MRes MPhil PhD

  • Part-time study available
  • Based at MediaCityUK
  • International Students can apply

Subject Overview

Our research portfolio is housed within the Performance Research Centre, where members are all professionally active practitioners who work internationally.

Our specialist interests include:

  • Applied Theatre
  • Live Art
  • Digital Performance
  • Intermedial Performance
  • Scriptwriting
  • Directing
  • Comedy

We have strong industry links and we have a reputation for creating excellent job opportunities through our extensive lists of contacts and collaborative partnerships.

By choosing to study in the Performance Directorate you will get access to a wide range of expertise that ranges from Traditional Theatre to Live Art and Digital Performance. In addition to the formal thesis based route we also encourage applicants who are interested in a practice-as-research approach to their studies. We have also successfully supervised students who wished to work across disciplines.

Entry Requirements

1st class or upper second class undergraduate degree.

A Masters degree is preferred but not essential. However, applicants without a Masters degree should provide evidence of previous research methods training.

APEL – We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English requirement for non-UK/ EU students

Overall IELTS score of at least 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any one element.

We offer four entry points – October, January, April and July. Applications can be submitted at any point within the year.

Applicant Profile

You should have a first degree that provides a foundation in the principles of performance. This could include a Performing Arts, Dance, Contemporary Performance, Technical Theatre, Drama, Music Theatre or Performance & Media degree but also other social science and humanities subjects (such as sociology or cultural studies that are exploring an aspect of performance studies).  Evidence of the ability to study and critically appraise literature independently is essential and candidates with Masters qualification are preferred. Experience of professional settings or prior publication is also preferable but is not essential.

As a student embarking on a postgraduate research degree you will be assigned a supervisory team, to help guide and mentor you throughout your time at the University. However, you are ultimately expected to take responsibility for managing your learning and will be expected to initiate discussions, ask for the help that you need and be proactive in your approach to study.

All students will be required to attend for an interview in person or via e-communication system.

International Students and Students who are Non EU/EEA/UK Nationals - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

International Students and student who are not EU, EEA or UK nationals are required by the Home Office and/or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate before they begin studying their course. You may need to obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK in order for you to comply with Home Office regulations. Please refer to your offer conditions.
You can find out if your programme requires an ATAS by checking the FCO website at with your JACS code which will be on your offer letter should you choose to make an application. If you cannot find it please contact International Conversion team at If you have any queries relating directly to ATAS please contact the ATAS team on
You can apply for your ATAS Certificate via this link:

Current Student Research

Research Topics

PhD – Sarie Slee

Sarie Slee is undertaking a practice-driven PhD that is considering the notion of cultural embodiment in non-textual performance training and practice. It will build on the explorations of the Studio Matejka project, a key educational project of the Grotowski Institute, an international centre for performance practice and research. Studio Matejka’s initial work commenced through a two year performance laboratory project (2010-2012) and Sarie was the lead researcher during this period, guiding the outcomes of the performance laboratory explorations into a body of practice-led research. Her PhD concerns the exploration of physical performance systems specific to 21st century intercultural performance practice.
Sarie studied for her MA European Dance Theatre Practice at the Laban Institute.

PhD  - Lisa Moore

Lisa’s current research interests are in the field of Women's comedy. Her PhD is an Investigation into the changing face of Female  standup comedy . Her research problem will attempt to address whether women are less witty than men and is there such a thing as "women's humour"

She is a lecturer in the Performance Directorate at Salford and programme leader of the Performance - Comedy degree. She is working alongside University of Salford Performance colleague Dr. Richard Talbot on a collaborative project with the School of Nursing and Midwifery, an interdisciplinary study researching ideas on the connections between nurse education and actor training. Her other major practice as research area is in Applied Theatre -Theatre as a social, political and educational tool. She has a long history of involvement with both TIPP (Theatre in Prisons and Probation) and The Blue room (men who are at risk of sexual exploitation).

Lisa studied Drama at Manchester University and has a Masters in Scriptwriting for TV and Radio from the University of Salford which she completed in 2008.

PhD - Niki Woods

Niki is a Lecturer in Performance at the University of Salford leading the Performance - Contemporary Practices pathway and is a member of the Performance Research Centre. Niki studied Performance at De Montfort University, Leicester where she met Blast Theory and worked with them on a student project called 'The Gilt Remake'. Since then Niki has worked and collaborated on projects such as Kidnap, 10 Backwards, Desert Rain, Uncle Roy All Around You, Can You See Me Now?, Day of the Figurines, Ulrike and Eamon Compliant and the more recent I'd Hide You. Niki has toured nationally and internationally with Blast Theory, Plane Performance and Reckless Sleepers and has collaborated with various artists for conferences, festivals and symposiums. She is a long-standing member of Manchester based Plane Performance. Their new project Three Sisters will tour from February 2013.

Niki has developed and collaborated on mobile phone projects for various events and platforms from Manchester's Larkin' About to Let's Go Global. She has recently had an article published in Stimulus Respond entitled Captive and Captivated by Blast Theory's Kidnap.

GTA Student Profiles

GTA PhD Profile - Greg Foster

Greg is currently the Performance Directorate Graduate Teaching Assistant. His research is exploring the links between theatre/performance and gaming and is examining the emergent live work in this area. Greg’s work is often located in the digital sphere and as an artist he’s interested in fusing drama, games, theatre and performance with smartphones, computers, the internet and video game technology.

Greg can often be found collaborating with pervasive game company Larkin’ About’ or Contact Theatre in Manchester. Greg has been commissioned to make performance works and has toured his own work in the UK. His applied theatre work for C&T Theatre Company has been shown at conferences and events across the globe including: USA, Japan, Australia and Africa.

His other theatre interests include Eastern European theatre practices, particularly the work of Silviu Purcarete (Romania), Andriy Zholdak (Ukraine) and Tadeusz Kantor (Poland). Greg did his BA in English and Drama at Queen Mary, University of London and holds an MA in Performance Works from Leeds Metropolitan University.

Graduate Teaching Assistants are assigned to a Directorate where they will be expected to teach for 6 hours per week. They may also be asked to work in other Directorates. They are expected to contribute to the research culture of the school and to attend the Post-graduate seminar series and to attend University wide GTA training courses. GTA’s are therefore expected to live within the North West Region for the majority of their studies. They receive the same level of support and supervision as all other PhD students and in addition will be mentored through the development of teaching skills.  

Greg Foster’s research blog

Training and Skills

All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.

In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help you develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies, and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.

Assessment Links

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.

Learning Agreement:  this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.

Annual Progress Report:  this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.

Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.

Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.

Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work, generally at least 4 chapters of your thesis.

Research Profile

Research Excellence

The School currently has more than 80 postgraduate research students and it is based upon a multicultural community.

Each performance research area is lead by experienced teams of senior researchers, whose expertise has international recognition. All our research leaders either publish their research in peer reviewed internationally recognised journals and are regularly invited to speak at international conferences or work in international practice-based settings for performance. Performance researchers lead on a wide range of established collaborations with UK, international academic and industry partners.

The primary research areas for Performance are:

Performance Studies Themes: Liveness, the Gendered Body, Live Art,  Popular Theatre – Comedy, TV acting, Celebrity, Media, Technology and Performance, Applied Performance.

Practice as Research themes: Devising; Directing; Intermedial and Interdisciplinary Performance; Screenwriting; Comedy; Physical Performance.

Staff Profiles

Dr. Tracy Crossley

Tracy is the Pathway Leader for BA (Hons) Performance: Drama & Theatre. She studied at Lancaster University, where she did her BA in Theatre Studies, MA in Contemporary Theatre Practice and a PhD in Visuality in Film and Theatre. She also taught at Lancaster, directed student productions and toured with her own theatre group before joining Salford in 2001. Tracy teaches on a range of modules in the areas of contemporary performance, theatre directing and historical and contextual studies. Her research interests include postmodern performance, multi-media theatre and Live Art.

Dr Tracy Crossley's research profile

Dr Kirsty Fairclough

Kirsty is Lecturer in Media and Performance and is interested in supervising research students around the broad areas of feminism, post-feminism, celebrity culture, issues of stardom and fame, popular television, particularly reality and lifestyle television, and post-classical Hollywood cinema. Currently supervised research degrees include representations of male eating disorders in the popular media and social media and community empowerment in urban regeneration contexts.

Dr Kirsty Fairclough's research profile

Mary Oliver

Mary is a Reader in Digital Performance and she has been a professional performance maker for thirty years and has an interdisciplinary background teaching in the areas of Fine Art, Performance and Media. Her research interests lie in the fields of intermedial performance, interdisciplinary approaches to devising in particular performance and screen and performance, cognition and computer science. Mary is Director of the Performance Research Centre and leader of the As Yet Impossible research project which is exploring the possible overlaps between performance science.
Her supervisory experience and expertise lies in multimedia, interdisciplinary, performance and new media, creative technology.

Mary Oliver's research profile

Dr. Simon Piasecki

Simon was awarded his PhD from Roehampton University (2012) in devised and site-specific forms, works to camera and Performance Art. Over the years he has collaborated broadly, working also with artists such as Augusto Boal, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Frank Van Der Ven, Deborah Hay, Scanner, Walt Shaw and Pina Bausch (as a performer in Viktor). Over the last decade he has produced works in theatres, galleries, to camera and in site specific contexts including at night on mountains. The major research project of the last decade has been an exploration of contexts of identity and belonging through the vehicle of performance – this has led to some fourteen major works, the largest of which, Nightflight,  was produced over the Clwydian range of hills in 2006, funded by the Arts Council of Wales and produced by Germination. In this work 100 participants were led over the range at night through 28 performed installations. He subsequently worked in the Basque country in 2009 and 10 placing a work over the Penas Negras mountain (Walking with Stones). He has published variously with articles in Performance Research and most recently a book chapter for Continuum in Kraftwerk:Music Non-Stop. This was a collaboration with his long time collaborator Dr Robert Wilsmore in which they considered Moore’s assignations of authenticity in our shared boyhood experiences of the musicians, Kraftwerk.

Dr Simon Piasecki's research profile

Dr. Richard Talbot

Richard has a PhD Drama, Theatre & Performance (Roehampton, 2008) His AHRC-funded PhD investigated the figure of the clown and laughter. He collaborated on the Manchester University's AHRC Performance Learning and Heritage Project (2006-2009). A recent practice-as-research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, investigated memories of compulsory school sport and contrasting notions of "discipline" in performance. His research interests include immersive and participatory strategies for experimental performance in community, heritage and education contexts. He is Joint Artistic Director of Triangle Theatre Company and regularly collaborates with leading experimental companies, most recently on Ridiculusmus new show Total Football (National Theatre of Scotland/Barbican Theatre).

Richard’s Teaching expertise includes Comedy Performance Techniques (Clowning/Bouffon); Physical & Dance Theatre; The Avant-Garde; Professional Practice (Performance).

Dr Richard Talbot's research profile

Dr. Ben Halligan

Benjamin is the Director of the Graduate Programme for the School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford.His publications include Michael Reeves (Manchester University Press, 2003), Mark E. Smith and The Fall: Art, Music and Politics(Ashgate, 2010; co-edited with MichaelGoddard), Reverberations: The Philosophy, Aesthetics and Politics of Noise (Continuum, 2012; co-edited with Michael Goddard and Paul Hegarty), Resonances: Noise and Music (Continuum, 2013; co-edited with Michael Goddard and Nicola Spelman) and The Music Documentary (Routledge, 2013; co-edited with Kirsty Fairclough and Rob Edgar).He has published articles and chapters on disco music and science fiction, The Sarajevo Documentary School, Dušan Makavejev, terrorism and the European cinema of the 1970s, Frank Zappa, Andrei Tarkovsky and the British Royal family.

Dr Ben Halligan's research profile


Career Prospects

Students leaving the Directorate with a postgraduate research degree are well placed to lead and manage research and development activities in a number of areas of the cultural and creative industries. This includes performance and arts industries, publishing and media.  Globally, a postgraduate research qualification is usually a prerequisite for an academic career and several of our alumni are now senior academics.

Previous students have gone forward to prominent academic positions have been commissioned to create new works or have established their own professional companies. We encourage the maintenance of links between graduating research students and their host research group and supervisor. This means the University can become part of the developing professional network that students take forward into their future careers.

Alumni Profiles

Dr. Craig Vear

Recently Craig has been commissioned by the Vale of Glamorgan festival to create a ‘play for musicians’ that imagines the final moments in the minds of Cpt. Scott, Dr. Wilson and Lt. Bowers to commemorate the centenary of their death in Antarctica. In 2011 Vear was part of the creative team that won the Olivier Award for Best Production for The Railway Children he was also nominated for an Olivier award and a Canadian DORA award for best sound design. In the same year he was awarded a doctorate from University of Salford. During 2003-4 he held the Arts Council England Fellowship with the British Antarctic Survey, which resulted in a large-scale composition created from field recordings.  Singing Ringing Buoy, an installation at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall (2007-8), was shortlisted for the 2005 PRS New Music Award.  He is now a senior lecturer at De Montfort University specialising in performance and digital arts.

For more information on Craig Vear’s work

Dr. Kirsty Fairclough

Kirsty’s research is currently centred  on feminist readings of celebrity culture. She has published on gossip blogging, lifestyle/makeover and cosmetic surgery television, American independent cinema and contemporary Hollywood.The title of her PhD is Nothing Less Than Perfect: Postfeminism, Celebrity and the Makeover in Popular Culture.
Kirsty’s current work is centered on ageing and the female celebrity, her latest article can be found in Celebrity Studies journal.

Industry Links

We have partnerships with most of the major theatres in Greater Manchester, including the Royal Exchange and the Lowry Arts Centre. We undertake work regularly with and for the BBC and Granada Television. Regionally we are actively involved in the cultural scenes of Salford and Manchester, internationally we have collaborative research projects currently with the Growtowski Centre, Wraklow, the Waag Media Lab, Amsterdam, North Western University, USA, Tampere University, Finland and Trinity College Dublin. Through our close links with Theatre, TV and Film Companies we regularly host master classes with internationally renowned experts and our students have ample opportunity to work with our extensive range of industry partners.


Our facilities in MediaCityUK include our Digital Performance Lab

This experimental performance space combines the technology of a TV Studio, the excitement of live theatre and visual immersive cinema – all in a double height space.

Its technical infrastructure is that of a black box theatre, hard-wired over a grid at floor and ceiling levels, controlled from a fully equipped flexible control room with verbal connection via a digital intercom system.

  • One of Largest HD Screens in Europe
  • A capacity of 150-theatre style
  • The extensive fibre optic and digital network infrastructure within the DPL will allow for multiple high speed HD video and audio connections throughout the space with access to multicast enabled video conferencing technology

It can be used for computer gaming, animation, dance and accommodate specialist teaching, live performances and creative technology installations. It is particularly suited to research-led practice in creative media and new forms of digitally enhanced performance.

Adjacent is the ‘Green’ Room with full changing and shower facilities – all of which adds to a true working live environment and fully contained studio facility.

Watch our video

"Believe" Media City - Digital Art and Technology Showcase.

Our theatre facilities include:

  • Adelphi Studio Theatre
  • Robert Powell Theatre
  • 6 Rehearsal Rooms
  • White Room (Gallery type) small Rehearsal studio

White Room (Gallery type) small Rehearsal studio