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MA Theatre-Making

From words on the page to a fully-realised performance

Year of entry: 2021 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2021 (term dates)

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Work with creativity and flair as a theatre-maker. Experience first-hand the intricate collaborative interplay between dramatists, directors and performers which underpins successful theatre-making in the UK in a rich creative environment.

Combining practical workshops with seminar explorations and discussions, you'll focus on your work as an active theatre-maker, and will learn the critical and interpretative skills needed to map and analyse the processes of theatre-making at an ambitious level. You'll have full use of our industry-standard rehearsal and production facilities for creative investigation of plays and performance texts, and to develop your own work. You'll benefit from contact with leading theatre-makers through theatre projects, masterclasses, lectures and workshops.

You'll acquire the necessary skills for a future in professional theatre or in related areas such as film and television, arts administration, journalism, publishing, education or further study. Our students and graduates have an enviable range of achievements and we're also proud of our links to industry.

This course may have previously been referred to as MA Theatre.

Credit Rich Glanville @richglanvillephoto

Distinguished visiting speakers

We have a wide range of industry connections and regularly have visiting speakers and masterclasses.

Develop your work

Focus on your practical work as a theatre-maker with full use of amazing facilities and opportunities for collaboration.

Unique creative environment

Bringing together world-leading researchers, dynamic teachers and industry professionals in a vibrant community.

The high standard of teaching from the university lecturers and the visiting theatre practitioners meant that I was pushed well beyond my comfort zone. A highlight was performing in Caryl Churchill's 'Far Away' at the York Theatre Royal and getting onto the West Yorkshire Playhouse's new playwriting scheme. The course inspired my theatre in education work.

Course content

Our modules, with our focus on hands-on, collaborative working, and contact with leading theatre-makers, will ensure that you have a wide range of practical, creative and analytical skills for the production and performance of theatre texts.

Throughout the course we'll interweave the ethics, politics and aesthetics of theatre-making and critical analysis. You'll gain an in-depth understanding of narrative structures and their visual, technical, performative and political dimensions. We consider contemporary practice along with active research into some of the longer histories that continue to influence how we make theatre now. You'll be able to demonstrate your skills with an extended practical or written independent project worth over half of the course credits.

You'll work with students studying alongside you on this MA and may also choose to work with our undergraduate students, and actors and directors from outside the Department. You'll learn to work collaboratively with people in a wide range of roles and across disciplines.


You'll study a total of 180 credits. 80 of these will be through taught modules in the first two terms. You'll then go on to study a further 100 credits as part of an extended research project in the third term.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


The final term and summer vacation is dedicated to the design and development of individual project work. You'll choose to be assessed in one of three ways depending on where your interests lead.

  • Assessed on a performance as a director
  • Assessed on a performance as an actor
  • Assessed on a 20,000-word dissertation as a researcher 

When you make your choice you'll submit a proposal including a rationale and timetable for the work.

For directing or acting you will produce your work to a professional standard and support it with a piece of reflective writing of 4,000 words that demonstrates your understanding of your work in relation to contemporaries. Performances would normally be between 20 and 30 minutes. 

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Deploy team work skills to create innovative and ambitious practical work in order to respond to challenges and to communicate ideas with clarity and focus.
  • Construct and present compelling ideas and arguments demonstrating systematic research, resourcefulness, and rigour on a variety of written and oral formats.
  • Practise, at an advanced and independent level, the craft of theatre-making: of conducting rehearsal experiments, of developing ways of making theatre, and planning and leading rehearsals.
  • Interpret how scripts are, and historically have been, translated into a range of performance events by critical evaluation of a range of scripted drama.
  • Creatively and ambitiously apply the skills acquired and developed on the MA to complete complex projects of their own devising in acting, directing or written research.
  • Ambitiously employ the transferable skills that they have gained by working with theatre academics and professionals (via module tutors and visiting artists) so as to advance and develop their own theatre research and practice, and enhance their employability for future careers.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2021/22

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £8,440£18,700
Part-time (2 years) £4,220£9,350

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study. Fees for subsequent years are subject to increase (no more than 2% each year).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Additional costs

Theatre trips

We are ideally placed to take advantage of some of the country's best theatres, in York, Manchester, Sheffield, Scarborough, Hull, Leeds and more. As a student of theatre we want you to become familiar with as much and as wide a range of theatre as possible. We run regular trips to local and regional theatres, some may be connected directly to a module and others are of wider interest, we encourage you to make your own way to see more. The majority of organised trips are optional, but you should budget for at least one theatre trip a term.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2021/22 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Department scholarship information

Further details of department specific funding.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

The visitors programme gave us the opportunity to meet actors, directors, writers, academics, comedians, and more. I finished my MA with a three-week placement at the Stephen Joseph Theatre where I worked in the Education Department. My MA gave me the confidence to go for a career in theatre.
Dan, graduate

Theatre-making in depth

Consider a range of theatre and performance texts, from the early modern period to the present day. Interrogate the work of the writer, and bring the role of the dramaturg, actor and director to bear on the text's journey towards each new production.

Theatre trips

Join us for optional local and regional theatre trips. As a student of theatre we want you to become familiar with as much and as wide a range of theatre as possible.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll be taught with a range of different teaching styles. You'll attend lectures for most modules which will give you a fundamental understanding of the subject. This will lead on to practical work where you'll apply your understanding to the practice of performances. You'll also attend discussion groups, seminars and problem-solving sessions that will give you an insight into the negotiations involved in taking a script from print to performance.

This course incorporates masterclasses from industry professionals in theatre. You'll have the opportunity to attend talks, productions and festivals, and you'll also be able to attend screenings that relate to performances being discussed in your course.

You'll be assigned a member of our teaching staff who will act as your personal supervisor. They are there to give advice on academic matters as well as other areas of University life. For your project or dissertation you'll also be assigned a supervisor who may be a different member of staff.


We have excellent purpose-built facilities available to you.

  • Black Box: a large double-height space for shoots, events and performances 
  • 200-seat theatre: well-equipped theatre, with superb lighting and sound facilities 
  • Rehearsal rooms: large or small rooms suitable for many purposes 
  • 3Sixty: innovative room that allows a fully immersive presentation 
  • Other facilities 

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media (TFTI) on Campus East.

Your contact hours will be divided between TFTI and Wentworth College on Campus West.


About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll be assessed throughout your course. Some modules have an early assessment that contributes a small amount to your final mark and gives an opportunity to check your progress.

Types of assessment vary depending on the module and may include the following:

  •  Studio-based practical assessments and demonstrations 
  •  Reviews, blog-style articles 
  •  Essays of varying lengths from 1,000 to 4,000 words  
  •  Research presentations in class 
  •  Final practical project of up to 60 minutes in length 
  •  Reflective essay of 4,000 words if submitting a final practical project 
  •  Dissertation of 20,000 words if submitting final research project
Performers on stage
Workshop discussion circle

Careers and skills

This course develops a range of analytical and practical skills in the performance and production of theatre texts, making our graduates highly employable. Because this masters is flexible enough to offer both practice-based and research-based paths you'll find there’s a wide variety of career paths open to you across theatre and academia.

Career opportunities

A significant number of graduates have set up their own theatre companies. Many graduates work in the following areas:

  • Screenwriters
  • Playwrights
  • Actors
  • Directors
  • Designers
  • Producers
  • Technicians
  • Literary managers
  • Dramaturges
  • Literary agents.

Graduates have also gone on to further research, at PhD, or practical training with conservatoires.

Transferable skills

While you train to be a professional in theatre you'll also develop skills that are useful in any industry.

  • Collaborative working
  • Problem-solving
  • Investigative and historical research
  • Time-management and organisation
  • Critical evaluation
  • Reflective learning

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent. If you hold a qualification below 2:1 or equivalent, relevant prior experience of an appropriate nature, may be considered.
Other qualifications and experience Our students come from a range of academic backgrounds: if you're unsure about studying at Masters level please contact our admissions team to find out more. We are also very supportive of our mature students - if you've been thinking about returning to education at any point in your life, the MA Theatre allows you to bring your experiences into a university setting, and to make sure you get the best out of the experience.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Additional requirements

You're expected to show a commitment to theatre but extensive experience is not a prerequisite. You should provide evidence of any professional experience.

You will need to submit a sample of your creative work with your application. Please see our guidance on submitting creative work.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, minimum 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, minimum 169 in each component
Duolingo 110, minimum 100 in all other components
PTE Academic 61, minimum 55 in each component
TOEFL 87, minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all requirements

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

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