What you'll study
The course is designed to meet our global cohort’s wide-ranging needs: we cater to those who intend to pursue a professional career in the creative industries or enhance their existing professional standing and those seeking to extend their knowledge and develop their appreciation of theatre and performance.
You will be provided with a comprehensive and flexible programme of study in theatre and performance, with a rigorous academic grounding in the practices, histories, contexts and methodologies of a vast spectrum of theatre and performance-related subjects.
“There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the subject team about the principles of
effective pedagogy in an online programme. This has meant that the high-quality materials
provided by tutors within the module are able to generate deeply engaging student learning
experiences away from the online environment, through effectively structured tasks. At the same
time, the support provided online, via a range of settings and approaches, are clearly of value to
the students as an interactive space.” Dr Tom Maguire, External Examiner, Head of School of Arts and Humanities, University of Ulster (2019)
Clearing applications are now open. Apply through clearing here.
Why choose this course?
Choose your own pathway
You will build your own route through your degree to focus on your own interests and preferences
You will receive expert teaching from academic staff and industry professionals, whose experience covers the broad spectrum of the discipline
Alongside your academic work, you will develop valuable skills around professional behaviours, employability and entrepreneurship – fundamental to whatever career path you choose when you graduate
Virtual learning environment
Your learning materials provide you with both theoretical and practice-based perspectives as you study working theatres, practitioners, playwrights and directors alongside the canon of theatre studies at large
International learning community
You will study independently as well as work with others in small groups online, where you will be part of a vibrant community of students drawn from performing arts, education, the arts sector, those looking towards careers in the theatre industry and those studying for their own interest and pleasure
Recognition of prior learning
If you already have academic credits or professional experience you might be eligible for credit exemption for accredited prior and/or experiential learning. Please contact the Lead Academic Tutor to discuss your circumstances
UK students can apply for a student loan
UK students can apply for Student Finance (you must complete a minimum of 30 credits/year)
Join College events
You will be able to attend the College’s annual Symposium event on campus, which includes special guest lectures, master classes and performances
Course content is regularly reviewed, to make it relevant and current. Course modules are therefore subject to change.
Level 4: (120 credits) Obligatory (up to 3 years)
- TS401 & TS402: Theatres at Work (40 credits)
These modules identify and explore the techniques and challenges of presenting theatre today. They include an in-depth study of how a professional theatre company functions in terms of its artistic policies, marketing strategies and funding initiatives. Much of your work will be based around the study of a professional theatre company in your own area and investigations of how it contributes to its localised contexts.
- TS403: The Craft of Playmaking (20 credits)
This module explores ways of analysing dramatic writing in terms of its potential impact and meaning in the theatre. You will examine dramaturgy from a range of perspectives and focus on ways in which a text becomes a blueprint for performance. Plays currently studied include a range of traditional texts such as Oedipus Rex and Everyman as well as more contemporary writing such as Bryony Lavery’s Stockholm and Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog. Drilling down into issues surrounding genre, form, structure and character, the module simultaneously key principles and theories of dramaturgy as a craft while encouraging you to recognise how it is repositioned by performance contexts.
- TS404: The Critical Audience (20 credits)
This module examines the relationship between meaning and text by examining a range of approaches to performance. You will investigate how conventions of genre, acting styles, direction and design signify in different ways. By taking the role of ‘the critical audience’ you will explore how contemporary productions are shaped by their historical, cultural and artistic conditions and discover ways of re-framing them within contemporary critical perspectives. You will watch recordings of a range of plays and devised material and guided through ways of analysing action and production choices and articulating their experiences.
- TS405 & TS406: Elements of the Performance Work (40 credits)
These modules introduce key traditions or “elements” of theatre-making. You will explore the means by which the performing body is codified through visual elements such as costume, make-up and mask and examine the relationship between text, space, action, the changing social and political functions of performance and the role of context in meaning-making. These modules will introduce you to the evolution of various theatrical forms and traces the fusion of styles and conventions.
Level 5: 120 credits (up to three years)
TS501: Naturalism (20 credits)
This module interrogates Naturalism in its historical context. The module looks at the impact of science and technology and the new perspectives of sociology and psychology. The works of important writers including Zola, Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov are studied alongside practitioners such as Stanislavski and Antoine. Particular attention is given to the comparative analysis of play-texts and the ways in which, within Naturalism, they embody different aesthetic preoccupations and generate different experiences in the theatre.
TS502: Shakespeare (20 credits)
This module seeks to explore the plays as vehicles for performance, understanding them in relation to the original
performance conditions for which they were created, and, by
extension, in the contemporary theatre. In TS502 Shakespeare’s work is addressed through three key themes: Language, Space and Identity. Building research around the challenges presented by the New Globe theatre in London, the module focusses on the practical demands of staging of Henry V Hamlet and Twelfth Night. This module encourages you to learn through personal experience, observation and critical interrogation.
Then select 80 credits from the following electives:
- TS503 & TS504: The Playwright (40 credits)
TS503 and its co-requisite module TS504 build on the learning and skills developed at Level 4, particularly TS403, The Craft of the Playmaker. TS503 takes an in-depth look at the conventions (and challenges to conventions) of British and Irish playwriting from the mid twentieth century onwards. The module closely examines the work of significant British and Irish playwrights within their social and historical contexts. In addition, each unit uses the work of particular playwrights to deepen students’ understanding of certain aspects of playwriting technique. TS504 takes an in-depth look at the conventions (and challenges to conventions) of North American (English language) playwriting, and how it responds to, and challenges the notion of the American Dream. The module closely examines the work of significant North American playwrights within their social and historical contexts, with units featuring the work of female playwrights and voices from the margins.
- TS507 & TS508 The Director (40 credits)
Module TS507 explores the role of the Director in British and European theatre. While there is some discussion of historical context and development, the main emphasis of the Module is on contemporary practice. Students study the work of both leading and emerging directors through an examination of their creative decisions, working methodologies and complementary discourses; framing these in relation to a range of critical and theoretical considerations. The Module begins with an exploration of the director’s position in relation to other practitioners in the production process and goes on to study in detail how the director might approach text-based work, both classics and new writing. NTS508 develops the work undertaken in NTS507 by examining a range of contemporary developments in theatre and performance practice, particularly areas of directing which move beyond text-based theatre. Students apply their learning to a range of practical directing tasks, presented in the form of a Reflective Journal, which charts the development of their own directorial voice, and allows them to explore a broad range of directorial approaches.
- TS515: Beyond the Stage: Space and Place (20 credits)
TS515 investigates the debates surrounding place and space and examines how these terminologies are applied to performance practice, audience theory and definitions of theatricality. TS515 begins by considering the question of place as a location for transgressive acts, examining medieval carnival and concepts of ‘reversal.’ These investigations feed into discussion of more contemporary case studies – of riots and rallies – as these are examples of the appropriation of space for Political and political ends. Crowd theory is introduced here to problematise notions of ‘audience’, and the relationship between spectatorship and participation. The module then moves on to consider ‘space’ as a key condition of and delimiter of performance by examining examples of performance which interrupts or intrudes upon everyday life.
- TS509 & TS510: The Actor and the Realist Tradition (40 credits)
In this practice-based strand, you will be introduced to the dominant approach to acting of the last hundred years, namely that developed by Stanislavski, and guided through the process of the actor’s own preparatory work for rehearsal through a series of practical exercises, tasks and performances of a role of your own choosing. Alongside you will explore contrasting theoretical perspectives of two other key figures: Michael Chekhov and Bertolt Brecht. These modules provide both an historical overview of the changing social role and economic status of the actor as well as guide you through the application of primary techniques for preparation and performance.
- TS517 Live and Performance Art (20 credits)
This module explores the processes and practices of contemporary live and performance art from ‘happenings’ to fine art and dramatic postmodernity. The meeting point between fine art, installation and performance, performance art and live art have often articulated as a desire for direct engagement with issues of identity, multiculturalism and globalisation. This module enables you to encounter some of the principle themes associated with contemporary performance art practice – in particular work which has occurred away from traditional theatre settings and audiences. Drawing on a range of theories you will examine the work of contrasting live or performance artists practicing today.
- TS511 & TS512: Musical Theatre: The American Golden Age
These modules investigate the world of musical theatre from a twentieth century American perspective (focusing on productions spanning from 1920s-1970s). You will explore the theatrical forms that influenced the musical as it is widely known. For example, Minstrelsy, Vaudeville, Burlesque, Revue, Comic Opera and Operetta. Each unit will focus on writers, composers and productions that contributed to the development of American Musical Theatre: Jerome Kern, Showboat; Rodgers and Hammerstein, Oklahoma! and Jules Styne and Arthur Larents, Gypsy, Stephen Sondheim, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and A Little Night Music, respectively.
Level 6 120 credits (up to three years)
- TS602 Topic in Contemporary Theatre (20 credits)
This module examines some of the major developments in contemporary theatre, analysing the work of specific playwrights and practitioners and exploring particular sites of interrogation that have emerged in the post-millennial period. It focuses in particular on the following developing practices: documentary theatre, post dramatic theatre and multimedia performance. The discussion of each of these is centred on a series of overarching questions, including the changing role of the audience/spectator, the impact of space, the quest for truth or authenticity in a fundamentally fictional form, and the relationship between live performance and the (written) text(s). Thus, the term ‘topics’ relates to both the particular forms that have gained prominence since 2000 as well the key themes that are being explored in these and other practices.
Obligatory for Honours:
- TS601 Independent Research Project (60 credits)
The Research Project constitutes the final module for honours students. It is designed to allow you to demonstrate your ability to design and pursue independent research on a subject which draws upon an aspect of your previous study or centres on theatre-related professional practices. The research project might be an extended study based on theoretical and scholarly
reading or take the form of a critical evaluation of a practical project. For example you might apply critical perspectives and analytical frames to a specific area of theatre-related practice or examine the work of a playwright, company or practitioner. Aspects of this work can be practice-based and the module aims to provide broad scope for a range of project types. The subject area is negotiable: there will be the opportunity to revisit, in depth, a subject area already studied, as well as move into new areas of enquiry. Students will be guided carefully in the selection of their topic and preparation planning and presentation of findings are assessed components and receive guidance on ethical and practical issues (in line with the College’s Policy on Ethics in Research). You will have access to a VLE page providing guidelines on planning and writing your project and tutorial guidance is given through all stages of the process.
Then select 40 credits from the following electives:
- TS605 & TS606 The Empire Acts Back (40 credits)
TS605 addresses post-colonial theatre in a variety of social contexts, drawing on plays and performance studies from the Caribbean, Nigeria, South Africa, and India. Through critiques of
play texts, theory and theatre practice the module will guide you through post-colonial, intracultural and inter-cultural issues including negritude, Black Consciousness, anti-apartheid movements and indigenous practices. TS606 broadens your studies of performance and theatricality in post-colonial contexts by encompassing indigenous theatre in Australia, Canada and diasporic black cultures, with a particular emphasis on Afro-Caribbean and Asian theatre in Britain. The issue of language itself is discussed throughout in both modules. The module will guide you through theatre as a forum for debates on Aboriginal, Québécois, and indigenous practices and those emerging from diasporic communities in Britain.
- TS607 & TS608 Ancient Greek Tragedy (40 credits)
TS607 and TS608 aim to introduce you to Greek plays in their ancient socio-political and performance contexts and in the contexts of their transformations in subsequent theatre spaces, manifestations and cultures. In TS607 you will analyse the only surviving ancient trilogy, the Oresteia of Aeschylus. You will also examine modern versions of, and responses to, this work by later playwrights including August Strindberg, Eugene O’Neill, Neil LaBute and Yael Farber to introduce and interrogate the theory and practice of classical performance reception. This module along with TS608 does not attempt to offer a comprehensive survey of Greek drama in performance. Rather, each unit offers a specific and distinct perspective upon the evolving field of classical performance reception. Issues of politics, gender and post-colonialism, as well as theatre history, historiography and appropriate practitioner theories, will all be considered within this context.
- TS611 & TS612 Brecht and the Epic Tradition in German Theatre (40 credits)
These modules examine Brecht in detail – as writer, director and practitioner. This is achieved through a close reading of a number of Brecht’s plays and productions from the earliest stages of his career through to the immediate post-war period. It is impossible to discuss Brecht’s theatre without also acknowledging the ideologies and the theory bubbling underneath and, to this end, this part of the module explores both Brecht’s political radicalism (in his adherence to and departures from Marxim) and his theatrical radicalism (in the form of anti-Aristotelian drama). This module concludes with an appraisal of Brecht as director, which is the arena in which his practice and theory are seen to most fruitfully combine. Following on from this focused approach to Brecht and his canon, TS612 opens out the discussion in order to interrogate ‘Brechtian’ theatre and the chains of influence which perpetuate to the present day.
- TS613 Shakespeare in Performance (20 credits)
This module explores the translation of Shakespearean texts from page to stage through a series of case studies from the performance history of four plays, and through practical exercises requiring you to prepare a text, or part of a text, as a director might prepare it for performance, providing annotations and a critical analysis of the decisions taken. The module is intended to stimulate interest in further research and to provide a set of skills that may be utilised in dissertation work. The module focuses on four plays which may include: Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest. The texts are studied in terms of their potential for realisation on stage. The performance history of the set plays is examined and the approach of a range of practitioners is studied. However, your own work on the texts is central to this module and assessment is through the critical annotation of a selected piece of text.
- TS614 Theatre of the Absurd (20 credits)
This module is intended to provide you with an overview of the post-war movement known as the Theatre of the Absurd, to introduce its principal exponents, and to enable you to place the plays in your own cultural context. The primary focus of the module is a number of plays written in English and French (the latter studied in translation) in the 1950s and early 1960s which have been characterised as the Theatre of the Absurd. Beckett, Ionesco and Pinter will receive the closest attention, but related dramatists such as Genet, Adamov, Albee, Simpson and Stoppard will also be considered. The module enables you to study the work of these dramatists, and provides you with an opportunity to contextualise their work in terms of the cultural and historical conditions in which it was made.
- TS616 The Theatre Critic (20 credits)
This module is a practical and theoretical introduction to theatre criticism. It discusses the role of the theatre critic in contemporary society and assesses the impact of theatre criticism on performance practices. The unit also explores the techniques and approaches to analysing live performance from the particular perspectives and agendas of the arts critic. Each unit focuses on different aspects of reviewing, which will enable students to develop practical skills in performance-critical writing and foster their own reviewing style. There is a unit on each of the following three areas: Description and reporting, Value and evaluation, and Advocacy and engagement. The module also locates theatre criticism within its historical contexts from past to the present. The module analyses genuine examples of theatre reviews from different sources such as broadsheet newspapers, listing magazines and literary supplements. Along with these sources, you will examine interviews with contemporary critics, plus a select bibliography. This module involves you in attending live theatre events, developing a range of skills in theatre criticism and publishing their reviews online.
Teaching and assessment methods
Each module is divided into three units. A unit might include notes, tasks, documents, recordings and images – all of which are designed to guide you through the topic in an active way.
You will keep a Coursework Portfolio and Applied Learning Archive which you will share with your tutors online. Regular monthly webinars will also form part of your study routine and will provide you with opportunities to actively engage with other students.
You will have a range of assessment modes that combine to equip you with essential and traditional academic practices alongside opportunities to create, present, perform, collaborate and research.
Your future career
Our graduates have gone on to work across a range of theatre-related roles and in education. Some continue on to further study on postgraduate programmes.
Actor, Writer and Producer of Buzzing
Co-Owner and Co-Artistic Director of the Alloway Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts in Ayr, Scotland
Artistic Director at Notnow Collective
Theatre Manager, West Lindsey District Council
Actor and Freelance Theatre Practitioner
Studying an Arts related subject provides our students with a wide range of skills. Recent graduates have progressed into the following occupations:
- Writers, producers and directors
- Teaching and other educational professionals
- Actors, entertainers and presenters
- Theatre designers
- Theatre managers
Meet the staff
Curriculum Manager for Online Learning and Teaching
Jayne Richards trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and studied education and phonetics (IPA) with the University of London. On completing her MA in Theatre and Performance Studies (Manchester), she went on to PhD research into Performance Practice (Middlesex University).Read their full profile
Lead Academic Tutor of Theatre Studies Online
Karen Morash is the Lead Academic Tutor for the online BA Theatre Studies at Rose Bruford College. She completed a PhD at Goldsmiths (where she also lectured), focusing on the role of the playwright within the collaborative devising process.Read their full profile
How to Apply
Please apply direct to the College via the ‘Apply Now’ button below. If you meet the entry requirements, the Lead Academic Tutor will contact you to arrange for an online interview and will gather references. If you are offered a place on the programme you will be able to choose how many modules you wish to undertake.
If you would like to speak with the course team before applying, you are welcome to send your questions to [email protected]
Institution code: not applicable
Course code: not applicable
Full time: 96 UCAS credits
Part time: we give consideration to applicants with non-standard entry requirements.Application Form
3 years - 10 years
Mode of study
Full time or Part time
January 2022 or September 2022
Course Fees (2022 Entry)
UK/Republic of Ireland & International students (full time 120 credits)
UK/Republic of Ireland & International students (part time, per 20 credits)
Fee Exemption Criteria
- You audition as part of a progression agreement.
- Your household income is under £25,000 per year.
- You are in receipt of benefits including disability benefits: Universal Credit, PIP, DLA.
- You are Care Experienced (Care Leaver/in the care of your Local Authority).
- You have Caring Responsibilities (Young Carer/ Carer).
- You are irreconcilably Estranged with no contact with parents/family due to a relationship breakdown living independently without financial/emotional support from parents/family.
- You can offer other evidence of financial hardship.
- You are being auditioned overseas.
If you think you are eligible for the above fee waivers, our admissions team will be able to provide you with more details when you apply.
You should be aware that you may incur additional costs as part of this programme, which could include the following approximate estimations:
- Course-related travel £250/year (estimated)
- Stationery and printing: £60 per year
- Theatre tickets: £150-£175 at the beginning of each year
How to apply
Download the Theatre Studies Online application form below by hitting the apply button.
The application form is an editable PDF so you may need to download an Adobe reader on your device. You can then open the form via the reader and complete the form electronically.
Complete the form and save it.
Email your completed form to [email protected]
Our Admissions Team will send an acknowledgement of receiving your application within two working days of receipt.
If you have any questions about your application please contact us at [email protected].