A unique programme for dramaturges and playwrights.
This highly successful programme offers specialist pathways in Performance Writing and Dramaturgy. We concentrate on the process of writing for live performance, together with an ongoing evaluation of the work in process. Through practice and reflection, we enable you to establish a distinctive, individual approach as both a writer and dramaturge. Projects include site-specific work, writing for a specific audience, verbatim theatre and interdisciplinary collaboration.
We support the development of texts for performance, alongside an intellectual understanding of the diverse forms and contexts in which live performance can be made and the writer/dramaturge’s role in this. We examine texts from a wide range of periods and cultures. We engage with work that is innovative, or which challenges established notions of practice.
Permanent staff are joined by distinguished professionals. Visiting tutors include Ian Rickson (former Artistic Director of the Royal Court), April De Angelis, Duncan Macmillan, Penny Black, and Hanna Slattne.
Opportunities to collaborate
Dramaturges and playwrights study side by side and examine creative and dramaturgical issues from various perspectives as writers, spectators and creative collaborators. There are opportunities to collaborate on an Interdisciplinary Project with MA Performance Makers and composers from the Department of Music. Final project texts, performed and directed by industry professionals, are presented at the Soho Theatre in London, attended by key industry representatives. Graduates are highly successful in obtaining commissions, dramaturgy posts and artistic directorships. 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)
All students receive Professional Orientation and support towards career development.
Why study in London?
London continues to be a major world centre for a staggering range of arts activity. It is world-leading in new writing and contemporary performance. A city that generates innovation, there are many platforms for emerging artists and opportunities for making professional and other creative contacts.
We have strong links with a large number of London-based practitioners, international networks and organisations, individuals 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
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.
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.
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.
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).
Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.
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.
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 of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing 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
Find out more about tuition fees.
Students can apply for the Harprit Sekhon Bursary which provides £1,000 each year to support students from a low income background.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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
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.