Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Drama and
Contemporary Performance

BA (Hons)
Drama and Contemporary Performance
3 years (full-time)

Drama and Contemporary Performance at Manchester School of Theatre is all about your development as a theatre artist, performer, thinker and professional, in a city with a vibrant theatre and performance scene.

With a focus on cutting edge contemporary performance and theatre, the course combines artistic practice and academic enquiry, and draws on established local, national and international networks.

Drama and Contemporary Performance focuses on developing you as an informed and original maker of theatre, whether revisiting existing texts or exploring new forms and approaches. It also builds your skills and creativity as a theatre performer, both individually and in collaboration with others.

Working with leading theatre academics, artists and professionals, you will be part of a close-knit course community, working in one of the most thriving sectors of a city internationally acclaimed for its creativity and cultural industries.

The programme aims to develop you as a skilled, creative and confident professional, capable of working across a number of related career paths. As one of our graduates you could go on to work as a theatre maker, performer, actor, director, writer, teacher, facilitator, producer, technician and/or academic. You will also be in a position to continue with postgraduate study, and to apply the skills you develop in a wider range of creative and other fields.

Special Features

  • Based in a modern and spacious new building with a range of fully equipped performance studios, teaching and social spaces and a 180-seat theatre.
  • Taught by expert lecturer/practitioners with many years of experience developing artists, performers, producers, scholars and teachers.
  • Excellent production support and resources provided by a large technical team.
  • Be part of the creative and social communities of the Manchester School of Theatre and the Manchester School of Art.
  • Access to exciting new professional theatre at HOME, The Lowry, Contact Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre, Factory International and other city venues.
  • Strong industry connections to build professional networks and understanding in preparation for professional life as a graduate.

Course Content

After a first year exploring performing, theatre making and critical perspectives, you can opt to focus on text-based or broader compositional approaches to the making of new theatre. A series of performance projects both large and small also run throughout the degree, and it all culminates in the final year with major performance presentations, research projects and professional development training, aimed at setting you up for professional life.

Year 1

In Year 1, students will be introduced to key concepts and strategies relating to the production of theatre, including performance styles and techniques, contemporary debates in the context of drama and the creative process, before developing their own staff-led performance project.

Theatre Making

30 credits

Project 1

30 credits


30 credits

Theatre Making

‘Theatre Making’ is a studio-based unit that introduces and investigates a number of practices and strategies employed in the making of new theatre, using a combination of practical exercises and critical study.

Critical Perspectives 1

This unit will introduce you to key critical concepts and debates in drama, theatre and performance. You will learn about and debate these issues in the context of drama and contemporary performance. It will also introduce you to critical writing and thinking skills that are essential to both sustained academic research, university study, and to professional creative practice.


This practical unit will introduce you to a range of performance strategies, styles and techniques, with an emphasis on the performer’s integral relationship to the creative process.

Project 1

This unit provides you with the opportunity to develop and apply performance practice within a staff-led, ensemble-based performance project.

Year 2

Students have a choice of core units in Year 2, allowing for the development of specialisations in performance and composition, acting and directing, whilst gaining an understanding for the history of theatre throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries. The year culminates in a public-facing performance and critical reflection.

Critical Perspectives 2

This unit will contextualise contemporary theatre and performance within the historical, artistic and conceptual contexts of the 20th and 21st centuries. The unit will introduce you to the lineages of performance and theatre and its study through the twentieth century, and use that context to discuss and debate current issues in contemporary theatre and performance. Learning will take place through seminars, lectures, independent study, essays, and presentations. Assessed work will include student led presentations on historical cases and an essay on a relevant topic of each student’s choosing based on their own research. This will serve to develop your skills in independent research, organisation, writing, presentation and critical thinking.

Project 2

This unit facilitates a range of staff-led public-facing performance projects, in which you will engage directly in the creative process, performance, production and critical reflection.

Artists and Companies

This unit provides you with the opportunity to study the contemporary performance making of leading artists and companies, exploring the work in both practice and theory.

Directing and Dramaturgy

This unit provides the opportunity for you to explore and develop your skills in directing and dramaturgy through practical engagement, in a workshop environment, with a range of dramatic texts.

Performance and Composition

This unit focuses on stimulating, informing and developing your own work in the composition of original, contemporary, performance pieces, mostly from the position of the performer/collaborator.

Performing and Acting

This unit provides you with key practical skills in acting and performing in relation to dramatic texts.

Year 3

In Year 3 students will enhance their understanding of and discuss critical issues in drama whilst developing research skills and self-evaluation methods. The year also features two performance projects undertaken with the supervision of tutors and professional artists.

Project 3

30 credits

Project 4

30 credits

Critical Perspectives 3

This final year unit functions as a forum for you to discuss critical ideas, further develop your formal research skills and formulate your thinking about contemporary theatre as a cultural practice. You will develop an independent research project and critically engage and evaluate your creative practice over the course of the year.

Professional Practice

This unit enables you to adopt an informed and pro-active approach to the key professional pathways available to you when they graduate, with a focus on professional skills, profiling, contexts, processes and outputs.

Project 3

This unit provides you with the opportunity to engage in two performance projects, one with the input of a professional artist and the other tutor supervised, with the second responding to the experience of the first.

Project 4

This unit facilitates a range of student-led, supervised performance projects, in which you will engage directly in the creative process, performance, production and critical reflection.

Assessment Weightings & Contact Hours

10 credits equates to 100 hours of study, which is a combination of lectures, seminars and practical sessions, and independent study. A three year degree qualification typically comprises 360 credits (120 credits per year). The exact composition of your study time and assessments for the course will vary according to your option choices and style of learning, but it could be—

  • Year 1 40% lectures, seminars or similar; 60% independent study
  • Year 2 40% lectures, seminars or similar; 60% independent study
  • Year 3 40% lectures, seminars or similar; 60% independent study
  • Year 1 100% coursework;
  • Year 1 100% coursework;
  • Year 1 100% coursework;


Student Profiles

Visit the Degree Show website to view profiles of some of our graduating students.


This course will enable you to gain the skills and understanding to work professionally as a theatre maker, performer, director, producer, facilitator or teacher, or to move into other creative industries, as well as to engage in further academic study and research. You will also develop key transferable skills including teamwork, creative thinking, leadership and communication.

Making an Application

How to Apply

Apply through UCAS.

We will invite you for an Audition.

You will be notified of our decision through UCAS.

Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff Points/Grades Required


GCE A levels - grades BCC or equivalent

Pearson BTEC National Extended Diploma - grade DMM

Access to HE Diploma - Pass overall with a minimum 106 UCAS Tariff points

UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma - grade of Merit overall

OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma - grade DMM

T level - We welcome applications from students undertaking T level qualifications. Eligible applicants will be asked to achieve a minimum overall grade of Merit as a condition of offer

IB Diploma - Pass overall with a minimum overall score of 26 or minimum 104 UCAS Tariff points from three Higher Level subjects

Other Level 3 qualifications equivalent to GCE A level are also considered. 

A maximum of three A level-equivalent qualifications will be accepted towards meeting the UCAS tariff requirement. 

AS levels, or qualifications equivalent to AS level, are not accepted. The Extended Project qualification (EPQ) may be accepted towards entry, in conjunction with two A-level equivalent qualifications.

Please contact the University directly if you are unsure whether you meet the minimum entry requirements for the course.

Specific GCSE Requirements

GCSE grade C/4 in English Language or equivalent, e.g. Pass in Level 2 Functional Skills English

International BaccalaureateIB Diploma with minimum 26 points overall or 104 UCAS Tariff points from three Higher Level subjects. If you plan to meet the Level 2 course requirements through your IB Diploma you will need to achieve Higher Level 4 or Standard Level 5 in English Points

International Students

A minimum IELTS score of 6.0 overall with no individual element below 5.5 is required.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

Audition Information

Once we receive your application, we will invite you to audition with a group of fellow candidates where you will be asked to work together as an ensemble, watching, listening and responding to each other. We may also ask you about your experience and interests in drama and theatre, and there will be opportunity for you to ask us questions about the course. We will provide you with further details about the audition process after you apply.

Tuition Fees 2024 Entry

UK and Channel Island Students

Full-time fee: £9,250 per year. This tuition fee is agreed subject to UK government policy and parliamentary regulation and may increase each academic year in line with inflation or UK government policy for both new and continuing students.

EU and Non-EU International Students

Full-time fee: £20,000 per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A degree typically comprises 360 credits, a DipHE 240 credits, a CertHE 120 credits, and an integrated masters 480 credits. The tuition fee for the placement year for those courses that offer this option is £1,850, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study). The tuition fee for the study year abroad for those courses that offer this option is £1,385, subject to inflationary increases based on government policy and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

See Funding your studies for further information and advice.

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

Optional £600*

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 each year for books and printing. Total optional cost: £600.

Other Costs


Students will need to see a number of professional performances over the three years of the degree, mostly in the Manchester area. Some venues will offer special ticket deals for DCP students, so estimated cost: £60-£70 per year.

* All amounts shown are estimates.