This taught MA programme offers a unique opportunity to study the theory and practice of stand-up comedy at postgraduate level. The University of Kent has a long history of teaching and research in comic performance, and the Templeman Library houses the British Stand-Up Comedy Archive.
You learn how to write and perform your own material, reflect on your work and engage with theories comedy through workshops, seminars and supervision. Stand-up relies on a dynamic interaction between performer and audience, and for this reason live performance is a central part of the teaching strategy. You perform regularly for audiences of up to 200 people throughout the year, developing your performance skills, honing material and increasing your understanding of this vibrant form of popular theatre.
There is a strong emphasis on professional practice, with students performing open mike spots in established comedy clubs in the UK and beyond, as well as organising their own shows. Regular teaching staff include Dr Oliver Double, a former stand-up who has published widely on comedy and popular performance. In addition to this, we have guest lectures, workshops and master classes from professional comedians, including the seminal alternative comedian Tony Allen.
Open Lecture: Stand-up Comedy
How do comedians project their personalities and can the act spill off stage? Dr Oliver Double, stand-up performer and Senior Lecturer and Head of Drama at the University of Kent, discusses stage persona in stand-up comedy and variety theatre.
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.
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.
The theoretical aspects of the programme culminate in a practice-as-research project in which you explore ideas about comedy and comic performance through both traditional academic research and creative practice.
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. All modules are compulsory.
DR815 - Stand-Up: Comedy Club
The module will provide a thorough exploration of stand-up comedy techniques at the forefront of professional discipline. Read more
Students will arrange, perform and document a series of open microphone spots in professional comedy clubs and/or arrange and perform their own shows (in addition to running Monkeyshine in the Spring term for DR815). Read more
Over the course of the academic year, you will be set tasks which involve reflecting on your own work, exploring the context of professional stand-up comedy, and engaging with relevant theory to develop your analytical skills. Read more
In a series of weekly seminars, the students will engage in debates about theories of comedy, current debates about stand-up performance, the history of stand-up (particularly recent British stand-up since the birth of alternative comedy in 1979), the profession of stand-up, and the way that the live comedy scene is organised. Read more
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. Read more
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DR995 - Dissertation Project:(MA-T)
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.Read more
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is through performances, portfolios and essays.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.europeantheatre.org.uk
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 www.kent.ac.uk/ckp
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.View Profile
Professor Peter M Boenisch: Professor of European Theatre
Theatre directing; dramaturgy; dance theatre; theatre aesthetics; political theory and critical thought; theatre and philosophy.View Profile
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 periodView Profile
Dr Oliver Double: Reader
Stand-up comedy; punk performance; variety theatre; Karl Valentin.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
Dr Shaun May: Lecturer
Intersection of theatre and philosophy; comedy; popular performance; puppetry and object theatre; cognitive approaches to understanding performance; site-specific performance.View Profile
Professor Patrice Pavis: Professor of Drama
European theatre; mise-en-scène; theories of acting; contemporary performance and playwriting.View Profile
Dr Duska Radosavljevic: Lecturer
Dramaturgy, theatre translation and adaptation, the ‘ensemble way of working’, and contemporary theatre practices in the UK and in Europe.View Profile
Professor Nicola Shaughnessy: Professor
Contemporary performance, live and participatory art, cognition, creativity, auto/biography, autism, gender, neurodiversity, well-being.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
Dr Angeliki Varakis-Martin: Lecturer
Greek theatre; commedia dell’arte; masks and theatre.View Profile
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.View Profile
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 performanceView Profile
The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Stand Up Comedy - MA at Canterbury:|
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 email@example.com
General additional costs
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