Physical Acting - MA


This taught Master's explores physical training for actors and performance practice. Based on an intensive, sustained and sophisticated engagement with this specialist aspect of theatre practice, the programme gives you the opportunity to work as individual practitioners and as an ensemble.



The programme explores:

  • physical and vocal training processes for actors
  • acting processes for performers
  • autonomous and collaborative practice
  • interdisciplinary approaches

It also equips you with the ability to document research practices in an appropriate form that is viewed as an integral part of the process and outcomes of this MA.

You have the opportunity to work with internationally respected physical theatre and training specialists, including Professor Paul Allain and Kent colleagues, as well as participate in a professional workshop on actor training by a visiting practitioner working within the tradition of European experimental theatre. You can participate fully in the activities of the Department’s very active research centre, the ‘European Theatre Research Network’.

About the Department of Drama and Theatre

Postgraduate Drama and Theatre studies at Kent has a very strong reputation for research and supervision in contemporary performance processes, applied performance and European theatre.

The wide-ranging interests of our international team of leading and emerging researchers (from the UK, Australia, Greece, Germany and other countries) also include research strengths in Shakespeare, 18th-century theatre, multimedia performance, and in the history of comedy and popular performance.

Our distinctive focus at Kent is on theatre as practice, whatever the topic, area, mode and methodology of research, and we encourage postgraduate students to make use of our close links and contacts with local, national and international (especially European) theatre companies, venues, schools and artists, both for research and to encourage professional postgraduate development.

What our Students Say

'The Physical Acting MA was an exceptional learning experience both academically and practically. I learnt a lot about body movement, energy, and rhythm. Because of this I am now starting my own physical theatre company which is the first in my country.' Sami Saad, Theatre Practitioner from Kuwait

'This MA helped me to grow as both an actor and theatre maker. In focusing on solo performance you can learn so much about what you can give as a performer and where you can develop - the staff are attentive and invested in this as well. Training is extremely important for any performer and the course provides the skills to go on and create work that challenges and excites.' Katharine Hardman, Co-Artistic Director Entita Theatre

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Arts at Kent was ranked 1st for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research quality.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure


The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This spring term module is aimed at developing advanced skills in the composition, rehearsal, and performance of an ensemble theatre piece. Students will work collaboratively to: identify a starting point, generate physical and vocal scores, and construct and act a performance score. The module will be complemented by the spring workshop and seminar sessions of DR891 Physical and Vocal Training for Actors which focus on collaborative training techniques.

Students will document the ongoing group work as an integral part of the compositional process; they will comment and reflect on their work as collaborative artists involved in an autonomous practice.

Students will demonstrate their learning towards the end of term by an Ensemble Performance Presentation. This will be accompanied by the DR891 Ensemble Technical Presentation which will take the form of a lecture-demonstration on the subject of the training processes that influenced their Ensemble Performance. In this way, students will be encouraged to link training process with artistic result.

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This module directs students to investigate and develop physical and vocal actor training techniques. It is designed to complement the other modules on the Physical Acting Specialism by providing synergies between training and performance applications, with the objective of linking process with product. Autumn term focuses on individual training techniques and the development of autonomous processes for actors. Spring term will focus on ensemble training by exploring partner and group-based processes.

In both terms, students will work practically in tutor-led workshops and independently. In addition to their theatre-based work, students will be expected to practise and document other forms of training practices (e.g. dance classes, martial arts, sports), and incorporate this work in their end of term assessments.

Students will demonstrate their learning towards the end of each term by a Solo Technical Presentation in autumn and an Ensemble Technical Presentation in spring. These presentations will take the form of lecture-demonstrations on the subject of the training processes that influenced their DR895 Solo Performance (autumn) and DR892 Ensemble Performance (spring).

Three Contextual Seminars will be held per term with a focus on the theory, ethics, and history of actor training.

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This module is aimed at developing advanced skills in the composition, rehearsal, and performance of a solo theatre piece. Students will identify a starting point, generate physical and vocal scores, and construct and act a performance score. The module will be complemented by the autumn workshop and seminar sessions of DRAM8910 Physical and Vocal Training for Actors. Students will document the ongoing work as an integral part of the compositional process and be encouraged to link training process with artistic result.

View full module details
Compulsory modules currently include Credits

Throughout their studies on a taught Masters-course, students will develop and pursue an in-depth research into a specific topic, thus increasing their potential as appropriate for a postgraduate degree. Students will start shaping and preparing their research early in the year, supported by mandatory seminars in academic writing, research skills and resources, and practice as research (PaR). Students will meet with their Programme Convenor and the Director of Taught MA Programmes in the Autumn term before deciding late in the Autumn Term whether they will pursue Options 1 or 2 as detailed below. Students will present either their practice-based research or an academic conference paper in Summer Term at a Postgraduate Conference organised by the Department, and they will submit their final dissertation by 31st August.

While building on research undertaken previously on their course, and the opportunity to extend any further aspects previously discussed, the topics and submission cannot duplicate material previously submitted for examination as part of the MA-programme.

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by coursework, including practical and written components for each of the modules, and by the final term project with its option of a conference paper and dissertation or mixed practice and dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide an internationally focussed taught Master’s programme that offers a sustained and intensive engagement with the forms, practices, traditions and histories of theatre, as well as current theoretical debates in the field
  • attract intellectually able and talented students from the UK and overseas to develop their analytical, critical, conceptual and methodological skills, and to prepare them for further postgraduate research beyond Master’s level, through their integration into the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN) or into the Centre for Cognition, Kinaesthetics and Performance (CKP), hosted by the University of Kent, the UK’s European University
  • enhance your conceptual understanding, creative skills and practical competences with a specific emphasis on the sensitivity for differing cultural contexts and practices, thereby equipping you with relevant competences and the confidence to engage with modes and patterns different to the established patterns and prepare you for future employment in the theatre sector and beyond
  • provide an excellent quality of higher education
  • provide flexibility and a multidiscipline approach
  • provide teaching informed by research and scholarship
  • meet the lifelong needs of a diversity of students
  • support national and regional economic success
  • build on close ties within Europe and elsewhere, reflecting Kent’s position as the UK’s European University
  • produce graduates of value to the region and nationally, in possession of key knowledge and skills, with the capacity to learn
  • prepare you for employment or further study
  • provide learning opportunities that are enjoyable experiences, involve realistic workloads, based within a research-led framework and offer appropriate support for students from a diverse range of backgrounds
  • provide high-quality teaching in supportive environments with appropriately qualified and trained staff.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • the history, forms, practices, traditions and current configurations of drama, theatre and performance
  • advanced critical, artistic and conceptual paradigms in order to comprehend, interpret and intelligently engage with the work of significant practitioners and theorists in the field
  • variant aesthetic, aesthetic, political, social, and intellectual contexts of drama, theatre and performance
  • the wider interdependence of creative practice, critical theory, production processes and cultural policies
  • the inherent interdisciplinary and trans-national location and context of theatre art and performance practice, and its relation to the public and audiences
  • innovative, challenging and informed methods and practices of making performance, the processes of rehearsal, writing, scoring, devising, sceneography, choreography, staging, promotion and training techniques.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to critically reflect, drawing on a range of sophisticated perspectives, about practices, theories, contexts and ideas that shape theatre today
  • an awareness of intercultural and international differences
  • the ability to engage creatively and imaginatively with textual, visual, and performed sources and artworks
  • the ability to appreciate and critically evaluate your own work and the work of others, demonstrating to listening, dialogue, and discussion
  • the ability to understand the interplay between theory and practice, and their mutual enrichment
  • the ability to devise, undertake and contextualise original research in a self-directed way
  • the ability to communicate ideas and information in an accessible and scholarly manner.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in: (These will include practise and professional skills)

  • the ability to describe, analyse and critically interpret theatre texts, production techniques and performance events
  • the ability to trace, assess, and synthesise information and data from a range of appropriate sources in the field, both primary and secondary, printed, electronic, and other
  • the ability to undertake research at an advanced level
  • the ability to engage with bibliographical and documentation techniques, performance and textual analysis, as well as other research methodologies
  • the ability to use archives, texts, electronic technology and other knowledge resources in theatre studies and the wider disciplines of the humanities
  • the ability to support creative work with rigorous research, appropriate documentation, and efficient conceptual consideration
  • the ability to engage confidently and competently in advanced academic research at the forefront of the discipline
  • the ability to undertake a comparative study of practices and concepts from a diverse range of socio-cultural frameworks.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to exercise independent thinking and to demonstrate skills of problem-solving and project planning
  • confidence in interacting, negotiating and collaborating with others
  • the ability to source, organise, articulate and disseminate advanced ideas appropriately and effectively, in a way that advances knowledge and adds value
  • the ability to engage in continuous self-reflection, in order to be able to expand one’s skills- and knowledge base
  • proficiency in presenting complex thoughts, arguments, and data in coherent and lucid ways, both verbally and in writing, pitched appropriately to a range of audiences
  • initiative in identify, create, address and successfully execute complex tasks and problems to a professional level.


Arts graduates have gone on to work in a range of professions from museum positions and teaching roles to working as journalists and theatre technicians. Our graduates have found work in Pinewood Studios, The National Theatre and other arts, culture and heritage-related organisations, in roles including editorial assistants and even stunt doubles.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The School of Arts’ award-winning Jarman Building offers professional standard drama facilities, along with social spaces and a dedicated centre for postgraduate students.

Additional facilities across the Canterbury campus include two theatres: the 113-seat Aphra Theatre (a courtyard-type gallery theatre space); and the Lumley Theatre, which is a flexible and adaptable white room space. Drama students also benefit from an additional rehearsal studio, a sound studio, a theatre design suite and an extensively equipped construction workshop.

The University’s Templeman Library is well resourced in our subject area and houses special collections of 19th-century manuscripts – playbills, programmes, prints and other theatre ephemera – theatrical biography and the history of the stage in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also has particular strengths as a research resource in English Renaissance drama, Russian and French theatre, and British theatre since 1900. We also house the Jacques Copeau Archive and the British Grotowski collection.

Conferences and seminars

We have strong links with organisations such as the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) and the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA), and encourage postgraduates to present work within national and international conferences. Also, we run regular research seminars, workshops, and performance-related events led by members of staff, students, and invited experts and practitioners.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: New Theatre Quarterly; Contemporary Theatre Review; TDR: The Drama Review; Performance Research; Shakespeare Survey.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

An upper second-class honours degree or better, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path or who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Your application should include a sample of your academic writing. Ideally this will be an essay, on a similar or related topic, that you have recently written as part of your undergraduate degree programme. Please upload this to your application portal.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

European Theatre

At Kent, the UK’s European university, we have set up the European Theatre Research Network to facilitate and foster the exchange of theatre traditions, contemporary practices and academic discussion on the near European continent and also in the new European states. We invite postgraduate research students to contribute to and play a part in this expanding network. For further information, please see

Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance

The Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance brings together Drama staff and staff in Engineering and Digital Arts; Psychology; Anthropology; and the Tizard Centre to explore the possibilities of interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between researchers and practitioners in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, interactive performance, digital media, disability studies, and applied performance. For further information, please see

Popular and Comic Performance

The Popular and Comic Performance research centre brings together academics from a range of disciplines (e.g. Drama, Film, Social Anthropology, Philosophy). Their research investigates a real variety of related areas including: stand-up comedy; music hall and variety; 18th century popular theatre; melodrama; Greek Old and Middle comedy; community performance work; puppetry; TV and film production; and punk performance.


Other Research Centres within the School:

Centre for Film and Media Research

The Centre draws together scholars from across the University who use film and the moving image as an integral part of their research. We are open to ideas that extend the reach of the Centre and seek to support projects that promote collaboration between individuals and other research centres. Our aim is to produce a more proactive engagement with other disciplines, to open new lines of communication and to produce innovative knowledge formations through the activity of pioneering research projects.

Aesthetics Research Centre

The Aesthetics Research Centre coordinates, enables and promotes research in philosophy of art and aesthetics at the University of Kent.

Art History and Visual Cultures

This Research Centre promotes and co-ordinates research amongst the growing community of staff and PG students active at Kent in the field of Art History. 

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Paul Allain: Dean of the Graduate School - Professor of Theatre and Performance

Movement and physical performance approaches to actor training, especially the Suzuki Method; contemporary East European and Polish theatre, Grotowski and the Gardzienice Theatre Association; intercultural theory and practice and performance anthropology.

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Dr Helen Brooks: Senior Lecturer

Researching the theatre of, and about, the First World War. Restoration and long 18th-century theatre and performance, with a special emphasis on women’s theatre of the period

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Dr Oliver Double: Reader

Stand-up comedy; punk performance; variety theatre; Karl Valentin.

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Dr Margherita Laera: Lecturer

Contemporary theatre in Europe; adaptation and translation for the stage; ‘classical’ Greek tragedy and its modern appropriations; intercultural and transnational performance.

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Dr Shaun May: Lecturer

Intersection of theatre and philosophy; comedy; popular performance; puppetry and object theatre; cognitive approaches to understanding performance; site-specific performance.

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Professor Nicola Shaughnessy: Professor

Contemporary performance, live and participatory art, cognition, creativity, auto/biography, autism, gender, neurodiversity, well-being.

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Dr Melissa Trimingham: Senior Lecturer

The modernist period, Bauhaus and Oskar Schlemmer; puppet and object theatre; communication on the autistic spectrum using puppetry; the relationship between robotics and puppetry.

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Dr Angeliki Varakis-Martin: Lecturer

Greek theatre; commedia dell’arte; masks and theatre.

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Dr Freya Vass-Rhee: Lecturer

Cognitive dance and theatre studies; visuo-sonority of dance; dramaturgy; performativity; arts/sciences interdisciplinarity; psychology of the arts; critical dance and performance studies; dance history; world dance cultures.

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Will Wollen: Lecturer

Acting pedagogy, psychophysical approaches to acting, arts funding policy, Commedia and mask, Shakespeare and directing.

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Dr Roanna Mitchell: Lecturer

Research focuses on the way in which body image discourse operates in the field of contemporary performance. This encompasses training contexts, industry practice, and the engagement of audiences with body image as dramaturgical currency.

Strands of inquiry include: Politics of the body in the interface between art, business and self; Body activism and its impact on contemporary performance practice; Body shame and the healing potential of psychophysical performance practices; Bodies beyond the visual: Dialogue between memory, imagination and movement in devising processes working from the senses of taste, smell and touch; In search of the holistic: application of Michael Chekhov training in the 21st century in theatre and beyond; Cognition and the embodied language of performance

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The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Physical Acting - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 


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