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 people experience joy, 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 real-world 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 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 focuses on the essential skills in building a character for comedic performance: physical and vocal skills, focus, and a variety of methodologies including Commedia dell'arte, avant garde and vaudeville.
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 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 identify the relationship between comedy and ‘serious' performance. 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
In this core module 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.
Radio Comedy Project / 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 Video Project allows you to gain experience of the disciplines of shooting as part of a team, taking a specific production and performance role. You will develop your own script ideas and explore approaches to shooting and editing comedy for film and video.
Choose four from:
You will engage in exercise and games, working with and without red nose, to explore key clown concepts of: play, complicity, bafflement, major, minor and ‘the flop’, as well as influences from historical forms of Physical Comedy from Bouffon to Commedia and Vaudeville. Practical tactics and strategies for generating laughter are explored through the development of physical skills. The module concludes with a solo or group performance in a public space.
Acting for the Camera
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.
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 five - eight-minute showreel containing an intro, a walk and talk piece to camera, practical exercise or short demonstration, autocue read, researched interview and a vlog, targeted at a specific audience and presented in an appropriate style.
Shakespeare In Performance
You explore Shakespeare’s plays through performing them and through deconstructing performances of them. You also enjoy the opportunity here of working with students on other degree programmes.
This module enables you to work on a range of exercises designed to develop your characterisation, vocal expression and tonal variety in performing audio. You are introduced to studio equipment for recording and editing and contribute to studio management for the assignment.
Introduction to Screenwriting (Fiction)
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.
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.
Approved Special Project
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.
Comedy Improvisation Techniques
Following on from the Comedy Acting Methods module in your first year, you will explore areas of 'Shortform' and 'Longform' Improv. techniques following the teachings of Keith Johnstone, Viola Spolin, Del Close and other. The module explores the skills needed to be able to act 'on the spot' with confidence, to create characters and perform them with strength and consistency. The module wraps up with performing improvised scenes, games, and Longform formats and building on core knowledge of Improvisation in performance.
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
You will learn skills of analysing and writing plays for the stage. The module covers history of playwriting, an introduction to the playwriting industry and the development of skills in areas such as concept, story, structure, characterisation and dialogue. You will have the chance to work with professional playwrights in this course and write a play for your assessment.
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.
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.
Research and Professional Development Portfolio
This is a project based module in which students are encouraged to draw from learning and skills acquired on their degree programme to independently (with supervision) realise a self-generated proposal relevant to their field of study.
The project can represent a vocational or career focused endeavour or act as a springboard for postgraduate study. You will be encouraged to work to your individual skills and interests, in order to support your own desired route(s) in to the workplace or further study.
You will also choose two of the following options:
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 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.
Gender, Sexuality and Performance
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 reflects a cultural shift in attitudes to heterosexuality and increased awareness of alternative gendered choices in Western culture.
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.
You will work on a range of exercises and texts, which are aimed at both extending your range of characterisation for radio and developing detail and complexity in vocal performance delivery. Technical workshops examine studio operation including recording levels, mixing, spot and pre-recorded effects, and you work in teams to record and produce radio drama pieces.
Renaissance Theatre Acting
You work with a range of texts, including Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Restoration works. In practical workshops you are encouraged to experiment with rhythm and language, and to apply characterisation and physicalisation techniques within the context of both naturalistic and non-naturalistic performance styles.
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 videotaped and critically reviewed in seminar sessions. Particular attention is paid to the layering of subtext, psychological details 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.
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 and presenters, 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 to Jason Manford. 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 media and performance 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 media and performance 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|
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