Course Information

(PAC CODE GYA12)

This course offers a hands-on approach to the study of Irish theatre history as a living process.  We move from the nineteenth-century plays of Oscar Wilde, to the early Abbey plays of W.B. Yeats and Sean O’Casey, to the towering genius of Samuel Beckett in mid-century, and on to major contemporary dramatists such as Brian Friel, Marina Carr and Enda Walsh and finally, to the growing role of interdisciplinary arts practice, dance, and collaborative theatre-making approaches including devising in the contemporary Irish theatre today.

Students on this course have unprecedented access to one of the world’s greatest Irish theatre archives – working with the treasures of the Abbey and Gate Theatre Digital Archives, as well as the papers of Thomas Kilroy, Druid Theatre, the Lyric Players’ Theatre, and many more. These archives include hundreds of videos of performances and original promptbooks, as well as correspondence between major authors, drafts of plays, set and costume designs, and much more.

With classes taught by world-leading scholars, this course offers students the opportunity to work in the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance, the major international centre for research on Irish theatre and performance, and to gain access to hands-on work experience in either archive maintenance and acquisition and/or literary management for the theatre.


Programme Information

Why study this programme?

This course blends academic study and research with the opportunity to gain practical work experience through a placement that may include working in the university’s theatre archives or in the area of literary management or dramaturgy.

The course is ideally suited to anyone with an interest in Irish theatre history. It develops skills in research and archiving and will thus be of special value to anyone interested in pursuing PhD research on Irish theatre. Yet it is also well suited to people with a general interest in Irish drama who simply wish to develop their knowledge further.

The course also involves frequent attendance at theatres in Galway and Dublin. Students also benefit from the university’s partnerships with Irish theatre companies, notably the Abbey, the Gate, and Druid. 

Programme Outline

All students will take:

  • Critical Approaches to Theatre and Performance
  • Theatre and Thought
  • Irish Drama from Wilde to O’Casey
  • Discovering the Archives
  • Irish Drama from Beckett to the Present
  • Practical Work Experience 

Students will also choose one elective from the wider Drama and Theatre Studies postgraduate curriculum. 

At the end of the year, all students will complete a minor dissertation. This original research project will be supervised by our team of world-leading experts in Irish theatre and performance.

Career Opportunities

Students on this course will be well prepared to pursue further research on Irish theatre history, or to seek a career in archiving (or other related library services) and/or literary management and dramaturgy for the theatre. The course also offers all the benefits of an MA degree, providing students with transferable skills in such areas as research, writing, group work, archiving, and so on.

What Our Students Say

“NUIG is a great place to pursue the study of Irish theatre history and archives. Between the department, school, faculty and library, it offers fantastic facilities and support networks. During my time there, I was able to develop a whole spectrum of skills, valuable both within and beyond academia. I availed of opportunities to explore outstanding theatre archives, present research and share feedback, teach, mentor and collaborate, as well as participating in and organising events. Galway’s vibrant theatre scene informed both my research and my work as a theatre critic.”

Dr Siobhán O’Gorman, Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, 2013-2015 and Senior Lecturer, School of Fine and Performing Arts, University of Lincoln

Contact Us

For more information about the course, please contact:

Dr Miriam Haughton
Director of Postgraduate Studies in Drama, Theatre and Performance

E: miriam.haughton@nuigalway.ie