University of Chester

Programme Specification
Drama MA
2017 - 2018

Master of Arts

Drama

Drama

University of Chester

University of Chester

Kingsway Campus, Chester

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year for full-time masters programme or 2 years for part-time masters programme.

6 Years

Annual - September

N/A

W400

No

17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Performing Arts

MA and Subject Benchmark groups

N/A

Performing Arts

Wednesday 16th January 2013

The programme aims to instil within students the following:

 

  • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the various academic disciplines within the field of performing arts;
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research, advanced scholarship and creative practice;
  • an originality in the application of knowledge and practice, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge and practice in the discipline;
  • a conceptual understanding that enables the student to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline; and to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

 

The above are derived from the QAA level descriptor for Level M.


Knowledge and Understanding

Successful students will demonstrate:

  • a conceptual understanding of the theoretical principles underlying high quality practice in the specified area [PA7001; PA7006; PA7012; PA7010].
  • a comprehensive understanding of a range of techniques and processes relevant to detailed professional practice [PA7003; PA7006; PA7008; PA7012; PA7013].
  • an advanced understanding of the theoretical and cultural contexts that inform practice through the reciprocity of theory and practice [PA7001; PA7008; PA7010; PA7012].
  • a sophisticated understanding of the main research methodologies utilised in the field [PA7001; PA7008; PA7012].

The above are derived from the QAA level descriptors for Level 7.

Thinking or Cognitive Skills

Successful students will:

  • have the ability to challenge and contest the boundaries of existing bodies of knowledge and where appropriate to offer new hypotheses [PA7001; PA7003; PA7006; PA7008; PA7010; PA7013].
  • have critical and analytical skills in order to develop ideas and construct arguments and the capacity to evaluate and present these in a range of ways [PA7001; PA7008; PA7010; PA7012] .
  • articulate and critique theoretical discourses relevant to current scholarship [PA7008; PA7010; PA7012]

The above are derived from the QAA level descriptors for Level 7.

Successful students will demonstrate (practical skills):

  • advanced skills and techniques pertinent to practice, including making, documentation and independent research [PA7001; PA7003; PA7006; PA7008; PA7010; PA7012; PA7013].
  • the ability to engage creatively and critically with the creation and/or production of performance through the understanding of appropriate performance vocabularies, techniques, structures and working methods [PA7001, PA7003; PA7006; PA7012; PA7013]
  • the ability to make work that demonstrates originality and a critical awareness of current issues in the arts [PA7001, PA7003; PA7006; PA7012; PA7013; PA7010].


Typically holders of the qualification will be able to (professional skills):

  • Deal with complex issues systematically and creatively [PA7001; PA7006; PA7010; PA7012]
  • Exercise initiative and take personal responsibility [PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7013]
  • Make sound judgements in complex situations [PA7003; PA7006; PA7013]
  • Communicate their conclusions effectively to specialist and non specialist audiences [PA7001, PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7012; PA7013].
  • Operate as independent learners, within a professional context [PA7001, PA7003; PA7006; PA7010, PA7013]
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems [PA7001, PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7012; PA7013]
  • Act autonomously in planning and implementing projects at a professional or equivalent level [PA7006; PA7010; PA7012]
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding and to develop new skills to a high level [PA7001, PA7006; PA7010; PA7012].

The above are derived from the QAA level descriptors for Level 7.

Communication Skills

Successful students will:

  • have the ability to use information and retrieval skills to gather, sift, synthesise and organise material independently and recognise its application and potential [PA7001; PA7006; PA7008; PA7012].
  • have acquired the capacity for independent study, be able to manage personal workloads efficiently and effectively, to meet deadlines and negotiate and pursue goals with others [PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7013].
  • be able to demonstrate effective communication skills to select, manage and present material in a variety of ways to a range of audiences [PA7001; PA7003; PA7006; PA7008; PA7010; PA7013].
  • have a developed ability to manage constructively and effectively creative, personal and interpersonal issues [PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7013].
  • have a developed capacity to analyse the judgements of others to identify and articulate personal strengths and weaknesses [PA7001; PA7006; PA7010; PA7012] 
  • have awareness of professional protocols [PA7006; PA7010].
  • have the ability to absorb the imaginative concepts of others, to build upon them and to communicate the resultant synthesis [PA7003; PA7006; PA7010; PA7013].

The above are derived from the QAA level descriptors for Level 7.

The programme of study is designed with a straightforward structure and is intended to maximise the freedom of individual candidates to pursue their own lines of investigation. The first three core modules, Research Methods, Frameworks and Practices and Performance Practice 1 are intended to complement one another. Research Methods seeks to introduce candidates to research methodologies appropriate to the study of performance and the application of those methodologies to a range of performances (drawn from drama and the wide discipline of performance which includes performance art).  Frameworks and Practices examines the contextualisation of these methods within the wider context of cultural and artistic debates, and will cover relevant critical theories. The written assessment in both of these modules offers candidates the opportunity for rigorous analysis of an example or form of performance relevant to their own actual or intended practice.  Frameworks and Practices is also assessed through a practical element where an understanding of the linking of performance and theory is demonstrated.

Performance Practice 1 is concerned with the ways in which the candidate might seek to utilise current performance theory in the making of performance.  It is an opportunity to develop the skill of reflective practice. The performed work should stand alone but the oral examination and submitted supporting documentation provide an opportunity to inform assessors of the way in which theory and reflection have impacted on practice. The central focus is the working process and the act of performance itself and the means by which this can most effectively be recorded and discussed.

Performance Practice 2 is a development of the same principles but the focus broadens into a more substantial piece of work. The student will be expected to develop an appropriate methodology. The principle of reflective practice is considered in both the making of the work and the learning that derives from it. Performance Practice 1 and 2 allow the student the opportunity to develop as performer and/or performance maker and allows him or her to consider the possibility of developing one’s own dramaturgy. We will expect to see a development in working practice from the first to the second module. The learning that occurs within these modules will guide the student to make decisions about the structure of the remaining programme.

Following an option between a Research Report (based on an investigation of documentation of performance) or Practical Project, a final option exists for sole concentration on the construction of further performance work (Major Practical Project) or the writing of a dissertation (Research Dissertation). In the latter case it would be entirely acceptable to place the student’s own practice within a broader frame of reference. Finally, it is possible to relate further practical exploration to a dissertation in a related or distinct field – the notion of practice as research.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PA7001 7 Research Methods 20 Comp
PA7003 7 Performance Practice 2 40 Comp
PA7006 7 Major Practical Project 60 Optional
PA7008 7 Research Report 20 Optional
PA7010 7 Research Dissertation 60 Optional
PA7012 7 Frameworks and Practices 20 Comp
PA7013 7 Performance Practice 1 20 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate: (60 Credits): awarded on successful completion of
Research Methods (20 Credits): Frameworks and Practice (20 credits); Performance Practice 1 (20 Credits)

Postgraduate Diploma: (120 Credits): awarded on successful completion of-
Research Methods (20 Credits): Frameworks and Practice (20 credits); Performance Practice 1 (20 Credits): Performance Practice 2 (40 credits):
and either-
Research Report (20 Credits): or Practical Project (20 Credits)

MA (180 Credits): awarded on successful completion of-
Research Methods (20 Credits): Frameworks and Practice (20 credits); Performance Practice 1 (20 Credits): Performance Practice 2 (40 credits):
Research Report (20 Credits): or Practical Project (20 Credits)
The subsequent 60 credits to be attained from a combination of-
Research Dissertation (60 Credits): or Major Practical Project (60 Credits)

Applicants will normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree in a related subject such as Arts Management, Dance, Design, Drama, Media Performance, Performing Arts, Theatre Studies or other cognate fields. Candidates will be expected to attend an interview which may be conducted on skype. Where candidates are not progressing directly from a first degree, relevant professional experience and expertise will be taken into account.

APL for entry to postgraduate programmes of study is available for students and who do not fulfil the usual entry requirements (an initial degree qualification at an appropriate level).

Applicants will be required to present evidence that equates to level 6 work, the final year of an undergraduate programme or other equivalent standard e.g. certain professional qualifications. A subject tutor will help determine how much of the learning is of an appropriate level; even though it may not have been undertaken in a Higher Education environment its value may be the same or more.

The link to Master's Degree characteristics can be found here:

http://www.qaa.ac.uk/publications/informationandguidance/pages/masters-degree-characteristics.aspx

The Subject Benchmark for Dance, Drama and Performance (DDP) is available on the QAA website (home page:  http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Pages/default.aspx, benchmarks: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Documents/DDP07.pdf) QAA subject benchmarks are not currently available for dance, drama and performance at MA level. However the QAA's guide to academic qualifications states that Master's degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice;
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;
  • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
  • conceptual understanding that enables the student;
  • to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
  • to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

And holders will have: the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:

  • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
  • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; 
  • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

All programmes in the Department of Performing Arts aim to develop students who are performance literate through rigorous engagement with theory, process, practice and notions of professional practice. Teaching in the department seeks to move students from being interested spectators and occasional practitioners towards being professionally engaged in their own creative production. At MA level, this approach takes the form of a series of guided research tasks, which have both written and performative outcomes: these are designed to enable the individual student to develop as a creative, reflective practitioner.

The course will be taught through a combination of seminars, practical workshops, tutorials and the close supervision of written and creative work. It is a feature of the learning and teaching strategy of the course as a whole that the student be given as much freedom as possible to develop work which is of direct relevance to him or her. To this end, only one module - the Research Methods module - is taught in a formal classroom setting and one - the Frameworks and Practices module - is taught through reflection on staff-led studio practice, whilst a third Research Report is a combination of seminars and set practical projects. All other modules function as research-led examinations of topics of interest to the individual student, supervised by an appropriate member of staff (given the wide range of teaching and research skills available in the department, a very wide range of projects can be supported).

The course will be delivered through a mixture of-

  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Rehearsals
  • Performances

The assessment within the course will be geared toward enabling the student to develop an appropriate critical and analytical framework within which to place and evaluate their own concepts and practical work. With this in mind, assessment tasks will be designed to allow the student sufficient opportunity to explore this framework.

Assessment will be via critically informed written submissions; practical presentations; performances/practical pieces (with accompanying oral examination); analytical documentation of performances/practical work; portfolios of written and visual evidence; objects and other traces of performance.

The course welcomes applications from those already involved in performance, education and the creative industries: it is also useful for those candidates who, on completion of their first degrees in cognate disciplines, wish to pursue and develop careers in performance, the creative industries, or academia.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

Research: 

Research, scholarship and professional practice are vital components of the programmes within the Department of Performing Arts.  The vibrant research environment created by the staff and students is very important and much investment is made in order to ensure its success. The internationally recognised quality of research in the Performing Arts Department was highlighted by the results of the UK-wide Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, with a significant proportion judged to be of internationally recognised or internationally excellent quality in terms of originality and significance.  Furthermore, significant grants have been awarded to staff from organisations such as the British Council, European Union and the Arts and Humanities Research Council in order to fund cutting edge work.


Staff are producing books, book chapters, journal articles, conference papers as well as a plethora of practice-based research such as performances, choreography, digital media and compositions.  Without exception the research interests of staff make a direct contribution to the curriculum and several modules derive directly from staff research thereby constituting research based teaching in the most complete sense.  Research interests include: contemporary performance practices; applied drama and theatre; performance theory; the theatre of Becket; site specific performance; Boal's practices; the application of technology to performance; conflict resolution; Scottish theatre; performance illustration; ethnography; traditional performance.

There are a number of PhD students studying across drama practices, applied drama and music.  All postgraduates (research and taught) and staff are active members of the vibrant Departmental research seminar series and contribute papers to this and the Faculty’s Centre for Research in Arts and Media.  Furthermore, the Faculty and Department have organised a number of conferences, the most recent being held in June 2012 on the subject of Contemporary Ethnography and Traditional Performance which revisited the meetings of folklore, anthropology and the performing arts that formed a foundation for performance studies from an international point of view including representation from Canada, England, New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, and Spain.

Student Support and Guidance

All students are issued with a comprehensive Departmental Handbook. Students needing further advice are welcome to consult the Programme Leader (who acts as Personal Academic Tutor for students on the programme).

DBS checks will be carried out as required

Learning Resources

In addition to the University's Open Access IT Suite and the Parkgate Road campus library, students are welcome to use the facilities of the Performing Arts Department (performance spaces, lighting and sound facilities, technical support, IT resources).

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