professional profile in the final unit, the Sustained Independent Project (SIP). This unit, taking place following the summer term, gives students a chance to work intensively in a specific area, with tutoring and support from the programme leader and tutors. Students determine their own focus in conjunction with programme tutors, and projects may be scholarly interventions or critical reports relevant to theatre-sector issues and concerns.

At all points, learning combines critical reflection and the development of specific skills relevant to theatre criticism and dramaturgy, with a focus on appropriate outputs and practices.


This MA is assessed in a range of formats and the School is keen to foster a wide range of assessment strategies.

Students produce critical work and outputs relevant to theatre sector contexts, including visual presentations, conference papers, essays, reports and reviews. In some cases students are assessed on small-group projects.

The SIP may take the form of a dissertation or a portfolio, depending on the subject matter and the student’s focus.

Download MA Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy Course Specification 2016-2017 (714.23 KB)

Professional Focus

With the MA taking London as its point of departure and its focus, students benefit from contact with relevant specialists, as well as with cultural organisations and venues across the city.

The MA has previously hosted sessions with Lyn Gardner and Michael Billington (The Guardian), as well as representatives of Equity, the BBC, the Ambassador Theatre Group, The Old Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe, the National Theatre, the Live Art Development Agency, and the V&A.  Students gain familiarity with the diverse cultural landscape of London, going behind the scenes of London’s theatres and cultural structures, and becoming attuned to the forces that generate its potency, acquiring historical and contextual awareness.

In addition to the cultural offerings of the city, students on this course enjoy access to the unparalleled research resources of London and the University.  Students have opportunities to participate in the wider academic community, and to develop knowledge of contemporary theatre and performance scholarship through work with recognised experts in the field. 

Recent Visiting Staff

Brian Logan, Manuel Vason, Laura Oldfield Ford, Dr Shehzana Mamujee, Maxie Szalwinska, Dr Sarah Dustagheer, Rachel Barnett, E. J. Trivett.

Beyond Central

Graduate employment and career pathways include: posts at Shakespeare’s Globe, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hampstead Theatre and the Ruhrtriennale Festival, Germany.

Theatre Press Officers, Teachers, Tutors, Directors, Artistic Directors, marketing managers, administrators, theatre-makers, and producers in London and New York.

Further study: Research Degrees including PhD programmes at Central and at King’s College, London.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

You should normally have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, (drama, theatre or performance studies, arts and humanities), though those from other disciplines will be considered. Applications for the accreditation of prior experience in lieu of academic entry qualification will also be considered where appropriate. An offer will normally only be made after interview/audition.

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.

For further information see the How to Apply section.


If you are selected for an interview for a place on the Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy MA course, we will require you to:

  • write a short (500 words) account or review of a performance that you have recently seen. Your account should state why this piece interests you and how it relates to broader issues in theatre.Please bring this with you to the interview
  • choose a piece of published critical writing (e.g. from an academic journal or book) and prepare to discuss this piece of writing at interview.  This should be the work of another writer (that is, not your own work), should relate to theatre and performance, and should be published in English and available in an accessible format (e.g. .pdf).  If possible, you should send the text, or a link, to the interviewer a week before the interview date.

During the interview process you will have a chance to learn more about the course and the School.

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 allows 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 normally be conducted by the Course Leader.

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. Joel Anderson, BA, DEA, PhD

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader MA Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy

Diana Damian Martin, BA, MA, AFHEA

Lecturer, Performance Arts

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Josephine Yim
Josephine Yim

Graduated 2010, Project Manager, Hong Kong Arts Festival.

The course combines theories with practical experience. Not only were we able to discuss and apply theories in our research and study, but we were given the opportunity to learn from professionals from the London theatre industry, which I particularly enjoyed. I met and visited people from The Globe, The National and the Ambassador Group which made the whole course solid, both academically and practically. Studying here not only provided me with a thorough understanding of the theatre industry, it also equipped me to be ready for the arts industry.

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