School of Society and Culture

PhD Dance

Join a vibrant research community with opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations. We welcome proposals for research in any area of contemporary dance and dance as a cultural discourse, but we are especially interested in supervising practice-as-research projects that focus on choreographic practice, screendance practice, somatic movement and embodiment practices.

Plymouth Conservatoire - Esme Appleton in Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Golem. Photograph: Bernhard Mueller.

Join Plymouth Conservatoire

This programme is delivered through Plymouth Conservatoire - a unique collaboration between the University and Theatre Royal Plymouth, providing training and professional experience that will set talented students apart in today’s arts and creative industries.

Plymouth Conservatoire

Key features

  • The award-winning purpose-built House Theatre provides a state-of-the-art and fully accessible 200-seater auditorium, studio theatre and rehearsal spaces..
  • Learn from highly skilled and internationally renowned practitioners and scholars. Work within the Performance, Experience and Presence (PEP) research group which greatly informs the teaching on this programme.
  • Make use of the close links we have fostered with leading dance companies and professional artists, and gain extra experience that will open up your career prospects. Plymouth has a vibrant and active dance scene, with Plymouth Dance and Dance in Devon supporting the dance ecology in Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall.
  • Opportunities to participate in dance technique classes; the theatre and performance department also hosts a number of master classes, workshops and performance opportunities that are open to you.
  • Engage with Plymouth’s vibrant theatre and performance scene with The Arts Institute, Theatre Royal Plymouth and Barbican Theatre Plymouth, alongside events and training workshops arranged by the department itself. In the past, our nationally and internationally acclaimed visitors have included Candoco, StopGap, Rambert, Flying Low, Jordi Cortes,Yael Flexer, Rick Nodine, Kirstie Simson, Wendy Houstoun, LailioDaillo, Epic Arts, Russell Maliphant, 2 Faced Dance, Zoielogic and Liz Aggiss.
  • Choose to study full time or part time to fit in with your career plans or other commitments.
  • Be part of a lively interdisciplinary arts and research community where you’ll mix with staff and students from across the arts faculty, creating opportunities for collaborative performance and practice-based research.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake. You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.

    If you do not already have a masters degree, you may be interested in one of our masters level research degrees – for instance, our ResM Dance. (which enables a transfer directly into the PhD programme if you are making excellent progress). Further details about the University’s research degree awards.

    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).

    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our postgraduate research degrees pages.

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.
Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have completed a masters level qualification to a high standard (e.g. at 'merit' or 'distinction' level) as well as either a good 2:1 or first class honours undergraduate degree in an area of study appropriate to your project proposal (e.g. theatre and performance, drama, dance, live or fine art, performance writing, etc.). We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications (for instance, you may have studied different subjects at undergraduate and masters level but have established an artistic practice since then).

If you do not have a masters level qualification, we recommend you consider applying for our ResM Dance programme. Students who are making exceptional progress in a ResM programme, may progress directly into our PhD programme without having to complete the masters.

You will also need to provide evidence that you are ready to pursue the project you propose in your application. This will take the form of a sample of critical writing, and if relevant, documentation of relevant creative or professional practice.

If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. PhD Dance is in Band 2 for fees purposes.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.


How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal of no more than 1000 words in total. Your research proposal should outline your general topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, your proposed methodology, key definitions/thinkers/discourses/practitioners you are drawing upon and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.

Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.

You will also need to submit a sample of your critical writing (3000 words maximum) and, if relevant, evidence of your ability to undertake the practice-led research you are proposing (e.g. a DVD, portfolio, links to website, reviews, catalogue, etc.). It should take no longer than 30 minutes to view all the visual material that you provide.

Submitting your application

Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.

Questions on the application process?

We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College team and we'll be happy to assist you.

You can view or download our postgraduate research admissions policy.

If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit our Disability Services website.

International Student Advice (ISA) provides support for our international students.

Find more information about how to apply for a research degree.

Welcome to Plymouth Conservatoire

Experts from the University of Plymouth and Theatre Royal Plymouth work together to give you training and professional experience that will set you apart in today’s arts and creative industries. 

Get the very best, up-to-date industry expertise, research and teaching practice as well as unrivalled access to professional opportunities.

The House

The University of Plymouth committed £7 million to building The House, a purpose built theatre on campus – and now the teaching home to Plymouth Conservatoire. 

A state-of-the art building, built to the very highest technical and sustainable specification, this award winning facility is a fully-accessible building with a 200-seater auditorium, a studio theatre and rehearsal spaces.

Come in to The House


<p>The House stage</p>
The House stage
<p>The House stage viewed from above</p>
The House stage from above
<p>The House studio</p>
The House studio
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 307</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 307
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 306</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 306
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 308</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 308

Performance. Experience. Presence (P.E.P) research group

Sharing interests in embodiment, experience, training and cultural representation, our research manifests through creating and analysing performance. We encompass researchers of theatre, dance, live art and interdisciplinary performance practices.

Our PEP Talks series of research seminars is scheduled throughout the academic year and research students organise their own conferences and events.

Learn more about the work carried out by PEP, our theatre, dance and performing arts research group

Follow P.E.P on social media

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