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MA in Performance & Culture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Theatre and Performance

Course overview

This pioneering MA offers interdisciplinary perspectives on international performance, and aims to understand performance in relation to the culture to which it contributes.

The Masters takes in diverse forms of theatre, including multicultural and street theatre, and such practices as:

  • performance art
  • dance
  • ritual
  • site-specific performance
  • a wide range of hybrid forms

It leads you to explore performance as sociocultural process by using analytical principles from sociology, the sociology of culture, cultural theory, anthropology, history, philosophy, politics and theatre and performance.

We have numerous links, locally and internationally, with a wide variety of theatres, companies and performers, all of which enhance your research possibilities.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Department of Theatre and Performance Secretary

Modules & structure

There are three compulsory core modules which focus on a range of issues concerning performance as a sociocultural practice. They involve:

  • conceptual and theoretical material, their interweave and their relationship to performance
  • historiographical methodologies and textual issues
  • analysis of live performances
  • cultural difference, ethnicity and cross-culturalism
  • questions to do with corporeality, alternative spaces and performance in terms of social inclusivity

A choice of options or independent study constitutes the fourth component, and a dissertation on your individual research completes your programme of study.

Core modules

The three core modules consist of:

Cultural Theory, Performance, Interdisciplinary Perspectives

This module is an introduction to the whole programme and focuses on the interdisciplinary use of a range of theories from sociology, anthropology, theatre and other areas to understand live performance. As part of this module you are expected to see as many performances as possible.

Historicising Theatre

This module is concerned with exploring the problems and possibilities of theatre history, and the relationship between theatre, text and cultural context.

Corporeality, Embodiment, Alternative Spaces

This module includes work on rituals, shamanism, dance, hybrid forms, site-specific, multi-ethnic performance and theatres of exclusion.

Assessment

Each compulsory module and the option module carry equal weight, each representing 15% of the overall mark. The dissertation is worth 40%.

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

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.

Diverse subjects

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.

Distinguished staff

Teaching staff include distinguished researchers and professional theatre-makers.

Industry links

We have international networks in the industry, with regular visits from professionals, and links with associate organisations in London including:

Facilities

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

Skills & careers

Skills

You will develop writing and oral skills at a high academic level, demonstrating the ability to think and work in an interdisciplinary manner using a range of methodologies. your ability to work collaboratively and to facilitate and participate in group discussions will be enhanced.

You will also develop skills in identifying the socio-cultural, historical and political issues and pressures specific to varied types of performance.

Careers

This programme provides a strong grounding in the principles of research and of learning through independent research. It is particularly suitable if you wish to pursue further academic work in creative, performative fields.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Student profiles

Karen

"The MA gave me a chance to enhance my theatre knowledge, not only from a purely aesthetic point of view, but also through appropriation of theatre works within their political, historical, social and cultural contexts."

What was your experience of being at Goldsmiths? What did you enjoy most?

"The MA gave me a chance to enhance my theatre knowledge, not only from a purely aesthetic point of view, but also through appropriation of theatre works within their political, historical, social and cultural contexts. Such an approach was important in facilitating my understanding of the essence and function of performing arts.

I enjoyed the challenging but inspiring course content of the MA, from which I was introduced a new interdisciplinary approach of perceiving and understanding a diverse range of theatres. Such an approach has broadened my vision and developed my artistic inspights. I can now dare to give new interpretations to existing concepts or even redefine discourses. Take dance for example. In the past, I only paid attention to how dancers moved and how their movements were arranged. But according to Professor Maria Shevtsova, dance (or choreography) is fundamentally the arrangement of time and space. Dancers can be a medium and not an end. Such a refreshing concept of dance enabled me to understand why choreographers like William Forsythe and Wayne McGregor would hide their dancers on stage from time to time. And I was also inspired to find new possibilities in dance.

I also loved the location of the Goldsmiths campus. With Deptford and the Creekside, Laban Centre and Greenwich nearby, there were a lot of places for a foreign student like me to explore and get inspired. On the other hand, the possibility of getting to the city centre within half an hour facilitated my frequent visits to world-acclaimed international productions and many interesting and original small and medium theatres from the UK and Europe, as well as various kinds of exhibitions during my stay in London."

Are there any particular experiences or events that characterised your time here?

"Apart from reading and checking videos in the Library, what I treasure most is exchanging my views on theatre with Maria and my course fellows.

We once went to see 'A Taste for Mangoes', written and directed by Jatinder Verma of Tara Arts. We all had dinner together before the show, and Maria gave us a brief introduction of the director and the play. When we arrived at Wilton’s Music Hall and enjoyed the play, we found that it was not an ordinary drama production. 'A Taste for Mangoes' was in fact an interdisciplinary performance interweaving text with Indian dance, music and even food – one of the characters made mango naan on stage and passed it to the audience at the end of the play!

The historic surroundings (of the performance venue) together with what we saw, heard, smelt and tasted generated an overwhelming total theatre experience that still remains vivid in my mind after all these years. The beautiful night was concluded by an enthusiastic discussion with the director, thanks to Maria’s arrangement.

I was most impressed by Maria’s intention of using this production to remind us of the concept of 'habitus' (Bourdieu’s social theory) that we learnt during the MA. It was equally fascinating for me to find, after all these years, that I had kept using 'A Taste for Mangoes' as a point of reference when I worked as the programme manager of the New Vision Arts Festival scouting for cross-cultural and cross-boundary avant-garde programmes."

How did your time at Goldsmiths help you in your career?

"As I have mentioned before, understanding performing arts as part of a sociocultural process from an interdisciplinary perspective allowed me to conduct a comprehensive analysis of various forms of theatres, from their artistic merits to their relationship with the society.

It also enabled me to predict the future trend of performing arts and how our festivals should act or react accordingly. Such artistic insight is a prerequisite for being a successful festival curator.

Studying with Maria at Goldsmiths was a self-enlightening experience for me. I have not only developed a new perception of performing arts but also of the world. 

I’m glad I can contribute what I learned at Goldsmiths back to the Hong Kong performing arts scene." 

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper 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.

Equivalent qualifications
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
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • 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 1 October to 30 June 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.

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.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

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