Comedy Writing and Performance
Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology
In a nutshell
Are you looking for a Comedy Writing and Performance course where you’re able to make audiences experience joy and laughter, or cry with happiness? Do you want to develop a portfolio of work that combines creativity with industry awareness? Whatever kind of performer or writer you want to be, this course will equip you with professional training and build your skills across the wide landscape that the study of comedy offers. The course also offers you the opportunity to take the first step in your dream career within the wider comedy industry.
As you progress through your studies, you’ll become well-versed in a range of genres, including stand-up, physical comedy, radio drama and satire. You’ll also have the opportunity to gain real-world experience of live performance in a range of venues and circuits, from open mic spots to comedy clubs and festivals. Moreover, you’ll study with a group of like-minded comedy fans and will work with lecturers who combine professional comedy experience with long-standing teaching and learning expertise.
What’s more, embarking upon your performance and comedy writing degree means you’ll have access to the creative opportunities the city of Manchester has to offer. You’ll be joining a vibrant community of practising comedy writers and performers, while also getting involved with independent broadcast production companies dedicated to fostering new talent. And at Salford, these opportunities will be available to you long after you complete the course.
If you’re interested in exploring what you might be doing as part of your performance and comedy writing degree, take a look at some of the work our final year students have produced on this course.
Want to find out more about our performance and comedy writing university courses? You can sign-up to an Open Day.
- Develop a wide range of skills and techniques in both comedy writing and performance
- Establish your own comedic ‘voice’ through the guidance of leading academic staff and high-profile industry practitioners
- Learn how to create innovative comedy and present it for public performance
- Graduate with a portfolio of work that evidences the skills you’ve learnt to potential employers or for further study
This is for you if...
You want to develop your comedic skills and techniques in the context of live performance.
You have a passion for comedy writing and are keen to gain hands on experience of the industry.
You want to launch a professional career in comedy and develop a strong portfolio of work.
All about the course
So, what does studying comedy at university involve? At Salford, our performance and comedy degrees are designed to explore comedy in live, recorded and digital formats and consider the relationship between comedy and performance; comedy in society and culture; and comedy and identity, as well as its meaning in a range of historical and contemporary contexts.
As a practitioner, you’ll develop your skills in how to better engage an audience through comedy, with course topics focused on stand-up, improvisation and comedy scriptwriting. As you move into the second and third year of your course, you’ll also have the chance to create your own sitcoms, sketches and comedy routines, with modules as diverse as physical comedy, acting for the camera and presenting.
As a student of comedy, you’ll learn through a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and practical projects, with a variety of optional modules to choose from. Whether your interests lie in comedy improvisation, radio drama or presenting, you’ll be able to tailor your degree to align with your individual passions while researching those areas of comedy that are of particular interest to you.
You’ll also have the chance to take part in your own student comedy sketch show, meaning you’ll be gaining hands-on experience that could prove invaluable to future employers. What’s more, this course has been a recipient of the Chortle Student Comedy Awards for three years running, so you’ll be joining a lively community of budding comedians, comic writers and comedy producers.
Want to find out more? Read our course breakdown to learn what you’ll be exploring in each module.
The module combines both technical and creative aspects of media production as you develop a broad awareness of the range of skills required for video production, including camera, lighting, editing and sound – imperative to contemporary theatre technology.
This module focusses on practical skills and analysis of your development of comic characters and writing for absurd, avant-garde and popular comedy forms. The acting skills learned here are transferable to dramatic performance too.
Acting for Recorded Media
This module will acquaint you with the range and scope of television and radio drama and involves an exploration of a range of techniques for performing on camera or for the microphone, as well as providing knowledge of fundamental procedures and skills of studio operation.
Introduction to Comedy Improvisation
The course is taught through weekly workshops and seminars that identify and develop fundamental comedy improvisation skills and storytelling. This module allows you to explore introductory comedy improvisation techniques to be used in solo and ensemble comedy performance. Both in weekly classes and during independent study you will explore the skills required to be able to act ‘on the spot’ with confidence, to make bold choices, to create characters and perform them with reliability, efficacy and consistency.
Critical and Textual Studies
Examines key texts and critical approaches central to live performance and media disciplines from the perspective of particular analytical and scenographic 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 through lectures including bespoke lectures in scenography. Seminars appropriate to your programme will support these lectures.
Performance in Context
Provides the historical framework to examine the development of performance from the late 19th century onward. Movements like Realism, Expressionism, Surrealism and Dada are examined in relation to other movements and across performance disciplines. Small group seminars will support the lectures.
Comedy Performance and Media
In a series of seminars and through practical work you will investigate the relationship between comedy practices and urgent and current issues driving debate in the industry. You will examine the strategies of comedians in their collaborations with media and broadcasters to challenge assumptions and conventions in society.
Comedy Writing and Performance
The module explores the writing and devising of comedy. You will watch, listen to, and discuss examples of a range of online, radio, and TV comedy before working in small groups to create an original comedy sketch idea and to develop your own script and 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.
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. In the second half of the module you will create your solo performance: a piece of Stand Up of comic monologue.
Radio Comedy or Video Project
As a core module, you will choose to undertake either a Radio Comedy Project or a Video Project
The Radio Comedy 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 aims of the Video Project module is to enable students to expand their knowledge and creativity in crewing roles and performing for camera; to enable students to further develop the use of video and post-production techniques to create original 15 minute dramas with a view to public exhibition and festival submission. The module is run as a professional simulation.
Choose four optional modules from:
Acting for the Camera
The aims of the module are to develop practical skills with a range of technical exercises such as hitting marks, cheating eye-lines and body angles; regulating movement in relation to the camera; avoiding dialogue overlaps., and to further awareness and interpretative skills in translating textual and sub-textual elements into effective performance to camera.
You will explore performing pieces to camera, engaging with the audience, interview technique, the importance of asking pertinent questions, listening and putting an interviewee at ease, working with green screen, autocue and using studio talkback, the importance of performing with energy, clarity and correct intonation. You will produce a showreel containing an intro, a walk and talk piece to camera, practical exercise or short demonstration, autocue read and a vlog, targeted at a specific audience and presented in an appropriate style.
Shakespeare In Performance
This module examines developments in the staging of Shakespeare from Elizabethan times to the 21st century. 20th/21st century developments in approaches to and presentation of Shakespeare texts will encompass both live and recorded performance. As the module progresses you will be encouraged to address particular approaches to the presentation of Shakespeare presentation (e.g. political, feminist, intercultural) by exploring the work of for example; RSC, Peter Brook, Robert Lepage and Kenneth Branagh). A range of plays are studied, with one or two plays as ‘core’ texts – one of these will usually be a text with local stage performance.
Radio Performance and Production
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.
Introduction to Screenwriting (Fiction)
In this module you will develop your own original idea for a screenplay across the semester, writing it up from a one line pitch, onto a treatment and scene-by-scene breakdown and ultimately to a script. The script can be for any platform or audience, with no limitations to cast size or location. The module examines the fundamental aspects of storytelling for screen: character, story, structure and dialogue. You will learn how to format your documents to a professional standard.
During this module you are introduced, with reference to specific practitioners, to the theories and practices of physical theatres in Europe, North America and Asia. Practitioners and styles covered may include Tanztheatre and companies such as Gecko, seminal practitioners such as Grotowski, Eugenio Barba and Odin Teatret, and Tadashi Suzuki.
Introduction to Multi-Media Performance
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.
Comedy Improvisation Techniques
You will work on improvisation techniques in order to create longer scenes and stories. We will primarily be focusing on Longform Improvisation, and look at many of the different formats that can support a 30 minute piece of improvised theatre/comedy.
You will focus on story telling listening skills, object work, character evolution, scene editing and improvising stories.
Theatre and Communities
The module provides students with a practical knowledge and theoretical understanding of the uses, applications and value of drama and theatre as an aspect of social engagement and personal empowerment outside of the conventional theatre environment. The module explores the history of the 'form', and key practitioners and areas of contemporary practice. Practitioners/companies may include Cardboard Citizens, 7.84, TiPP, Geese Theatre UK, and Clean Break
Playwriting offers you the chance to experiment with a variety of theatre writing styles and forms. We will cover the craft of playwriting, studying character, dialogue, narrative, form, and stagecraft. We will also look at the business of playwriting, exploring the many professional opportunities and routes open to playwrights.
Integrated Production Skills
This module develops the skills and approaches introduced in first year production modules, offering the opportunity to further explore camera, editing, lighting and sound recording.
Performance Research Project
n this module you will undertake an individually tailored project building out from all you have learned on your degree programme with support from staff. You will research relevant materials and current industry trends around your project area. This will lead into the delivery of the project itself, which will follow one of three pathways:
Practical Project: this can be a live performance or a recorded performance (screen or audio) or a script (screen, stage or audio).
Dissertation: this will be a written submission taking the form of a long essay.
Industry Project: this can be a work placement, an organisation study or planning and running a workshop.
Careers and Professional Pathways
Students will engage with a range of industry-led masterclasses and workshops, which are designed to equip them with the knowledge of industry practices that will benefit their employment endeavours. The sessions will also guide the students in the production of specific materials, some of which may be used directly in applying for employment opportunities.
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 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.
You will also choose two from the following options:
Making Performance for Social Media
This module will explore the importance of the emerging performance and technologies associated with social media content creation. This is an area that uses a lot of similar skills and theories that students may already have learned in level’s 4 and 5 in modules such as: Acting for Camera, Presenting, Comedy Improvisation, Multimedia Performance, Integrated Production Skills, Programme Production.
The outline for the module will be divided into three sections: content and persona creation, marketing and promotion, and production techniques. These sections will culminate in the students creating their own ‘channel’ in their chosen social media platform.
Documentary to Mockumentary
This module aims to investigate the historical, social and industrial changes in Documentary production. The module is concerned with the development of competing theories around documentary. It will address conflicting definitions of documentary and mockumentary within a global marketplace and will compare and contrast the range of production strategies adopted within mainstream TV and cinematic documentary modes. It will build on the existing production skills from your second year, providing students with the opportunity to produce and direct a short documentary or mockumentary film.
Scriptwriting for TV and Film
Through a professionally geared script development programme, you will create a premise, a treatment, a step outline, and a first draft of 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.
Gender and Sexuality in Performance
The module examines the importance of gender and sexuality in the development of contemporary drama and performance in the UK and USA from the turn of the twentieth century to the global streaming platforms of today.
Gender and sexuality are examined through a series of play texts and screenplays and contextualised in the dominant discourses about both in each period. Seminar sessions will function as forums for debate about evolving and competing theories, whilst practice workshops will explore the texts through readings, improvisations, and appropriations.
New Trends in Theatre and Performance
The module explores the spectrum of new trends in performance. Practices may include Live Art, multimedia/digital performance; immersive theatre; headphone performance; pervasive gaming; one-to-one performance; You will examine the work of current practitioners and will focus on how relations of space and place and audience and performer are being reconfigured and redefined in the 21st century. You will then choose an area of practice to explore through the creation of a solo or collaborative performance piece.
This module is designed to develop acting skills for radio drama to a professional standard. Principally working from professional scripts, you will work on vocal control, microphone technique, spatial awareness and ‘lifting the text off the page’. You will have the opportunity to direct each other and feed back to each other, as well as listening to and critiquing some notable radio drama already broadcast with a view to appreciating the breadth of style and content available in the medium. As part of this, you will be encouraged to keep a ‘listening journal’, in which you can critique both broadcast audio dramas and your own vocal performances in class.
This module aims to acquaint you with the range and scope of audio drama, including related audio performance opportunities such as voiceovers, voicing animations and accents, as well as developing the basic skills of fundamental procedures of studio operation.
Renaissance Theatre Acting
This module is designed to develop acting skills for Renaissance theatre. Working principally with the plays of Shakespeare, you will work on vocal control and performance skills intended to embody the text in a manner that is psychologically believable within the conventions of dramatic verse and heightened prose. You will be encouraged to thoroughly research the context informing your chosen pieces and to apply analytical skill in decoding the complexities of Renaissance English, of metaphor and of poetic techniques of rhythm, alliteration and rhyme.
Through class interaction, individual research, and tutor supervision, you are encouraged to develop your own comic voice and persona and to devise and write original ideas toward solo live performance. A visiting professional comedian will be invited in to give feedback on the work before it is performed and/or recorded.
You will analyse, research, rehearse and perform a number of television drama scripts – and work in depth on a specific character from one of them. Rehearsals of the extracts are recorded and critically reviewed in seminar sessions. Particular attention is paid to the layering of subtext, psychological detail and technical skills.
TV Comedy: Writing and Performance
On this module you will develop one of both areas of knowledge - comedy writing and comedy performance. You will also learn about sitcom making for broadcast.
This module begins with series of classes exploring the role of the director in relation to a range of contemporary and historical scripts. Under close tutor guidance, you will then consider and apply appropriate theatrical methodologies in order to develop your own directorial approach. All students will be given the opportunity to lead small group work in terms of exploring and experimenting with a range of directorial approaches to both script and to performers.
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?
As part of your performance and comedy studies degree, your timetable will include a breakdown of your scheduled lessons with timeslots for you to explore your independent research interests.
Your classes will be based at our New Adelphi campus.
Practical classes will develop your approaches to performance creation, while also strengthening your production skills.
Lectures and seminars will apply critical theory to live and mediated performance forms and methodologies.
Project-based work is where you can bring your skills to life and will include major performance projects.
Workshops provide the opportunity for professional practitioners to share their experiences and give advice.
An important part of your comedy writing and performance degree is the opportunity to demonstrate your academic strengths in a variety of different ways. Your modules will be assessed using a range of methods, including essays, presentations, in-class performance presentations and publicly performed theatre projects.
BE A PART OF A CREATIVE, SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
All our Performance courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.
Each year - through the Create Student Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.
Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it..
This comedy writing degree is based at our £55 million New Adelphi building, the home of performance and creativity on campus.
Our range of performance facilities include:
New Adelphi Theatre – this 350-seat venue provides an opportunity for you to stage shows in front of live audiences. It also regularly hosts professionals shows and performances.
Studio theatre - this classic black-box performance space offers a more intimate venue than the New Adelphi Theatre. It features flexible seating and staging, so you can shape the space to meet your creative needs.
Voice acting studio - from podcasting and video game dialogue to radio drama and foley sound effects, this facility gives you the flexibility to produce a range of audio for your projects.
Screen acting studio – are you passionate about a career on the screen? You’ll learn to hone new skills using our two-screen acting studios. featuring fixed and flexible sets,
Explore our Performance facilities at the University of Salford or take a 360 tour of our New Adelphi building.
MEET THE PERFORMANCE TEACHING STAFF
Looking to learn more about the background of our Performance tutors and technical demonstrators or put a face to a name?
Find out who'll work with you throughout your academic journey at the University of Salford.
What about after uni?
With global technologies and recent moves to digital platforms changing the way we consume and share comedic content, there’s never been a better time to study comedy writing and performance. While a comedy degree is a good choice for up-and-coming comedians, writers and actors, the possibilities don’t end there.
Many of our graduates have established careers in an impressive range of arts, entertainment and media organisations, including the BBC, The National Theatre and several Theatre in Education (TIE) companies. What’s more, Salford has a reputation for providing the industry with some of the biggest names in comedy, from Peter Kay and Jason Manford, to comedy content creators like Stephen Tries. So, if you want to follow in their footsteps, this comedy writing and performance degree may be the right choice for you.
Employers within the creative industries are increasingly seeking candidates who are well-organised, forward-thinking, progressive and who bring a sense of humour to the workplace which is why we also focus on providing you with the skills you need to thrive in professional situations.
Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further postgraduate path through our Postgraduate programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.
You will be taught by practitioners who have worked with the UK's leading companies, including comedy performance companies such as Ridiculusmus, Lipservice and Comedy Sportz. Our performance teaching staff have also worked with and as writers and performers and producers on BBC TV and Radio, ITV, and Channel 4 (for instance, one of the writers for 8 out of 10 Cats) and with traditional and experimental comedy performers such as Lucho Guzman, an expert in clowning from Columbia.
What you need to know
To gain a place on this Comedy Writing and Performance degree, you’ll have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements when you apply.
Within your personal statement (up to 500 words), we’ll want to understand:
- what motivates you and what current experiences do you have in terms of comedy - this might be experience of writing or performing?
- have you had active involvement in the arts and what did you do?
- what comedic genres, performances and forms inspire you?
- why do you want to work in the comedy sector?
- and why the University of Salford and this degree is the right choice for your future goals.
For some applicants, you’ll be asked to attend a group interview, audition and workshop. If that is the case we will let you know and provide all the information you need.
Once you’ve made your application to study with us, we’ll contact you and let you know the next steps.
English Language at grade C/level 4 or above (or equivalent). Maths at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) is preferred but not essential.
You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.
UCAS tariff points
BTEC National Diploma
DMM including Performing Arts or similar subject
Access to HE
112 UCAS Tariff Points from a Level 3 QAA approved Access programme. Must include media/performance
104-112 points including Performing Arts or similar subject
Irish Leaving Certificate
104-112 points including Performing Arts or similar subject
29 points, 5 or 6 (Higher level) in a relevant subject
Pass Diploma with 72% overall
We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.
If you are an international student and not from a majority English speaking country, you will need IELTS 6.0 with no element below 5.5.
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.
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home||2023/24||£9,250per year|
|Full-time international||2023/24||£16,380per year|
|Full-time home||2024/25||£9,250per year|
|Full-time international||2024/25||£17,040per year|
You should also consider further costs which may include books and plays (from £100), 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. Explore our international scholarships.
All set? Let's apply
Course ID W890