MA/PGDip (Drama and Theatre) [full-time, part-time]

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

Course overview

The MA in Drama and Theatre Studies is a world-leading course that allows students to build a programme that suits their own interests – whether in theatre practice, Irish drama, playwriting, theatre criticism, or a blend of all four. Weekly theatre visits in Galway and Dublin are an essential part of the programme.

Students on the course benefit from NUI Galway’s unique partnership with Druid Theatre, recently described by The New York Times as ‘one of the world’s great theatre companies’. The partnership involves masterclasses, workshops, and visits to shows.

NUI Galway also has one of the world’s richest collections of Irish theatre archives, including the Abbey Theatre Digital archive, which features scripts, designs, videos and images from throughout the history of Ireland’s national theatre.

Full-Time MA

This one-year full-time programme blends academic and practical approaches to the study of drama, and is particularly suited to applicants who wish to work in the theatre, write or review plays, teach drama, or carry out further academic research. Applicants with a general interest in theatre are also very welcome.

Part-Time MA

This is a two-year part-time programme, offering students the opportunity to study drama from a practical, theoretical and historical perspective, and building skills in a range of different areas in drama and theatre. Students take three modules each year and write a minor thesis at the end of second year.

Key facts

Entry requirements

A university Arts degree (minimum standard 2.2, or US GPA 3.0). Students will be accepted on the basis of the degree result, a personal statement addressing their theatre experience and aims, and the names of two people who can provide references. Applicants who do not meet the minimum entry requirements may be admitted via a qualifying exam if they have relevant professional experience, or may be admitted to the PDip. Students who do not meet the honours degree requirement but have a Level 7 degree (Merit 2) may be admitted to the PDip course with the possibility of progressing to the MA if they receive a minimum of 60% in their course work during the year.

Duration: 1 year, full-time
2 year, part-time

Next start date: September 2015

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 15 full-time and 15 part-time

Closing date:

Please see offer rounds webpage for details


Mode of study: Taught

Course outline

There are two options for study:


Full-Time MA

All students select a course entitled Fieldwork and Theatre Business (a year-long series of workshops with visiting practitioners and scholars, which includes an internship), and also take a course on writing about theatre. They also complete an end-of-year portfolio. They then choose four other modules from the list below:

Courses with a Practical Focus

                            Ensemble Acting and Devising

                            Twentieth Century Directors and Theorists


                            Changing Stages: Performance Pre-1900


Courses with an Academic Focus

                            Druid Theatre: Past, Present and Future.

                            Discovering the Archives

                            Irish Playwrights Since the 1960s

                            Theatre and Modernity: the Irish Literary Revival

                            Theatre and Globalization

                            The Abbey Theatre Archives


Courses on Writing

                            Playwrights’ Workshop


                            Vocabularies of Theatre Composition

                            Reviewing Theatre in Ireland Today


Students can pick any courses from the list above, depending on their interests. They can specialise in one of the above areas, or may choose to sample all three in order to have a broad degree. Students should note that where some courses are mainly practical and others mainly academic, most will blend both approaches to some extent.


Part-Time MA

This is a two-year part-time programme. Students take three modules each year and write a minor thesis at the end of second year.

Year One

In Year One, all students take a module on writing about theatre. This involves weekly theatre visits and allows you to develop the skills you will need as the course progresses. Students then choose an additional two modules from the following list:

  • Theatre in Irish Literary Revival
  • Playwriting
  • New Approaches to Performance
  • The Abbey Theatre Digital Archive

Second Year

In Second Year, students choose three modules from the following list:

  • Irish Theatre and Film
  • Devised Work and Ensemble
  • Directing for the Stage
  • Exploring Theatre Archives: Druid Theatre
  • Performance Lab
  • Theatre and Globalization

Students also undertake a minor dissertation which can be an independently completed research project, the staging of a production, or a creative writing project involving the composition of a new play.

Applications and selections

Applications are made online via The Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC). Relevant PAC application code(s) above.

Who teaches this course?

Mary-Elizabeth Burke Kennedy, —Playwright and founder-director of StoryTellers Theatre Company. Author of Cross My Heart, Curigh the Shape Shifter, The Golden Goose, The Parrot, Wind of the World and many translations and adaptations.  Teaches playwrights' workshop. 

Thomas Conway – Druid Theatre Director-in-Residence and Literary Manager, Druid Theatre. 

Max Hafler— Director, Actor, Playwright, Novelist (Waking the Woodboy, 2002). His plays include Melting Doves (Yew Tree, 1997) and Grand (Yew Tree, 2002).  Artistic Director, Theatrecorps.  Teaches Ensemble Acting and Devising. 

Dr. Patrick Lonergan— (Course Director) - Author of Theatre and Globalization (winter of the Theatre Book Prize in 2009) and The Theatre and Films of Martin McDonagh. Currently leading the Abbey Theatre Digitization Project. 

Dr. Charlotte McIvor- English Department, NUI Galway.  She received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Irish University Review, Modern Drama and Public and edited collections including Celtic Others: Irish Literary Representations of the Migrant (2013), Deviant Acts: Essays on Queer Performance (2009) and Crossroads: Performance Studies and Irish Culture (2009). She has also taught at California College for the Arts and Santa Clara University. Teaches Performance Lab. 

Dr. Lionel Pilkington—English Department, NUI Galway. Lionel has a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto and a MA and BA from University College Cork. He is the author of Theatre and the State in 20thC Ireland: Cultivating the People (London and New York: Routledge, 2001) and Theatre & Ireland (London: Palgrave, 2010) as well as editor (with Fiona Bateman) of Studies in Settler Colonialism (London: Palgrave, 2011). He has written a variety of essays on twentieth-century Irish theatre history and cultural politics and his current area of research is theatre and capitalism in Irish theatre history. 


Requirements and assessment

Continuous assessment of regular writing assignments, performance work, and end-of-semester projects (66%); year end portfolio of selected writings done in each course, revised and developed to the fullest extent possible in the time allowed (compromises 33% of marks).

Find out more

PAC code

GYA03 full-time
GYA04 part-time

Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 full time p.a. 2015/16
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2015/16
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16
Non-EU (Total): €13,250 p.a. 2015/16

M.A. EU Full time programme:  €6,015; Part time: €3,065 p.a.

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.

Current students

Conor Graham

"The MA in Drama and Theatre Studies has something for everyone interested in drama, and equips one with the practical skills, experience, and connections needed to pursue a career in any aspect of the discipline, in a friendly and pleasant environment."

Past students

Aoife Spillane-Hinks

A graduate of the MA in Drama & Theatre Studies, Aoife is a founding member of Mephisto Theatre Company.

"NUI Galway's MA in Drama and Theatre is a thrilling mix of theory and practice. Under the guidance of generous and eminent lecturers, my classmates and I brought our range of expereince and interests into the classroom, forming relationships and making discoveries that fuelled our work beyond the course."