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Information for Second-Year Students in Preparation for Third-Year IRO




Third Year Independent Research Option 2015/16


Module Convenor: Nadine Holdsworth (2015-16)

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 TPS 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.


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. 1. Written dissertation, convened by Jim Davis. 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). For additional information, see the Research Handbook on the current 3rd year module page.
  2. 2. Practice-based dissertation, convened by Nadine Holdsworth. 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 usually work in groups of between two and five members, though it is feasible under some circumstances to undertake a solo project. Each group following this 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 2015 Procedure

All 2nd year students should begin giving serious consideration to the 3rd year Research Option as of the meeting convened in Week 8 of the Spring Term. 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. If possible, students should make preliminary decisions and commitments in this regard before the Easter vacation commences.


All 2nd year students are required to submit a fairly detailed research proposal form by Friday of Week 2 of the Summer Term (1st May). The link to this form is available on the Department’s website HERE. Practice-based groups need submit only ONE such form per collaborative project. On the basis of this form 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. Individual students and groups are asked to consult members of staff who they think may have expertise in the area prior to submitting proposals and to name those tutors on their forms. These consultations can take place in the final weeks of spring term or the first week of summer term. Students are encouraged to set up an appointment with the tutor by email. 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.




2nd Year


Forms Deadline
4pm Friday Wk 2
(1st May 2015)

2nd Year Single Honours
2nd Year English & Theatre
2nd Year other Joint Students

3rd Year


IRO Briefing document

Forms Deadline
4pm Friday Wk 2
(1st May 2015)

3rd Year Single Honours
3rd Year English & Theatre
3rd Year other joint students

External Students

If you are not taking a Theatre Studies Single/Joint degree you can still apply for a selection of our modules. All students, including those from Film wishing to take Wired should use the form below to see the modules we offer as External options (please note that places are limited and first choice is assigned to Theatre Single/Joint Honours Theatre students.

Form Deadline
4pm Friday Wk 2
(1st May 2015)

External Form

External Modules

If you wish to take modules in another department (single honours students can take up to 30 CATS per year externally) you should make contact with the department concerned and determine whether this is possible, whether the module clashes with others you have chosen in Theatre and also discuss suitability with your Personal Tutor.

As there is no centralised list of modules avaialble we will publish links here to those that have been sent to us but you should contact other departments for full information: