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MA 1 year (full-time), 2 years (part-time)
MFA 2 years (full-time)

The MA/MFA Performance is an exciting taught masters programme that offers a practical, versatile and interdisciplinary approach to performance-making and training. The programme provides students with an advanced and practical understanding of current performance practices, drawing on a broad range of artistic and theoretical influences. The development of new creative practice is at the core of the programme, as well as how this work might be developed and profiled in a professional context.

Furthermore, MA/MFA Performance also offers students the chance to specialise in either of the distinctive areas of laboratory theatre or contemporary performance, or to combine elements from both with direct experience of a current professional arts context. The experience of these options is fed through a further process of critical and professional contextualisation, before students embark on the creation of their own major projects as the culmination of the degree.

The laboratory theatre specialism focuses on performer training, dramaturgy and socially-engaged cultural actions. It also offers students the unique opportunity of a residency at Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium (NTL) in Denmark, the umbrella organisation of which internationally renowned laboratory theatre group Odin Teatret (Denmark) is a part. The premium uplift for students on the Laboratory Theatre specialism is £2,000.

The contemporary performance specialism focuses on the creation of innovative and experimental performance practice, within or across the categories of radical theatre, contemporary dance and performance art/live art. It draws particularly on the acclaimed interdisciplinary ethos and context of the Manchester School of Art and Manchester’s international arts networks.

Special Features

Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium
  • MA/MFA Performance capitalises on the cultural effervescence of Manchester and the North West region, whilst maintaining an outward-looking ethos, offering students the ability to develop an artistic voice with internationally renowned partners including Denmark's Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium.
  • Our location in the landmark new Grosvenor East building provides the programme with access to significant resources and the potential for cross-disciplinary influence and impact from a wide range of related arts and humanities practices in the faculty.
  • The degree is taught by practitioner-researchers at the forefront of the performance field, with specialist knowledge in contemporary performance and laboratory theatre.
  • The programme prepares students to make radical theatre and performance that responds to the unique challenges of the 21st century.

Course Content

MA/MFA Performance is a core programme that locates concepts central to the act of ‘performance’ that expose and enhance the distinctive knowledge of different performance specialisms. It creates pools of research-led knowledge for students to immerse themselves in and respond to. This pathway combines practice-based and theoretical core spaces that anchor a student's learning journey, creating an environment for emerging and mid-career artists to transform/develop/consolidate their practice.

The core and specialist routes provide a bridge between undergraduate study, postgraduate research and the professional world, and provide developing artists with further opportunities to hone their practice.​

Year 1 (MA Full-Time)

MA Units

Progression onto the MFA requires that all 180 credits of the MA are passed, with at least a mark of 50% in each unit.

Major Project

In this unit you pursue artistic and theoretical research questions through the generation of a significant new piece of contemporary performance practice. The work is developed through close collaboration with your staff mentor and involve several points of sharing with the wider staff and student team. You will produce an appropriate professional trajectory for the project, identifying appropriate strategies for public engagement and meeting the strategic priorities of relevant funding bodies and/or support structures and networks. This work is shown in a key performance event produced by the student body.

Performance in Context 1

Performance in Context 1 introduces you to the artistic and theoretical contexts in which current contemporary performance practice operates. Working closely with the MA’s practice-based units, it explores key critical and theoretical perspectives, such as phenomenology, interculturalism, digital humanities and performance politics, that inform innovative contemporary performance.

Performance in Context 2

This unit continues to explore the current field of contemporary performance, building upon the work developed in Performance in Context 1. Here the focus shifts to inviting creative interplay between theoretical and artistic practice, as you are supported in the artistic and theoretical contextualisation of your own practice.

Performer as Maker

Performer as Maker explores key contemporary performance strategies, drawn from radical theatre and dance practice, that focus on the body as an innovative source for developing material. The teaching delivery takes the form of a series of weekly workshops, which focus on ideas such as authenticity, presence, autoethnography and identity.

Professional Practices

This unit reflects on the professional contexts that exist for contemporary performance, and engages with key strategies for self-producing and profiling performance work. Within the unit you select, directly engage with, and then reflect upon, a specific professional performance context, placing it into the broader contexts that exist, for example state support for the arts, arts marketing, ethics, local and regional arts provision, artist networks, and international frameworks.

Option Units (Subject to Change)

Artist-Led Project

In this unit students work as an ensemble with a established contemporary performance practitioner to create a new performance piece. The work presented is the product of an intensive creative process (normally over two weeks).

Cross Pollination Laboratory (NTL, Denmark)

This unit offers an intensive ‘hands- and minds-on' experience of living and working in a professional laboratory theatre space, through a placement at Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium (NTL) in Holstebro, Denmark. Over the course of the unit, students will investigate the role of technique, both in acting and performance, in terms of producing knowledge.

The unit will be guided by experienced practitioners from two platforms connected to NTL: normally Cross Pollination and The Bridge of Winds and it will be taught at the facilities of Odin Teatret.

The unit will then integrate praxical and reflective methods to critically experience laboratory theatre practices as an expanded frame for artistic research, and an incubator for the building and nourishment of personal practices. Over the course of the unit, two complementary approaches to professional laboratory work will be explored: for example, the vertical and codified psychophysical and vocal training of The Bridge of Winds, which was founded by Odin Teatret actress Iben Nagel Rasmussen; and the horizontal and dialogical approach of the Cross Pollination Research Platform, which stimulates the development of personal practices based on dialogues between different techniques.

The unit envisions an active dialogue with the Odin Teatret Archive (OTA), housed at the Odin Teatret facilities, in order to stimulate novel and personal ways of reflecting on and validating the students’ academic/ artistic research through alternative modes of documentation, archive and transmission.

Making Performance

Making performance explores current contemporary devising strategies in order to facilitate the generation of new and innovative live performance. The unit focuses on ideas and practices drawn from current contemporary work in the field, including digital practices, scoring, economy, duration and repetition.

Psychophysical Training

Psychophysical Training is an intensive practice-based unit allowing students to interrogate strategies and principles underpinning physical and vocal training for the actor. A range of different laboratory theatre traditions will be explored, with an emphasis on the pre-expressive principles of Theatre Anthropology and the extended vocal practice of the Roy Hart Theatre.

The Contemporary Performer

This unit will involve workshops and making processes that examine what a performative practice might consist of for the contemporary performer who makes their own work. Working against conventional models of performance practice, the unit explores training as a form of devotion, endurance or life-style and as a strategy for continuous re-orientation.

Year 2 (MFA Full-Time)

MFA units

For students to graduate with the MFA in a bracketed specialism, they will need to carry their specialism into the MFA, for example, in the Production unit, students focusing on Laboratory Theatre will come out with MFA Performance (Laboratory Theatre).


This unit offers students the opportunity to develop a major practice-based project that is specifically designed to operate within the professional context identified in the MFA Production Contexts unit. Students create and self-produce an innovative piece of work, or platform, exhibition or exchange event, that promotes and sustains their work. They might choose to work individually or in collaborative groups and are supported in the development of the work by a staff mentor.

Production Contexts

In this unit you will identify new professional contexts for your work that will enable you to sustain your professional practice. The unit has a particular emphasis on the potential for European and international networks, as well as interdisciplinary fine/digital art contexts, to support innovative contemporary performance practice. Here you will articulate, develop and actualize contemporary self-production strategies, such as setting up an artist’s network, exchange project or creative platform for your work. The unit will be assessed by portfolio submission, which can include a range of materials including project proposals, feasibility studies, and promotional material.



MA/MFA Performance graduates will leave the programme able to operate as performance practitioners at a professional level, whilst understanding the vocational and critical contexts in which the field operates. This will empower them to develop a career as freelance theatre artists, or as other professionals in the sector (producers, programmers, facilitators, curators, pedagogues etc.) or to combine these identities based on their own interests/skill-sets, as is increasingly common practice in the portfolio careers built by performance artists.

The course offers the opportunity of participating in a residency at Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium (NTL) in Denmark.

Making an Application

Entry Requirements

Normally applicants will have a good undergraduate UK honours degree (minimum 2:2) in a related subject (or international equivalent), or a degree-equivalent postgraduate diploma, or a professional qualification, or relevant professional practice.

IELTS overall requirement 6.5 with no less than 5.5. in any category.

Progression onto the MFA requires that all 180 credits of the MA are passed, with at least a mark of 50% in each unit.

Interview may be required.

How to Apply

Please apply online using the link below.

Apply Online

Tuition Fees 2024 Entry

UK and Channel Island Students

Full-time fee: £1834 per 30 credits 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).

Part-time fee: £1834 per 30 credits studied 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).

EU and Non-EU International Students

Full-time fee: £3417 per 30 credits 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).

Part-time fee: £3417 per 30 credits studied 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 masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Eligible alumni receive a 20% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.

Also see Postgraduate funding and financial support.

Additional Costs

Specialist Costs

£100*  plus optional £2500*

Students undertaking the Laboratory Theatre specialism will be required to pay a premium uplift of £2,000.

Students may incur production costs, up to £500, depending entirely on their own creative decisions/individual practice, particularly within the Major Project unit. There may also be some travel costs involved in the Contemporary Performance Professional Practices unit, should the student choose to focus on an artwork context that requires travel.

Students will also be expected to attend a number of live performance events to support their studies during the programme, costing a maximum of £100 in total.

Trips and Placement Costs

Optional £300*

For Bracketed Specialism Laboratory Theatre, costs for students while on the short residency with NTL in Denmark will include travel (including visa costs as necessary) and food.

* All amounts shown are estimates.