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Theatre Directing

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Theatre Directing


The closing date for applications to start this course in September 2024 is 31 July 2024. Further detail here.

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £10,600

International/EU fees**: £23,900

The course

Theatre Directing (MA)

This is a unique opportunity to work intensively with Katie Mitchell OBE, one of the most acclaimed, important and innovative directors in Europe. You will combine your professional training with academic research providing you with complementary creative and intellectual skills.

This course is a rigorous, intensive, demanding training in theatre directing where you will work with professional actors to develop your directing skills. You will have the chance to direct in our new purpose-build performance space, the Caryl Churchill Theatre, a 150-seat flexible theatre on three levels, designed by award-winning theatre architects Foster-Wilson.

Royal Holloway's Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance is internationally recognised for the quality of its creative arts programmes. The Department has produced several theatre companies with a growing international reputation, including Ad Infinitum, Forest Fringe, non zero one and Analogue.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Q&A with Katie Mitchell Feb 23rd

Katie Mitchell’s production of Anatomy of a Suicide by Alice Birch at the Royal Court.

Katie Mitchell and course convenor Rebecca McCutcheon met for an informal Q&A about the MA in Theatre Directing. Here they answer questions from applicants about the course structure, content and assessments, and discuss more generally what the course aims to offer its students as they develop their own voice and practice as directors.

Watch the Q&A here.

Core Modules

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how to take a prepared text into the rehearsal room, articulate a concept for a text and translate it into legible performance. You will work with actors, begin to develop a personal style and focus on how to work with a creative team and their related disciplines. You will learn how to plan a rehearsal schedule, manage the rehearsal process from the first day to final performance, and critically reflect on this process of training in relation to current directing practise.

  • Dramaturgy is the process of creative research that facilitates a successful transfer of source material to the stage. In this module, you will develop the multi-dimensional skills of the dramaturge in order to then propose and construct a directorial concept. You will be introduced to a broad range of contemporary directors working in Europe and beyond with a specific focus on their dramaturgical approaches and the shaping of an overriding concept. Case studies will include directors who adapt canonical 19th century plays, such as Yana Ross, or Shakespeare texts, such as Thomas Ostermeier, or adapt films or novels for the stage, such as Ivo van Hove. In addition, you will analyse the complex dramaturgical strategy of adapting multiple texts for a single performance in works by directors such as Krzysztof Warlikowski, or those who use real-life scenarios and documented histories, such as Lola Arias and Oliver Frljić. You will then have the chance to adapt a text for performance through a dramaturgical portfolio and propose an original concept.

  • This module explores the work of a wide range of contemporary British dramatists and directors including, indicatively, debbie tucker green, Lucy Prebble, Bola Agbaje, Lucy Kirkwood, Caryl Churchill, Moira Buffini, Tanika Gupta, Roy Williams, Nick Payne, Simon Stephens, Mike Bartlett, Rob Drummond, and Anders Lustgarten. Specifically, it enables you to situate playwriting and performance as powerful modes of intervention in the public sphere. The aim of the module is to widen and deepen your understanding of theatre as a material and meaningful intervention in the contemporary world, to enable you to identify key developments in recent British theatre, and to utilise interdisciplinary modes of research.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of current trends in, and new approaches to, contemporary performance practice, including playwriting, theatre directing, devised, physical and applied work. You will collaborate with students from the other MA programmes offered in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance, encountering a broad range of performance making processes and contexts. You will also apply established techniques of research and enquiry to the conception of a new group or solo performance project, allowing you the opportunity to provide thought-provoking response to the practices encountered.
  • The dissertation offers you the opportunity to develop some of the concepts you have explored practically in written form. With a flexible format, you may employ a number of critical methodologies. Katie Mitchell will open her rehearsal room for the autumn and spring terms for you to observe her practice, which can form the basis of your case study. The dissertation can take the form of a Director’s Log which will include documentation of your directing practice.
  • This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.


Teaching and learning are primarily by means of intensive summer workshops, including eight hours of collaborative workshop and up to three hours of supervised rehearsal time a day for three weeks. These typically combine periods of seminar discussion with practical exploration and workshops. Where possible, these are student-led, with participants being encouraged to devise exercises engaging with the relevant issues and to direct their fellow-students.

Opportunities to visit theatrical performances and rehearsal rooms are also an important part of the programme, and you will be encouraged to use these as a basis for discussion and to deconstruct the performances they have seen from a variety of critical positions.

Assessment is by a variety of means including essays (both theoretical and critical) and etudes (practical directing exercises), practical projects as well as a final dissertation of 10-14,000 words. Practical projects are sometimes carried out in a group and may include an element of assessment for an individual’s contribution to group working and direction.


Normally, we require a UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent is required. Candidates with professional qualifications or relevant professional experience in an associated area will also be considered.

Applicants will be required to submit one academic essay that they have submitted for assessment on a previous course or an analysis of any theatre production that they have recently seen (2000 words).

Suitable applicants are interviewed.

Relevant professional qualifications and relevant experience in an associated area will be considered.

Extensive and recent practical theatre experience might compensate for a lack of the normal academic qualifications, however applicants should be aware that completing a dissertation is an important part of this degree.

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
  • TOEFL iBT: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 26.
  • Duolingo: 120 overall, 135 in Literacy, 135 in Production and no sub-score below 100.

By the end of this course, you will have an enhanced understanding of the tasks and responsibilities of a director, and developed your abilily to work with actors and space. You will also have gained experience in working through the research and preparation necessary to direct a piece of theatre, and have the ability to research and articulate an extended analytic discussion of theatre directing.

Our graduates have started careers in professional theatre, film and television as well as training and education. If you come to the end of the course and find yourself curious about an area of study – or want to take your dissertation topic further – the MA is a perfect grounding for a PhD, which may be fully written or include a practice-based component.

The department gives you access to other creative areas of study like dance, media and art. Part of our reputation as a creative campus comes from this cross-pollination of studies and disciplines, so you'll have a good chance to push into those fields and gain knowledge of theatres and the performance scene in London and beyond. You'll leave the MA able to navigate an intense and growing field with credibility and creativity.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £10,600

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,900

Other essential costs***: TBC

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis in the academic year 2024/25. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase all postgraduate tuition fees annually, based on the UK’s Retail Price Index (RPI). Please therefore be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration), and that this also means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.

** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more 

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.

Drama, Theatre and Dance Postgraduate Admissions


Ally Williams, Postgraduate Administrator

+44 (0)1784 443922

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