Dance Philosophy and History


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Postgraduate On-Campus Open Day
Sunday 1 August 2021, 9am–1pm

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Postgraduate and Doctoral open evening
Wednesday 3 November 2021, 5–7.30pm

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  • Learn how to apply philosophical and historical approaches to the advanced study of dance
  • Develop a sophisticated and knowledgeable approach to dance analysis, thinking and practice
  • An impressive national and global reputation which attracts students and dance artists from around the world
  • Roehampton is rated No. 1 for dance research in the UK (Research Excellence Framework 2014)
  • Study on a beautiful, leafy campus close to central London in an international and collaborative community


This postgraduate programme is unique in the UK context, investigating the important interconnections between philosophy, history and dance.

Taught by leading experts in a truly international study environment, you will engage in critical explorations of the philosophical and historical frameworks which underpin dance study and practice. 

Our exciting programme draws on different branches of philosophy, including the continental and analytic schools, a range of approaches to dance history, and contemporary critical theory. It will introduce you to key areas of study such as aesthetics, the ethics of dance, phenomenology, restaging and re-enactment, questions of authenticity, and dance as cultural history, with theorists ranging from Descartes to Foucault among others. The programme will also equip you with transferable skills across the arts and humanities.

The degree includes a research methods module entitled Ways of Knowing, which is taken by all Dance master's students, the core module History, Philosophy and Dance, which is taught in a small bespoke group, and a dissertation module. Flexibility is built into the programme, allowing you to choose additional optional units to suit your needs and interests.

The Department is home to the internationally recognised Centre for Dance Research, which explores dance as a key form of cultural and artistic expression in theatre performance and beyond. The Centre fosters a compelling research culture through seminars, forums and conferences involving staff and international guests.

We offer superb studios and a theatre for dance students and have excellent links with dance companies and creative organisations. A green retreat in south-west London, the campus is within easy reach of central London's vibrant dance scene and cultural attractions.

In this programme, you will take a compulsory research methods module, the programme core module History, Philosophy and Dance, and your dissertation module. Flexibility is built into the programme, so you can also choose modules to suit your interests and needs.

In the module Ways of Knowing, which is shared by all dance postgraduate taught programmes, you will be introduced to research methods including ethnography, analysis and practice-as-research.

The module History, Philosophy and Dance explores different methodological approaches, with a particular emphasis on the nature and value of historical and philosophical enquiry in dance.

The dissertation module is an individually tutored module that allows you to delve deeply into a research project that reflects your interests and experience in dance.

Research methods module
Ways of Knowing

Programme core module
History, Philosophy and Dance

Optional modules
Music and Dance
The Performance of Heritage: Dance in Museums, Galleries and Historic Sites
Choreographic Practice
Classicism and Power
Mediated Choreography
People Moving, People Dancing
Dance Practice

Independent Research module (MA students)


Compulsory and Required modules
Compulsory and/or required modules may change when we review and update programmes. Above is a list of modules offered this academic year.

Optional modules
Optional modules, when offered as part of a programme, may vary from year to year and are subject to viability.

Graduates' options span a range of careers in dance, including producers and curators of arts projects, community dance practitioners, arts managers, teachers, or further doctoral study. The programme also develops transferable skills, opening further opportunities in other fields and professions.

Life at Roehampton

At Roehampton, we can offer all new students the opportunity to live in accommodation on our beautiful parkland campus, including affordable and high-end options.

We offer scholarships, provide hardship funding and help you find advice on managing your finances while you study.

We provide plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, through volunteering, playing sport or music, or joining one of our many active student societies.

Chat to one of our advisers online