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Research Degress offered by the Department

PhD/MPhil in Theatre and/or Performance Studies

The degree of PhD is a supervised individual research project, culminating in the production of a substantial thesis or a combination of thesis and practical component (see practice-as­research below). The term of study (for enrolments from Aug 2011 onwards) is 4 years for a full-time student and 7 years for a part-time student. This incorporates periods of extension time (1 year f-t, 2 years p-t) should they be required, so the expectation is that degrees should actually be completed within 3 years and 5 years respectively. Extensions beyond those stipulated periods of 4 and 7 years may be permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Research students are normally registered initially for the degree of MPhil. After between 9-12 months of full-time study (or the equivalent period for part-time students of 18-24 months), you will be required to submit material for consideration to an upgrade committee consisting of academic staff from the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies (but not supervisors). This committee will also meet and discuss this material with you, before recommednign to the Graduate School that your status to be upgraded from M.Phil to PhD. Details of this procedure are explained below and in the Guidelines on the Supervision and Monitoring of Research Students. Thereafter Graduate Progress Committees (GPCs) are held annually for all PhD/MPhil candidates (involving two members of academic staff in the Department, other than your supervisor/s), following a similar though less formal procedure, and a summary report is filed.

At the end of the period of study your thesis will be examined by at least two examiners, usually one from inside the Department and/or University (the internal) and one from outside (the external). After reading your thesis, the examiners will require you to attend an extended oral examination (the ‘viva’, short for ‘viva voce’ examination) at which you will be questioned on aspects of your thesis as well as on broader issues relating to its topic. At the end of the viva the examiners will notify you of the outcome. This may necessitate rewriting parts of the thesis to greater or lesser extents. When your degree has been awarded, you will be entitled to use the title of ‘Doctor’. For further information about the requirements of the degree and the examination procedure, please refer to the Guide to Examinations for Higher Degrees by Research.

The degree of MPhil is a supervised individual research project in its own right, but it is of shorter duration and results in a shorter thesis than the PhD. Like the latter, it can also be conducted and presented in part as practice. The term of study is two years for a full-time student and three years for a part-time student. The degree is suitable for research students who are unable to commit to the full PhD time-span or in cases where the nature of the material being researched is deemed at the upgrade committee stage to be unlikely to provide adequate scope for a whole PhD. Often this does not become clear until the end of the first 9-12 months of study, which is why students are asked to register for an MPhil in the first instance, even if they intend to undertake a doctorate. Examination procedures, involving a viva, are the same as for a PhD. For further information about the requirements of the degree and the examination procedure, please refer to the Guide to Examinations for Higher Degrees by Research.

MA by Research in Theatre and/or Performance Studies

The degree of MA by Research is likewise a supervised individual research project on a smaller scale than the PhD and MPhil and, similarly, presentable in part as practice. The term of study is one year for a full-time student and two years for a part-time student. The degree offers an introduction to academic research for students looking to pursue study in a specific area not readily covered by taught masters programmes. Examination procedures are similar to those of PhD/MPhil, but it is not always deemed necessary to hold a viva. For further information about the requirements of the degree and the examination procedure, please refer to the Guide to Examinations for Higher Degrees by Research.

Theses

Allowing for practice-as-research variations (see below), the final goal of the research degree is the production of your thesis. Your thesis is submitted ‘in partial fulfilment’ of the requirements of your degree, indicating that you are also expected to demonstrate a depth and breadth of knowledge beyond the completed thesis alone during your viva. Word-lengths for the different courses of study are:

MA 30,000 - 40,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices)

MPhil 50,000 - 60,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices)

PhD 70,000 - 80,000 words (excluding footnotes, bibliography and appendices)

Students should not exceed the maximum word length. The appendices should be no more than 5,000 words.

Practice as Research (PaR):

Candidates wanting to pursue practice-based research at MA, MPhil or PhD levels will be expected to demonstrate a proven track record of professional standard practice or other relevant and significant practical experience and competencies.

Subject to the approval of the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, a suitably qualified candidate for the degree of MA, MPhil or PhD may submit research that has two components: a written thesis and a body of creative practice (this may be made up of performances, plays, translations or digital products). The written component will constitute an original creative contribution to the field of study, which is of an appropriate professional standard or worthy of peer-reviewed publication.

The practical component will exhibit a clear methodology and a clear engagement with critical frameworks appropriate to the field of study. The practical component will be a means of illuminating or engaging with the research contained in the written thesis and the submission as a whole will demonstrate the link between the practical and theoretical investigations and conclusions.

Feedback on practical work will be integrated into the normal pattern of supervision and the upgrade/Graduate Progress Committee process. Although the customary standard to aim for is a 50/50 division of written and practice-based components in the final submission (for all research degrees), it is recognised that each instance of research produces different emphases in this regard. Moreover, the appropriate proportions may not reveal themselves until quite a late stage of proceedings. The Department permits flexibility, but students and supervisors must ensure that they maintain a continuous dialogue on this matter as the research proceeds, also bearing in mind that there must always be a substantial written component that explicates practice. Where there is doubt that adequate requirements will be met in this respect, the Director of Graduate Studies should be consulted.

The final practical submission will take place normally within the final year of registration when the examiners will be required to attend a presentation of the creative work. It may, however, take the form of a series of short developmental presentations over a period of time, some of which may occur as early as the second year of full-time study. Any practical work being presented for examination will require the student concerned to provide examiners beforehand with a summary of the general aims, questions and context of the research as well as a rationale for the specific practical experiment being conducted. The submission as a whole will be subject to an oral examination (viva) as for thesis-only degrees. If necessary, the examiners can request the correction or revision and resubmission of either the practical component or the written thesis or both.

It will normally be the case that the final practical submission will develop from, draw on or reference practices that have taken place across the period of registration. In this instance, it is expected that the external examiner will be required to undertake a series of viewings of the candidate’s practice at different points in the registration, in the particular context in which the work has been made. The viewing of this material in process is not an examination in itself, but may be necessary to ensure that the external examiner has sufficient experience and knowledge of the candidate’s practical research prior to the final submission. Since the viewing of such work in progress by the external examiner does not constitute an examination in itself the external examiner will give no formal feedback to the candidate. During the candidate’s registration the external examiner will be required to attend no more than one viewing of practical research per year (for PhDs up to a maximum of three visits prior to the final examination).

It will be the student’s responsibility to ensure that there is a permanent record of the practical submission. This record must include an archival-standard video of the practical submission, but may also include sound recordings, set and costume designs, photographic material, performance/theatre texts and/or notation, DVD, CD Rom or other electronic forms. A permanent record of the practical submission must be deposited with the written thesis in the University Library.