Postgraduate MA

Contemporary Performance Practice

Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology





One year

Two year

Next enrolment

September 2020


In a nutshell

The MA Contemporary Performance Practice is a practical, interdisciplinary course that will introduce you to a range of approaches and concepts, which are vital to the making of live performance in and in response to the world today. It will equip you with the skills and knowledge to function in contemporary performance environments, as a performer, maker, collaborative practitioner and researcher.

Drawing upon the excellent facilities for making live performance at New Adelphi and MediaCityUK, this course also provides the entrepreneurial and employability skills you need to function as a practitioner in the wider creative industries.

This course will also allow you to extend and develop skill sets through interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration, mirroring working environments within the creative industries. You will develop the ability to think dynamically, act originally, collaborate and function effectively in creative workplaces, integrating theoretical concepts, creative practice and real world skills.

You will also, through the core modules and final project, develop your own contemporary performance practice, culminating in the presentation of a significant piece of work, which you can then go on to use in professional contexts.

You will:
  • Explore cutting-edge practices and approaches to contemporary performance-making in an interdisciplinary, laboratory environment, with a focus on creative exploration
  • Learn to make and research in world-class performance-making facilities at MediaCityUK and the New Adelphi Arts Centre
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts and performance scene in Salford and Manchester.

Find out more by signing up to our upcoming Open Day, or if you have any general questions please contact course enquiries.

You can also find helpful FAQs, learn more about student life at Salford or explore all our Performance courses. Continue reading to understand more about this MA Contemporary Performance Practice course. 


students accepted

This is for you if...


You want to learn about new skills and approaches and engage with the issues most relevant to making performance in the world now.


You want to engage with theories, practices and issues within contemporary performance.


Want to be led by a key contemporary performance practitioner.

Course details

All about the course

MA Contemporary Performance Practice offers you the opportunity to develop and refine your current practices, learn about new skills and approaches and engage with the issues most relevant to making performance in the world now.

Throughout the course you will:

  • Collaborate creatively to explore, experiment and create new performance work
  • Engage with key approaches and aspects of making contemporary performance, such as the use and influence of digital technologies, the role and positioning of the audience and the ways in which your practice can engage with both local and global issues
  • Explore the theories, frameworks and practices in the field and how these are developing and responding to the contemporary world
Semester one

Approaches to Contemporary Performance: Foundations

In this opening practical module of the programme, you will be introduced to a range of approaches to contemporary performance-making, working with a contemporary practitioner in the industry. This will be followed by blocks of practical teaching and testing approaches, exploring areas such as:

  • Intimacy and one to one performance
  • Politics and participation
  • Sound and Text: sonic-led performance making
  • Interactivity and the digital
  • Place-making, community and responding to where you are

Key Contexts

This module sets out key concepts, theories and practices which inform contemporary performance-making. Drawing on both historical and contemporary practices, the module prompts discussion and debate as to the key concerns for practitioners making performance now:

  • The contemporary performance landscape: an introduction to key terms and practices
  • The experience economy and ‘theatres of engagement’
  • The post-digital world and live performance
  • Working together: contemporary modes of creative collaboration
  • Intimacy, affect and the audience
  • Live art in the 21st century
  • The ‘emancipated spectator’ and politics of participation
  • Performance writing/Writing for performance
Semester two

Developing Your Practices: Investigations

In this module, you will work on refining and developing practices established in the first semester. You will be expected to make choices, through the course of the module, as to your key areas of enquiry and practice, which you will explore, research and refine through supervised studio sessions, knowledge exchange with peers and scratch presentations of work. This module is supported by weekly sessions addressing the following broad strategies in creating performance:

  • Practice as Research: using enquiry as a spur for creation
  • Research and development: approaches to creating from scratch
  • Who is it for?: thinking about your audience and strategies of engagement
  • Knowledge exchange: productive approaches to collaboration, co-creation and feedback
  • The performance landscape: engaging with performance practices in your field in your process
  • Networks and critical friends: developing a creative net of practitioners
  • Space and site
  • Working with technology
  • Venues
  • Documentation and dissemination: approaches to sharing your practice
  • Diversification: how to live a creative life (and make a living)

Creative Interactions

This module addresses interdisciplinary collaborations and how they can fuel, prompt and enrich practices. The following areas will be addressed, as part of this module and you will be expected to formulate a creative partnership with a student or practitioner in another discipline, to develop ideas for a creative, interdisciplinary project to explore for instance:

  • Performance and Science
  • Performance and the Environment
  • Performance and Pedagogy
  • Performance and Visual Art
  • Performance and Gaming
  • Performance and Music
  • Performance and Computing
  • Performance and Health
  • Performance and Place
Semester three

Practice as Research Project: Creation and Production

In this final project, you will be asked to propose an area of enquiry, arising from your work in the core modules and workshops, to explore practically in Semester three. On submitting your proposal, you will be assigned a supervisor to support your work in this area. Developing your performance practice, either individually or in collaboration with others, the results of this investigation will be presented live, as part of a mini-festival of new work in contemporary performance at New Adelphi and MediaCityUK.

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.

What Will I be Doing?


Practical performance, combined with presentations


Written assignments


From the outset, you will work in an interdisciplinary fashion. Your induction will include a creative collaborative project, that will acclimatise you to the ways of working on the programme and other students.

Programme modules are delivered through practical workshops, keynote lectures, seminars, and artist-led residencies. Seminars and student-centred symposia initiate independent work, and foster and facilitate collaborative partnerships and small group work. Adaptability of graduates is considered a core vocational outcome that reflects the hybridity of global culture and is an essential strategy for learning on the programme.

The programme fosters an intensive laboratory research culture intended to explore practice, deconstruct ideas, identify needs and skill sets and apply acquired knowledge to the construction of new modes of practice. At the core of this culture is the encouragement to consistently triangulate theory and reflection with personal practice. Philosophically the programme embraces diversity, innovation and accessibility through these student-centred approaches.


Assessment is via a balanced combination of formative and summative opportunities for each module, which promotes and responds to a fluid and processual development of your practice. Formal opportunities to write are combined with oral presentations, a range of performance outcomes and online portfolios.


All our Performance courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology.  

Our School and University have strong and long-lasting relationships with local and national industry.  

Once you graduate with us, you’ll join a thriving alumni community in Greater Manchester and beyond. 


The New Adelphi Building is a purpose designed building for the School of Arts and Media, housing the theatre, media and comedy perfomance courses as well as music and dance, and art and design courses. It has a fully equipped professional theatre, a studio theatre and rehearsal rooms. New Adelphi is designed to encourage collaboration between a whole range of creative artists.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

Graduates will be able to work in a range of environments from the cultural sector to future media, interactive design and production, small scale touring, venue based and independent production, theatre-making, performing and writing, community arts practices and applied theatre-making with defined sectors.

People who work in the field of contemporary performance are able to work across a wide range of applied areas of creative design and application. This ranges from traditional arts settings to the fields of interactive design, new media production and, as the use of digitally driven interfaces increases, into more commercially driven areas of work. Contemporary performance experts can have a broad set of skills from devising and composition, to technical design, production management, programming, script-development, video editing and post-production skills.

Potential employers include arts venues and organisations, educational providers and film companies. Skills employed in the making of contemporary performance, such as independent and collaborative problem solving, gathering and synthesis of elements, understanding and integration of the needs of a range of stakeholders, can be used to address many areas of creative practice. Graduates will also be equipped through the programme to pursue careers as individual, self-employed practitioners working across forms and disciplines.

Career Links

The programme has links with the following organisations and begins each year with a creative intensive, led by a key contemporary performance practitioner:

  • The Lowry Arts Centre
  • HOME
  • Z Arts
  • Blast Theory
  • Imitating the Dog
  • Station House Opera
  • Rimini Protokoll

What you need to know

Applicants to this course must have a good honours degree (2.1) in an appropriate subject.


The personal statement is a good place to offer a clear idea as to your experience in performance-making, your academic capabilities and also your areas of interest in this field, which could inform work as part of an MA programme. Responding to the following questions should help you write a statement that will give a good idea of your suitability for the programme:

  • Why do you want to pursue postgraduate study in contemporary performance practice?

  • Why have you chosen to apply to the University of Salford?
  • How do you define your work in contemporary performance? Are you a performer, director, writer, theatre-maker, live artist?
  • What type of contemporary performance practice have you been part of creating? (one or two key examples is better than a long list)
  • What are your interests in this field? – think about particular areas of performance, trends and key practitioners in your chosen area
  • What do you consider to be the key issues and trends in contemporary performance? Which theorists that you are aware of discuss these issues?
  • Briefly outline the type of contemporary performance work you would like to develop as part of this MA – think about form/content/context/audience


Suitably qualified candidates will be invited to an interview, before a decision is made about their application. When you attend for interview you must bring with you a 300-500 word piece of writing on an area of contemporary performance practice that you would like to explore further, as part of the MA programme.

You will also be asked to give a 3-5 minute presentation, working from the area identified in your writing. In this presentation, you will outline the work of a contemporary practitioner in this area and explain what you find interesting/engaging/challenging about their performance practice, linking this to your own ideas and aims as a practitioner.

The writing will help to convey which particular area of contemporary performance practice is of interest to you, that you wish to develop through postgraduate study. The presentation allows you a space to demonstrate knowledge of that particular area, as well as critical and analytical skills, in presenting the work of a related practitioner and any connections you see to your areas of interest.

Standard entry requirements

Standard entry requirements

Applicants to this course must have a good honours degree (2.1) in an appropriate subject.

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5, with no element below 5.5, is proof of this.

Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

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).

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2020/21 £7,920per year
Full-time international 2020/21 £14,670per year
Part-time 2020/21 £1,320 per 30 credits for home
Full-time home 2021/22 £8,100per year
Full-time international 2021/22 £15030per year
Part-time 2021/22 £1,350 per 30 credits for home
Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships for international students

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships.
We have a range of scholarships available for students applying for courses in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Our Global Gold Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,500 and our Global Silver Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,000 - both are available for students studying in our 2021/22 intakes.

We also offer the Salford International Excellence Scholarship which offers up to £5,000 discount on tuition fees. As this is a prestigious award we have a limited number of these scholarships available.

See the full range of our International Scholarships.

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2020

Explore all our Performance courses