This innovative postgraduate programme combines a focus on applied arts, and contemporary performance practices. Students explore examples of contemporary applied performance and aesthetic performance, in an atmosphere of imaginative scholarly inquiry, and make their own performances in response to research questions that emerge from their artistic and scholarly work.
Students undertake a professional placement, and engage with the professional landscape through seminars with visiting practitioners and scheduled taught sessions. While there is scope to develop a wide range of work, the department has particular specialisms in Arts and Health, Performance and Disability, and Performance and Conflict.
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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 c ontemporary performance practice within the creative industries, education, and community arts, 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 support them in the development of their MA thesis or research project.
Full-time: three semesters (one calendar year in total). Part-time: seven semesters (two calendar years).
This will normally be timetabled as two contact days per week full-time, with an expectation that students will work individually and collaboratively in the preparation of work on the campus or other suitable venues and locations.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
Teaching is by seminar, workshop, and lecture. There is a strong focus on learning through practice and on practical workshops led by members of full time staff and by visiting professionals. Library staff provide specialist assistance with research skills, and support access to rare materials through interlibrary loans.
Students are expected to work independently in reading, researching, and working practically in the studio. Studio work is supported by a full-time theatre technician, who also offers specialist advice and assistance to students as they create work.
Assessment methods include essay,, research presentation, live performance, directing, creative writing, literature reviews, video essays, vlogs, blogs, and theses. We work with our students to fit the assessment method to the learning outcomes, and to work with the individual student's strengths and ambitions.
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 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 near the start date and may be subject to 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 of attendance will often 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 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 Masters 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 via one method or a combination e.g. examination and coursework . 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 four learning outcomes, and no more than two 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 Masters 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 Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The Course Director, Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick, is associate editor of the journal Theatre Research International, and convenes the Feminist Working Group for the International Federation for Theatre Research. She has published widely on Irish women's writing, Irish theatre, and performance and conflict, and was recently involved in a collaboration with Kabosh Theatre Company on "The Shedding of Skin" (2021).
The teaching staff includes Dr Giuliano Campo, who is an internationally recognized expert on the work and practice of Grotowski, and whose research is on ritual and performance, and contemporary performance practices. Dr Jennifer Goddard is a specialist in applied arts, and disability and performance. She has extensive industry experience, and contacts with professional performance companies across Ireland and the UK.
Professor Tom Maguire is the Head of School and offers some teaching on the programme. In 2021, he was elected as Chair of the Board of the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN), and is a co-founder of the "Talking TYA" research network in Ireland. He is a Co-Investigator for the AHRC-funded Future Screens NI project and for Museums, Crisis and Covid-19, also funded by the AHRC. Tom is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Distinguished Teaching Fellow of Ulster University.
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 (20%) or Lecturers (55%).
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) by Advanced HE - 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 2021-2022.
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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.
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.
Contemporary Professional Landscape with Professional Placement
Professional placement offers students the opportunity to get hands-on experience of a host organisation within the creative industries. Acting as a creative consultant, the student will undertake a focused research role to address opportunities or challenges in the organisation'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
Standard entry conditions
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.
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.
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
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.
Fees and funding
Fees (total cost)
The price of your overall programme will be determined by the number of credit points that you initiate in the relevant academic year.
For modules commenced in the academic year 2022/23, the following fees apply:
NB: A standard full-time PGCert is equivalent to 60 credit points per year. A standard full-time PGDip is equivalent to 120 credit points per year.
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
It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. 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 Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.
There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.
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)