Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

European Theatre - MA


This taught MA programme offers a unique opportunity to study the multi-faceted nature of contemporary European theatre. It is associated with the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN), the renowned Kent-based research centre dedicated to the study of non-English continental European theatre.



The notion of ‘dramaturgy’, this unique concept and practice characteristic of European theatre work, serves as our central lens from which we explore creative practices and processes in contemporary European theatre, theatre systems, performance aesthetics, and their histories. You become familiar with current conceptual and theoretical paradigms of European theatre, from mise en scène to the postdramatic theatre and the links of European theatre with European philosophy from Plato to Alain Badiou. You also receive a thorough grounding in research methodologies. 

You have the opportunity to work alongside the ETRN’s leading researchers, such as Patrice Pavis, Hans-Thies Lehmann, Paul Allain, Peter M. Boenisch, and others, and to hear about their current, ongoing research. We make full use of Canterbury’s geographical location between London and the Continent, offering theatre visits and excursions, and also making use of the University’s campuses in Paris and Brussels.

There is also an option to study a term of this programme in Paris.

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 theatre and performance. We are the home of two renowned international research centres, the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN) and the Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance (CKP).

The wide-ranging interests of our international team of leading and emerging researchers (from the UK, Australia, Italy, Greece, Germany, France and other countries) include research strengths in contemporary performance, applied theatre, Shakespeare, 18th-century theatre, multimedia performance, popular performance, directing and dramaturgy, and physical performer training.

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.

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 programme consists of four modules and a dissertation project.

You are stimulated to develop further your own individual interest and expertise. It is ideal for students intending to develop a larger postgraduate research project towards future PhD studies in this area. Further optional modules allow specialisation in areas such as creative producing, production dramaturgy, and theatre criticism, but also in interdisciplinary fields such as continental theory and philosophy, political activism, and law and humanities.

You can also learn or improve your skills in a foreign European language as part of the course. There is also an option to spend a semester at our partner programme at Ghent University.


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. 

Possible modules may include:

  • European Theatre & Dramaturgy (core)
  • Thinking Theatre: Theories and Aesthetics of Performance (core option)
  • Mise en Scène: Aesthetics and Dramaturgies of European Theatre (core option)
  • Options: Creative Producing and Dramaturgy, Theatre Criticism, Dramaturgy Casebook
  • Interdisciplinary Options: Theories of Art in Modern French Thought; Psychoanalysis and Literature; Law & Humanities; Resistance and Politics; Postcolonial Cultures, and others.
Modules may include Credits

Offering an opportunity to explore the interconnection between academic research and professional practice in theatre and performance, this module invites students on the MA European Theatre & Dramaturgy to apply their knowledge and research within a professional context and environment. This can take the form of either a placement with a venue or company, which the student has arranged in the first part of the course, potentially supported by Erasmus international placement funding for a placement in Europe. Alternatively, this casebook may be based on a less formalised, but still primary mode of research of a specific venue, company, or theatre practitioner, emphasising the first-hand generation of research material through direct observation, interviews, and analysis.

Students may self-select, according to their own interests and specialisms within the vast field of European theatre, a company, venue or practitioner of their choice, and individually negotiate the terms and opportunities to undertake this study, which is normally undertaken during the Spring vacation and summer term period.

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This team-taught module is intended to provide a basis of shared knowledge and understanding of theatre audiences to MA Drama students. The core subject of this module will be approached from various perspectives reflecting current available expertise in the Department. Lectures and seminar discussions on histories of spectatorial practices – for instance in Elizabethan England – will feature next to sessions about experimental theatre productions that engage audiences in particularly compelling ways – such as contemporary participatory practices. Typically, there will be opportunities to discuss what audiences do, how they feel, and how their brain and body responds to theatre from the perspective of affect studies, cognitive science, and critical theory. Activities such as devising audience questionnaires to gather feedback from spectators in response to a specific production, and the reading of audience reviews in newspapers, blogs and social media will enable the cohort to question the supposed homogeneity of theatre audiences and to begin to think as theatre-makers about audiences in a nuanced, sophisticated way.

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Throughout their studies on a taught Masters-course, students will develop and pursue an in-depth research into a specific topic, thus 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 1st September.

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 through a variety of written work and verbal presentations. This includes academic essays, in-class research presentations, contributions to workshops, portfolios of critical writing, and performance analysis. It also includes an assessed project proposal towards a prospective PhD project which could be your starting point for applying for doctorate scholarship.

The final dissertation requires you to research an individual project in depth, and to present its findings in writing and in a conference-style presentation. 

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, and 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. 

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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Professor Peter M Boenisch: Professor of European Theatre

Theatre directing; dramaturgy; dance theatre; theatre aesthetics; political theory and critical thought; theatre and philosophy.

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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 Rosemary Klich: Lecturer

Multimedia theatre; new media performance; contemporary live art and performance; history of performance art; the 20th-century avant-garde; theatre reviewing. 

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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 Patrice Pavis: Professor of Drama

European theatre; mise-en-scène; theories of acting; contemporary performance and playwriting. 

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Dr Duska Radosavljevic: Lecturer

Dramaturgy, theatre translation and adaptation, the ‘ensemble way of working’, and contemporary theatre practices in the UK and in Europe.

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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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Professor Robert Shaughnessy: Professor of Theatre

Shakespeare and early modern drama in performance; post-war and contemporary British and Irish drama; theatre and national cultures.

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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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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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Dr Clare Finburgh: Senior Lecturer

Modern and contemporary theatre and performance, French and Francophone theatre, modern British theatre, representations of war and conflict, theatre and human rights, Jean Genet and theatre translation.

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The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

European Theatre - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200

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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