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 vibrant multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research community that's made up of 15 staff and 25 PhD candidates.

We work across 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 as well as being internationally engaged.

90% of our research impact work on policy and creative practice was rated 4* (world-leading) in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) and ranked joint second in the UK.

Research themes

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

  • Arts, Heritage, and Conflict - post–conflict arts, arts and reconciliation/conflict transformation, cultural heritage, arts practices engaging with cultural heritage, arts and protest movements.
  • Applied Arts, Health and Disability - 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 our 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
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Our partnerships

In addition to our collaborations across disciplines, we work in partnership with regional, national and international arts and cultural organisations 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 these 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 PhD programme is a key part of our research community.  We currently have approximately 25 PhD researchers from the UK and Ireland, as well as the rest of Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

In our most recent Postgraduate Researcher Experience Survey (PRES 2019), we ranked top in the university for research culture (GPA of 4.08) and performed above the sector average in a range of measures. Ulster University ranked 8th across the UK, and 3rd for research culture.

At our Magee campus Candidates have access to office spaces, IT and performance/production facilities as well as wider university-level support through the Doctoral College.

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).

Research Director: Dr Brian Bridges

Dr Brian Bridges

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

School of Arts & Humanities