Research Context

Since its founding in 2007, research activities in the department have developed in relation to the fields signified in the department’s name: Theatre, Film and Television studies. This will soon be extended into the field on Interactive Media. The department is outward focussing and so research has purposefully developed hand-in-hand with both teaching and commercial activities. Our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes combine vocational training with critical and historical analysis and make extensive use of our state-of-the art performance and production facilities; while industry clients are also continually using these facilities in the production of feature films and television programmes, theatrical performances and technology development. All of these activities have had a significant bearing on the nature and development of departmental research activities and on our future plans.  

The department is on the way to becoming a world-leading centre for inter-disciplinary research and creative practice in theatre, film, television and interactive media. While some activities and projects are medium-specific, others cross over and embrace commonalities that reflect both the deep historical interconnections between these media and the current phenomenon of media convergence. Our research has a strong focus on the contemporary articulation of forms and practices. However this is necessarily informed and underpinned by knowledge and understanding of historical processes and developments that have shaped current forms and practices.

Department Research Strategy 2015-2020 (PDF  , 120kb)

Research Themes and Clusters

Our research and creative practice can be organised in relation to the following thematic clusters (with examples of current and recent projects):

  • The theory, practice and pedagogy of acting and performance (actor training in drama schools; the history of British theatre studios; television acting).
  • The development, application and reception of theatre, film, television and interactive media production practices, technologies and aesthetics (industry/academic collaborations in digital film production; 3D sound; voice simulation for film and games production).
  • The institutional and industrial organisation, cultural relevance and social engagement of theatre, film, television and interactive media (English Cinema since 1990; the history and contribution of film schools; emotion and new media; British cinema and public service broadcasting).
  • Theatre, film and television and human rights (manifestations of modern slavery, theatre and the Holocaust)
  • The historical development of theatre and film practices, genres and thematic concerns (the adaptation and staging of early modern drama; neo-Victorian culture; collaborative authorship in early modern drama)

Impact and External Engagement   

 Our research is externally focused and links closely to Knowledge Transfer and CPD initiatives. We are actively engaging various types of non-academic beneficiaries and audiences:

  • The theatre, film, television and other media industries
  • Creative practitioners working in these industries
  • Media technology manufacturers
  • The general public

The department has established relationships with a large number of creative practitioners, industry professionals and organisations over the past five years. These relationships have developed in tandem with and are informed and underpinned by the emerging research clusters. The major strands to our impact history include several that are underpinned by and flow from our research:

  • Outward facing academic research and production projects. This includes projects on early modern theatre, the training of actors, the development of film schools, film and the heritage industry, the development and application of digital audio technologies, academic/industry collaboration in the sphere of film production.
  • Educational and Public engagement via events and creative productions. This includes public lectures and events, the writing, adaptation, production and staging of plays and documentary film-making. Examples include Michael Cordner’s adaptation and production of Thomas Middleton’s A Mad World My Masters in 2011 and John Masterton’s The Dutch Courtesan in 2013; Romeo & Juliet in Performance, a collaboration between Cordner and Film Education using scenes from Romeo and Juliet which produced an interactive resource for GCSE; and Slavery: A Twenty-First Century Evil three documentary films made by David Hickman for Al Jazeera.
  • Curatorial Activities. The development of Samuel Storey Writing and Performance Collection has established strong connections with a number of major writers who have donated materials. 
  • Knowledge exchange projects. The HEA-funded KE project ‘Performing Classical and Modern Playtexts’ directed by Professor Mary Luckhurst, has developed relationships with a number of national and international drama schools and University theatre departments and sets out to impact on the pedagogy and practice of actor training. The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships-funded project with Green Screen Production to develop new digital workflow and technical systems for feature film. Led by John Mateer and involving Gavin Kearney.

Research Related Activities

The department regularly runs symposia, seminars and other events to disseminate and develop on-going research projects, and keeps an archive of past activities.

Related links

The working community of staff and students provides a supportive and stimulating environment for scholarly debate and investigation. At the same time, the Department offers opportunities to interact with theatre, film and television practitioners, and has the resources to facilitate practical experimentation alongside academic study.

Chris Hogg, PhD, Television