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Comedy Writing & Performance

BA (Hons)

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Performing Arts

UCAS Code: W890

Start Dates(s): September


Three years full-time

UK - £9250 per year

International - £14,400

In Brief:

  • Study on a programme that offers a broad range of practical skills and techniques of comedy writing and performance
  • Find your own comedic ‘voice’, by studying with highly-skilled academics and high-profile industry practitioners such as Jason Manford and Peter Kay
  • Create innovative comedy performance in partnership with industry professionals and present it for public performance, taking advantage of a vibrant city with a thriving comedy scene and extensive network across the region
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Comedy is part of all of our lives in many different guises. In recent years, the way in which we interact with and consume comedy has changed dramatically, with technologies such as YouTube and Vine enabling users to create and share their comedic content with a global audience.

There is a strong emphasis throughout this course on the relationship between comedy and identity and its meaning in media, social and cultural contexts. It has a large practical component and shares skills in and approaches to stand up technique, clowning, improvisation and comedy scriptwriting.  You will have the opportunity to create your own sitcoms, sketches and comedy routines while examining and evaluating the cutting edge ideas emerging from current trends.

This unique course offers extensive opportunities for those dedicated to producing new work in the field of comedy writing  and performance. Open mic spots, comedy clubs and festivals are plentiful as are independent broadcast production companies, many of which are dedicated to fostering new writing and performance. The programme has very strong connections with the industry, with household names such as Jason Manford and  Peter Kay, both of whom studied at Salford, delivering guest lectures and workshops. We believe in supporting you throughout your journey and as such the opportunities continue to be available to you long after completing the course.

Watch our video    

Performance Alumni and professional stand-up Lucy Simons talks about her time at Salford.    

Watch our video    

Professional comedian, magician and Salford alumni Barrington Powell helps launch Salford University's BA (Hons) Comedy Practices course.

Course Details

This course has a pathway structure; while there are common elements, your study will focus on one of five pathways: Drama and Theatre, Media Performance, Dance Theatre, Contemporary Practices, Comedy Practices.

As a Comedy Practices student, you will learn through a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops and practical performance projects. Assessment will be through a range of means including essays, presentations, in-class performance presentations and publicly performed theatre projects.

Course Structure

Year 1

Combines an exploration of key performance approaches with week by week acquisition of warm up methods and voice and movement techniques.
Designed to further develop your performance vocabulary and apply your performance skills to a variety of platforms depending on your pathway (TV/Radio/Live/Site-Specific/Dance Theatre).
The module introduces central working practices of professional performers and creators within Comedy Practice. The module focuses on practical, creative approaches to comic and naturalistic characterisation processes.
In semester two will extend your learning to practical skills and creative approaches central to characterisation and comic performance for recorded media. This module involves an exploration of a range of techniques for performing on camera or to the microphone. Both this and the semester one Performance Practice module will also introduce some key techniques of creative reflection, which will develop your ability to think critically about your performance practice and help you identify your individual interests and strengths.
This provides the historical framework to examine the development of performance from the late 19th century onward. Movements like Realism, Expressionism, Surrealism and the Postmodern are examined in relation to other movements and across performance disciplines. Small group seminars appropriate to your pathway will support these lectures.
Examines key texts and critical approaches central to live performance and media disciplines from the perspective of particular analytical approaches, e.g. semiotics, ideological approaches and structuralism. The theories of key practitioners who influenced the development of particular disciplines will be examined in detail. Small group seminars appropriate to your pathway will support these lectures.
Sessions will be offered appropriate to your pathway.

Year 2

All pathways take Performance Studies in Semester 1, when the approaches to textual critical analysis introduced in the first year are further developed. Other core modules will be offered, dependent on your pathway.

Comedy practices pathway:

You will explore a range of comic concepts, techniques and strategies for creating solo and ensemble comedy performance, stand-up, improvisation, clowning and physical comedy. The module explores the skills needed to be able to act 'on the spot' with confidence, to create characters and perform them with confidence and consistency.
This project is led by a member of staff or a visiting practitioner. You will work in an ensemble to create original comedy sketch ideas and develop your own characters within them. The performance, recording and editing of selected sketches before a live studio audience constitutes the practical element of the assignment.
The huge investment by media and entertainment industries in the 'business of comedy' is investigated, analysing the ways in which the comic writer and performer must negotiate artistic choices in relation to commercially driven pressures. The module will examine the cultural context in which these commercial considerations operate and the relationship between comedians and comic scriptwriters and the media industry.

Performance Directorate Options

You will discuss examples of a range of radio and TV comedy before working in a small group to create an original comedy idea and to develop your own characters within it. You will be encouraged to develop range and flexibility in your vocal, facial and physical skills in order to produce a range of comic personas. You will then perform, record and edit the resultant TV/radio sitcom or sketch show. The module also examines aspects of storytelling – theme, narrative structure, character development, comic types, the relationship of character to plot, use of subplots - in relation to the writing of comedy drama and situation comedy. The module explores the writing and devising of comedy for recorded media.
This module gives you experience of working with ex-broadcast drama scripts, which you will rehearse and record for camera under conditions mirroring industry practice.
This module enables you to work on a range of exercises designed to develop your characterisation, vocal expression and tonal variety in performing audio drama. You are introduced to studio equipment for recording and editing and contribute to studio management for the assignment. You are assessed on the performance and production of a recorded radio drama script.
Through exercises and reflective analysis, you will develop vocal and physical technique and learn to apply interpretative skills to the presentation of dramatic text.
The module offers you the chance to explore the theory and practice of playwriting and writing for performance, covering concept, story, structure, characterisation, dialogue, theatricality, rewriting and revising.
The module centres on building confidence in singing and developing your vocal agility through a range of exercises and songs performed in solo and group situations. The module introduces basic musical notation, sight singing, and harmony work and you will also experiment practically with microphone techniques.
You will examine fundamental aspects of storytelling: narrative structure, character development, character types, relation of character to plot, the use of subplots. You explore differing conceptual and technical approaches in scriptwriting for theatre, TV and film.
You will explore performing pieces to camera, engaging with the audience by `breaking through the lens'; interview technique, the importance of asking pertinent questions, listening and putting an interviewee at ease; voice-over work - the importance of performing with energy, clarity and correct intonation. You will produce a five - eight minute magazine item containing an intro, a walk and talk piece to camera, practical exercise or short demonstration, voice-over , researched interview and outro, targeted at a specific audience and presented in an appropriate style.
The module examines the importance of gender in the development of contemporary drama and performance. Gender as a social construction is investigated through a series of key movements that reflected a cultural shift in attitudes to heterosexuality and increased awareness of alternative gendered choices in Western culture.
This module focuses on the aims and practices of early 20th century avant-garde movements such as Futurism, Dada and Surrealism, and traces their influence on more contemporary performance practices. You will explore and experiment with the practical techniques developed by practitioners of these movements, in relation to their challenge to naturalist and realist forms.
During this module you are introduced, through reference to specific practitioners, to the theories and practices of western physical/dance theatre. Practitioners and styles covered may include Eurobash and Tanztheatr, e.g. Bausch & Vandekeybus, British Physical/Dance Theatre e.g. DV8, Vincent & Vardimon, along with other international physical practitioners.
You will explore the creative and practical elements involved in creating physical performance for the large or small screen. This module will also look at the approaches and works of key practitioners working with movement for the camera. This module will both work with traditional 'dance for camera' practitioners, as well as others working in non-naturalistic theatre practices
You will explore and analyse some contemporary performance texts. You will be introduced to acting and directing approaches to staging these texts in practical workshops.
This module offers a survey of the different forms TV takes and the many ways in which it is produced and consumed. Soap opera, lifestyle TV, reality shows, game shows, sitcom, series and serial dramas: you will study how each of these genres has its own narrative and projects its own vision on to its audience.
Approaches to multi-media performance are studied, both theoretically and practically. You are introduced to practical techniques and the module is assessed through a devised, multi-media theatre production.
This module investigates developments in the staging of Shakespeare from Elizabethan times to the 21st century. Encompassing both live and recorded performances the module encourages you to address particular approaches to Shakespeare presentation (e.g. political, feminist, intercultural) by exploring the works of for example: RSC, Peter Brook, Robert Lepage and Kenneth Branagh.
There is also an opportunity for work placement via an Approved Special Project which allows for more emphasis on applied theatre or public engagement projects off campus.

Year 3

You will choose one of the following options:

Through class interaction, individual research and tutor supervision, you will be assisted to develop your own comic persona and write original scripts for solo live performance, radio or television. The assignment may consist of a performance at a professional comedy venue or the recording of an original comedy idea for TV or radio.Exercises are then introduced to develop comic performance, including improvisatory games to prepare you for comedy character construction.
You will study and perform a variety of extracts, designed to develop your skills as a developing professional. Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Restoration works as well as contemporary television and radio scripts will be considered. You will be encouraged to experiment with rhythm and language, and to apply characterisation techniques in both naturalistic and non-naturalistic performance styles. Sight-reading skills for audition will be developed. You will thoroughly research the characters, and extracts are rehearsed and directed with the aim of achieving a scale and technical profiency appropriate to the medium and context of performance: stage, camera recording or audio production. Particular attention is paid to the layering of subtext, psychological details and technical, vocal and physical skills, as well as sensitivity to language, particularly heightened language. You will be individually guided on specific strengths and weaknesses, and strategies suggested for development and improvement.
This module builds on Multimedia Performance 1 and includes investigations of digital culture and the human-computer-interface. This practical project-led module will culminate in a substantial piece of original devised work by the student either working alone or in a defined group with individually specified roles. Post-performance you will write a critical analysis of your work sited within the contextual framework of multimedia performance.
You will examine practices of theatre and performance events that occur in non-traditional theatre spaces and will be introduced to a range of practices and approaches for creating Live Art work. The module will also explore autobiography as primary source material for the development of original Live Art work.
You will examine specific approaches and processes in direction and production for professional broadcast media. This includes pre-production planning, directing actors, and effective decision-making to ensure fluidity and continuity in editing. You will then develop your knowledge and skills as director, lighting camera-operator/director of cinematography, sound recordist or editor.
This module comprises sessions on production technique, including researching for television, producing and directing actors/presenters, producing and directing camera crew (studio and location), managing contributors, televisual grammar, programme structure, copyright issues, health and safety considerations, leading to the team production of weekly programmes, either in studio or on location, researching programmes and briefing studio guests.
Through a professionally geared script development programme, you will create first a premise, then treatment, step outline and first draft for a complete screenplay of at least fifty minutes. In seminars you will discuss ideas for story, character and theme within the group.Treatments, step outlines and the first draft are developed in one-to-one tutorials.

You will choose one from the following double modules:

This project is designed to enable you to work collaboratively in a small group to generate, organise and manage your own performance work. The nature of the performance will be dependent on the individual skills and interests of the project group. Each student in the group takes on a performance and a production role (e.g. actor, dancer, director, scriptwriter, choreographer, designer, stage-manager). You will undertake research appropriate to your project and keep a Personal Learning Journal in order to facilitate reflection and submit a critical analysis which reflects upon the rehearsal and production process
This project is designed to enable you to work collaboratively in a small group to generate, organise and manage your own performance work. The nature of the performance will be dependent on the individual skills and interests of the project group. Each student in the group takes on a performance and a production role (e.g. actor, dancer, director, scriptwriter, choreographer, designer, stage-manager). You will undertake research appropriate to your project and keep a Personal Learning Journal in order to facilitate reflection and submit a critical analysis which reflects upon the rehearsal and production process.
This project encourages you to independently utilise the techniques and processes acquired in the second year. You will facilitate your own production, taking on a designated technical role in addition to your performance role.
In this project you create two video drama productions under staff supervision. You work in small groups to initiate and produce a major video drama and then crew a second drama. Your work is supported by tutorials and production meetings with a supervisor tutor who also monitors progress in pre- and post-production, and during location shooting.

You will choose either Dissertation or Practical Research Project

You will complete a major piece of independent written work which results from extensive research supervised by a dissertation supervisor. You will undertake your own research and while this will draw on other sources it is expected that the study will display a central thesis of your own construction.
PRP is an opportunity for you to develop your own topic or area of practice, conceptual framework, and method of investigation. It may represent a vocational or career-focused endeavour or act as a springboard for postgraduate study. Projects could include: a devised performance; an original script – comic or dramatic - a dance or physical theatre piece, original choreography, an installation, multi-media performance or a directing project.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

Entry Requirements

Qualification Entry requirements
GCSE English and Maths GCSE grade C
UCAS tariff points 112 points
GCE A level BBC. General studies accepted with two other A levels
BTEC National Diploma MDD
BTEC Higher National Diploma Media and Performing Arts subjects with relevant experience may be considered for 2nd Year entry
Foundation Degree If you have a relevant Foundation Degree, you can join the course at year 2
Scottish Highers 112 points
Irish Leaving Certificate 112 points
International Baccalaureate 31 points, 5 or 6 (Higher level) in a relevant subject

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

English Language Requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 (no element below 5.5) is proof of this.

Applicant profile

Fees and Funding


Type of Study Fee
Full-time £9250 per year
Full-time International £14,400

Additional Costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books and plays (from £100), stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.


You will learn through various teaching methods. Practical classes will furnish you with a range of approaches and techniques for performance creation and will help you develop your performance skills and, where appropriate, production skills. Lectures and seminars will apply critical theory to live and mediated performance forms and methodologies. You will undertake project-based work including major performance projects and you will attend workshops with visiting professional practitioners.


  • Practical 60 – 70%
  • Essay 25%
  • Presentation 5 – 10%


On completion you may go on to perform, direct, write, research or produce. You may also go on to be a teacher or workshop leader, or go on to postgraduate education.

Many of our graduates have progressed to employment in an impressive range of arts, entertainment and media organisations. These include the BBC; ITV; The National Theatre; The Lowry, Salford; The Green Room Theatre, Manchester; Hull Truck Theatre Company; The Royal Exchange Theatre; and several Theatre in Education (TIE) companies. Salford has a reputation for providing the industry with highly skilled and dynamic graduates, whose names can regularly be seen on television and theatre credits, both as performers and 'behind the scenes' creatives. Many graduates also go into careers in teaching or as community dancers or workshop leaders or on to further postgraduate education.

Our graduates appear on TV and theatre credits both as performers and technicians. This includes leading performance roles and crew in numerous programmes for ITV BBC and Channel 4 television.

Recent graduates have worked in production roles at Granada and the BBC in such projects as Island at War, Hustle, The Jeremy Kyle Show, Coronation Street and others. Other graduates have appeared successfully in front of the camera: Emma Atkins Emmerdale, Chris Bisson Coronation Street and East is East and Kaye Wragg No Angels. Other successful Salford graduates include Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who, Maxine Peake Shameless and Peter Kay Phoenix Nights and many more. Stage and TV success has come to comedian Jason Manford while Ellie Meigan Rose, Emma Hartley-Miller and Rachel Brogan have enjoyed success on stage at the Lowry, Royal Exchange and Royal Court. Recent graduates have won prestigious NSDF (National Student Drama Festival) awards.

Yet other graduates have gone to successful careers as video producers, marketing and commercial advertising executives, as radio broadcasters and editors. In recent years a number of graduates have successfully set up their own theatre/performance companies.

In addition to developing your performance skills and techniques and giving you opportunities and contacts for professional development and employment, this degree will also give you many transferable skills which are highly sought by employers. These include collaboration and team-working; communication and negotiation skills, time management and organisation; and presentation skills. These will equip you to work in many different professional fields, as well as in the arts.

Career Prospects

Alumni Profile

Links with Industry

You will be taught by practitioners who have worked with the UK's leading companies including contemporary performance companies Blast Theory, Imitating the Dog, Plane Performance, Reckless Sleepers; with BBC TV and Radio Drama, ITV, Channel 4 and with traditional and experimental theatre companies of many kinds.

Placement Opportunities

Further Study

MA Digital Performance