Module Convenor: Susan Haedicke
Supervisors: all members of staff in the department
Technical Support: Ian O’Donoghue
Module Description (2016-17)
The Independent Research Option (IRO) is a compulsory module for third year single-honours Theatre and Performance Studies students. Joint-honours students are not required to take this module but can choose to do so in exceptional circumstances. Supervisors for all IRO students must be based in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies. The module offers students two routes towards undertaking a substantial piece of supervised research during the course of the third year. These routes are convened separately so as to take into account methodological differences in each instance, but there are also some shared aspects in the programming and running of the module as a whole.
The two basic routes are:
1. Written dissertation (100% of assessment), convened by Jim Davis. This route enables students to complete an individually written dissertation of 10,000 words on a research topic of their choice and based on their investigation of primary and secondary sources. Each student taking this route is allocated a single supervisor and the topic must be one that can be appropriately supervised by a member of staff in the Department. In some exceptional cases, a student may be jointly supervised. The written dissertation must be based on clear historiographical, dramaturgical, and/or theoretical/conceptual principles. It should make apparent the context of the research, the research methodology involved and the research questions it is posing. Under certain circumstances and subject to negotiation, the dissertation can include curatorial work (including recording what has happened in the past or organizing an exhibition), historical performance reconstruction or applied practical work undertaken as research (for instance, a series of workshops in the community or in educational contexts).
2. Practice-based project (practical component 60%, critical review 40%), convened by Susan Haedicke. This route enables students to use forms of practice as the primary research methodology. The practical work can take several forms, including (but not limited to) live performance, performance installations, site-specific performance, video work, multi-media work, the writing of plays, curatorial work (including recording what has happened in the past or organizing an exhibition), historical performance reconstruction, space and/or costume design, organizing and running participatory workshops, and video documentaries. For the practice-based project, students will usually work in groups of between two and five members, though it is possible under some circumstances to undertake a solo project. Each group following this route is allocated a single supervisor and the nature of the work must be such that it can be appropriately supervised by a member of staff in the department. Practical processes must be informed by clear research imperatives and based on theoretical/conceptual principles. Projects should make apparent the context of the research, the research methodologies involved and the research questions being posed.
General Learning Skills and Outcomes
• Development of independent research topic
• Capacity to undertake independent research
• Capacity to organise and structure research findings
• Ability to make independent judgments
• Skill in researching, presenting and responding critically to established knowledge or approaches to a particular topic from within the discipline of theatre and performance studies
• Engage in an extended period of research to generate an original performance or media-based product or written dissertation
The IRO module is premised to some degree on the assumption that all students are essentially engaged in related theatre and performance research activities. The module has a weekly timetabled slot, which is Friday 10am - 12pm in G55 (Millburn), though meetings are occasional rather than weekly. These class meetings are mandatory, so students must not register for a class that meets during this time or schedule other activities. Written dissertation and practice-based option convenors may introduce separate meetings not indicated here. Some meetings in the Autumn and Spring Terms involve all IRO students; others are specific to written dissertation students OR practice-based dissertation students. You are required to attend ALL sessions relevant to your type of dissertation (written or practice-based).
An essential aspect of the IRO module is that students demonstrate their supportiveness of their peers and you will be expected to attend all work in progress events.
The IRO is primarily independent work on the part of the student. The prime point of contact however for all module takers is the allocated supervisor, and students should ensure they set up regular consultations with their supervisors as appropriate: the expected number of contact/supervision hours between IRO students and the supervisor is SIX hours during the academic year. In addition, practice-based dissertation students (with some exceptions) must reserve a time-tabled three-hour per week studio time slot (booked on departmental calendar) for the entire year (mostly evenings).