Theatre

Drama by Research - MA, PhD

Overview

Drama at Kent is known for its dynamic and inclusive research community. Whether you are interested in acting, directing, physical theatre, accessibility and disability, history, dance, psychology, philosophy, gender, comedy, popular performance, or politics, we have the academic expertise to support your research. 

With access to specialist supervision, excellent resources including unique archives, and a vibrant research community which welcomes everyone from ‘Fresher to Professor’, your time at Kent will be enjoyable and stimulating. 

A PhD or MA by Research in Drama will enable you to conduct original research under the guidance of your team of your supervisors. We welcome enquiries on any topic. 

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. The final thesis will be up to 100,000 words in length and will be examined through a viva. For the MA-R, the final thesis is up to 40,000 words in length.

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.

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. 

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

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 relevant experience may also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information. Due to visa restrictions, international fee-paying students cannot study part-time unless undertaking a distance or blended-learning programme with no on-campus provision.

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

Duration: MA 1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

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

Fees

The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Drama - MA at Canterbury

  • Home/EU full-time £4407
  • International full-time £16200
  • Home/EU part-time £2204
  • International part-time £8100

Drama - PhD at Canterbury

  • Home/EU full-time £4407
  • International full-time £16200
  • Home/EU part-time £2204
  • International part-time £8100

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 information@kent.ac.uk

Additional costs

General additional costs

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

Funding

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

The Complete University Guide

In The Complete University Guide 2020, 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 2020 for more information.

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.

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 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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Careers

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 113-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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