Creative Practices and Direction MA

A unique, five-pathway programme that develops your creative-practice and leadership skills through engagement with practice-oriented theory and new collaborations.

Why Surrey?

This programme offers a unique opportunity to develop your aptitude as a theatre maker and/or trainer of theatre artists, by working within a specialist pathway alongside specialists in cognate pathways.

Programme overview

The programme is organized around two main streams of activity. One is aimed at creatives who lead in the generation of work and the conception and direction of productions or aspects of performance. The other is aimed at trainers who work with actors and performers to develop and direct their skills and capabilities, both in terms of their personal requirements and the needs of particular production projects. Hence the programme offers five specialist pathways:

  • Actor Training
  • Choreography & Movement Direction
  • Directing
  • Musical Theatre Creation
  • Practices of Voice & Singing

This programme offers the opportunity to develop practice and leadership skills through industry placements, engagement with practice-oriented theory and the stimulus of new collaborations. You will benefit from strong relationships with active professionals in your discipline afforded by a leading theatrical conservatoire within the intellectual stimulus of a major research-led University.

You will have the opportunity to develop a specialist practice within your chosen pathway, whilst working in close collaboration with colleagues following other pathways. This congruence of study-routes adds value by way of close connection between areas of creative practice which offer opportunities for developing strong collaborative partnerships that can last long beyond the duration of the programme.

You will follow one of the pathways listed above which share a core of compulsory modules. You will also follow pathway-specific modules and will undertake a professional placement within your chosen pathway. Each pathway concludes with a Project/Portfolio that is tailored to your pathway’s specific requirements. All modules offer opportunities to focus upon your specific discipline and develop skills and knowledge according to your personal needs.

The programme is primarily designed for graduates in drama, theatre and dance from universities and conservatoires, but will also appeal to those who have established themselves professionally and wish to refresh their skills and perspectives and take on leadership, coaching, creative or directing roles.


Actor Training (Pathway Director: Sean McNamara)

The specialist modules for this pathway are designed to produce a versatile and effective actor trainer with the strategies and skills required to enhance and facilitate an actor’s progress.  Students will examine and contextualise a number of acting methodologies to develop their own comprehensive approach to professional practice.

Choreography & Movement Direction (Pathway Director: Juliet Chambers)

Students on this pathway follow and practically investigate a number of techniques and ideas dealing with onstage physicality. The focus is also on the development of movement language, through the investigation of the ideas and practices of seminal dance-based ideas (Laban, Bausch, Cunningham, Fosse, Graham, Horton, etc.) and methods for working with music and sound.

Musical Theatre Creation (Pathway Director: Julian Woolford)

This pathway is designed for those who wish to study writing, and creative roles specifically in Musical Theatre. These might be as a director, choreographer, composer, librettist, musical director or creative producer.  In addition to the core modules, there are also shared modules with the MA Musical Theatre Performance students and a bespoke module relating to Musical Theatre Dramaturgy.

Practices of Voice & Singing (Pathway Director: Chris Palmer)

This pathway brings together study and practice in both singing and voice, in order to create a new paradigm for teaching and coaching in these fields, enabling students to expand, develop and reflect on their coaching styles.

Directing (Pathway Director: Gráinne Byrne)

This programme is a practice-led pathway incorporating methodologies and techniques that focus on approaches to theatre directing, dramaturgy, collaboration with other practitioners and industry relationships.


You will study eight 15-credit modules and, for a Masters qualification, a summative 60-credit module in which you develop a range of work appropriate to a professional and contemporary practice portfolio.

Core Modules

All pathways share these modules:

  • Principles of Collaboration
  • Research Methods for Practice
  • Integrated Practice
  • Personal Profile Development
  • Specialist Techniques and Performance Enquiries
  • Scenography and Production Craft
  • Advanced Creative Practice

The following modules are taken by some, but not all pathways:

  • Dramaturgy
  • Training the Performing Body
  • Physical Performance
  • Pedagogies

Teaching and Assessment

The programme employs a mixture of practice-based workshops, studio work, rehearsals and performances/production outputs, as well as lectures and presentations, seminars, group and individual tutorials, and online learning. At the beginning of each module you are provided with an outline of individual session content, including (where relevant) set reading and assignments. Throughout all School of Arts academic programmes there is an emphasis on self-directed learning, with increasing levels of independence as you progress.

The programme provides learning opportunities from a platform of current developments in contemporary theatre, both within academia and the wider professional world; it draws on concepts, techniques and methodologies from the near past and the present. You are given opportunities to explore the forefront of your chosen discipline and to exit the programme with an enhanced experience of the diversity of contemporary theatrical practice and scholarship.

A key principle of the programme is the mix of industry-related fieldwork, contextual study and learning through practice. You will work in teams and as an individual to explore issues and realise your own creative and/or pedagogic practice.

Facilities, Equipment and Academic Support

The School of Arts facilities include the 200-seat theatre in the Ivy Arts Centre, dark and light studios, digital creation stations and editing facilities, scenic, props and costume workshops, and interconnected sound recording and music facilities. Teaching and workshop activity takes place largely in GSA’s dedicated rehearsal rooms, performance studios and design workshops. Lectures, presentations and seminars will occur in rooms across campus.

The University Library contains the majority of set texts, key journals, scripts, play texts and video materials necessary for the programme. Students have access to extensive facilities through the virtual learning environment, SurreyLearn, and IT Services. Additional support is available in the Learning Resource Centre in the University Library.

Equipment is provided on a project-by-project basis according to the nature of the work in hand and the parameters of the project, which are negotiated with the tutor. Facilities and equipment for production work will be booked by students according to specific project briefings and advertised resource parameters.

Academic support is provided by way of ongoing contact with the programme director and module leaders, group briefings and feedback, individual tutorials, and mentoring. The programme makes use of a peer feedback system designed to provide a useful and supportive account of areas of strength and effectiveness, along with areas for improvement. You are encouraged to identify personal learning and creative objectives that can be pursued in alignment with group project work.

Why choose to study Creative Practices and Direction at Surrey?

Surrey is an international university that embraces experiment and leading-edge knowledge. It is full of people whose work contributes to new developments in many fields, including the performing arts. It is close to London, a world capital for theatre and performance. It has its own extensive mixed arts programming, with plenty of opportunities both to present and enjoy performances and productions. It enables you to focus on your own work in a pleasant, lively and multi-disciplinary environment.

The University is rich in the connections across its Faculties and subject areas. Meanwhile there is extensive cross-pollination across the School of Arts and the GSA. This combination – high-level academic study in the performing arts and the advanced training of a leading conservatoire – makes us unique in the UK. You will benefit from industry-specific expertise in vocational training and innovative practice, and leading scholarship in theatre and performance, in facilities designed to enable advanced study and practice.

The programme harnesses personal growth within a definitively collaborative environment, where diverse colleagues provide a rich resource base. Creative and pedagogic processes are structured to enable risk on the one hand, and clear realisation of ideas on the other – in other words, we want you to be free to explore and make discoveries, whilst also bringing your work to fruition and learning through doing. The programme structure means that you are continually making and presenting performance outputs and/or sharing ideas and exercises. Come here for the space to explore, think, develop and create.


The School of Arts includes study in Dance, Digital Arts, Film, Music, Sound and Theatre, with research activity in all areas, often with significant interdisciplinary connections.

With an integrated approach that comprises documentation, analysis and performance, Surrey’s agenda for research aims to engage critically with the past and present, while rigorously articulating new frameworks for understanding and practising the arts and culture in the twenty-first century.

Research infrastructure includes the Digital World Research Centre and the Laban Archive in the National Resource Centre for Dance (NRCD).

The School of Arts hosts and supports established research centres, research groupings and networks as well as individual research projects. Our research extends to partnerships with the artistic community, for instance, in support of public debates or in the dissemination of documentation for arts practice through the digital and print media.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Professional development

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months

Start date:

Sep 2016

Entry Requirements

Bachelors degree (first or 2.1) in a relevant field, as well as previous engagement with drama, theatre and performance. Applicants without a Bachelors degree who can demonstrate relevant experience at the appropriate standard will also be considered. Suitable applicants will be called to interview and participate in a collaborative activity appropriate to their discipline. Overseas candidates will in most cases be assessed remotely and through evidence of the ability to work collaboratively.

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English language requirements

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Sep 2016 £8,000 £15,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2016/2017 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

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Scholarship awards for Masters programmes in the School of Arts

As part of the University of Surrey’s commitment to providing excellent learning opportunities for all, we are delighted to offer four £3,000 scholarship awards for study on the MA Creative Practices and Direction and MMus Music programmes. The awards are open to all applicants seeking to begin full-time study in October 2016. Find out more information or submit an application form by 6 May 2016.

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Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

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