University of Chester

Programme Specification
Dance MA
2017 - 2018

Master of Arts



University of Chester

University of Chester


Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full-time 2 years part-time

6 Years

Annual - October




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Performing Arts

MA and subject benchmark groups


Performing Arts

Wednesday 16th January 2013

The Programme aims to :

•         promote advanced skills in bodily practices which can deepen artistic knowledge and extend expertise and develop artistic potential as dance practitioners.

•         facilitate the development of criticality and reflective practice in such a way that this may be applied to the individuals own dance practice contexts.

•         develop practice-based and intellectual research skills applicable to creative arts research, in order to extend the skills and strategies of the reflective dance practitioner.

•         show critical awareness of newly emerging approaches to dance making and performance and the application of this knowledge to their own dance practice.

•         encourage and foster the knowledge and skills necessary to challenge and contest boundaries at the forefront of the arts and develop new knowledge and practice.

•         to foster self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems and autonomy in the planning and implementing of tasks at a professional level.


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


 Successful students will demonstrate:

  • a conceptual understanding of the theoretical principles underlying high quality dance practice in the specified area; [PA7012, PA7014, PA7015, PA7006]
  • a comprehensive understanding of a range of techniques and processes relevant to detailed professional practice;  [PA7006, PA7008, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • an advanced understanding of the theoretical and cultural contexts that inform dance practice through the reciprocity of theory and practice; [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • a sophisticated understanding of the main research methodologies utilised in the field. [PA7001, PA7006, PA7008, PA7015] 





 Successful students will:

  • have the ability to challenge and contest the boundaries of existing bodies of knowledge and where appropriate to offer new hypotheses; [PA7006, PA7008, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • 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; [PA7008, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015, PA7006]
  • articulate and critique theoretical discourses relevant to current dance scholarship. [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]


 Successful students will demonstrate (Practical skills):

  •  advanced skills and techniques pertinent to dance practice, including making, documentation and independent research; [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • an 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; [PA7006,  PA7014, PA7015]

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

  • the ability to make work that demonstrates originality and a critical awareness of current issues in the arts, particularly those associated with interdisciplinarity;  [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • communicate their conclusions effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences; [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • operate as independent learners, within a professional context; [PA7006, PA7015]
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems; [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • act autonomously in planning and implementing projects at a professional level. [PA7006, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]


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


 Succussful 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, PA7014, PA7015]
  • 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; [PA7001, PA7006, PA7008, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • be able to demonstrate effective communication skills to select, manage and present material in a variety of ways to a range of audiences; [PA7001, PA7006, PA7008, PA7012, PA7014, PA7015]
  • have a developed capacity to analyse the judgements of others to identify and articulate personal strengths and weaknesses. [PA7006, PA7014, PA7015]


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

The programme offered is a Masters degree studied over one year (full-time) or two years (part-time). The programme of study is designed along straightforward structural lines and is intended to maximise the freedom of individual candidates to pursue their own lines of inquiry and intense investigation. The programme is based on a relationship between theory and practice, one which interweaves critical inquiry with creative freedom and authorship. Key to this programme is equipping students with the self-confidence to view, carry out and articulate their practice in the context of current debates concerning dance practice and dance research, and in this sense, the programme has a strong vocational rationale. The nature of the MA Dance programme enables students who wish to do so, to focus on a topic or specific area of practice in depth, or alternatively students can choose to explore a range of pertinent areas within the field if they so desire.

The programme of study is aligned to the partner MA Drama and is intended to give the opportunity for dance students to investigate and articulate their own practice from a scholarly and/or pedagogical perspective, examining through a critical lens areas of practice including movement practices, improvisational processes, dance making processes and collaborative practice, in addition to the broader concepts of theatre performance practice. Early in the programme single module, PA7001, Research Methods seeks to introduce candidates to research methodologies and strategies appropriate to the study of performing arts and exemplars of application. PA7012, Frameworks and Practices provides a range of conceptual frameworks and a discourse of theory into practice, that informs, supports and contextualizes performance practice research within the context of artistic, cultural and educational discourses. PA7014, The Dance Practitioner is designed to offer students the opportunity to develop the skill of reflective practice, practical workshops will explore and test working processes, related intention and context, the self as dancer, dance maker, and/or dance facilitator. Candidates will be expected to develop an appropriate methodology for evaluating responses to their work and the ways in which they can learn from this feedback as a reflexive practitioner. PA7008, Research Report explores the notion of the documentation of creative practice; assessment for this module is likely to include an element of practice as research in negotiation with module tutors. The following four single modules of the programme are carefully designed to help students develop skills and discipline-based knowledge:

PA7001 Research Methods (20 credits)

PA7008 Research Report (20 credits)

PA7012 Frameworks and Practices (20 credits)

PA7014 The Dance Practitioner (20 credits)

The following double and triple modules have been planned to enable students to engage with subjects and approaches in depth. Students are able to undertake substantial practical or theoretical projects, and for those who wish to engage with fields of practice, have excellent opportunities to build and extend professional networks through this strategy. The pursuit of practice as research/practice-based research (PAR/PBR) has become increasingly important during the last ten years to the research cultures of the performing arts and related disciplines. This represents a major theoretical and methodological shift in the performance disciplines - traditional approaches to the study of these arts are complemented and extended by research pursued through the practice of them.

PA7015, Creative Platforms (40 credits) is a double module that develops candidates’ knowledge in creative and collaborative processes in dance. It is allows opportunities for candidates to further develop their creative and collaborative capacities and at the same time focuses more on reception and evaluation. This enables candidates to make more informed decisions concerning their own research path on the remaining modules on the programme. Part of this module would normally take the form of an intensive dance residency.

For the final triple module students can choose to concentrate on the construction of further performance or practical work with an evaluation PA7006 Major Practical Project (60 credits), or the writing of a dissertation PA7010 Research Dissertation (60 credits). Of course, in the latter case it would be entirely acceptable to place the student’s own practice within a broader frame of reference and it is possible to relate further practical exploration in a related or distinct field – the notion of practice as research to be presented in the dissertation. It is wholly appropriate to give students choice at this final 60 credit stage, in terms of the kind of research methods and practice they wish to pursue.

PA7015 Creative Platforms (40 credits)

PA7006 Major Practical Project (60 credits) or PA7010 Research Dissertation (60 Credits)





Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PA7001 7 Research Methods 20 Comp
PA7006 7 Major Practical Project 60 Optional
PA7008 7 Research Report 20 Comp
PA7010 7 Research Dissertation 60 Optional
PA7012 7 Frameworks and Practices 20 Comp
PA7014 7 The Dance Practitioner 20 Comp
PA7015 7 Creative Platforms 40 Comp

Postgraduate Certificate: (60 Credits): awarded on successful completion of three of the following modules –

Research Methods (20 Credits): Research Report (20 credits): Frameworks and Practices (20 Credits): The Dance Practitioner (20 Credits)

Postgraduate Diploma: (120 credits): awarded on successful completion of –
Research Methods (20 Credits): Frameworks and Practices (20 Credits): The Dance Practitioner (20 Credits) and Research Report (20 Credits): Creative Platforms (40 Credits)

MA (180 Credits): awarded on successful completion of –
Research Methods (20 Credits): Frameworks and Practices (20 Credits): The Dance Practitioner (20 Credits): Research Report (20 Credits): Creative Platforms (40 Credits)
The subsequent 60 credits to be attained from either - Research Dissertation (60 Credits) or Major Practical Project (60 Credits)



Applicants should be in possession a good undergraduate degree (normally a 2.2 or above) in Dance, Performing Arts or similar field. Candidates may be invited to an interview. Where candidates are not progressing directly from a first degree,  evidence that equates to level 6 work, the final year of an undergraduate programme or other equivalent standard, e.g., certain professional qualifications will need to be presented. 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 equivalent.

For those students whose first language is not English, an IELTS score of 6.5 is required.

The Subject Benchmark for Dance, Drama and Performance (DDP) is available on the QAA website (

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


QAA subject benchmarks are not currently available for dance, drama and performance at MA level.  The table  below maps out  MA Dance module Learning Outcomes ( LO's) referenced against  the QAA's guide  to academic qualifications that are indicative of students achieving Level 7:

Knowledge and Understanding

  • 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.-  LO1 (PA7001), LO1 (PA7014), LO4 (PA7006) 
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship-  LO2 (PA7001), LO4 ( PA7012), LO2 (PA7014) 
  • 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 -  LO4 (PA7001), LO3 (PA7014), LO3 (PA7015) 
  • conceptual understanding that enables the student: l to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline - LO1 (PA7012), LO4 (PA7015) 
  • to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses -LO4 (PA7006), LO3 (PA7105).

Practical and Professional

  • 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 - LO 1 (PA7006,) LO 3 (PA7014), LO1 (PA7015)
  • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level - LO1 (PA7006), LO3 (PA7008)
  • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level. LO2 (PA7006)


  • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility  - LO1 (PA7006), LO2 (PA7008), LO1 (PA7015)
  • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations - LO1 (PA7006), LO1 (PA7015)
  • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development LO 2 (PA7014) LO4 (PA7015)


The programme is structured to help students locate and extend their practice in relation to current bodies of knowledge and professional practice in dance. Teaching and learning methods selected for this MA are designed to facilitate the students' ability to develop their own artistry and practice and to stimulate links between this, the practice of others and current related theoretical knowledge and concepts. Throughout the programme the curriculum design and content encourages the integration of theory and practice, where no division is seen between the studio or the seminar room.

The programme commits to pedagogical principles that:

  • promote professional engagement and reflective practice; encourage independent and autonomous learning; and support continuing professional development.

and to principles of teaching that:

  • value students’ professional experience and prior learning; support diversity and personalised learning; encourage dynamic and participative learning; promote collaborative learning; and support reflective and practitioner enquiry.

 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 PA7012 -  Frameworks and Practices and PA7014 The Dance Practitioner - is taught through reflection on staff-led studio practice. PA7015 Creative Platforms is usually delivered through a series of intensive workshops in the form of a dance residency.  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
  • Viewing of live and mediated work
  • Mentored rehearsals
  • Group work and independent study
  • Performances

Fundamental to dance is the interaction  between tutor and student in the workshop, platforms and sharing of work allows for immediate formative feedback from both tutors and peers. The majority of learning will take place as supervised independent learning and students will be actively encouraged to attend The Faculty of Arts and Media Research Seminar Series.

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; practical presentations; performances/practical pieces (with accompanying oral examination); written work; analytical documentation of performances/practical work; portfolios of written and visual evidence; objects and other traces of performance.

The programme will follow the University's and Faculty of Art and Media's policies on assessment procedures and regulations.

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. Students who graduate from this programme may pursue a number of employment opportunities in the widening dance professions. These range from establishing links as an artist/ consultant working with various dance agencies and project-based companies, art centres and galleries, teaching and lecturing positions in further and higher education, freelance work for dance companies, agencies and organisations, continuing an academic career towards doctoral studies.





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, 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 music and dance.  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:

Guest Speakers, Visiting Lecturers Guest Lecturers

The Department invites a range of guest and visiting lecturers of national and international standing and with specialist interests to deliver lecture and workshop sessions to students across all levels. Such sessions compliment timetabled sessions and serve to further enhance the student experience.

Programme information and University Regulations

All students have access to a comprehensive Performing Arts Postgraduate Handbook detailing the structure of the programme and relevant Departmental  and University information.  In addition each module has a dedicated Moodle page detailing module information. 

Personal Academic Tutors

The University has an established Personal Academic Tutor system. All students on degree programmes are allocated a personal academic tutor (PAT), who will provide advice on academic development and progress and on matters non-academic in nature.

Learning Resources:

In addition to the Kingsway Facilities, students will use 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).

Careers Advice:

Dance students are able to access support and advice from Careers' Advisors which have been allocated to the Faculty of Arts and Media.

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