An interdisciplinary taught programme that combines performance practice with imaginative and rigorous critical engagement.
This innovative postgraduate programme combines cutting edge contemporary performance practice with rigorous thinking. Students explore examples of contemporary performance in an atmosphere of rigorous and imaginative academic inquiry. Students also make their own performances in response to research questions that emerge from their artistic and scholarly work.
In addition to the core modules, students engage with the professional landscape through seminars with visiting practitioners and through placements; and may opt to study playwriting and dramaturgy with a professional dramaturge.
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About this course
In this section
The design of the course incorporates knowledge and understanding of the subject with subject-specific, intellectual, practical and transferable skills. The course structure is designed to equip students with an integrated, interdisciplinary perspective on the nature and scope of contemporary performance practice within the creative industries and the skills necessary to put that perspective into practice.
With this in mind, the course is designed to provide students with appropriate progression in terms of depth of study and to offer them an equitable range and balance of core and option courses in each semester of their degree.
Full-time: three semesters (one calendar year in total).
This will normally be timetabled as one contact day per week full-time (normally Wednesdays), with an expectation that students will work individually and in collaboration in the preparation of work on the campus or other suitable venues and locations.
- September 2019
Teaching and learning assessment
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
In this section
Approaches to Contemporary Performance Practice 1
This module provides students with a grounding in key issues in and approaches to contemporary performance practice, integrating theoretical concerns with practical exploration, organised around key questions. Assessment is 100% by coursework, through which students demonstrate their integration of practice and critical analysis.
Approaches to Contemporary Performance Practice 2
This module seeks to provide an opportunity for students to explore, both practically and critically, the key issues and performance practices associated with contemporary situated art. Students are encouraged to interrogate these theories and practices in both tutorial and workshop-based situations.
Researching Contemporary Performance Practice
This module enables students to develop sustainable research strategies to support their research work within the programme and beyond. It engages with key issues relevant to researching contemporary performance practice and explores the ways in which research is a vital tool for the creative practitioner.
The Contemporary Professional Landscape with Professional Placement
This module uses a case study approach to develop students' understanding of the nature of the creative industries sector, prior to a placement that offers students the opportunity to get hands-on experience of a host organization within the creative industries. Acting as a creative consultant, utilizing the information gained in-class, the student will undertake focused activities to address opportunities or challenges in the organization's operation as a way of identifying potential solutions and innovative approaches.
This module allows students to negotiate their own programme of study in pursuing a specific research question. Students may present their work as a dissertation, a practical performance or workshop, or undertake a work-based learning project.
Assessment: 100% coursework
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
Applicants must normally have gained a second class honours degree or better, and provide evidence of competence in written and spoken English (GCSE grade C or equivalent).
In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has substantial and significant experiential learning, and a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities (including subject-specific outcomes, as determined by the Course Committee) may be considered as an alternative entrance route.
For more information, contact the Course Director.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that
(a) they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level.
(b) no exemption shall be permitted from the Independent Project
Careers & opportunities
In this section
Creative, technical and administrative roles within the creative industries
Community-based education and/or creative work
Teaching at FE
Further academic or practical study
The course equips students with transferable skills for those who prefer to pursue a career in industry or commerce.
Work placement / study abroad
The module DRA705 includes both an exploration of the professional landscape, and a placement with a professional arts organisation.
The placement is negotiable in length but must include an element of consultancy: i.e., the student must have a specific set of responsibilities and a task to be completed. This might include surveys of audience base; development of marketing or social media presence; identification of funding sources; management of a time-limited project, or other.
The student will negotiate the placement with the module coordinator and the management of the arts organisation.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
ApplyHow to apply Request a prospectus
Applications to full-time and part-time postgraduate courses are made through the University's online application system.
You will be asked to provide personal details and information on your education and qualifications, employment, funding, referees and personal statement.
- September 2019
Fees and funding
In this section
Fees (total cost)
Important notice - fees information
Fees illustrated are based on 19/20 entry and are subject to an annual increase. Correct at the time of publishing. Terms and conditions apply. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages for full details of fees
- Northern Ireland & EU:
- £14,060.00 Scholarships available
Scholarships, awards and prizes
Students may apply for university prizes such as, for example:
BPW NI Travelling Scholarship
Greer Garson Award for Theatre
Greer Garson Award for Film
John RE Scott Postgraduate Student of the Year Award
McCrea Literary Award
Additional mandatory costs
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
Course Director: Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick
International Admissions Office
For more information visit
- The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
- Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
- If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
- The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
- The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.
The MA programme Ulster has been an extremely challenging and enriching experience. As a dance practitioner and choreographer, the programme design enables me to delve deep into my creative process to explore new avenues in contemporary practice, and through the support of the experienced academic staff it has also supported me to gain new skills and confidence as an academic researcher. (Eileen McClory)