Theatre History MLitt

Theatre History

This Masters in Theatre History programme introduces you to a variety of theatre histories and historical methodologies, ranging from Classic drama to Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre to performance in Victorian and Edwardian Britain and from dramatic text to theatrical apparatus. Looking at key developments in theatre historiography, you will consider issues such as the materiality of the stage; history and heritage; writing national theatre histories; as well as the theatrical cultures of the past.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • The programme is delivered in collaboration with the Scottish Theatre Archive and the Theatre and Performance Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).
  • A significant part of the programme is delivered by professional archivists and curators, so as to ensure you engage with a wide variety of histories and practices attached to the study of theatre.
  • The work placement in the Scottish Theatre Archive or in the Theatre and Performance Department of the V&A affords an opportunity to undertake ‘real life’ archival research towards a defined project that is of real benefit.

Programme structure

You will be introduced to new approaches for examining and challenging different practices of theatre historiography; you will experiment with ways of analysing the past in order to gain new critical perspectives on theatre history; and you will also explore new histories of theatrical storytelling.

The teaching will enable you to understand and be confident in the application of different methodological approaches to the study of theatre history, including archival practices, oral history, and textual analysis. You will also gain an understanding of how historical practices can be applied and embedded beyond academia.

You can choose an independent research project that suits your future objectives: permitting further applied practice or the opportunity to undertake an in-depth study on an area of your choice.

Core courses

  • Research methods: approaches to history
  • Debating dramaturgy
  • Reading and interpreting performance
  • Theatre archive placement
  • Independent research project.

Optional courses

You will undertake one optional course which you will select from a pool of courses. Optional courses are updated each year, but may include:

  • Issues in Victorian and Edwardian theatre
  • Elizabethan and Jacobean drama: staging the other
  • Women and drama in the English Renaissance period
  • Modern German Theatre
  • Classical Theatre
  • Performing Beckett
  • Exhibiting Cultures

Core and optional courses

Geometrical figureThe programme is comprised of a number of core courses. It also includes an optional choice, a significant archival work placement, and an independent research project. Core teaching is delivered in Semesters 1 and 2. The independent project is completed during the final phase of the course, from April to September.

Core courses

Research Methods: Approaches to History – this course introduces you to a range of research methodologies including oral history, using archives, visual cultures, practice as research, the laboratory as a place of experiment. It is designed to help you select individual study options as well as gain experience in a range of key research methodologies by making full use of available archival and digital resources. Workshops involve library and museum visits, talks, hands-on demonstrations and group discussion, as well as seminar-style discussion.

Debating Dramaturgy 1 – The course is designed to develop and expand your understanding of dramaturgical ideas and practices from the Classical context to contemporary theatre cultures and practices, exploring the role of the dramaturge – and where appropriate the role of the playwright and/or the theatre critic – in a range of theatre making contexts and in a range of historical and geographical locations.

Reading and Interpreting Performance – this course is an investigation of traditional and non-traditional performance texts examined in relation to historical context as well as contemporary forms of performance and adaptation for the theatre. The course examines the traditional and historical canons of different national theatres and investigates and identifies production histories over multiple geographical and temporal periods.

Optional course

You will undertake one optional course from a selection – for example:

  • Issues in Victorian and Edwardian Theatre
  • Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama: Staging the Other
  • Women and Drama in the English Renaissance Period
  • Exhibiting Cultures
  • Classical Theatre

You can select courses from across the College of Arts, according to personal interests.

Theatre Archive Placement

The Theatre Archive Placement provides you with the opportunity to undertake an applied archival project, utilising the resources of the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Theatre Archive or the Theatre and Performance Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Co-supervised by a member of the Theatre Studies staff team and a staff member of the

Mary Anderson Galatea

Archive, you will undertake a real archival project, of mutual benefit to the archive and to your skills and subject area development.

Independent Research Project

The Independent Research Project offers you a range of opportunities to explore something of interest to you, applying an appropriate methodology. For example, you may choose to produce a 15,000 word dissertation, undertaking primary and secondary research in the pursuit of new knowledge that relates to the field of theatre history; or you may choose to undertake a more applied project, for example, producing a pamphlet to accompany an exhibition of work or compiling a catalogue for an archive of new work.


During the programme you will undertake a range of assessment methods including essays, critical report, oral presentations, archive placement, and an independent research project.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods are determined by the different needs of the courses and include seminars, one-to-one tutorials, placements and workshops. They are delivered by staff in Theatre Studies, alongside external specialists. During the Theatre Archive Placement you will be mentored by a specialist within your chosen archive, whilst external specialists are also invited to contribute workshops as part of ‘Research Methods: Approaches to History’. Other occasional workshops, seminars and events are organised throughout the year by both staff and students.  Students also have the opportunity to audit other courses, as appropriate. Students are encouraged to create opportunities for informal peer support outside teaching hours.


This programme is currently the only Theatre History Masters in Scotland, and we welcome applicants from across the UK and abroad. We have an excellent reputation for both teaching and research, making this the ideal location for postgraduate study. In the 2012 National Student Survey, Theatre Studies at Glasgow received a student approval rating of 100%. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Glasgow’s Theatre, Film & Television Studies Department was ranked as one of the top five in our field in the UK, with 85% of our research classified as world-leading or internationally excellent.

DionysusThe MLitt Theatre History is designed to give you a wide-ranging knowledge of theatre history, building cores skills in relevant research methodologies and providing opportunities to develop specialist knowledge of selected areas of interest. Its structure ensures engagement with a wide variety of historically, contextually located texts and practices. It is also designed to help you develop research, writing and professional skills which will be transferrable to doctoral study or employment. The programme encourages you to put the skills that you learn on the programme into practice and involves a work placement at the Scottish Theatre Archive (University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections) or the Theatre and Performance Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Theatre History programme is delivered by the subject area of Theatre, Film and Television Studies. This has been ranked as one of the top ten in the UK. Our facilities include the Scottish Theatre Archive (housed in the University of Glasgow Library), a studio theatre and a large flexible-stage theatre seating over 200 spectators, alongside a 140-seat cinema. We are part of the School of Culture and Creative Arts. Other subject areas in the School are Music, History of Art and Cultural Policy. This combination of subjects allows for vibrant interdisciplinarity and the exchange of creative practices and knowledge. The School is home to more than a hundred taught postgraduate students, many of them leading and delivering postgraduate student activities (including film screenings, social events, reading groups and the annual postgraduate symposium). Theatre Studies has a friendly and approachable team of permanent staff, with interests ranging from Scottish and German Theatre to Shakespeare to Intercultural Performance to Devising and Physical Theatre. All Theatre Studies staff contribute to the Theatre History programme, engaging their own areas of research expertise to ensure that students are introduced to cutting edge ideas. The friendliness of both staff and students ensures there is a thriving and welcoming teaching, learning and research culture.

Student performanceRegular seminars and events with invited speakers introduce students and staff alike to key debates in the field. Recent speakers have included Robert Sturm, the Artistic Director of Tanztheater Pina Bausch Wuppertal, performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and academic practitioners Elinor Fuchs and John Hall.

The city of Glasgow provides an excellent location for the Theatre History programme. We will be able to offer you the opportunity for group visits to some of the most striking theatre collections that Glasgow has to offer. Here are some of the places you might visit:

•    Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery  
•    Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
•    The Mitchell Library
•    Scottish Theatre Archive

Glasgow is also home to a huge variety of theatres that between them programme and produce shows that range from the experimental and risky to the traditional and repertory, from canonical and new writing to devised and physical performance. Venues include:

•    Citizens’ Theatre
•    The Arches
•    Tramway
•    Theatre Royal
•    Kings Theatre
•    Platform
•    Ramshorn
•    Centre for Contemporary Art

Glasgow is the base for a number of nationally significant theatre organisations too, including the National Theatre of Scotland and the Playwrights’ Studio. The city also hosts annual theatre and performance festivals including: Mayfesto, Glasgay! and Behaviour. Located only 45 minutes by train from Edinburgh, over the month of August you can easily make regular trips through to the Edinburgh Festival.

Speakers and events

Practitioners, Processes, Professions
Robert Sturm 2Theatre Studies runs a strand of workshops/seminars under the title ‘Practitioners, Processes, Professions’. We regularly invite practitioners to discuss their work with students and staff, and often to accompany these discussions with a 3-hour workshop for interested students.

In recent years, visiting practitioners have included:

  •     Euan Downey, Polish Laboratory Theatre
  •     Nic Green, performance artist/director
  •     Guillermo Gómez-Peña, international performance artist
  •     Ben Harrison, Grid Iron theatre company
  •     Adrian Howells, performance artist
  •     Stewart Laing, international director and artistic director Untitled Productions
  •     Kira O'Reilly, UK-based artist
  •     Tian Qinxin, theatre director, National Theatre of China
  •     Anthony Schrag, performance artist
  •     Reckless Sleepers, performance company
  •     Robert Sturm, Artistic Director of Tanz Theater Pina Bausch Wuppertal


Theatre Studies Research Seminars

Garden of AdrianThe Theatre Studies Research seminars are held three to four times during term-time, and host papers from visiting speakers and distinguished scholars, as well as profiling on-going research by staff from within the Subject group. The seminar series provides a forum within which postgraduate students and staff can meet to discuss and debate current research in the fields of drama, theatre and performance studies. Each session offers an interdisciplinary context for discussion.


In previous years guest speakers at the Theatre Studies Research Seminar series have included:

Lucy Weir, History of Art, University of Glasgow: In Vogue: The Evolution of 20th Century Contemporary Dance: a lecture/demonstration with Ruth Mills

Professor John Hall, University College Falmouth: Practising and essaying near the sign of Performance Writing

David Grant, Queen’s University, Belfast: ‘Living in the Moment’: time, space, the arts and dementia

Robert Sturm, Artistic Director of Tanztheater Pina Bausch Wuppertal: The Work of Pina Bausch

Dr Anna Birch, Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RCS): Repetition and performativity: multi layered fresco as living monument

Professor Elinor Fuchs, Yale School of Drama: Postdramatic theatre and its discontents: the future of a theory

Dr. David Williams, Royal Holloway, University of London: Lone Twin Theatre’s Catastrophe Trilogy

Staff team

The programme is team-taught by University staff and external specialists --

Daily MirrorThe core members of the teaching team are:

Other internal Theatre Studies staff members include:

External Specialists, Collaborations and Placements:

In addition to the staff members above, students benefit from masterclasses and workshops with external specialists such as Lesley Richmond (University Archivist and Deputy Director, GU Library) and Dr Kate Dorney (curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum). As part of the MLitt Theatre History programme you will also have the opportunity to do a work placement in a theatre archive and to undertake archival research towards a defined project that is of real benefit. The placements are delivered in partnership with the Scottish Theatre Archive (University of Glasgow Library, Special Collections) and the Theatre and Performance Department of the V&A.

The department of Theatre & Performance at the V&A is delighted to be involved in the M.Litt in Theatre History. As the national collection of performing arts material we have a vested interest in promoting the study, understanding and enjoyment of theatre history and in training new curators, scholars and information professionals for the future. At present the department runs a number of regular postgraduate training days in archives use and methodology and offers pre-course placement to archival and library students.  
The Theatre History M.Litt offers students a chance to put their theoretical study into context in working museums and archives and to learn at firsthand about the skills and challenges of working in the sector alongside established professionals and those at the beginning of their career or study path.
Dr Kate Dorney, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance, Victoria and Albert Museum


Our facilities include a studio theatre and a large flexible-stage theatre seating over 200 spectators, alongside a 140 seat cinema. University of Glasgow is also home to the Scottish Theatre Archive.

Scottish Theatre Archive

ArtemisiaThe Scottish Theatre Archive forms part of the Special Collections Department of the University of Glasgow Library. The Archive was founded in 1981 and its coverage of Scottish theatre is very broad, including both traditional and contemporary aspects. Among the largest collections are the archives of the Citizens' Theatre and Scottish Ballet, the BBC Radio Scotland script collection, and the Jimmy Logan  collection of music-hall material. Other collections include material relating to the Scottish Repertory Theatre, the Scottish National Players , the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Glasgow Unity, Molly Urquhart and her theatre, the Scottish Theatre Company, and the Dundee Repertory Theatre, Wilson Barrett Company, Mayfest and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The contents of the different collections vary, but in general include programmes, scripts, production notes, photographs, posters, and presscuttings. Some of the collections also include business papers and correspondence. The Archive has extensive holdings of playscripts, totalling over 7,000 titles. As well as scripts relating to productions by companies for which there are major holdings, and large collections of published play texts, there are several separate script collections, including those of John Cairney, Michael Elder, Robert Kemp, and the Scottish Society of Playwrights.

James Arnott Theatre

The Theatre, named in memory of the founding Head of Drama, has a capacity of 182 in studio-theatre format. It has a large wire-mesh 'trampoline' lighting grid installed, the only example of its kind in Scotland and one of only three in the UK. Lighting and sound are fully computerised.

Performance Studio

This space is equipped with lighting and sound facilities and may be used as a rehearsal room or where practical work such as video production, theatre direction, playwriting, design or stage management can take place.


Andrew Stewart Cinema

The Cinema is used for lectures and screenings. The following media can be projected:

  • 35mm film
  • 16mm film
  • Blu-ray
  • DVD
  • VHS
  • Mini DV
  • Computer data


Video Editing

We have 2 non-linear digital video edit suites installed in the building in recognition of the fact that TFTS have been developing a need for high-quality, digital editing facilities to be accessible on-demand by students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, working on Video Production Projects or on Multimedia Production and moving-image digitisation assignments of various kinds.

Both suites are of a similar specification:

  • 27" iMac
  • 3TB external HDD
  • Super drive
  • Final Cut Pro X
  • Adobe Creative Cloud suite (Premiere Pro, Photoshop, After Effects, etc)
  • Wireless keyboard and mouse

One suite also has a VHS deck for capturing from that format.

Resources Room

The Resources Room (RR) is an indispensable part of our teaching, learning and research environment. It provides a suitable environment, encouraging student users to take  increased responsibility for their own learning while supporting them in the development of approaches to independent study and the acquisition of  'transferable' skills. It also provides a flexible infrastructure within which methods of teaching and assessment related to information technology can be introduced.

The RR consists of 19 fully networked PCs, 12 TV/VHS workstations with DVD and digital satellite viewing also available, and an extensive, fully computerised video library (VHS/DVD) of over 6000 items including feature films, television programmes, cinema shorts, recorded theatrical performances, extracts and documentaries relating to a wide range of cinema, broadcasting and theatre activity.

Student testimonials

The programme is truly interdisciplinary, with equal attention being given to both the theatre and history side, which is exactly what I signed up for - full of stimulating debate, different ways of interpretation and engaging theory!  One of my favourite things is the diverse range of backgrounds/subjects areas/opinions: the range of different practitioners coming into research methods has been helpful as it has generated ideas for thesis research that I would not have previously thought about. In general, I must say that the teaching and the structure of class is fantastic. The teaching staff are truly inspiring, and the way active debate is encouraged and led in each class has kept me fully engaged and continues to excite me about my subject.

I am looking forward to the archive placement!! The chance to produce such a rich body of professional work prior to graduation is so incredibly exciting and a great privilege, and of course will be glowing on a CV.  It will be a great opportunity to test my skills and reflect on them before going out further into the professional world, and hopefully will lead to further employment or research projects. The course is brilliant and I'm having the best time!
- Katherine Tittley.

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject unless otherwise specified.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.5
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 22 with Speaking no less than 23
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 64; minimum 62 in writing

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2015-16 (subject to change and for guidance only)


Home and EU
Full time fee£6800
Part time 20 credits£756
Full time fee£14500

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

This programme provides students with unique advantages when seeking employment in the creative industries especially in the areas of theatre publicity, fundraising, outreach, research, and productions.  The Scottish Theatre Archive placement, in particular, develops the awareness of students to the issues and importance of documenting performance; gives understanding of the uses of archives for publicity and fundraising as well as  informing research for future productions; extends knowledge of the resources available for researching theatre history; and provides an insight as to the means by which archive repositories acquire, catalogue and make available their collections of theatre records.
Lesley Richmond, Deputy Director GU Library and University Archivist

Picture 1The design of the Theatre History programme is intended to develop your knowledge and understanding of a range of historically, contextually located texts and practices in the field of theatre history. It enables you to analyse and examine critically diverse forms of historiography and their effects on the making and meaning of drama. Through the programme you will develop an understanding of how historical practices can be applied and embedded within a range of contexts including beyond academia – for example, as part of the processes of archiving or curating new work.
Alongside this, the programme also fosters more generic skills development (including presentation skills – written and oral, a capacity for critical reflection, project management, team work, and independent research skills).

The programme provides excellent training for museum, school and other related educational and vocational careers. The critical components of this programme also provide a good foundation for students wishing to progress to doctoral study.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU) 24 July 2015
  • UK and EU applications 28 August 2015
    (with the exception of those programmes offering SFC funded places)

Classes start September 2015 for most programmes and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now