MPhil/PhD Drama

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
  • Drama
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April


Why study for a Humanities PhD

Hear from staff and postgraduate research students as they explain what makes Exeter a unique place to study at a postgraduate level. View full size.

The Drama Department at Exeter offers a supportive and stimulating environment for postgraduate research, welcoming students from all parts of the world. The Department is situated in new, attractive buildings on a modern campus, in quiet surroundings which nevertheless are close to the major facilities of a beautiful and friendly city. Whatever your area of study in the wide field of theatre - performance, theory, writing for performance, criticism, analysis, historiography - you will have access to expert specialist supervision and excellent practical resources, and be able to rely upon support and stimulus from fellow students and members of staff. The Department has a lively tradition of research and creative activity, and by choosing to come to Exeter you will contribute to that impressive reputation.

The cultural region of the South West embraces Bristol and Plymouth as well as Exeter; all three cities have professional theatres, arts centres, and music performance venues. Local facilities include the Exeter Northcott Theatre, Phoenix Arts Centre, The Bike Shed and the University itself. The Old Vic Theatre and the Arnolfini in Bristol are nationally famous centres for the arts. Your studies will benefit from the wide range of exciting performances available in the city and in the surrounding region.

The Department has always insisted on the importance of practice, and interest in research through practice is strongly welcomed. This might include a major interest in theatrical direction, performance, or playwriting associated with written study in the dissertation for drama.

Current available funding

Research areas

The Drama research webpages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the Drama staff profiles pages.

Research strengths include:

  • the relationship between theory and practice (praxis) between actor and character
  • the politics of Shakespeare and English drama
  • dramaturgy and writing for performance
  • actor and performer training
  • vocal practice
  • gender and performance
  • ancient Greek performance
  • the theory of performance and interculturalism
  • political and popular theatre
  • applied theatre in the community
  • performance art, new media, and bioart
  • theatre and music / music theatre
  • site-specific and site-sensitive performance
  • auto-performance and autobiography
  • theatre and mental health
  • Eastern European theatre
  • theatre and religion.

Staff also support research into theatre direction, acting, and playwriting.

Research centres

Many members of staff and research students are involved with one of the Department’s three research centres:

  • The Centre for Contemporary Performance Practices embraces an exciting range of international research concerned with interdisciplinary and intercultural processes of devising, directing, dramaturgy, performing, training and writing in a diverse array of performance spaces and architectures.
  • The Centre for Performance Histories and Cultures embraces a wide range of areas, not only producing historical research but also examining theatre in relation to specific cultural contexts.
  • The Centre for Performance, Sciences, and Community fosters scholarly, inter-disciplinary innovation in a diverse range of subjects within and beyond the medical humanities including biology, medicine, neurophysiology, and quantum physics.

Many Drama staff are also involved with the College's Centre for Intermedia, which promotes advanced transdisciplinary research in performance and the arts through collaborations between artists, academics and scientists from a range of disciplines.

Our academics

We offer supervision across a wide variety of research specialism. Visit our staff profiles for details of our individual research interests.


We have invested nearly £4 million in our industry standard drama facilities providing a superb environment for learning and research.

This includes eight large studio spaces (six are fully technically equipped and four have sprung floors), three sound recording studios, state-of-the-art computer facilities for lighting and sound design, two digital media suites for the creation of DVD video and audio to document practice, and workshops for set construction, costume and prop-making.

MPhil and PhD students benefit from a 24-hour postgraduate research student computer suite.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Drama postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Assistant Director
Assistant Practitioner
Associate Lecturer in Drama
Drama Facilitator
Educational Assistant
Freelance Arts Practitioner
Freelance Trainer and Applied Dramatist
General Manager
Publishing Trainee
Social Activities Co-Ordinator
Millennium Forum Theatre
Municipal and Regional Theatre of Veria
Oily Cart
Thammasat University
Theatre Royal
University of Exeter
University of Portsmouth
Volkstheater Wien
Yoda Press

Entry requirements 2018

Students applying to enter directly into the MPhil/PhD programme would normally be expected to have a Masters degree with Merit or equivalent in Drama, Theatre Practice or a related subject, or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject.

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

Applying for MPhil/PhD study

You may wish to read our general advice for PhD applicants, which give tips on how to put together a successful research degree application.

Applicants for research programmes are also advised to visit the College's webpages to check for specific advice. Here you will be able to find out about staff research interests and make preliminary enquiries about supervision. We advise that you do this before applying.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Current available funding

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online

Recent PhD titles

Here are some examples of PhD theses undertaken by students in Drama at the University of Exeter.

  • Consciousness and character
  • Re: constructing the natural: a trajectory of Bodies, Landscapes and Technologies
  • Contemporary Acting in Ancient Hellistic (Greek) Drama
  • Engaging with Theatrical Presence
  • British Asian feminist contemporary plays
  • Authenticity within practice for the playwright-director
  • Theatre as development (Uganda)
  • Audience Immersion: Environment, Interactivity, Narrative in the work of Punchdrunk
  • The traditions and functions of trance possession found in Thai contemporary rituals as a tool for personal and social efficacy
  • Rasa aesthetics and contemporary drama in India and The Diaspora
  • The representation of performance aesthetics in "Xingju" (New Theatre) in post-war Taiwan (1945-1970)
    Performative walking
  • The Discussion of Theatrical Issues within The Modern Western Plays and Its Influence on The Egyptian Drama
  • Oscar Wilde and visual theatre
  • Classroom-based drama
  • Feeling the way towards an embodied understanding of performative play and intention in contemporary dance theatre; What is the role of the performer?
  • 'Encounters with Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas in the theatre and beyond: an exploration of ethics, structure and subjectivity through the work of Jerzy Grotowski'
  • Applied theatre + domestic violence
  • The process of adapting Shakespeare for performance by small casts in contemporary British theatre
  • A phenonenocogial/existential analysis of 'being in the moment' according to the teaching of Sanford Meisner
  • The theatre of Gunduv Kalic
  • Black theatre in Britain
  • Taking Apart A Radical's Approach:  Charles Marowitz and Shakespearean Adaptation
  • Drama: Small scale touring theatre in the South West region
  • Afro Brazilian rituals as a source for actor training
  • Modernity & tradition in Thai Ukay performance
  • From Hypertext to Performance
  • Drama and urban regeneration
  • Theatre arts and body-consciousness in space in Taiwan
  • Narrative & practice: Interdisciplinary qualitative study of embodied practices
  • Bright to dark consciousness in pyschophysical actor training
  • The performance of heritage
  • Contemporary Italian theatre
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I love my PhD

Drama PhD student Nora Williams tells us about her research and why she loves her PhD. View full size.