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OPTIONS 2018-9

IRO information 2018/19 is below and this is a placeholder for the other options process for 2018/9 and is intended as a link to be sent now to students studying abroad who can check back to get updates on their choices for the following year.

Info will be posted here before the start of the Summer term.


Information for Second-Year Students in Preparation for Third-Year IRO 2018/19

Module Convenor: TBD

Convenor for practice-based dissertations: TBD

Convenor for written dissertations: TBD

Supervisors: members of staff in the TPS department

Technical Support: Ian O’Donoghue

Module Description:

The Independent Research Option is a compulsory module for third year single honours Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS) students. Joint honours students are not required to take this module but can apply to do so as long as 1) they are not doing a similar research-based module in their home department and 2) their chosen research topic is clearly relevant to TPS. Anyone taking the module must be supervised by a member of TPS academic staff, and joint students should be aware that, with this module being compulsory for single honours TPS students, the number of optional places available is limited.

Please note: while the module does not meet as a class every week, students MUST keep the scheduled class time free so that they can attend the required class meetings. Joint honours students who would like to take a module at that time EITHER TERM should not take the TPS IRO. Single honours students must not take an external module that meets at that time.

The module offers students two routes towards undertaking a substantial piece of supervised research during the course of the third year. These routes are convened separately so as to take into account methodological differences in each instance, but there are also some shared aspects in the programming and running of the module as a whole.

The two basic routes are:

1) Written dissertation. This route enables students to complete an individually written dissertation of 10,000 words on a research topic of their choice and based on their investigation of primary and secondary sources. Each student taking this route is allocated a single supervisor and the topic must be one that can be appropriately supervised by a member of staff in the Department. The written dissertation must be based on clear historiographical, dramaturgical, and/or theoretical/conceptual principles. It should make apparent the context of the research, the research methodology involved and the research questions it is posing. Under certain circumstances and subject to negotiation, the dissertation can include practice-based work undertaken as part of the research process in areas such as curatorial work (including recording what has happened in the past or organizing an exhibition), historical performance reconstruction or applied practical work (for instance, a series of workshops in the community or in educational contexts).

2) Practice-based dissertation. This route enables students to use forms of practice as the primary research methodology. The practical work can take several forms, including (but not limited to) live performance, performance installations, site-specific performance, video work, multi-media work, the writing of plays, curatorial work (including recording what has happened in the past or organizing an exhibition), historical performance reconstruction, space and/or costume design, organizing and running participatory workshops, and video documentaries. For the practice-based project, students will work in groups of between two and five members, though it is possible under a limited number of circumstances to undertake a solo project; however, solo performance projects are discouraged in most cases. If you propose a solo performance-based project, your proposal form must also include a PLAN B (joining another group project, using the performance-based work as a key research methodology for a written dissertation, or a written dissertation project on another topic ) in case your solo project is not accepted. Each group following the practice-based route is allocated a single supervisor, and the nature of the work must be such that it can be appropriately supervised by a member of staff in the department. Practical processes must be informed by clear research imperatives and based on theoretical/conceptual principles. Projects should make apparent the context of the research, the research methodologies involved and the research questions being posed.


1) Written dissertation: 10,000 words (100%)

2) Practice-based dissertation: practical component (60%, group mark) + 4,000-word or equivalent critical review (40%, individual mark)

Spring and Summer Term 2018 Procedure

All 2nd year students should begin giving serious consideration to the route and topic of their 3rd year Research Option from this point on. Students who wish to work practically are advised to think carefully about forming working groups and agreeing on a practice-based project that will sustain the interest of its members. Students should make preliminary decisions and commitments in this regard before the spring break commences. In addition, individual students and groups must consult members of TPS staff prior to submitting proposals and to name those tutors on their forms. These consultations should take place in the final weeks of spring term. Students are encouraged to set up an appointment with the tutor by email.

All 2nd year students are required to submit a fairly detailed research proposal form by Wednesday of Week 1 of the Summer Term. The link to this form will be available on the home page of the Department’s website under 3rd Year Independent Research Option 2018-19 very soon. Practice-based groups need submit only ONE such form per collaborative project.

On the basis of the detailed research proposal, the Department will decide whether the proposed research is viable and whether appropriate supervision can be offered, whether the proposal needs to be revised, or whether a new topic needs to be proposed.

The tutor consulted may also turn out to be a viable supervisor, but there is no guarantee of this since supervisions need to be distributed equally amongst staff.

Supervisors will be assigned to dissertation students and performance project groups in the Summer Term of the 2nd year and an initial meeting will take place to discuss the proposal in more detail and to plan strategies for preparatory research to occur over the summer vacation.

If you have any questions, please contact Susan Haedicke ( or your personal tutor.