Drama by Practice as Research - PhD

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At Kent we have always been at the forefront of promoting and developing practice-based research. In addition to all the benefits of being a PhD student, you will have access to our excellent facilities, including two theatres, three studio spaces, a workshop and a technical studio, and will be supported by a technical team with extensive professional experience.


You can undertake Practice as Research (PaR) in a variety of forms and in diverse subjects. Throughout you will be fully supported by a team of specialist supervisors.

Drama at Kent was at the forefront of pioneering Practice as Research and continues to lead the field. Through a PaR PhD you explore and interrogate your research by undertaking practice and producing a performative output, as well as by producing a written dissertation of up to 40,000 words which is examined through a viva. The PhD by PaR provides opportunities to develop and reflect upon your performative practice at the highest academic level and with the benefit of excellent professional facilities and research resources. We welcome enquiries on any topic and form of practice.

During your time at Kent you will have a minimum of two supervisors who will support and guide you through your academic and professional development. You will meet regularly with your supervisor(s) who will not only guide your research but will also help you to identify areas where you may require further training or support. A series of reviews will take place throughout your studies in order to ensure that your research stays on track and that you have all the necessary support and resources required to successfully complete it.

Current PhDs reflect our diversity, with topics including actor training, autism, East Asian comedy, community theatre, Absurdism, live art, Shakespeare, translation and adaptation, Greek theatre, Grotowski, stand-up, eighteenth-century acting, neurodivergent performance, and accessibility. Recent and ongoing Practice as Research projects include: ‘Selfless Language: Acting Coordination Method Leading to Act of Speech’, ‘Minna Canth from Finnish to English: Feminist Translation of Nineteenth Century Social Realist Drama’, ‘Translating 18th Century Actresses Acting Techniques Into a Modern Performance Context’, and ‘The Burning Method: A Performance-Based Analysis of Jerzy Grotowski’s Book Towards a Poor Theatre’.

You may be eligible to apply for a fully-funded PhD scholarship. Scholarship opportunities may include the Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (GTA) and the Consortium of the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) collaborative doctoral award. For further information and eligibility requirements, please see our Scholarship website.

About the Department of Drama and Theatre

Drama at Kent is a vibrant and supportive international community of academics, practitioners, and students, connected through our shared passion for theatre and performance. Our staff are able to support a wide range of research covering histories, practices and philosophies of theatre and performance, whilst at the same time fostering an inclusive and welcoming culture. 

We work closely with the two major regional theatres on our doorstep: the Gulbenkian and the Marlowe theatres. We also have relationships with companies including the Globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Bobby Baker, as well as working with a range of public sector organisations including local schools, NHS services, specialist schools, and prisons. Many of our staff are theatre-makers and practitioners. Company Gabrielle Moletta, Moving Memory, The Chekhov Collective, the bi-annual Autism Arts Festival and the monthly Funny Rabbit Comedy club are just a few examples of the creative practice associated with Drama at Kent. 

Drama at Kent students also benefit from our fantastic location. Based in the cultural city of Canterbury, we are less than one hour from London by train and forty minutes from the Eurotunnel making us close to both London and Europe.  This gives our students access to an international diversity of theatrical culture, as well as to national archives such as the British Library and V&A Theatre Collection. Our location and excellent transport links also enable us to provide excellent support to students who wish to study and live further afield.

Entry requirements

An MA 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 or the Director of the relevant Research Group.

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

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.

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.

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.


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Course structure


3 to 4 years full-time, 5 to 6 years part-time

Teaching and assessment

Assessment is through practice and written reflection, which you can present in a range of media such as DVDs, model boxes or video, depending on the practice you are investigating. Supervision for this programme offered in all areas of staff interest, and we provide dedicated space, technical support and a budget.


The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £8100
  • EU full-time £12600
  • International full-time £16800
  • Home part-time £4050
  • EU part-time £6300
  • International part-time £8400

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

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

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Additional costs

General additional costs

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


Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both:

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.

Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.

Complete University Guide Research Intensity

Independent rankings

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.

Research areas

Performance and Theatre Research Group

The Performance and Theatre Research Group’s mission is to create a warm and dynamic research community, welcoming everybody from 'Fresher to Professor'. We are a delightfully broad church, with well-established expertise in a broad range of subjects, including theatre history, performance and health, theatre and cognition, physical acting, applied theatre, performance and philosophy, performance and politics, European theatre, Greek theatre, theatre and adaptation, audience studies, cultural industries, variety theatre, puppetry, dance theatre, popular performance and stand-up comedy. We embrace a diversity of methodologies including, for example, Practice as Research, archival and participatory methods.

Histories: Art, Drama and Film Research Group

The Histories Research Group brings together staff and post-graduate students from across the School of Arts whose research involves a cultural historical approach to their field. It holds regular research seminars and supports student-led initiatives, such as organizing conferences.

Film, Media and Culture Research Group

The Group’s main objective is to support and produce cutting-edge research in the areas of film, media and culture. The Film, Media and Culture Research Group has interests in aesthetics, social roles, discursive formations, cultural meanings, psychological effects and/or economic realities. Drawing together scholars from across the University – including Arts, European Culture and Languages, Digital Arts and Engineering, History, English and American Studies, Law, Sociology and beyond – the Group has a lively,  research culture. Through our journal Film Studies and pioneering research projects and outputs we actively seek to shape the field, open lines of communication with the local community and engage with colleagues worldwide.

Aesthetics Research Centre

The Aesthetics Research Centre (ARC) coordinates, enables and promotes research in philosophy of art and aesthetics at the University of Kent. It is embeeded in the analytic tradition, and it is deeply committed to making connections and exploring synergies with  other approaches to thinking about art and culture. ARC comprises a vibrant community of staff and postgraduate students across the School of Arts and the Department of Philosophy, and its activities include an annual programme of research seminars, workshops, symposia and conferences.

Staff research interests

Kent’s world-class academics provide research students with excellent supervision. The academic staff in this school and their research interests are shown below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the school to discuss your proposed research and potential supervision prior to making an application. Please note, it is possible for students to be supervised by a member of academic staff from any of Kent’s schools, providing their expertise matches your research interests. Use our ‘find a supervisor’ search to search by staff member or keyword.

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


Drama PhD students come from a range of backgrounds. Some have followed the academic path through from undergraduate studies, whilst others come to us after working in the Arts for a number of years, and others are seeking a career-change. We also have a number of PhD students who join us in retirement. Whatever your background and experience, we treat each PhD student as an individual and tailor your support to reflect the reasons for doing a PhD and what you want to get out of it. Many of our PhD students have gone on to have successful careers as academics both in the UK and internationally. Others have used their PhDs to develop their artistic practice in new directions, whilst many have also gone on to work in the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector: gaining professional positions in museums, archives, the media, and theatre. We are proud that Drama at Kent has a reputation in the theatre industry for producing innovative, creative and passionate graduates. 

Study support

Throughout your time at Kent you will be supported by two experienced PhD supervisors who you will meet each month (or every two months for part-time students). In these meetings you will have the opportunity to discuss, debate, and develop your ideas in exciting new directions. As well as supporting the development of your PhD, your supervisors are also there to guide you in your wider career development. This includes presenting your work at international and national conferences, publishing your work, and applying for jobs. 

Beyond your supervisory team you will also be supported by the wider School of Arts community. You will join one (or more) of the School’s four Research Groups and will have the opportunity, in both the regular meetings and larger annual symposia, to share your research, network within and outside your discipline, and hear about the range of research taking place both within the School and beyond. Through the Research Groups there are also opportunities to organise conferences and events, or apply for small grants. 

The University also provides excellent support for your studies through the Graduate School and its Researcher Development Programme for research students. This free programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management.

Academic community

A programme of Research Seminars takes place throughout the year which students are encouraged to attend. The seminars will be relevant to Drama and Theatre students but also to students studying History of Art, Film and Media Studies. Leading scholars and practitioners are invited to present papers which enable networking opportunities for our research community.

Work-in-Progress sessions offer the opportunity for you to present your work to a small group of peers. They are a key part of academic life and give you an opportunity to practice your presentation skills in an informal and supportive way. The School also hosts an annual Postgraduate Research Symposium which provides a platform for students to present their work in a conference setting. 

Research resources

Drama PhD students are based in the School of Arts’ award-winning Jarman building where you will find two of professional studio spaces, social spaces and a dedicated postgraduate study hub. A short walk from the Jarman building is the Little Tich in which you will find our 112-seat Aphra Theatre (a courtyard-gallery theatre space) and the Lumley Theatre: a flexible and adaptable black-box studio. Drama students also benefit from access to the Forrest Studio (a black-box studio), a sound studio, a theatre design suite and an extensively equipped construction workshop, as well as from the support of our experienced team of theatre technicians.

Throughout your time at Kent your research is underpinned by an excellent range of physical and digital research resources. The newly expanded Templeman Library is nationally renowned for its unique theatre archives which include the Melville collection of Victorian and Edwardian melodrama; the Reading-Raynor collection of mid-twentieth century playbills; the Drummond pantomime collection; the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive; the Jacques Copeau Archive and the British Grotowski collection. Beyond these  Kent-based collections, the 50-minute train from Canterbury West takes you directly to the steps of the British Library, one of only six legal deposit libraries in the UK and an invaluable resource for many researchers. 

Researcher Development Programme

Kent's Graduate School co-ordinates the Researcher Development Programme for research students, which includes workshops focused on research, specialist and transferable skills. The programme is mapped to the national Researcher Development Framework and covers a diverse range of topics, including subject-specific research skills, research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking and teamworking, and career management skills.

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