About Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

A unique multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary environment for research within and between the fields of drama, film, music, heritage and museum studies.


We are a distinctively multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research community of approximately 15 staff and 25 PhDs, working within and between the fields of music, drama, film and screen studies, and heritage and museum studies.

Our work is rooted in our unique cross–border and UK/Ireland context, whilst also being internationally engaged, addressing research themes including arts and conflict, applied arts, creative industries and technologies, and new approaches to practice within arts research.

90% of our research impact work on policy and creative practice was rated 4* (world-leading) in REF2014 (joint second in UK).

We conduct discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research across a number of themes:

Arts and Conflict

Post–conflict arts, arts and reconciliation/conflict transformation, cultural heritage, arts practices engaging with cultural heritage, arts and protest movements.

Applied Arts

Performance and health, applied drama, community/participatory music/music technology and disability)

Creative Industries

Arts and cultural heritage sectors in economic contexts; organisational cultures, creative technologies)

Arts Practices and Practice-as-Research

From music theory and composition to dramaturgy, encompassing both practice–based and practice–led outputs as well as theoretical commentary.

Our Work

Since 2014, this unit’s researchers have produced over 130 peer–reviewed or equivalent practice–based outputs, including 8 monographs and edited collections, 25 major compositions and albums, and 97 journal articles, book chapters and published conference proceedings.

Staff members have also delivered keynotes and invited lecturers at universities including:

  • the University of Otago
  • University of Newcastle
  • Royal Irish Academy of Music
  • National University of Ireland
  • Galway
  • Freie Universität Berlin
  • Northwestern University
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Our Partnerships

In addition to our collaborations across disciplines, our unit benefits from its connections with a range of partnerships with key arts and cultural organisations within our region and across the UK and Ireland, including:

  • BBC
  • RTÉ
  • National Museums Northern Ireland
  • Irish Museums Assocation
  • the Contemporary Music Centre (IE)
  • Sound and Music (UK)
  • Nesta
  • the Abbey Theatre
  • the Playhouse Theatre
  • Cultúrlann uí Chanáin
  • Void Gallery
  • the Nerve Centre
  • FabLab NI
  • the Walled City Music Festival
  • City of Derry Jazz Festival
  • Imbolc International Arts Festival

We are represented on boards and working groups of the following academic organisations:

  • CineJ Cinema Journal
  • ECREA: European Communication Research and Education Association
  • IFTR: International Federation of Theatre Research
  • Irish Humanities Alliance
  • ISSTA: Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association
  • ITYARN: International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network
  • Interference: a Journal of Audio Culture
  • Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland
  • TaPRA: Theatre and Performance Research Association
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College
  • EU Horizon 2020 Peer Review

Our PhD Community

Our PhDs are a key part of our research community, with dedicated office spaces, IT and performance/production facilities and administrative support at Magee campus, in addition to university-level support via the Doctoral College.

We currently have a total of approximately 25 PhD researchers from the UK and Ireland, as well as the rest of Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

We are a partner in the UK AHRC–funded Northern Bridge Consortium, in addition to running our own annual scholarship competition (deadlines generally in January/February each year).

In our most recent Postgraduate Researcher Experience Survey (PRES 2019), this unit performed above the sector average in a range of measures and was placed top in the university for research culture (GPA of 4.08).

As a University, Ulster was placed 8th across the UK, and 3rd for research culture.

Research Director: Dr Brian Bridges

Dr Brian Bridges

Research Director - Music, Drama, Dance and the Performing Arts

School of Arts & Humanities