Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Research Practices
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 8 x 2 hour seminars/lectures/workshops
Lecture 2 x 3 hour seminars/lectures/workshops
Seminars / Tutorials 3 x 1 hour group tutorials


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay (2,500 words or 15 minute presentation)  Critical discussion of a particular theoretical framework and / or research methodology. To be submitted as either: Written Essay (2,500 words) or Performed Essay (15 minutes)   50%
Semester Assessment Proposal for the final Research Project (2,500 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Written Essay with alternative title (2,500 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Proposal for final Research Project (2,500 words)  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the different methodologies for researching into performance and theatre and evaluate critically their respective strengths and weaknesses;
2. relate different research methods to key questions, topics and traditions of research within the fields of theatre and performance studies and related fields of research
3. formulate appropriately framed research question(s) and identify suitable theories and methodologies to draw on to enable effective, focused and productive research;
4. to demonstrate an understanding of the primary requirements for conceiving and carrying out a major research project


The aim of the module is to provide an advanced grounding to students in the questions and methods related to research into contemporary performance and theatre. Students will be introduced to a range of research methodologies, and will be encouraged to apply and test these methodologies on a range of primary materials in teaching sessions. Throughout the module, students will engage with critical writings on these methods and, through this, will identify key theoretical concepts that inform these methods and practical applications that derive from them. As a result, the module will encourage students to reflect critically on the strengths and applicability of different research methods and, through this, to identify the research questions and related methods that they will employ in their MA Research Project. The forms of assessment on the module are designed to support this process, culminating in a research proposal for the MA Research Project.

Brief description

The module enables students to encounter a range of key approaches to researching contemporary performance and theatre. Students will be introduced to critical writings, theoretical frameworks and research methodologies that will enable them to devise research projects in the broad interdisciplinary fields of theatre and performance studies. Methodologies include library-and archive-based research as well as practice-based research procedures.
Furthermore, the module invites students to consider more generally (particularly in the co-delivered sessions with students on TFM0*20) what it means to conduct research, about wider questions of research and its practical demands, and about the relation of research to issues of disciplinarity and interdiscplinarity.
It also enables students to test some of the approaches they are being introduced to through short practical investigations. Students will be encouraged to make use of the extensive research facilities available at Aberystwyth (including the National Library, e-learning resources available through the Hugh Owen Library, and the Cavanagh Collection).
In completion of the module, students will submit a coherent and realistic proposal for their final research project (TPM0660)


Week 1: Introduction: What is Research? What is a Method?
(co-delivered with TFM0*20, 3 hour session)
Week 2: Designing a Research Project in Performance
Week 3: Encountering the Live – Performance Analysis
Week 4: Practising performance analysis
Week 5: Historical Research 1: Gathering and Archives
(co-delivered with TFM0*20)
Week 6: Historical Research 2: Document Analysis
(co-delivered with TFM0*20)
Week 7: Empirical Research 1: Ethnography
(co-delivered with TFM0*20)
Week 8: Empirical Research 2: Interviews and Focus Groups
(co-delivered with TFM0*20)
Week 9: Practice-as-Research Micro-Project
Week 10: Dissertation Proposal and Literature Review Session
(co-delivered with TFM0*20, 3 hour session)

Plus 3 one-hour group tutorial sessions, focusing on the development of the research proposal.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number This element is not assessed.
Communication The ability to communicate ideas effectively is developed and assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Self-regulation, motivation and time-management skills are developed through the module and are demanded for the successful completion of its assignments.
Information Technology The ability to utilize information technology both in the research for and delivery of assignments is assessed directly.
Personal Development and Career planning Transferable skills (managing personal workloads and meeting deadlines, designing and realizing assessment projects) are developed and assessed directly
Problem solving Analytical problem solving, outcome recognition and the identification of appropriate strategies and procedures are encouraged and assessed.
Research skills Independent research and the development of effective personal research practices are encouraged and assessed.
Subject Specific Skills See QAA Dance, Drama and Performance Subject Benchmark Statement (Version 2007). The following subject specific skills are developed and partly assessed: - describing, theorising, interpreting and evaluating performance texts and performance events from a range of critical perspectives - developing skills of observation and visual, aural and spatial awareness - considering theories of spectatorship and developing an awareness of the audience or client group for performance and an ability to respond and adapt to it through flexible means - engaging in research, whether independent, group or performance-based - identifying and interpreting the cultural frameworks which surround performance events and on which these events impinge, and taking these into account in creating and/or interpreting performances
Team work Seminar discussions demand the application of skills necessary to conduct collaborative activity, such as negotiating ideas and opinions. Students work in collaboration with others on the formulation and implementation of practical research.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Anderson, J. Poole, M. (1998) Assignment and Thesis Writing 3rd ed. John Wiley Primo search Auslander, P. (1999) Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture London & New York: Routledge Primo search Auslander, P. (2003) Performance - Critical Concepts in Literary and Culural Studies Vols. I-IV London & New York: Routledge Primo search Barrett, E. and B. Bolt (2007) Practice as research: Approaches to creative arts enquiry London: I.B. Tauris Primo search Berry, R. (2000) The Research Project: How to Write It 4th ed. London & New York: Routledge Primo search Brewe, John, D. (2000) Ethnography Buckingham: Open University Press Primo search Burgess, R. (1997) Pracice based doctoraes in creative and performing arts and design UK Council for Graduate Education Primo search Carlson, M. (1996) Performance - a critical introduction London & New York: Routledge Primo search Counsell, C. (ed.) (2001) Performance analysis: an intoductory coursebook London New York: Routledge Primo search Denzin, K. an Y.S. Lincoln (eds) (2005) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research 3rd ed. Sage Primo search Fortier, M. (2002) Theory/theatre - an introduction 2nd edition London & New York: Routledge Primo search Fuschini, L., S.Jones, B. Kershaw and A. Piccini (eds) (2009) Practice as Research in Performance and Screen Media Palgrave Macmillan Primo search George, A. (ed) (2003) Art, lies and videotape: Exposing performance Liverpool: Tate Primo search Hammersley, M. and P. Atkinson (1983) Ethnography: Principles in Practice London: Tavistock Primo search Heathfield, A. with F. Templeton & A. Quick (eds) (1997) Shattered anatomies: traces of the body in performance Bristol: Arnolfini Live Primo search Higgins, R. (1996) Approaches to research: a handbook fo those writing a dissertation London: Jessica Kingsley Primo search Kershaw, B. and H. Nicholson (2011) Research Methods in Theatre and Performance Edinburgh University Press Primo search Knowles, J.G. and A.L. Cole (eds) (2008) Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research Sage Primo search Kobialka, M. (ed.) (1999) Of Borders and Thresholds: Theatre History, Practice and Theory University of Minnesota Press Primo search Madison, D., Soyini and J. Hamera (eds) The Sage Hand Primo search McAuley, G. (ed.) (1986) The documentation and notation of theatrical performance Sydney Association for Studies in Society and Culture Primo search McKenzie, J., H. Roms and C.J.W.L. Wee (eds) (2009) Contesting Performance - Global Sites of Research Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Melrose, S. (1994) A Semiotics of the Dramatic Text Basingstoke: Macmillan Primo search Moore, N. (2000) How to do research: the complete guide to designing and managing research 3rd ed. London: Library Association Primo search Pavis, P. - translated by D.Williams (2003) Analyzing Performance: Theatre, Dance and Film Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Primo search Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. (2001) Theatre/Archaeology London & New York: Routledge Primo search Phelan, P. (1993) Unmarked London & New York: Routledge Primo search Reason, M. (2006) Documentation, Disappearance and the representation of live performance Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Reinelt, J.G. and J.R. Roach (eds) (1992) Critical Theory and Performance Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press Primo search Taylor, D. (2003) The Archive and the epertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas Duke University Press Primo search Anderson, Leon (2009) Journal of Contemporay Ethnography Analytic Autoethnography Pgs. 373-395 Primo search Spry, Tami (2001) Qualitative Inquiry Performing Autoethnography: An Embodied Methodological Praxis Pgs 706-732 Primo search Trimington, M. Studies in Theatre and Performance A methodology for practice as research Volume 22 Issue 1 Primo search Melrose, S. PARIP (Practice-as-Research in Performance)


This module is at CQFW Level 7