Course information


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time

Course overview

This interdisciplinary Masters programme invites you to interrogate the different ways in which performance can be said to be a socio-cultural phenomenon. It draws on a wide range of theoretical perspectives to understand how performance is shaped by the culture from which it emerges and how it shapes that culture.

Why study MA Performance and Culture at Goldsmiths

  • Examine diverse performance forms from across the globe, including practices such as:
    • dance and movement-based performance
    • ritual practices
    • performance art
    • text-based theatre
    • protest performance
    • site-specific performance
    • installation art
  • Engage with a wide range of theoretical frameworks, using principles and methodologies from sociology, cultural theory, performance studies, anthropology, history, philosophy, and political science to explore performance as a sociocultural process.
  • Develop your critical thinking, oral, and written presentation skills, as well as your ability to manage independent research projects.
  • Tackle fundamental questions about culture and society from contemporary and historical perspectives, including: How can performance respond to, disrupt, or challenge sociopolitical processes? What does it mean to perform and embody one’s culture? What is the role of culturally specific performance in a globalized world?
  • Become a member of a rich, vibrant, and international research community within a politically active university that has links, locally and internationally, with a wide variety of theatres, companies, performers, and arts institutions, all of which enhance your research possibilities.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Dr Philippa Burt.

What you'll study


You will complete three compulsory modules on the programme, which will familiarise you with a range of issues concerning performance as a socio-cultural phenomenon and the methodologies needed to interrogate them. These include:

  • questions about group formation, identity and the performance of culture
  • appropriate conceptual and theoretical material, the intersections between them and their relationship to performance
  • historiographical methodologies, including archival research
  • relations of power, control, domination and exclusion in both local and global contexts
  • questions regarding the role of the body, space and performance in the formation of identity


You'll complete the below compulsory modules, as well as a 60-credit dissertation on a relevant subject of your choosing. You'll also take 30 credits of optional modules from an approved list provided annually by the Department.

Module title Credits
Cultural Theory, Performance, Interdisciplinary Perspectives 30 credits
Historicizing Theatre 30 credits
Corporeality, Embodiment, Alternative Spaces 30 credits

Option modules

You will choose one contextual option module to complement your studies on the programme. The option modules offered by the department often change but can include topics such as:

  • Asian Theatre
  • Eastern European Theatres
  • Musicals in Adaptation
  • World Shakespeares

You can also choose a module offered by a different department at Goldsmiths. 

Alternatively, you can choose to undertake an Independent Study (below).

Module title Credits
Independent Study (MA Performance and Culture) 30 Credits


You can choose to take the programme either full-time or part-time for the duration of one year or two years, respectively. For full-time students, the programme runs over three terms. Part-time students study for two terms in their first year and three terms in their second year. Full details below.

Classes usually take place all day Mondays – the rest of the week is dedicated to your independent study and research. 

Full-time students 

In the Autumn term (September to December), you will complete Cultural Theory and Historicising Theatre. In the Spring term (January to March) you will complete Corporeality, Embodiment and Alternative Spaces as well as either an optional module or an independent study. The Summer term (April to September) is spent completing your dissertation. 

Part-time students

In the first year of your study you will complete Cultural Theory in the Autumn term and Corporeality, Embodiment and Alternative Spaces in the Spring term.

In Year Two you will complete Historicizing Theatre in the Autumn term and then either an optional module or an independent study in the Spring term. You will then complete your dissertation in the Summer term.


Assessment on this programme mainly takes the form of written essays. This includes 5-6,000 word essays for each of the core modules and a 15-20,000 word dissertation. In addition, you will be asked to give oral papers and presentations in class for which you will receive formative feedback and which will help you prepare for your written essays.

Each core module is weighted at 15% of your overall mark, as is your optional module. The dissertation is worth 40%.

Download the programme specification.

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

What our students say


New Cross provides a little safe haven outside the chaos of London when you need it.

I came to this degree straight out of my BA looking for an academic grounding for all my practical experience, and this course delivered that and so much more. The political atmosphere within the Goldsmiths Theatre and Performance department was an education in itself, as was the international nature of the cohort. The discussions that were nurtured by our tutor in the Cultural Theory and Corporeality, Embodiment and Alternative Spaces module guide me in my practice to this day.

New Cross provides a little safe haven outside the chaos of London when you need it. The local cafes and food are all outstanding. I still live in the area and I love how vibrant and comforting it has been through all this time.

Ralph Thompson

I loved every aspect of studying at Goldsmiths. My degree broaden my horizons and introduced me to new kinds of performance practices and critical theory.

Ralph's time at Goldsmiths

I loved every aspect of studying at Goldsmiths. My degree broaden my horizons and introduced me to new kinds of performance practices and critical theory. It changed the way I think about contemporary performance and culture and it continues to inform my professional life in the arts.

South East London

South East London is the best place to study in the city, no competition. Deptford was my favourite area. It has the best market, pubs, cafes and arts centre!

Life since graduating

I am a Producer at Battersea Arts Centre, one of the UK's leading venues for contemporary theatre performance. I programme seasons and festivals of work. I also work with artists to commission and develop new work.

I'm not sure what the future holds but I hope to become an executive producer or executive director of a festival or venue working in contemporary performance and interdisciplinary arts.

Advice for future students

Make the most of being based in London. You have access to brilliant arts and cultural venues across the city. If you find an organisation that interests you, write to them. Studying at Goldsmiths offers an incredible opportunity to develop your skills and interests, create connections and build your network. Festivals and venues across London and the UK are full of people who studied at Goldsmiths!

Maia Purdue

My course was stimulating and really helped me develop my academic voice, and my overall understanding of theatre as an expression of identity.

Maia's time at Goldsmiths

The staff in my department and my fellow students were the best part of my year. I was studying remotely and the lecturers I worked with were so accommodating, going above and beyond to ensure students had access to resources while the campus was shut.

I would say studying at Goldsmiths has made me very aware of how much excellent staff can carry a university. Dr Burt in particular is incredibly innovative and Goldsmiths is incredibly lucky to have her.

My course was stimulating and really helped me develop my academic voice, and my overall understanding of theatre as an expression of identity.

Experience as an international student

I was very lonely in London, but support from peers and my tutor got me through it, though I only stayed in London for the first term.

If I were going again, in non-pandemic times, I would recommend getting as involved as possible in extra-curricular activities.

Campus experience

I studied during the pandemic and so most of the campus was unavailable to me, I did like the library when it was open, and the SU had great classes running even during lockdown. I tried a pole dancing class there and really enjoyed it.

Advice for future students

Do as much reading as you can, and if a reading list looks overwhelming, speak to your lecturer about what is recommended/essential reading. You will learn so much from listening to your peers. My course, in particular, was incredibly discursive and stimulating. Take the opportunity to listen, especially when you disagree with someone.

What the future holds

I am planning on pursuing my PhD next year in Ireland, and hope to continue my career in academia. My dissertation during my MA at Goldsmiths prompted a whole host of questions for me and has influenced my choice to pursue this career path.

See more profiles for this programme

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 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 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 2024/2025 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £9630
  • Home - part-time: £4815
  • International - full-time: £20460

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.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time under a student visa. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

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 as 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.

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 academic qualifications
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively a copy of your academic reference
  • Copies of your educational transcripts or certificates
  • 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

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.



This programme will develop your 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.


The MA Performance and Culture will provide you with 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, with many previous graduates going on to undertake PhD study. 

Other graduates have embarked on professional careers as artists and/or working with performance companies, theatre festivals, arts organisations, NGOs, as well as in the fields of education, cultural policy and journalism. Our alumni base is truly global, with previous students currently working in Singapore, the United States, Sri Lanka, Chile, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Hong Kong, Canada, Romania, among other countries.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

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