Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries

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MA Performance Design

stage@leeds Building

Explore the potential of performance design with this wide-ranging programme.

You’ll develop an awareness of the performance events and experiences that can be created with the aid of lighting, projection, settings and objects, puppetry, props, costume, sound as well as newer technologies such as digital and pervasive media. You’ll have space to experiment and come up with innovative and creative ideas for performance, while learning more about the theories and concepts that are shaping emergent forms of theatre, art and performance practice.

As you build up your MA portfolio you’ll engage with contemporary performance and arts practices – including immersive and participatory forms of performance, as well as those outside of the theatre – while considering the role they play in their wider social, cultural and economic landscape. This is the only research-orientated programme in the UK tailored towards academic and practical engagement with performance design.

You’ll be based in our purpose-built landmark building stage@leeds, with two professional-standard and publicly licensed theatres that regularly host works by students and visiting theatre companies. One of these is a technically advanced research facility, and both are fully equipped with the latest technology. A dance studio, dressing rooms and box office are also in the building, and our School includes rehearsal rooms, two black-box studios, costume construction and wardrobe stores, a design studio and scenic workshop, video editing and sound recording suits as well as computer aided design.

But our biggest strength is our links with external organisations, which give you the chance to get outside the theatre and explore performance in different environments. Our partners include Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Media Museum, Leeds City Council, Red Ladder Theatre Company, Limehouse Productions, Phoenix Dance Theatre, the National Coal Mining Museum for England, HMP New Hall, Blah BlahBlah Theatre Company, the BBC and HMP Wetherby.


Throughout the programme, you’ll develop an awareness of research methods and approaches in performance and the cultural industries. In Semester One, you’ll also take a core module which introduces you to key concepts, theories and ideas in performance design, exploring ideas such as visuality and the theatre, spectacle, audience experience and multi-sensorial performance.

This foundation will inform the rest of your studies, including your practice. In Semester One you’ll also work with a range of scenographic materials to develop your own creative practice, spending time in practical workshops alongside lectures where you’ll consider current issues and debates in performance design and the role of practice-led research.

In Semester Two you’ll apply all the knowledge and skills you’ve gained to an independent research project, which could be practice-led or a written dissertation on a topic of your choice. You’ll also be able to spend more time on your practice – you’ll have the chance to complete an individual project, or to collaborate with fellow students from across the School, or work on another small-scale research project based on a two-week placement in an external organisation. Alternatively you could choose from optional modules on topics such as audience engagement or debates on culture and place.

If you choose to study part-time, you’ll study over a longer period and take fewer modules in each year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project 60 credits
  • Performance Design Praxis 30 credits
  • Critical Concepts in Performance Design 30 credits
  • Research Perspectives (Performance Design) 30 credits

Optional modules

  • Individual Project 30 credits
  • Creative Work 30 credits
  • Performance and Collaborative Enterprise 30 credits
  • Critical Debates in Culture and Place 30 credits
  • Enterprise and Consultancy Practice 30 credits
  • Audience Engagement and Impact 30 credits

Learning and teaching

We use different teaching and learning methods to help you develop your skills and make the most of our tutors’ expertise, including, practicals, seminars, tutorials, lectures and group learning. Independent study is also integral to the programme, since it helps you to form your own ideas and build skills in research and analysis.

Assessment

The assessment methods you experience will vary depending on the module. However, to allow you to develop skills in a range of areas they will include essays, performances, visual documentation, verbal presentations, critical evaluations and reports.


Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons). If you don’t have this qualification, we may consider your application if you can demonstrate significant relevant industry experience.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Performance and Cultural Industries admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

How to apply

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
 
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you'll need

To support your application, you’ll need to provide digital documentation of your previous creative practice. This could include realised designs for performance, or it could be designs that could be applied to performance contexts or performance work that shows a strong interest in the creative use of design.

You can send us still images or short video clips, but we recommend using formats such as .pdf or .ppt so they can be easily viewed and shared. Files below 10MB can be emailed directly to the admissions team, or larger files can be shared via Dropbox or WeTransfer. Whatever you choose to send, please provide a short explanation of your work. We’ll want to discuss your work when we interview you.

Next steps

We usually invite candidates for interview whenever possible – if you’re an international student, this can be done by phone.

Admissions policy

School of Performance and Cultural Industries Taught Postgraduate Admissions Policy

Fees

UK/EU: £7,250 (total)

International: £17,500 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.


Career opportunities

This programme will give you the knowledge and skills to become an articulate and creative performance design practitioner. This could include; working as a designer or director in theatre, live performance, festivals or the events industry (either within a company or freelance), creating your own performance events or performance company, or working in community arts.

You’ll also gain a range of transferable skills in research, analysis, interpretation and communication, as well as imagination, independence and cultural awareness. This will equip you to work for a variety of roles across the cultural and creative industries, for example, in administration, marketing and management.

Because of the emphasis on research, it’s also good preparation for PhD-level study and teaching.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. Thats one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.


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