This MA addresses the historical, political, theoretical and ethical issues of applied theatre and develops your ability to contextualise, critique and create.
Our aim is to prepare students to be collaborative, responsive, imaginative, politically engaged and culturally aware artist practitioners. The course is aimed at newly-emerging practitioners with a background in theatre, education, activism or social change, as well as at more established practitioners who want to reflect, refresh and develop their skills. We actively encourage the sharing of skills and expertise among our multi-national group of students. We prioritise applicants with some experience in the arts, education, activism or social care, and it is rare that we take applicants directly from their first degree.
Together we explore the ways in which theatre and performance is created by diverse groups of people in a variety of community, social and educational settings: in schools or on the streets, in children’s homes and elderly care, in conflict zones, conferences, crèches and youth clubs, pupil referral units and prisons, women’s refuges and refugee centres, hospitals and hostels – anywhere groups of people meet and interact.
What is applied theatre?
Applied theatre is an umbrella term for a range of exciting worldwide performance forms concerned with personal and social change.
The term embraces: theatre of the oppressed, community theatre, theatre-in-education, drama in education, theatre for development, prison theatre, intercultural arts, intergenerational arts, theatre in museums, archives and heritage sites, story-telling, reminiscence theatre, conflict resolution. The work often moves across art forms. This is not a definitive list, as it is a field that is dynamic and changing.
The MA considers case studies from the UK and from across the globe. Central to this investigation are: questions of identity; representation; discrimination; health; equality; human rights; opportunity; access; social inclusion/exclusion; participation; ethics; evaluation and documentation; aesthetics and the role of the artist.
Placement and partnerships
The course is structured so that practice and theory constantly respond to one another, through practical classes and seminars. All students undertake a placement in a recognised host organisation where you'll work with experienced practitioners, and learn from the inside how participatory arts organisations function.
We have active partnerships with many companies, and the majority of the tutors, including the convenor, are active artists, with a variety of arts practices in performance, community and social settings.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Sue Mayo
Modules & structure
In the autumn term we look at the roots of Applied Theatre in Education, in Social and Political Change, and in Community. Classes include work with Geese Theatre on their use of mask in Prisons, Drama and Theatre in Education techniques with Gail Babb of Talawa Theatre, intergenerational arts practices with Convenor Sue Mayo, and the use of Drama to explore Domestic Violence, with Tender. Throughout this term students are also engaged in skills-sharing sessions in order to pool their knowledge and expertise.
In the Spring Term Tutor Raj Bhari, from Talk for Change, leads a module on creative approaches to Community Cohesion, Conflict Resolution, and the artist as activist. We have a short festival of art forms, with classes in song, puppetry and dance- and a residency shared with students of the MA in performance making, working across modules with artists of distinction from within the Goldsmith’s staff and beyond.
Throughout the practical sessions we work with students to develop their facilitation, devising,- project planning and management skills with attention to issues such as group dynamics; power and leadership; inclusion; accessibility; equality; conflict; intercultural practice; safe space and the ethics of touch.
In the summer term students design and lead a weekend of workshops for a public audience.
Histories, Theories and Contexts seminars
This contextual strand enables us consider the thinking behind our embodied knowledge. Through a series of seminars, we consider: the development of applied methods from political theatre; radical and celebratory arts; drama and theatre-in-education; community theatre; prison theatre; therapeutic creative practices and the legacy of Augusto Boal. We study the growing body of writing on applied theatre and its practitioners, and theatre theory. We consider local and international case studies; we read, discuss, watch videos and experience live performances.
Complementary Contextual lectures
Students also choose a lecture based Option module from one of the other exciting MA programmes. Previous modules have included, African Theatre, Performance Praxis, Radical Performance, and The Reflecxtive Practitioner. Our students can also take a specialist applied module led by Danny Braverman, on Disability Theatre, examining the scope and radical nature of disability theatre.
The Convenor, Sue Mayo, supports students to locate and develop a placement in a recognised host organisation. On the placement students further the skills they have practiced on the programme, whilst dealing with the challenges of a professional context. Placement hosts include London Bubble, Magic Me, Resonate. Greenwich & Lewisham Young People's Theatre, Talawa Theatre, Pan-arts, Crisis, Ovalhouse, Green Shoes Arts, The Young Vic, MIND, CEN8, Lewisham Youth Theatre and Spare Tyre.
As part of our commitment to student’s employability, we offer up to five workshops covering various areas directly relevant to workplaces where drama may be applied; for example: planning and managing projects, child protection and working with vulnerable adults, ethics, evaluation, setting up a theatre company or working as an independent artist.
Full time students are in Goldsmiths Monday to Wednesday in terms 1 & 2.
Part time students are in Goldsmiths Tuesday and Wednesday in terms 1 & 2 of year 1, and Mondays only in year 2.
In the summer term, for both years, there are 5 days of teaching in April and May, dates to be confirmed.
The MA Applied Theatre has five points of assessment:
- a 6,000-word essay based on material covered in Term 1
- a 6,000-word reflective portfolio on the placement
- a 12,000-word research project/dissertation
These assessments count towards 80% of the final mark.
The remaining 20% is derived from assessment of the two shared complementary/contextual modules, which include Disability Theatre, Performance Praxis, African Theatre, Musical Theatre and Cultural Theory.
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
The Department of Theatre and Performance offers a vibrant interdisciplinary learning environment, supported by distinguished staff and outstanding facilities
Theatre and Performance
Study in a department that fuses theory and practice, where you can study diverse subjects, and benefit from our industry links. We're ranked 22nd in the world for performing arts.**
Theory and practice
We balance academic study with creative and technical practice, so you’ll explore hands-on theatre making while developing your knowledge of theatre history and culture.
We cover diverse subjects from classical texts and new writing to contemporary writing and performance, and from physical and applied theatres to multimedia/live art.
Teaching staff include distinguished researchers and professional theatre-makers.
We have international networks in the industry, with regular visits from professionals, and links with associate organisations in London including:
Our excellent facilities include a 160-seat theatre, four performance studios, new scenic workshops, sound studio, and open-access media lab. All supported by an outstanding team of technicians and scenic designers.
Find out more about the Department of Theatre and Performance.
*QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
Staff who contribute to the programme include:
- Sue Mayo- Programme Convenor
- Danny Braverman
- Gail Babb- Partnership Convenor
- Andrea Tuiiten
- Raj Bhari- Conflict resolution specialist
Find out more about staff in the Department of Theatre and Performance.
Skills & careers
The MA aims to equip you with the appropriate background knowledge and understanding to work creatively and critically within the broad remit of applied theatre. Recent research identified three core skills for participatory artists working in socially engaged theatre practice. These are:
- critical thinking (the ability to contextualise and interrogate practice in the light of current thinking and practice)
- creativity (the ability to take creative risks based on a strong skill base)
- responsiveness (the ability to reflect and adapt)
The course works with these core skills threaded through its methodology, while also offering opportunities to look at the hard skills of planning, documenting and evaluating work.
Our students go on to work in a range of roles including setting up and running community/participatory theatre companies, as freelance drama workshop facilitators, lecturers, heads of education or participation producers within established theatre companies.
Previous students have gone on to carry out:
- setting up independant companies
- working as freelance director and facilitators
- arts projects with refugees and migrants
- arts work with people with learning disabilities
- theatre work with early years
- creative work in schools and pupil referral units
- cross-arts projects in a range of educational, community and social contexts
- theatre education and outreach
- community theatre
- museum education
- theatre in prisons and with youth risk
Previous graduates from the programme have also continued with research study towards the MPhil or PhD qualification.
We have graduates working at the Southbank Centre, the Royal National Theatre, The Young Vic, Brighton Dome, Pan Arts, Rewrite, Ovalhouse, Battersea Arts Centre, the Albany and Talawa Theatre; with MIND, Tender, Magic Me, and Headway.
Companies set up by past students include:
Graduates are also working in India, the Caribbean, Brazil, Columbia, Estonia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Philippines.
Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject.
You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.
Fitness to train
If you are offered a place on this programme, you'll need to meet the fitness to train criteria.
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.
English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.
For this programme we require:
IELTS 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing
If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.
How to apply
You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system.
Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:
- Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
- The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
- If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
When to apply
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.
Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.
Find out more about applying.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Find out more about tuition fees.