Drama, Theatre and Performance
Doctoral Study

Image -  Drama, Theatre and Performance  Doctoral Study

Key information

The interdisciplinary scope of doctoral research is sustained by a group of highly research-active staff, with internationally renowned profiles as performance makers, writers, curators and theorists, working across the academic and cultural sectors. Over 80% of our research was rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” in the UK 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Whether your ambitions are in artistic practice or academia, you will find yourself in a vibrant, thoughtful, supportive and well-connected research environment with a strongly established reputation for innovation in creativity and research.

In addition to their studies, students participate in events co-ordinated through the Centre for Performance and Creative Exchange, and have opportunities to generate their own public events, academic symposia, and publication ventures based in the department. Our doctoral students regularly present their work, in the form of papers and performances, at Roehampton’s Postgraduate Conference, and at national and international conferences. Career development opportunities arise from participation in research projects with the department’s academic and cultural partners, and our doctoral researchers gain teaching experience on our undergraduate programmes.

Many of our PhD graduates have gone on to hold posts as lecturers, post-doctoral researchers, arts organisers and managers, or to continue enhanced careers as independent artists in the UK and abroad.

All of our PhD students are members of the University of Roehampton’s Graduate School and are supported throughout their studies by a dedicated team of supervisors and a comprehensive programme of research training.

  • Activist and community performance
  • Architecture, urban and cultural geography
  • Art writing, performative writing and creative criticism
  • Childhood in theatre and society
  • Contemporary theatre and performance from Africa and Asia
  • Curatorial practices, museum studies
  • Documentary drama and theatre
  • Domestic cultures of performance
  • Drama and cultural history, e.g. Cold War diplomacy, 1960s counter-culture, political theatre
  • Ecology and environmental change
  • Ethnography, auto-ethnography
  • Experimental theatre, live art and conceptual dance
  • Feminist theatre, performance and visual arts
  • Gender, race and sexuality
  • Historiography, new approaches to archives
  • Institutional Critique and artists in corporate culture
  • Inter-, Trans- and Non-disciplinary performance
  • Intercultural practices, world theatre and comparative literature
  • Labour and cultural production
  • Modern Drama and Theatre
  • Memory, history, heritage and place
  • Minority cultures and nationalisms
  • Participatory, relational and socially-engaged art
  • Pedagogies of performance, alternative education
  • Performance and philosophy
  • Performance making, dramaturgy, craft and composition
  • Playwriting and adaptation
  • Post-humanism, new materialism and non-human performance
  • Practice-as-research, methods and epistemologies
  • Psychoanalysis, theories and practice
  • Performance and Public Legal Environments
  • Queer theatre, performance and theory
  • Radio and audio drama
  • Renaissance and Classical theatre, including circulation in broadcast and other media
  • Science-art collaborations
  • Shakespeare, production and reception
  • Site-specific and Installation art
  • Sound, aurality and voice
  • Spectatorship
  • Travel and mobility
  • Visuality and theatricality

In addition, we have a great deal of experience supervising cross-disciplinary PhDs, and we welcome projects in collaboration with the departments of Dance, English and Creative Writing, Humanities, and Life Sciences.

Staff members are not only experienced supervisors, but are called on to examine PhDs around the globe.

Students already enrolled on PhD programmes, in the UK or abroad, may apply for a period of residency with the department as a Visiting Research Student.

If you are thinking of applying for doctoral study in Drama, Theatre and Performance at Roehampton there are a number of steps you should take before making a formal application.

First, you should make an initial draft of your research proposal. This should include: an account of your personal context and why you wish to pursue doctoral research, a short list of your research questions and aims, an analysis of the critical, creative and cultural context into which your unique research will make an intervention, a close description of your proposed methodology explaining why your methods are necessary to the pursuit of your research questions, and a short bibliography of 10-20 research sources that will be vital to your investigations. If you are proposing working through creative practice-as-research you should make sure to have described your creative history, including samples of, or links to, your work, and you should lay out clearly the research imperatives driving your proposed future practices.

MPhil / PhD research at Roehampton is supervised by a Director of Studies and a co-supervisor. Before making an application you should research potential Directors of Study and make an email approach to them attaching your draft proposal. There should be a good fit between the project you wish to pursue and your supervisory team’s expertise. You can find out more information on the diverse research specialisms of Drama staff at their staff pages.

If you cannot find a staff member with research interests pertinent to your field of study contact our Department Research Degrees Convenor Professor Joe Kelleher. He will circulate your proposal to interested parties.

Following your approach, staff may give a response to your research proposal by email or in person and advise you on proceeding to a formal application.


Applications for research are received throughout the year, but must arrive before 30th June for entry the following October, or by 30th September for entry the following January.

Following your application you may receive a written response or be invited to an interview with the Department Research Degrees Convenor and potential supervisors to discuss your proposal in detail. Interviews can take place in person on the Roehampton campus or, if travel is prohibitive, over the Internet.

For further general guidance on making an application visit the Graduate School.

Make an Application

Funding for MPhil/PhD research is highly competitive. In recent times, around a third of our doctoral cohort have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) either through scholarships associated with research grants or through the TECHNE scheme. Another third have been funded by resources from foundations, private resources or national bodies in their countries of citizenship (for example the Onassis Foundation, the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, the Ministry of Education Taiwan), and another third by Scholarships from the University of Roehampton.

The University of Roehampton is a member of TECHNE, an AHRC-funded doctoral training partnership between nine universities and incorporating fifteen non-HEI partners.

Each year there is a separate round of applications for TECHNE funding for UK and EU based students. Precise dates for applications are released annually in the Autumn Term, but the process usually involves initial enquiries being made with departments in November or December, followed by an internal selection process in January and work towards the final submission in late January or early February of the academic year preceding your academic year of entry.

If you have already made an application to us and additionally wish to be considered for the next round of TECHNE funding please indicate this to the Department Research Degrees Convenor Professor Joe Kelleher.

The department also advertises Collaborative Doctoral Awards. These are scholarships on specific research areas organised through co-supervision and placement with one of our many cultural sector partners. Application processes for Collaborative Doctoral Awards run on an earlier timetable from the main TECHNE awards.

For other international funding opportunities and current Roehampton-specific scholarships please investigate the Graduate School page.

From the academic year 2018/19 a new government doctoral loans system is available for UK applicants and certain EU nationals.

Every year the department of Drama, Theatre and Performance offers Collaborative Doctoral Award opportunities. Please revisit this page for the latest details on future Collaborative Doctoral Awards.

Recent awards:

Other Histories of Live Art: Resistant Subjects and Unwritten Acts
Started: October 2019
In partnership with: Live Art Development Agency (LADA)
The deadline for this award has now passed.

Research Framework

Live Art practices have held an uneasy relationship to traditional modes of archiving and historical narration due to many factors: a disinterest in material remainders; a use of unrepeatable events; antagonisms with scripts, scores, recordings, and with the art market and capitalism; an emphasis on process over product; a use of intimate relations; and in many cases an active resistance to institutionalisation. While certain lineages of Live Art have enacted critiques of their narration, visibility and institutional containment, numerous histories of Live Art remain relatively unmapped: particularly those of already marginalised subjects, such as women, LGBTQ and GNC, working class, disabled, Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, and ‘outsider’ artists. These dynamics are amplified by the predominance of Western and Northern Hemispheric subjects in Live Art histories and the peripheralisation of actions and voices of the Global South, from the rich performance cultures of Latin America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia and their diasporas. The successful candidate works with performance events, documents, archives and histories to re-think the situation of the un- or under-represented. They seek to uncover, document, write, re-make or create new histories, as well as mount a self-reflexive interrogation of processes of historicisation.


The doctoral research is supervised by LADA’s Director Lois Keidan, and Professor Adrian Heathfield and Dr Eleanor Roberts of the Department of Drama, Theatre & Performance at Roehampton.

In addition to the work with the supervisory team, which is closely focused on the PhD project from inception to completion over three years, students also follow a programme of research training, the Research Student Development Programme.

Graduate School provides generic training for doctoral study and broader career issues. Sessions address skills and topics such as academic writing for researchers, working with archives and collections, conference presentation skills, and structuring a thesis. Departments meanwhile provide subject-specific training, geared towards the needs of the current cohort. This might include scheduled training sessions on topics such as performance ethnography, rehearsal observation, performance archives, or practice-as-research and the invention of method; or it may involve day-long study days, usually with invited speakers or respondents, on issues that address urgent research concerns within the field. In addition, the Centre for Performance and Creative Exchange, of which all our doctoral students are members, runs a programme of speaker-seminar events, highlighting new research developments, throughout the academic year.

There is also support available for English and foreign language training, IT skills and information retrieval.

Because every research degree is unique, each student will have their own particular training requirements based on their individual circumstances and prior experience. Students are advised to work closely with their supervisors to identify training needs and monitor them throughout their programmes.

  • Sarah Blissett, Algae Soup and other recipes for survival, supervisory team: Josh Abrams, Jen Parker-Starbuck, Leslie Hill.
  • Giulia Casalini, Counter-histories of Queer-feminist Live Art: A Transversal Cartography, supervisory team: Ioana Szeman, Eleanor Roberts.
  • Alice Colqhoun, Diffracting the Doldrums - Performing Feminist New Materialisms in the Everyday, supervisory team: P.A. Skantze, Emily Orley.
  • Clare Daly, Hauntings and herstories: Feminist Live Art in 1980’s and 1990’s Ireland, supervisory team: Adrian Heathfield, Eleanor Roberts, Lois Keidan (Live Art Development Agency).
  • Chris Davey, The Audience/Performer Encounter in Boylesque Performance, supervisory team: P. A. Skantze, Graham White, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck.
  • Georg Döcker, Showing Doing and Beyond: On the Politics of Theatre in Cybernetic Capitalism, supervisory: Adrian Heathfield, Joe Kelleher.
  • Tara Fateh Irani, Resurrecting the artist’s archives, supervisory team: Simon Bayly, Emily Orley.
  • Renata Gaspar, Spatial practices: a politics of place-making for performance studies, supervisory team: Sarah Gorman, Jennifer Parker-Starbuck.
  • Storm Greenwood, Unravelling Text: Black Feminist Reading as a Practice of Freedom, supervisory team: PA Skantze, Emily Orley.
  • Alice Helps, Embodied perception and experience of scenography in live arts practices, supervisory team: Adrian Heathfield, Emily Orley.
  • Bettina Knaup, Performing (as) Waste, supervisory team: Adrian Heathfield, Giulia Palladini.
  • Jernej Mozic, The Dramaturgies of Home: Perceiving the Domestic in Theatre and Performance, supervisory team: Joe Kelleher, Graham White.
  • Rachael Nicholas, Encountering Shakespeare Elsewhere: Digital Distribution, Audience Reception, and the Changing Value of Shakespeare in Performance, supervisory team: Susanne Greenhalgh, Fiona Wilkie.
  • Chai Ju Shen, Body in Cities: Feeling Taiwaneseness through Urban Choreographies, supervisory team: Adrian Heathfield, Glenn Odom.
  • Jenny Swingler, Performing geographical imaginaries in contemporary performance practice, supervisory team: Joe Kelleher, Fiona Wilkie.
  • Helena Sousa, supervisory team: Simon Bayly, Joe Kelleher.
  • Rebecca Tadman, Queer crip performance as resistance in the post- 'Trans tipping point' era, supervisory team: Sarah Gorman, Ioana Szeman.
  • Jack Tan, Performing civil rights: towards an understanding of the aesthetics of political resistance through performative practice, supervisory team: P. A. Skantze, Emily Orley.
  • Siegmar Zacharias, Posthuman Poetics as Ethics, supervisory team: Joe Kelleher, Adrian Heathfield.