MA Dance Research

MA Dance Research

Develop your research interests, hear from others in dance research and design your research programme

2 years Part Time, 1 year Full Time option available by special arrangement
Bishop Otter Campus


This MA Dance Research degree allows you to develop your own research interests and design a programme of dance research to address specific areas of interest with support from tutors.

This course is perfect for you want to develop your research skills as a dance or arts professional, teacher, recent graduate or a dance artist. You will learn from guest lecturers including scholars, practitioners and curators working in innovative areas of dance research.

Focusing on theoretical approaches this MA Dance Research degree aims to develop your knowledge, understanding and experience of dance research. The programme will introduce you to methodological, analytical and critical skills and you will learn to situate your interests in the context of contemporary dance discourse, devise and implement coherent research projects, and articulate your research in relation to current practices.

You will develop the conceptual understanding to critically evaluate current research and advanced scholarship, and to evaluate and critique methodologies. You will also be able to to propose new hypotheses and new approaches to thinking about dance, where appropriate, and situate your work within the UK and European ‘dance ecology’.

The MA Dance Research provides opportunities for you to:

  • Deepen your understanding of your approaches to research and scholarship and, where applicable, practice.
  • Develop reflective thinking and critical writing skills.
  • Deepen your ability to articulate your research in written and spoken form.
  • Develop your critical and analytical thinking.
  • Develop strategies for working independently.
  • Develop self–directed research skills and articulate research in written and presentational formats.
  • Continue your professional development.
  • Work with nationally and internationally established dance scholars and practitioners.
  • Develop skills in preparation for MPhil or PhD study.

Teaching and Assessment

How you will learn

You will study through theoretical and practical workshops, lecturers, seminars and rehearsals. You will be assessed through a range of assignments depending on which study options you choose.

All modules are assessed through programme work in the form of practical choreography presentations, essays, reports, presentations, learning journals, portfolios, online tasks and group working.

The Course

What you will study

This course is made up of modules. You will study on three core modules and two optional modules. The core modules are: Philosophy and Aesthetics; Independent Research Project and Dissertation.

This module list is indicative and subject to change.

Select a year

Philosophy and Aesthetics

In this module you will explore how knowledge about dance is rooted in philosophical and aesthetic ideologies, from both historicised and contemporary perspectives. You will look through a wide lens at dance and its evolving beliefs with a focus on dance as art, and contemporary dance in particular. You will explore questions about art and aesthetics, and problems associated with critical appreciation. This module will challenge you to consider the nature of dance, and what conditions are necessary to enable movement to be thought of as dance. It will question issues about art and aesthetics, and reflect on how dance can be seen as different from other art forms. It will reflect on what draws people to dance, and how thinking about it is shaped. It will explore the concept of choreography, and changing perceptions. It will examine attitudes to beauty in a postmodern world.

Dance Dissertation (Level 7)

On this independent dissertation project you will choose a research area to investigate which you will agree with your tutors. Your research could focus on performance practice, professional practice (i.e. teaching and community dance practices) applied critical, historical or epistemological issues.

Independent Dance Research Project (Level 7)

You will develop your research skills and complete an independent project broadly based on dance practices. This project will underpin the MA programme and you are expected to contextualise your work in the light of contemporary developments in dance research.

Artist as Producer

You will undertake initial research into a range of contemporary dance and performance related platforms, festivals, projects and artist-development schemes both within the UK and in European or international contexts. You will develop an articulation of your work and practice through the development of a website resource that includes a distinctive artist’s ‘statement’.

Dance Writing and Criticism

Recognition of dance as an art form worthy of serious study is relatively recent and so writing about dance is comparatively underdeveloped. However, the expansion of activity, particularly theatrical dance, has brought increased scope for a range of different forms of dance writing. This includes criticism and reviews of dance performances emerging from in-depth analyses of dance performance and choreography and with a focal range drawing on movement analysis and the application of various post-structuralist theories. This module is designed to respond and contribute to these developments by engaging with those analytical and critical skills necessary to write incisively about dance from an informed and relevant theoretical position, and to raise awareness of other approaches (including that of other cultures) and perspectives that can be applied to dance writing.

Body in Site

You will complete a self-directed choreographic exploration task in the University’s virtual learning environment. 

Developing Dance Practice

You will explore strategies for developing dance practitioner processes, working practices, and creative and organisational methods specific to a work-based context. You will explore a practice of your choice and engage with tutorials either in person or remotely.

New Media and Performance Practices

During this practical and theoretical module you will engage in the conceptual issues of digital media in the context of choreographic works and installations. You will develop the skills required to produce creative work using digital media and documentation, and produce the dissemination of performance or performative practices on DVD, web-based or other digital formats.

Pedagogical Approaches in Dance

You will analyse, deconstruct and reconstruct technical exercises and phrases to build a critical base of teaching material. You will explore planning, phrase construction and giving corrections in dance teaching in the context of somatic development and consideration of issues relating to health and safety. As well as being introduced to lesson planning, devising schemes of work for different levels and abilities you are expected to undertake critical analysis and evaluation of professional dance classes. 

Scientific Principles of Dance Practice

You will use a combination of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and independent exploratory tasks to examine interrelated theories from motor learning and control, physiological training principles, psychological approaches to dance practice and embodied perception. You will consider how to apply these principles to advance and enhance dance practice.


Rehearse and perform in practical spaces

You will perform in an Arts Council funded Dance Theatre Space and rehearse in four superb dance studios, the large gymnasium and two sprung-floor spaces. You will also be able to take advantage of a programme of dance company performances, workshops and events supported by Arts Council funding. 


Where this course could lead

This course will prepare you for further study such as a PhD or other professionally-related qualifications and give you a qualification to help you secure work within educational and HE institutions.

Course Costs

Course Fees 2022/23

UK fee
International fee

For further details about fees, please see our Tuition Fee page.

For further details about international scholarships, please see our Scholarships page.

Entry Requirements

Typical offers (individual offers may vary):

Honours degree
2:2 or higher
in a related discipline.
with no element lower than 5.5.

You will also be required to audition for this course and provide a research proposal.


Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

Apply for this course with our online application form.

You will need to send in a proposal of what you would like to focus on as your research project while studying for an MA. We would like at least 1,000 words written as a proposal about what you would like to do, or what you have already studied, plus a bibliography.

In your application please showcase:

  • Your theoretical and conceptual knowledge
  • Your reading
  • Any relevant reading from your undergraduate degree
  • Your academic argument and the area of research that you would follow if your application is successful

We need to see evidence of your academic ability and knowledge of how to work with theory. We want to understand more about your academic background and your ability to think, question and follow academic discussions through your application. You should focus on a research area and rationalise your exploration.

Apply with our online application form.

When does this course start?

This course starts in September 2022.

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