Course information

Length

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Course overview

A unique programme for dramaturges and playwrights, this programme concentrates on the process of writing for live performance, together with an ongoing evaluation of the work in process.

Why study MA Dramaturgy & Writing for Performance at Goldsmiths?

  • This Masters will help you establish a distinctive, individual approach as a writer and dramaturge. You will work on projects including site-specific work, writing for a specific audience, verbatim theatre and interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • You will develop texts for performance, and refine your intellectual understanding of the diverse forms and contexts in which live performance can be made.
  • You will be taught by experienced permanent staff, as well as visiting tutors, including Goldsmiths alumnus Ian Rickson (former Artistic Director of the Royal Court), April De Angelis, Duncan Macmillan, Penny Black, and Hanna Slattne.
  • You will have the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project with MA Performance Makers and composers from the Department of Music. Your final project texts, performed and directed by industry professionals at the Soho Theatre in London, and attended by key industry representatives.
  • Graduates from this programme are highly successful in obtaining commissions, dramaturgy posts and artistic directorships. All students receive Professional Orientation and career development support. Recent successes include:
    • John Brittain (Olivier-winning Rotterdam, 2016)
    • Tena Štivičić (Three Winters National Theatre 2015)
    • Finn Kennedy (Artistic Director, Tamasha Theatre Company 2015)
    • Melissa Bubnic (Beached at Soho Theatre 2015)
  • You will be based in one of the world’s biggest artistic and performance hubs: London. The capital is world-leading in new writing and contemporary performance, and offers many platforms for emerging artists, as well as professional and creative networking.
  • The programme has strong links to a number of London-based practitioners, international networks, and venues in the field of new performance writing (see our Key Associate Organisations). Many of these contribute directly to the teaching of the programme.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Fiona Graham

What you'll study

Autumn term 

All students take the Writing Projects module: you will work on three diverse, short playwriting projects. Each addresses particular generic issues that relate to writing for live performance, and you will engage with the specific challenges and demands of differing circumstances of text development and production. These will vary from year to year, but they are likely to be selected from the following:

  • Theatre as Event – site-specific performance
  • Authenticity and Live Performance – verbatim theatre
  • Writing for Specific Audiences – children’s/young person’s theatre project
  • Creative Collaboration – multimedia collaboration with MA Performance Making and Studio Composition students from the Department of Music

You will also take the Dramaturgy module, which has two main elements: analysis of dramatic text (these will include classics and modern classics, as well as new plays); and analysis of live performance seen by the group (including some visual, environmental or non-text-based work). During the module you will assemble a portfolio of critical analyses and creative writing projects for assessment.

You will also take one contextual module alongside students from other Masters programmes, to be selected from a list of options that will vary from session to session.

Spring term 

You will develop your work on Dramaturgy with the term-long practical workshop module Creative Intervention in Text. This will examine: translation; adaptation of work from other media for live performance; and the re-writing and/or adaptation of extant plays; planning and curating seasons of performance work. You will assemble a portfolio of creative projects for assessment.

You also start work on your Final Project the personal Dissertation-equivalent project that will be the core of your work for the next six months). Weekly seminars and workshops will examine themes relevant to the range of projects chosen, and a first draft or outline will be produced. Each project will be the focus of individual tutorials, and then a class workshop led by a guest dramaturg, director or playwright as appropriate. You will then plan the next phase of the research or development of your project.

You also take another option from the list of contextual modules shared with students from other Masters programmes.

Summer term 

You will present the second draft of your project for another phase of tutorials and group workshops.

Playwriting projects will then be prepared for some form of public rehearsed reading or scratch performance, in extract form – with the writers involved in all aspects of the work.

Dramaturgy projects will be given practical support of an appropriate, equivalent kind. You will further develop your work, with tutorials and workshops and public presentation of work as appropriate, before writing and submitting the finished project.

Throughout the year, various seminars and workshops will examine diverse issues that affect writers today, and these will be led by visiting professionals as appropriate.

Assessment

We deploy a range of assessment approaches, each appropriate to the module taken. Students taking Writing Projects will submit three short playtexts for assessment. Dramaturgy is assessed by a portfolio of analytic reviews, and Creative Intervention in Text by a series of short creative writing projects and writing exercises. Each of the contextual option modules is assessed by a 4,000 word essay. Final Project leads to the production of a playtext (Playwriting), or a Dissertation or equivalent practical project (Dramaturgy). 

Module title Credits
  Writing for Performance (Final Project) 60 Credits

Download the programme specification, for the 2019-20 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.

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.

International qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and no element lower than 6.5 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Annual tuition fees

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2019/20 academic year.

  • Home/EU - full-time: £7750
  • Home/EU - part-time: £3875
  • International - full-time: £15810

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

If you're an international student interested in studying part-time, please contact our Admissions Team to find out if you're eligible.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments. Please check the programme specification for more information.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

You may also be eligible to apply for AHRC funding.

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)

It is important that your application makes clear the nature of your commitment to work in some field of live performance; and the nature of your creative/professional interests.

Applicants to Playwriting should also include a specimen of their recent original writing for live performance – a complete play is best, even if it is a relatively short one.

Applicants to Dramaturgy should include a 1,500 word analysis of a live performance that they have seen recently.

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.

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.

Staff

Who teaches on the programme?

The programme uses a core team of highly experienced agents, dramaturges, directors and playwrights, led by the programme’s Convenor Fiona Graham, as well as a wide-ranging roster of predominantly London-based theatre professionals.

Recent contributors to the programme have included

  • Penny Black (freelance dramaturge, translator and playwright).
  • Sarah Dickenson (freelance dramaturge)
  • Gabriel Gbadamosi (playwright, poet, novelist and cultural critic)
  • Fin Kennedy (Artistic Director, Tamasha, playwright)
  • David Lane (playwright, dramaturge)
  • Nicholas McInerny (playwright, radio writer, formerly Chief Writer on The Bill)
  • Ian Rickson (Artistic Director Royal Court 1998-2006)
  • Hannah Silva (poet, playwright and theatre-maker)
  • Lily Williams (Curtis Brown Agency)

Careers

Skills

Playwriting specialists will become skilled in:

  • the use of a range of techniques for the development and structuring of original material for live performance
  • working to a brief in diverse professional circumstances
  • evolving an individual creative vision

Dramaturgy specialists will become:

  • familiar with a diverse range of techniques for generating and developing new work
  • skilled in analysis of dramatic text and live performance
  • skilled in formulating a distinctive contribution to policy and practice in one or more fields of new writing

Careers

Numerous playwrights completing this programme receive high-level professional development opportunities, commissions, awards and full-scale productions of their work at major new writing centres in the UK, USA and in continental Europe. Many also work for at least part of the time in the fields of script development (for theatre and television), and in theatre publication.

Recent playwriting alumni include:

  • Ben Musgrave, whose Pretend You Have Big Buildings won the Bruntwood Prize (2006) and received a main house production at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
  • Allia V Oswald, whose Dirty Water won the Alfred Fagon Award (2007) and was given a rehearsed reading at the Royal Court Theatre
  • Adam Brace, whose play Stovepipe was a High Tide Festival winner (2008), and was staged recently by the National Theatre and published by Faber

In each of these cases the award-winning play was the writer’s Final Project from this programme.

Dramaturgy alumni work in professional literary management for mainstream and fringe building-based companies, as well as on freelance script development programmes in the UK and internationally. These include:

  • David Lane, who now has an extremely busy career as a freelance dramaturge, teacher and playwright
  • Francesca Malfrin, who is currently developing translation projects of Italian plays with a range of agencies, including the National Theatre Studio

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

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