This programme gives students the opportunity to closely explore a topic in an area of drama, theatre and contemporary performance at the highest level of academic study.
The programme draws on the Drama Department and School of Arts’ longstanding international reputation in the development of practice as research and brings students into a research environment of excellence.
Key areas of focus within the department include cognition and performance, applied and socially engaged theatre, popular performance and European theatre. Practice focuses on dance, physical actor training, puppetry, live art, autobiographical and documentary performance, providing a rich context for postgraduate study.
Our two drama-based research centres actively involve postgraduate students - the Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance and the European Theatre Research Network. Research students attend and support the many seminars these centres offer each term and a selection of School seminars. There are dedicated postgraduate events where students can present their research in a constructive atmosphere. Discipline-specific methodology training is provided through one-to-one supervision and/or group workshops.
The department also facilitates Work in Progress meetings to help foster the research culture, improve students’ research skills and bring together members of the postgraduate research community.
Individual staff research interests cover a wide range of both historical and contemporary aspects of the theory and practice of theatre, and supervision is available in all these areas.
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.
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.
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.
MA in Drama by Research
Candidates should normally have a minimum of 2.1 at degree level in drama or an appropriate related subject. In certain circumstances the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path. The potential supervisor and Director of Graduate Studies individually assess such cases. Regarding the regulation on entry requirement waivers please see paragraph five in Annex C of the Research Code of Practice.
PhD in Drama by Research
Candidates should normally have a minimum of a good 2.1 at degree level and an MA in drama or an appropriate related subject. In certain circumstances the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path. The potential supervisor and Director of Graduate Studies individually assess such cases. Reference should be made to Annex C of the Research Code of Practice regarding the regulations on entry requirements.
All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, 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. 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.
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
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.
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
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 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 Nicola Shaughnessy: Professor
Contemporary performance, live and participatory art, cognition, creativity, auto/biography, autism, gender, neurodiversity, well-being.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 2019/20 annual tuition fees for Home/EU PG Research programmes have not yet been set by the Research Councils UK. This is ordinarily announced in March.
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: