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Fees and Funding

Here's the fees and funding information for each year of this course


The MA/MFA in Applied Theatre (performance as social practice) is an advanced enquiry into socially turned performance and how it is enacted for social justice. The MA is organized for practitioners of theatre with an interest in the effects of their work beyond the stage, practitioners with backgrounds in social fields seeking skills in creative methods, and graduates with an interest in these areas. This programme is for those who are excited by the potential of performance and culture to interact with questions of justice in the areas of race, class, gender, economy, migration and ecology.

The MA in Applied Theatre is a one year taught postgraduate degree with an MFA as a second-year option. The programme will prepare you to develop your practices in socially engaged theatre contexts; to facilitate and create projects in non-theatre environments; to experiment with forms and genres of social performance including activism, outsider art, performance as social action, performative conversations, workshops, critical interventions, live, narrative, durational, devised and participatory creative projects. You will be prepared to plan, deliver and evaluate your own projects and, to deepen your critical understanding of the social contexts and cultural politics of your work. The programme will ask you to think about your position as a cultural worker between communities and institutions through modules based on interdisciplinary projects, cultural politics, community and facilitation.

You will work practically with practitioners and companies through placements, reconsider definitions of performance in terms of how and where it takes place and be able to identify critical contemporary moments where the immediacy of performance can be used as a response. Your position as creator and cultural worker makes this programme unique to applied theatre in establishing you as a maker of performance that acts critically and literally in a world that is connected within networks of care and solidarity.

What makes this course different

men in orange jackets looking at a wooden structure

Independent projects and placements

You will work on practice-led placements in a variety of settings: with established theatre companies; in organised groups and communities and through our connections with UEL's Centre for Social Justice.

Students in a circle with a student in the middle

Interdisciplinary practice

You will have options to work closely with theatre practitioners and students of MA Contemporary Performance Practices, Acting and Directing for Stage and Film through shared modules and creative collaborations.

Student studying outdoors on the grass

Flexible study

One of the only MAs in Applied Theatre offered as evening study, this programme is designed for those of you who are working or have family commitments.


Performance, Community and Cultural Politics
You will examine the boundaries of performance and social practices through understandings of how cultural politics, concepts of community and social engagement are encountered and rehearsed in collective situations. 

You will study and discuss:

  • the cultural politics of race, gender, class, nation, ability, age, ethnicity
  • situating your practices and community practices in relation to cultural politics
  • formulating your positioning and limitations as a cultural producer of 'community work' within economies of cultural production

Pedagogy for Social Change
Taught with professional practitioners, this module is focused on socially engaged and activist practices for the facilitation of groups through performance. 

You will practise:

  • Pedagogical skills for the facilitation of applied theatre
  • Diverse art activisms for community and social practices
  • Relevant and ethical approaches to social actions in specific contexts
  • A personal pedagogic / activist practice for social contexts

Applied Practices
Building on your knowledges in discourses of community, and the social and political dimensions of performative practices, you will work on a project in a specific community/social setting. 

You will apply:

  • Advanced social practice skills
  • Critical processes for practice and their application to social contexts
  • Creative and ethical methods in the application of practices with communities 

Research Methods
This module provides you with a range of research methods and skills necessary for undertaking production/project-based dissertation work. It makes use of research to develop original source materials, plans, conceptual and technical experimentation mapping subject matter onto formal performance research strategies. You will examine the politics and ethics of research and how it operates for social contexts.

Practitioners & Praxis
This module will provide you with the opportunity to develop an innovative practice based methodology in a strand of social performance. Following seminars on funding, arts policy, community/audience engagement, you will develop your practitioner profile and pursue self-initiated work made through an initial proposal and developed with a tutor.

You will produce: 

  • Digital Profiles
  • Artist / Practitioner Statements

Project Platform
A companion module to Practitioners and Praxis, this module is a final independent project that realizes project planning already undertaken. You will choose to deliver a self-designed project based in social practice or write a dissertation.


This course is subject to validation. You can still apply for this course while it is being approved.


  • Core Modules

    Research Methods in Creative Practice

    • To critically assess the application of social, historical, cultural and textual research methods to creative cultural products.
    • To facilitate the development of the practical skills necessary for the implementation of a research style for creative cultural projects and related written material.
    • To integrate theory with production
    • To further develop individual production skills
    • To develop research, planning and organisational skills

    Mental Wealth: Professional Life - Performance Praxis

    This module will provide you with the opportunity to develop an innovative practice as research performance methodology that can lead to the production work of a high creative and technical standard. They will pursue self-initiated work, which demonstrates a critical understanding of the approaches, practices and knowledge acquired earlier in the course and applied to their project and develop an advanced understanding of research methodology and project management for production-based work. This module is provided for you to develop an innovative practice as research performance methodology and pursue self-initiated research based on an area of your choice leading to an outward facing production. You will demonstrate an understanding of theoretical perspectives pertinent to performance practice, to contain a coherent implementation of research methodology and pre-production planning and show evidence of original research.

  • Core Modules

    MFA Professional Platform

    This module aims to facilitate students in creating and undertaking a professional platform for their creative work. Students will have supervised industry projects or placements related to their creative practice. Students will:

    • Engage with the creative industries in a professional context related to their work.
    • Create individual professional engagement plans with their supervisor and programme leader in order to meet the learning outcomes described in this module.


    This module will:

    • Guide students to create a professional portfolio of case studies, sketches/drafts of professional project, and reflection to prepare them for presentation/exhibition/residency in a discipline-specific conference, public event or professional industry installation or internship.
    • Enable students to achieve presentation/exhibition/residency or internship in their discipline as professional creative practitioners.


    The module aims to:

    • Prepare students for the public presentation of work in collaboration with their peers and professionals in the field.
    • Further encourage informed critical reflection upon the relations between the student's own practice and the current professional context of their discipline.


    The specific nature of the professional engagement will be determined between the student and the supervisor. Options include a professional exhibition, publication, work in a professional/dissemination context with a theatre, production company or publishing company, or another route agreed upon with the named programme.

    Each student, in conjunction with the programme team, will develop an individual learning plan and contract, which will stipulate the specific professional trajectory involved in meeting the learning outcomes of the module.


    Creative Practice

    As part of the final year in an MA/MFA pathway, this module is a supervised, independent, student-driven creative practice module, which offers students an extraordinary opportunity to develop their creative practice in depth and to complete a professional-standard, full-length creative output in their discipline. Students from a range of practice-based programmes will create individual practice-based research plans with their supervisor and programme leader in order to meet the learning outcomes described in this module. Students develop their own working practices with supervision by their named programme supervisor in order to explore and advance their projects and reflective components.


    This module will:

    • Offer individual students the opportunity to critically develop his or her own work in the context of a rigorous but supportive intellectual climate.
    • Encourage students to identify and explore those key contextual issues relevant to their artistic practice.
    • Guide students to critically evaluate their work and that of their peers in the context of contemporary professional artistic practice.
    • Enable students to achieve the highest possible standards in their work, so that MFA graduates have the confidence, maturity and intellectual and interpersonal skills necessary to function as successful creative practitioners.


    The module aims to:

    • Enable students to work with a significant level of autonomy in the production of a practice-based project
    • Enable students to produce a body of work that demonstrates a resolution of practice and critical understanding
    • Prepare students for the public presentation of work in collaboration with their peers and professionals in the field.
    • Allow students to confidently contextualise their own work within the parameters of contemporary art practices.
    • Further develop the ability to identify and formulate new critical insights into established practice
    • Further encourage informed critical reflection upon the relations between the student’s own practice and current issues within their discipline.


    Students are expected to demonstrate independence and 'ownership' in relation to their learning experience. In this focused environment each student learns how to organise and structure their working patterns in order to prepare themselves - both intellectually and practically - for the life of a professional practitioner in their chosen area. Each student, in conjunction with the programme team, will develop an individual learning plan and contract, which will stipulate the specific content of the creative practice involved in meeting the learning outcomes of the module.


Your journey through the programme is organised around a series of learning activities that consider your specific experiences and intended area of expertise. You'll be taught by a range of staff including professional practitioners and by experts who disseminate through publication. You will develop skills for composing and realising participatory arts projects that set-in-train dialogues in local and international communities; in pedagogic tools and techniques for facilitation practices; collaborative and professional skills in live projects (leadership, design, development, funding applications) that can be underpinned through partnerships; and social and cultural interventions.

The MA/MFA in Applied Theatre offers placements in community, organisational, institutional, or municipal contexts that are critically engaged with society.  A defining feature of your studies, placement learning enables investigation into your specific interests through practitioner-led experiences that enhance your professional practice.

Interdisciplinary collaborations
The programme shares modules with MA Acting and Directing, MA Directing for Stage and Screen and MA Contemporary Performance Practices. Through modules such as Research Methods, Practitioners and Praxis and Project Platform, you will have the choice to work across disciplines exchanging skills with theatre and film-makers interested in social practices.

Guided independent study
When not attending timetabled lectures, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This will typically involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and Moodle.

Academic support
Our academic support team provides help in a range of areas - inc learning and disability support

Dedicated personal tutor
When you arrive, we'll introduce you to your personal tutor. This is the member of staff who will provide academic guidance, be a support throughout your time at UEL and who will show you how to make the best use of all the help and resources that we offer.


Assessment methods on the MA/MFA Applied Theatre reflects an ethos of learning that nurtures original theatre-based practices and rigorous understandings of how cultural politics is encountered and practised in collective situations. An array of assessment types evaluates and prompts your development while offering opportunities to try out and test ideas through practice, creative documentation, critical interrogation/ reflection, and project delivery. Your final independent project can be undertaken as a practical project or as a written dissertation.

Feedback is offered within 15 working days after submission of your assessment.


University Square Stratford

University Square Stratford, University Square Stratford


The teaching team includes qualified academics, practitioners and industry experts as guest speakers. Full details of the academics will be provided in the student handbook and module guides.

Liselle Terret

Liselle Terret's work as a performance artist and director foregrounds her identification as neuro-divergent, disrupting theatrical norms.

Read more

Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn

Dr Sarahleigh Castelyn is an educator, researcher, performer, and choreographer; a dance nerd.

Read more

Lynne McCarthy

Lynne McCarthy lectures in social performance in the Performing Arts Department at the University of East London.

Find out more

What we're researching

At the University of East London we are working on the some of the big issues that will define our future; from sustainable architecture and ethical AI, to health inequality and breaking down barriers in the creative industries.

Our students and academics are more critically engaged and socially conscious than ever before. Discover some of the positive changes our students, alumni and academics are making in the world.

Please visit our Research section to find out more.

UEL's teaching is sector leading; in addition to the course's access to industry pathways and professionals which is held in the utmost respect, providing its students with invaluable placements and contacts. There is no doubt that this is an exciting time for applied theatre and it feels timely for UEL in Stratford to be leading the way in using theatre for social justice, politics and performance.

Rob Lehmann

Director of Young Lyric, Lyric Hammersmith.


The field of socially engaged theatre constantly shifts as a reflection of societal change. Key skills for practitioners in this field are the capacity to work with people in precarious circumstances and where identities are contested; the skills to research and understand the contexts and needs of populations and to respond critically and creatively.  A student undertaking the MA Applied Theatre could work in the following areas:

  • Applied theatre practitioner/facilitator
  • Artswork with subjects in crisis across migration, housing, environment and economic provision
  • LGBTQ advocacy
  • Decolonial participatory practices including environmental racisms
  • Community arts organiser /community development
  • Learning and participation managers in professional theatres
  • Cultural producer in independent theatre
  • Post conflict cultural work
  • Arts policy and arts administration
  • Theatre and Drama Education
  • Theatre in criminal justice, health and care sectors
  • Research and teaching in the FE/HE sectors