About this taught graduate course
The MA in Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change is a taught postgraduate degree that addresses contemporary practice in applied theatre and socially engaged performance. It invites you to explore, make and interrogate performance practices that are broadly concerned with contributing to social change in a variety of settings (e.g. criminal justice, theatre for development, homelessness, learning disability, schools, the elderly and healthcare). With a strong focus on professional practice and development, the degree addresses the ways in which performance modes can contribute to different applied, community and institutional settings nationally and internationally.
It investigates the claims made about performance and its potential to be transformative and rehabilitative and tests these claims through close consideration of contemporary practices in the field. It also addresses the political and ethical implications that come into play and the importance of constantly questioning what is at stake when working in specific contexts. It explores what it means to be an artist working for change and aims to develop skills of project design, facilitation and evaluation.
Watch our video about the course
This degree will help you to:
- Understand a range of socially-engaged forms of theatre and performance and how these vary in response to different contexts
- Develop practical skills specific to applied theatre environments that are responsive to the needs of different types of organisations
- Understand your own practice, while learning to design, manage and evaluate projects better, demonstrating an awareness of the possibilities and limitations of live performance and digital media in interventionist practices
- Develop advanced research and practice skills through a supported extended written or practice-based research project in the area of applied or socially-engaged theatre
- Confidently communicate your creative and critical thinking in well structured, logically developed and carefully prepared ways
- Further develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback, and improve your communication skills and advanced analytic abilities in discussions
The MA in Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change will provide opportunities to work with and learn from a number of professional companies and practitioners working in the fields of applied theatre, socially engaged performance and arts-based action projects through workshops, guest lectures, weekend intensives, project work and industry placements.
Our Associate Companies include:
- B Arts: a combined and participatory arts organisation that designs multidisciplinary arts projects that creatively intervene in people’s lives.
- Cardboard Citizens: an organisation that has been making theatre with and for homeless people for 25 years.
- C & T: a company combining applied theatre methodologies with digital technologies to explore and grow creativity with children and adults.
- Creative English: a company that develops language skills by using drama, puppets and games.
- Common Wealth: a socially-engaged company producing site-specific theatre events for and with communities.
- Open Theatre: a company working with young people with learning disabilities through non-verbal physical theatre.
- Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation): a company employing arts-based approaches when working with prisoners and staff in UK prisons.
- Phosphoros: a company undertaking theatre projects with refugees and asylum-seekers.
- Tender: a company using theatre-based methods to encourage healthy relationships amongst young people to help tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence.
- Warwick Arts Centre Creative Learning: generating hands-on learning opportunities for schools, audiences and members of the community as part of a large-scale arts organisation.
General entry requirements
You will have, or be expecting to obtain, a First or 2:i undergraduate degree from a UK university or an equivalent qualification from an overseas university. Your degree will normally be in an arts, humanities, media or social science-related subject.
Alternative subject routes for entry are possible if you can demonstrate that you have suitable experience and aptitude in order to meet the range of demands of the course.
The University of Warwick operates an Equal Opportunities Policy and values Diversity; it welcomes applications from people of all backgrounds.
English language requirements
You can find out more about our English language requirements. This course requires the following:
- Band B
- IELTS Overall (Academic) score of 7.0 and component scores.
We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.
For more information, please visit the international entry requirements page.
There are no additional requirements for this course.
Researching Performance/Performing Research
This module considers the research methods that are central to applied and socially engaged performance making and research. It addresses a range of research skills, methods, critical frameworks and areas of study that inform processes of making and creating performance in these contexts. It opens up debate around the questions and ethical considerations that arise when employing specific research methods in these contexts in order to develop informed critical perspectives on different approaches in the field.
Theorising and Facilitating Applied Theatre: Ethics and Reflective Practice
Through a dynamic combination of theory and practice, this module investigates what it means to be a reflective practitioner by exploring diverse approaches to understanding and facilitating applied theatre projects. It provides a conceptual and practical underpinning for how and why theatre and performance modes are used with specific client groups and in different environments. Looking at key practitioners and providers in the sector, at its heart is a concern with the politics, aesthetics and ethics of practice and what it means to facilitate applied theatre projects with and for potentially vulnerable people in a variety of contexts. The module will explore strategies for initiating, making, facilitating, analysing and evaluating applied theatre to create an informed culture of practice.
Enhancing your Professional Profile
Rooted in advice and guidance from established practitioners in a range of settings, this module offers practical insight into the skills and knowledge you will need to develop and build your professional profile. It will explore what it means to have a portfolio career; how you establish a company and promote your work; the importance of making connections and working with collaborators; project initiation, budgeting, management and evaluation. The module will also explore how to shape funding applications that tap into the cultural zeitgeist and respond to different briefs and the needs of organisations whether they are in the educational, criminal justice, health, charity or international development sectors.
Final Project (core) with a choice between Written (15,000 words) and Practical routes
The programme culminates in an extended independent project that you will design, manage and deliver with support and guidance from a supervisor. It offers an opportunity to draw together knowledge and skills developed on the MA on a project that reflects specific interests, artistic practice and career trajectories. As part of the Final Project, you can choose to undertake a 15,000-word dissertation or a practical outcome that may take the form of a performance, digital project or community-based output.
Optional modules can vary from year to year. Example optional modules may include:
- Socially Engaged Performance: Interventions and Provocations
- Adaptation (MA Writing and Dramaturgy)
- Education for Sustainable Development (MA Drama and Theatre Education)
- Drama and Literacy (MA Drama and Theatre Education)
Please visit the Theatre and Performance Studies website to read more about the optional modules offered on this MA.
Teaching methods will vary and include lecture-seminars, workshops, case studies and student-led presentations/workshops. The course will provide opportunities for students to learn through study with professional practitioners and organisations in the applied theatre and socially-engaged fields to ensure that the course focuses on the practical competencies required to be an employee within an organisation or as a freelance practitioner.
It may also be possible to further specialise and deepen your practice by taking modules from MAs in other related disciplines including the MA Drama and Theatre Education (Centre for Education Studies) and the Masters programme in Global Sustainable Development. You will also benefit from having two intensive weekend teaching blocks (subject to module choices) that will facilitate a more immersive teaching/ learning experience with professional practitioners.
You will complete essential preparation (e.g. reading, desk research, studio-based practice) for each session, and we encourage you to read more widely around the topics explored.
The course also offers the scope to further develop and refine your practice through a flexible final project that can be taken as a written (15,000 words) or practical route (practice-based project and 4000-word documentation). In both cases support will include regular meetings with project supervisors, presentations of project proposals (to enable peer and tutor feedback) and work in progress demonstrations (to monitor progress and enable peer and tutor feedback).
Groups will normally consist of fewer than 15 students in most modules.
Typical contact hours
You will normally attend two 3-hour sessions each week during the Autumn and Spring Terms. If you are a part-time student you will attend one 3-hour seminar a week during the Autumn and Spring Terms of Year One and Year Two.
Assessment processes, methods and outcomes are designed to enhance your personal and professional development. You will encounter ‘real world’/employer-focused assessments that may include the creation of creative projects, the delivery of a workshop, the presentation of a creative brief, the submission of a funding application and evaluative reports. You will be assessed individually and, in some instances, as part of a group.
Additional course cost
Mandatory costs will include materials and printing for project assessment work at approximately £50 in total for the course. There may also be costs associated with travel to/from shows residencies (if these are offsite), and other engagements with professional practice up to £40. Purchase of a laptop computer, at approximately £400, is recommended.
Most departments have reading lists available through Warwick Library. If you would like to view reading lists for the current cohort of students you can visit our Warwick Library web page.
Your personalised timetable will be complete when you are registered for all modules, compulsory and optional, and you have been allocated to your lectures, seminars and other small group classes. Your compulsory modules will be registered for you and you will be able to choose your optional modules when you join us.
A person who undertakes this MA programme might pursue the following career trajectories:
- Applied theatre practitioner/facilitator
- Community arts organiser
- Cultural coordinator and partnership manager
- Theatre in therapeutic contexts (health and care sectors)
- Theatre in Education or Education Officer in a professional theatre/museums
- Arts Officer in Local Government
- Theatre for Development
- Work in the charitable/NGO sectors
- Research and Teaching in the FE/HE sectors
Our department has a dedicated professionally qualified Senior Careers Consultant offering impartial advice and guidance together with workshops and events throughout the year. Previous examples of workshops and events include:
- Careers workshop for Theatre and Performance Studies Students
- Discovering Careers in the Creative Industries
- Careers in Radio Film and Television
- Warwick careers fairs throughout the year
- A history and DIY Guide to setting up and running a Theatre Company
Theatre and Performance Studies
Explore the world through the lens of Theatre and Performance Studies with one of the top departments in the UK.
Offering academic rigour, practical skills and connections with the industry, this degree has career prospects both within the arts sector and far beyond. You’ll be taught by world-leading academics and cutting-edge theatre practitioners.
- Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change (MA)
- Theatre and Performance Studies (MA by Research)
- Theatre and Performance Studies (MPhil/PhD)
Core course team
Anna Harpin’s research explores the intersections between arts and health. In particular, her work intervenes in cultural politics and clinical practices in relation to madness, mental health, and psychiatry. Her recent monograph Madness, Art, and Society: Beyond Illness examined artistic practice and uncovered the clinical lessons of creative work. Harpin’s current project is investigating the politics of tenderness and questioning the meaning, nature, and practice of ‘care’. Her artistic practice with her theatre company, Idiot Child, is likewise engaged with questions around health and wellbeing. The company explore difficult feelings and experiences through performance and their current project, Never Gonna Give You Up, explores loneliness.
Saul Hewish is one of the country's leading practitioners in the use of drama and theatre with offenders. He was a founder member and former director of Geese Theatre (UK) (est. 1987) and since 1996 has worked in a freelance capacity developing drama-based responses to crime within youth offending teams, social services departments, and special educational settings.
In 1999 he co-founded Rideout (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation), with Chris Johnston. Over the last twenty years this company has built a strong reputation for innovative and experimental arts-based projects within the criminal justice system in the UK and across Europe. This includes theatre and digital video projects in prisons as well as the production of cross artform projects that span the divide between prison and the wider public. He is a co-author of Challenging Experience: An Experiential Approach to the Treatment of Serious Offenders and was a recipient of a 2005 Butler Trust Certificate Award, a national award which recognises exceptional work by staff in HM Prison Service.
Nadine Holdsworth’s research spans questions of representation, participation, citizenship, political change and cultural value. She has worked on the creative activism of a number of leading mid-century practitioners including Joan Littlewood and John McGrath and her current project, A Divided Nation: theatre and social abjection, explores how theatre and performance can be used to illuminate pressing social issues and marginalised groups. These concerns are also central to her involvement with the ‘Homeless Monopoly’ project, with collaborators Jackie Calderwood from Coventry University and a Coventry-based charity Cyrenians, which is exploring how gamification, arts-based methodologies and collaborative play can be used to educate and build resilience amongst young people around the topic of homelessness.
Yvette Hutchison is a South African academic whose work focuses on Anglophone African theatre, dance and intercultural performance. She has taught on and worked in various theatre for development and community theatre projects in Africa and the UK.
Her most current research is an AHRC-funded project to create a virtual network connecting African women-identified creative practitioners with one another and other interested parties, including schools that want to widen curricula, through the African Women Playwrights Network. Her next collaborative project, with Lliane Loots of Flatfoot Dance Company, will trace the relationship between disability dance and citizenship with specific companies in various African countries.
Bobby Smith is a freelance practitioner who has worked in settings including schools, youth centres, within the criminal justice system and internationally. Previously, he also managed and coordinated applied theatre projects – for example, a drugs education and sexual health project in West London schools. He has worked as a consultant for several charities, writing resources and training staff, particularly in the area of Theatre for Development.
Since 2014, he has been involved in a project with refugees and migrants which aims to build English language skills and aid participants’ sense of belonging. Having recently completed a PhD, his research currently focuses on Theatre for Development, theatre and peacebuilding, and applied theatre with refugees and migrants.
Tuition fees are payable for each year of your course at the start of the academic year, or at the start of your course, if later. Academic fees cover the cost of tuition, examinations and registration and some student amenities.
Fee Status Guidance
The University carries out an initial fee status assessment based on information provided in the application and according to the guidance published by UKCISA. Students are classified as either Home or Overseas Fee status and this can determine the tuition fee and eligibility of certain scholarships and financial support.
If you receive an offer, your fee status will be stated with the tuition fee information, however we are awaiting guidance from the UK government regarding fee status for EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members living in the UK for academic year 2021/22 onwards. We are not able to confirm the fee status for these students until the relevant eligibility criteria have been confirmed. Once we have received further information from the UK government, we will provide you with an update on your fee status and let you know if any additional information is required. If you believe your fee status has been incorrectly classified you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire (follow the instructions in your offer) and provide the required documentation for this to be reassessed.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides guidance to UK universities on fees status criteria, you can find the latest guidance on the impact of Brexit on fees and student support on the UKCISA website.
Additional course costs
As well as tuition fees and living expenses, some courses may require you to cover the cost of field trips or costs associated with travel abroad. Information about department specific costs should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below, such as:
- Core text books
- Printer credits
- Dissertation binding
- Robe hire for your degree ceremony
Scholarships and bursaries
Find out how to apply to us, ask your questions, and find out more.
Here is our checklist on how to apply for taught postgraduate courses at Warwick.
Here is our checklist on how to apply for research postgraduate degrees at the University of Warwick.