Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts & Communications

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Research Postgraduate

The School’s portfolio of Postgraduate Research degrees provides opportunities for students to extend their disciplinary horizons through advanced, individually tailored research projects, under the guidance of leading academics. The School offers MA by Research, MPhil and PhD programmes, examined by fully written thesis. Alternatively candidates can undertake practice-led research in any field of performance leading to MPhil/PhD in Theatre/Dance/Performance, examined by practical outcome and written critical commentary.

In this section:

Programmes offered

Practice-led MPhil/PhD Theatre/Dance/Performance
MA by Research

Performance is understood not only as theatre, drama and dance, but also as a whole range of performance genres, such as live, body and performance art, cyber performances and installations. It includes performance design (scenography), dramaturgy and writing for performance. It is contextualised within the practices of the cultural industries in management, entrepreneurship, cultural and creative learning. The cultural industries in contemporary societies are a key research interest within the School of Performance & Cultural Industries. Taking an interdisciplinary approach across the arts and social sciences, staff within the School welcome applicants for postgraduate research study with an interest in any aspect of the cultural industries, their role in contemporary society and their future development. The School enjoys a particular strength in researching the cultural industries within an international context and successful applicants will be able to exploit opportunities for international engagement. Performance works across all of the arts, with a wider range and more freely. It happens in theatres, in communities, and in other ‘outreach’ contexts. Performance theory, in its many manifestations, provides tools for understanding in these genres and occasions, and in culture at large. These distinctive areas of research activity benefit from the opportunities of productive dialogue with each other and with others across the University. Postgraduate Research students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich and varied research culture within the School and the wider University. Training is an essential part of the Postgraduate Research experience, both for successful completion of the degree course, and for personal and careers-related development. A wide range of training opportunities are available in research, generic and subject specific skills. Students are supported in taking advantage of these opportunities at School and University levels, and beyond.

Recent completed PhDs include the following:

Duggan, Patrick: Trauma-Tragedy: Towards an understanding of Trauma in Contemporary Performance
Hann, Rachel :
Computer-based 3D visualisation for theatre research: towards an understanding of unrealized Utopian
theatre architecture from the 1920s and 1930’s
Hind, Claire : Dark and deep play in performance practice (practice-led)
Lawson, Jenny :
Playing with the domestic goddess: performance interventions into contemporary food culture (practice-led)
Ma, Halli :
Urban opera and contemporary Chinese politics. A case study of the Shanghai Yueju Company marketization
O’Grady, Alice:
Underground Club Spaces and Interactive Performance
Pickford, Stuart: The Dialogue Between the Discourses of Ecocriticism and Environmental Poetry

Areas of staff research at the School of Performance & Cultural Industries include the following:

•    Performance and new technologies
•    Digital performance and the body
•    Performance as a tool for innovation in design processes
•    Improvisation, free play, creativity and aesthetic development
•    Somaesthetics and knowledge making
•    Social choreography and aesthetics of the everyday
•    Spectating embodiment
•    Performance and phenomenology
•    Theories of performance space/place
•    Performance and Death
•    Food and Performance
•    Compositional practices in theatre and performance
•    The relationship between time and performance
•    Popular Culture
•    Proto-Punk, Punk & Post-Punk Cultures
•    Drama-documentary
•    Children’s television drama
•    Opera Studies
•    Adaptation Studies
•    Television Drama
•    Contemporary German theatre and opera
•    The phenomenology of scenography in performance
•    Interactive and participatory performance
•    Festival performance
•    Underground club culture and performance
•    Experience design
•    Immersive performance
•    Collaborative performance practices
•    Performer training methodologies and their transmission across borders
•    The histories and practices of Russian and/or East European  traditions
•    Intercultural performance practices
•    Performance documentation and digital archiving
•    Theatre as voyeurism
•    Contemporary Approaches to Greek Tragedy
•    Devised performance with live musical soundscape(s): the interfaces between Music, Movement and Text
•    Musicals of the 21st Century
•    The politics of the creative industries
•    The arts, creativity and innovation
•    Organisation and work in the performance industries
•    Creativity and entrepreneurship
•    Culture, creativity and development
•    Cultural histories of performance
•    Participatory arts experience for people with severe access needs
•    Research methods for scenography
•    The phenomenology of scenography in performance
•    Scenography
•    Lighting design
•    Immersive and Environmental Performance
•    Interactions between technology and performance
•    Arts marketing and management
•    Creative industries and the creative economy, policy and development
•    Conditions of creative work and employment
•    Digital technologies, the creative process and innovation

For more details including specific staff supervision areas and research centres and projects, see our Staff Profiles pages.


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Entry Requirements

PhD candidates are normally required to have a good honours degree (First or Upper Second), and it is usually advantageous to have completed a Masters degree in a related subject area, or to have significant and relevant professional experience in place of a master’s qualification.

MA by research and MPhil candidates are normally required to have a good first degree in a related subject area.  If you are proposing to undertake research that includes practice-led elements you will normally be able to demonstrate appropriate experience and proficiency in relevant areas of practice.

English Language Qualifications
Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to take an English Language Qualification and achieve the following entry requirements;

IELTS:  6.5 Overall with no less than 6.0 in all components

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) internet-based test: a total score of 92, with not less than: 21 in listening, 21 in reading, 22 in writing, and 23 speaking.

The University of Leeds Language Centre provides an Academic English for Postgraduate Studies pre-sessional course which is designed to help international students develop the necessary language and academic study skills required for successful study on a research degree programme. Courses start in September, January, April, July or August. For further information, please see visit the Language Centre’s website or contact via e-mail: langc@leeds.ac.uk

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