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Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change (MA) (2024 Entry)

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Explore our Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change taught Master's degree.

The MA in Applied Theatre: Arts, Action, Change addresses contemporary practice in applied theatre and socially engaged performance in national and international contexts. This MA is aimed at emerging practitioners with a background in theatre, education, politics or activism, as well as at more established practitioners who want to reflect upon, refresh and develop their skills.

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Course overview

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.

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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

Associate Companies

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:

  • Arts and Homelessness International: work globally at the intersection of homelessness and creativity bringing positive impacts to people, projects and policy via homeless arts festivals from the Rio Olympics to Coventry UK City of Culture; the first cultural leadership programme for creatives who are or have been homeless and policy co-creation with local councils using Legislative Theatre.
  • 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

Minimum requirements

You will have, or be expecting to obtain, at least a 2:1 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 requirementsLink opens in a new window. This course requires the following:

  • Band B
  • IELTS Overall (Academic) score of 7.0 and minimum component scores of two at 6.0/6.5 and the rest at 7.0 or above.

International qualifications

We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications.

For more information, please visit the international entry requirements pageLink opens in a new window.

Additional requirements

There are no additional requirements for this course.

Core modules

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.

Socially Engaged Performance: Interventions and Provocations

Working through case studies focused on pressing social issues such as the climate crisis, austerity and homelessness, this module is concerned with how creative methodologies are being employed in activist forms of socially-engaged art and digital based arts practice that are about social change. It focuses on the potential of theatrical and performance modes to pose questions and invite reflection through its ability to intervene, surprise, disrupt, subvert, transform and imagine possible future worlds. It considers how theatre-making and creative approaches to digital practice can foster networks, collaborations and movements that are about tangible change within and across communities.

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

Optional modules can vary from year to year. Example optional modules may include:

  • Theorising and Facilitating Applied Theatre: Ethics and Reflective
  • Education for Sustainable Development (MA Drama and Theatre Education)
  • Drama and Literacy (MA Drama and Theatre Education)

Please visit the Theatre and Performance Studies websiteLink opens in a new window 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).

Class sizes

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.

Your timetable

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.

Your career

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.

Get to know us better by exploring our departmental website.Link opens in a new window

Our courses

Core course team

anna six

anna six’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. six’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

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

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 published English Theatre and Social Abjection in 2020, which explores how theatre and performance can be used to illuminate pressing social issues and marginalised groups in society. These concerns are central to her current body of research and socially-engaged projects addressing arts, creativity and homelessness (you can read about this work here: Nadine is also a Trustee of Underground Lights, a Coventry-based community theatre company for people who have experienced homelessness, mental health issues and social isolation.

Yvette Hutchison

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. In 2015 she co-founded the African Women Playwrights Network through an AHRC-funded project to virtually connect African women-identified creative practitioners with one another, programmers, funders, educators and audiences. Her current collaborative project is with South African, Dr Lliane Loots, artistic director of the FLATFOOT Dance Company and JOMBA! Festival. Their project Encountering disability through contemporary dance in Africa is tracing how disability/ integrated dance is being used to negotiate citizenship in various African countries including SA, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith’s research and practice examines the ways in which theatre and performance offer artistic and creative approaches to activism, education and social action. He was previously a freelance practitioner with experience in settings including schools, youth centres, within the criminal justice system and internationally. He also managed and coordinated applied theatre projects – for example, a drugs education and sexual health project in West London schools. Bobby has worked as a consultant for several charities, writing resources and training staff, particularly in the area of Theatre for Development.

Bobby’s most recent work includes building a network of theatre practitioners exploring violence in Rwanda, Kenya and Northern Ireland and projects which consider the climate crisis with young people internationally.

Tuition fees

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.

Find your taught course fees  

Fee Status Guidance

We carry out an initial fee status assessment based on the information you provide in your application. Students will be classified as Home or Overseas fee status. Your fee status determines tuition fees, and what financial support and scholarships may be available. If you receive an offer, your fee status will be clearly stated alongside the tuition fee information.

Do you need your fee classification to be reviewed?

If you believe that your fee status has been classified incorrectly, you can complete a fee status assessment questionnaire. Please follow the instructions in your offer information and provide the documents needed to reassess your status.

Find out more about how universities assess fee status

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.

For departmental specific costs, please see the Modules tab on the course web page for the list of core and optional core modules with hyperlinks to our Module Catalogue (please visit the Department’s website if the Module Catalogue hyperlinks are not provided).

Associated costs can be found on the Study tab for each module listed in the Module Catalogue (please note most of the module content applies to 2022/23 year of study). Information about module department specific costs should be considered in conjunction with the more general costs below:

  • Core text books
  • Printer credits
  • Dissertation binding
  • Robe hire for your degree ceremony

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and financial support

Find out about the different funding routes available, including; postgraduate loans, scholarships, fee awards and academic department bursaries.

Living costs

Find out more about the cost of living as a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick.

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How to apply

The application process for courses that start in September and October 2024 will open on 2 October 2023.

Applications will close on 2 August 2024 for students who require a visa to study in the UK, to allow time to receive a CAS and complete the visa application process.

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