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MA in Applied Theatre: Drama in Educational, Community & Social Contexts

This MA addresses the historical, political, theoretical and ethical issues of applied theatre and develops your ability to contextualise, critique and create.

About the department
Theatre and Performance

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.


Goldsmiths also offers a range of international scholarships including Humanitarian Scholarships for prospective Masters students from Palestine.

See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Sue Mayo
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

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.

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.

Full time students are in Goldsmiths Monday – 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.

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.


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.

Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details 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. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international studentsGoldsmiths are currently offering a range of international scholarships including Humanitarian Scholarships for prospective Masters students from Palestine. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection process

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.

Entrance requirements

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.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

English language

You should normally have an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in a relevant subject area. If your first language is not English you need a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (including 7.0 in the written element) or equivalent. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form


+44 (0)20 7919 7766

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Staff research interests (Theatre and Performance)

Cultural policy and theory, particularly the relationship between social and cultural inclusion/exclusion, the instrumental use of the arts and how cultural value is determined. Besides community arts forms and practices, his interests also cover popular culture and its articulation with ‘high’ culture. This includes a more general analysis of leisure space and the global impact of mass culture.
Dr Paul Clements BA MA PhD

Space dramaturgy; object dramaturgy; devised theatre and performance; compositional strategies.
Dr Andrea Cusumano BA PhD

Contemporary and historical physicalised performer-training and directorial practices (including embodied experiences in process and performance); directorial practices; devised performance; cross-arts performance; multi-media practice; radical use of text in performance.
Cass Fleming BA MA

Performance training/physical theatre (Grotowski, Artaud, Brook); new theatre/new writing; interdisciplinary performance; dance theatre/new dance; martial arts and performance; the body and scenography; issues of the body; hysteria; women’s theatre/performance.
Dr Anna Furse BA PGTC PhD

Methodologies of rehearsal; new performance writing; innovation in text-based performance practice; children’s theatre; Shakespeare; opera and music theatre.
John Ginman BA

Performance praxis (theories of acting, history of acting and directing, systems of actor training); Restoration and modern English comedy; post-war British theatre; South African theatre; the British and American musical.
Professor Robert Gordon BA MA LTCL FRSA

Irish theatre; the work of J M Synge, W B Yeats and Sean O’Casey; theatre history; theatre and cultural history; politics and nationalism; Irish political history; modernism.
Dr Ben Levitas BA MA DPhil

Theatre and fascism; sport theatre; public spectacle and fascism; 20th-century Catalan, Spanish, French, German and Italian theatre.
Dr John London BA MA PhD

African theatre; Caribbean theatre; postcolonial theatre; theatre-fordevelopment; intercultural/cross-cultural issues in performance.
Dr Osita Okagbue BA MA PhD

Contemporary Black British writing; prison theatre and drama; motherhood and colonial ideology; New Women writers; Australian indigenous writing and performance; women secret agents and war.
Dr Deirdre Osborne PhD

Archetype and archetypal psychology, especially dreams; physical theatre practice and training; Grotowski, Barba, Lecoq: commedia dell’arte, ancient pantomime.
Göze Saner BA

20th-century directors and mise-en-scène, including Ariane Mnouchkine, Peter Brook, Giorgio Strehler and Robert Wilson; French and Russian theatre including Lev Dodin and the Maly; sociology of the theatre; interdisciplinary methodologies; theatre theory, performance and cultural theory; performance analysis; audience analysis; dance; opera.
Professor Maria Shevtsova BA M-ès-L DipEd PhD

Modules and structure

Practical workshops

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. 1st year students and 2nd year part time students work together to create a short module in facilitation skills, which they deliver to a group of actors, musicians and dancers who are on a training module led by Talawa Theatre and Emergency Exit Arts, Creating Routes.

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, clowning, puppetry and digital media, 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, 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, for example, African Theatre and Drama, Performance Praxis. 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 Only Connect, 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.

Professional development

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.

Student and Graduate Profiles


"I learnt something every day, and the people in my life say they have never seen me happier or more in touch with my goals and dreams."

Studying the Applied Theatre course at Goldsmiths was one of the greatest personal and professional experiences of my life. I come from a background in Playwriting and Human Rights and still feel so lucky that this programme exists. It has validated my passions and inspired me to dream big in the future.

I learnt something every day, and the people in my life say they have never seen me happier or more in touch with my goals and dreams. I also made a great local and international network of friends and colleagues of amazing people passionate about the power theatre can have on people's lives.

I plan to go on for my PhD and one day start my own company. I cannot stress enough how much London, Goldsmiths, my coursemates, my hall mates and the world of Applied Theatre have changed my life for the better.  


"I've made many new friends"

I'm only one month into my MA and I am very happy to say that I enjoy the course very much. I'm receiving both academic learning and practical learning and the two are very well linked with each other. I found myself drinking up the theories and using them instantly to help me understand better about my field of work and my past experiences. I have also made many new friends and we enjoy each other's company very much.  

I have just kicked off my new radio show on Wired Radio at Goldsmiths. My show is called 'Made in China' and will be on air at 11 am on Saturdays. I will be talking about Chinese social issues, introducing original Chinese music, reading Chinese stories and literature. I am also planning to do some interviews with Chinese scholars, students or researchers on aspects of contemporary China. The first show will be on next Saturday 2rd of November and there will be a facebook and mixcloud page dedicated to 'Made in China Radio' soon so hopefully anyone interested in taking a closer look at China today could listen to my programme, and have some fun as well! 


"The course helped me find a creative way to merge my two passions."

Growing up within the surrounding areas of New Cross, I felt it was only right to study at Goldsmiths. As a performer and youth work practitioner I found it quite challenging to balance the two vocations. The course helped me find a creative way to merge my two passions.

I enjoyed the practical element of the course, and found it stimulating. I now feel equipped with an extensive amount of tools and resources, which I can now take out into the field.

The environment at Goldsmiths is vibrant, diverse and an inspiring place to be.

I now hope to work with children and young people within my local area using drama disciplines, techniques and other supporting art forms to engage with them through a creative process.

Miles, graduated 2008

Director, Green Shoes Arts

"The MA gave me a solid foundation from which to start a community arts project."

Goldsmiths provided a hugely creative and supportive environment in which to develop as an artist and facilitator. As an established practitioner the MA programme gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own practice, develop new ideas and extend my skills. I met a wide range of practitioners on the MA, a lot of whom I continue to work alongside.

After graduating from Goldsmiths four of us from the MA in Applied Theatre programme started Green Shoes Arts, a community arts project based in Barking & Dagenham committed to providing children and young people with creative opportunities that are positive, challenging, inspiring and fun. We now run four youth theatre programmes and a dance company, with members ranging between 5 and 19 years old.

The MA gave me a solid foundation from which to start a community arts project.

Jenni, graduated 2011

Community Drama & Theatre Practitioner

"A huge array of exercises and devising techniques were packed into the year, giving me a wonderful toolkit which I have taken out into the working world with me."

Since graduating from Goldsmiths I have specialised in creating theatre with and for people with disabilities. I have supported both community projects and professional disabled artists for companies including Graeae, Extant, Headway (the brain injury charity) and the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.

I was recently been awarded funding from Arts Council England to manage and deliver my own project, Unscene Suffolk, running workshops for blind and partially sighted adults, culminating in public performances. This project is supported by the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Sensing Change.

I also work part-time as Arts Administrator for the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, whose arts programme uses charitable funds to improve the wellbeing of patients and staff through access to the arts.

The practical content of my MA teaching was fantastic. A huge array of exercises and devising techniques were packed into the year, giving me a wonderful toolkit which I have taken out into the working world with me.

It was great to be taught by tutors who were practising community artists and who brought with them real wisdom from their own experience. We were encouraged to reflect continually and I still enjoy meeting with friends from the MA, who now form a valuable network of professional contacts, and reflecting on our work together.


I thought Goldsmiths would be the perfect place to examine the field of applied drama, allowing me to evaluate and develop my style of working. Thankfully, I was right – the MA has provided an incredibly supportive and creative environment in which to examine applied drama both theoretically and practically; learning new facilitation skills, debating ethical issues surrounding the field and forming theories with classmates, as well as meeting and working with a wide range of experienced practitioners.

MA in Applied Theatre, worked at Crisis during their placements. 

"Both Jess and Zoilo were very self-sufficient. They devised what they wanted to deliver themselves and really took responsibility for it. They were great. The members really took to the idea of a hands-on creative process which, for me, was very satisfying because that was why I had approached Goldsmiths in the first place - in order to bring in new ideas. Overall it came together wonderfully."

Crisis is a national charity for single homeless people- those over the age of 25 who are in hostels, street homeless or on the first steps away from homelessness. Many have enduring issues around alcohol and substance abuse and also around mental health. The Skylight programme is a self-referral programme, offering people opportunities to express themselves creatively, as a pathway out of homelessness. More...

Skills and careers


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 work with people with learning disabilities; to do theatre work with early years; creative work in pupil referral units; cross-arts projects in a range of educational, community and social contexts; theatre education and outreach; community theatre; museum education and theatre in prisons. Previous graduates from the programme have also continued with research study towards the MPhil or PhD qualification.

We have graduates working at the South Bank 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 Green Shoes Arts, Unscene Suffolk, Bread and Goose and Blink Dance Company. Graduates are also working in India, the Caribbean, Brazil, Columbia, Estonia, Greece, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Philippines.


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), and 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.

Content last modified: 02 Sep 2014

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