MPhil/PhD Performance Practice

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.

This research programme is designed for students wishing to take their performance practice beyond an MA.

The area of study is entirely dependent on the student, and can be taken in Theatrical Practice, Drama or Music. The variety of possible subjects of research through practice is large (eg playwriting, acting, directing, physical theatre, dance theatre, masks, music theatre, music performance etc).


Candidates will be assigned appropriate supervisors, under whose guidance the programme of research through practice will be advanced. Some proven expertise in the candidate's chosen area of research will be a prerequisite for admission to the degree programme.


The College will seek to facilitate the progress of the student's practice, either in-house or in collaboration with local and national organisations with which we have established connections.

Any practice designed to contribute to the degree will be formally assessed, where possible by the external examiner(s) as well as the internal examiner(s). Any project designed to interrogate the research objectives of the chosen practice should be accompanied by an associated critical commentary. Appropriate records (aural, visual etc.) of the practice, together with commentaries, will then comprise the main body of the critical commentary submitted (in lieu of dissertation) for examination. Candidates for the MPhil/PhD in Performance Practice may furnish the critical commentary with appropriate introductory and summative material, provided that such material does not carry the whole commentary above the word-limit currently prescribed by the Regulations Governing Programmes for Higher Degrees in the Arts and Humanities.

It is recognised that different practices will result in different outcomes, but each critical commentary should display evidence of:

  • a distinctive practice
  • research objectives
  • the originality of the thinking that has informed the practice
  • the candidate's ability to place the particular practice in its appropriate creative/cultural context.

It will be a further requirement that the critical commentary be capable of interpretation independently of the practice that has informed it, and that its presentation be satisfactory. If the examiners consider that the critical commentary does not reach the satisfactory standard required for the award of a PhD, they may make one of the recommendations listed in the Regulations Governing Programmes for Higher Degrees.

Students will be given technical guidance, where appropriate, on editing video recordings of their work to accompany the critical commentary using Final Cut Pro software in the digital media suite in Drama's Alexander Building. For those students who expect that their final critical commentary will contain a number of projects, there is a maximum of 10,000 words for each accompanying commentary. The overall maximum word-count remains, as for all PhDs in the College, 100,000 words.

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 2017

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 2017/18

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £15,950 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

Recent PhD titles

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

  • Script-writing in an educational context
  • Towards a new paradigm on acting. Integrating Michael Chekhov's techniques and an actor-training based on Asian Martial Arts
  • Cultural identities and intercultural performance
  • Actor/Director communication in Psychophysical training
  • Toward the psychophysical principles
  • Women's artistic gymnastics and psychophysical actor-training
  • An exploration of the imaginative power of the image and its dynamics in performance
  • Korean style acting methods with adaptation of the Western style
  • Myth, archetype and performance
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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.