Postgraduate Taught

MA Digital Performance

The MA Digital Performance provides you with a unique practical experience of making performance for digital, hybrid and virtual environments, learning new digital skills and innovating your existing practice. It will provide you with an evolving and open space for creative experimentation which is socially relevant, while connecting you with leading experts in the field.

You will study and work in a supportive environment, both on campus and online, to develop solo and collaborative digital projects. The course is available both full and part-time.

 

Why QMU?

  • Unique course designed in response to the changing landscape of performance: The course identifies and responds to the needs of current in-demand training within three distinct strands of digital work: interactivity through digital platforms (including live online performance, motion capture and animation); broadcasting (including recording, live streaming, use of screen technology and intermediality); and hybrid and immersive AR/VR realities.
  • Responding to industry trends: The curriculum is based on emerging trends towards porous and hybrid spaces of performance making, as well as on exchanging and provoking social change through artistic intervention, while recognising the crucial role that performance has in investigating, humanising and harnessing the creative potential of digital technologies within the arts. You’ll be well placed to produce work which can enrich and increase the impact of what digital performance practices can offer to the performing arts field and to society at large.
  • Prepares you for self-employment: Digital engagement is gaining currency within an evolving performing arts industry, developing new entrepreneurial opportunities in the sector.With embedded collaborations with artists and arts organisations, the course will place you well for self-employment, and for generating networks which will allow you to set up and monetise your own individual or collaborative practices. You will be able to focus on learning through doing, via practice research approaches related to your chosen area of digital/hybrid practice, with a focus on the financial sustainability of freelance careers as digital artists and creators. You will work in a personal and collegiate environment that nurtures creative talent, which will enable you to experiment and build your own digital performance portfolio.
  • Explore the latest technological innovations: Popular platforms (such as Twitch, Zoom, BBB, jitsi, Gather.town, Second Life etc) will be explored, as well as applications that have been purpose built by performance artists specifically for digital performance, such as UpStage .Digital performance content will be generated through broadcasting, editing, performing for camera, Green Screen, motion capture, live online performance, internet situated performance, interactive, intermedial and hybrid processes, alongside immersive, augmented and virtual reality.  
  • Staff and industry expertise: The teaching team’s ongoing research supports student-initiated projects evolving during the course of study. You’ll also benefit from a range of professional expertise including input and mentorship from leading practitioners in the field.

Who is this course for?

The course offers a path for creative writers, performers, directors, dramaturgs, devisers or designers who wish to carve their own learning journey through guided research and project-led explorations of digital formats which suit their needs, interests and professional progression.

This course is aimed at current performing arts professionals looking to uskill and expand their creative toolkit or recent graduates who would like to be at the forefront of performance practice.

It is for graduates who wish to follow a vocational path in researching and acquiring indepth knowledge of digital practice beyond their first degree, and for those with equivalent experience who have already approached this area professionally and would like to gain a formal qualification, such as practicing independent artists or people who already work with or alongside cultural organisations in developing digital creative content.

It caters for all existing levels of digital experience and QMU is equipped to provide all technical resources that the course requires.

More about MA Digital Performance and what you will achieve

MA Digital Performance is amongst the first postgraduate courses in the UK to formalise the examination of critically embodied digital performance skills within an academic environment, and to embed the presence of a network of industry professionals operating at the cutting edge of digital practices within its curriculum.

The course will allow you to practically investigate Digital Performance, while also developing a solid understanding around the local and global issues affecting the work within this field – such as ethical issues, digital poverty and technological accessibility.

Due to the diversity and fluidity of digital performance practices, the learning and teaching approach is open to numerous forms of engagement with the digital medium. You will be proactive towards your research and development, and you will be encouraged to critically reflect on skills learnt and practice experienced and witnessed, in terms of digital exploration and innovation. 

You will gain a solid and critical overview of theory and histories of digital performance, as well as digital performance strategies, while through the practice-based dissertation project you will be able to unify the acquisition of practical experience and technical skills alongside critical reflection developed throughout your learning journey, also in view of a potential progression to doctoral study, if desired.

You will be equipped with:

  • A critical understanding of the conceptual frameworks underpinning online/digital/internet performance practices
  • The skills to apply this knowledge in a practical working context
  • A critical understanding of the ethics involved in collaborating creatively with others in an online, often participatory and interactive environment
  • An ability to critically reflect on professional development through digital performance practice

Exit awards

MA (180 credits)/PgDip (120 credits)/PgCert (60 credits)

Structure

You can opt to study for the full MA, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching comprises a combination of workshops, lectures, seminars, tutorials, case studies, simulation exercises, projects, as well as periods of practice-based learning. Assessment throughout the course will take a variety of forms, including practical digital performances, video essays, reports, research proposals, as well as a practice-based dissertation for the final MA component.

Teaching hours and attendance

Your specific timetable will depend on whether you are studying full-time, part-time or an individual module. Each module involves approximately 25 hours of face-to-face teaching. This will be a mixture of weekly classes combined with a series of intensive study days. Timetables are normally available around one month before you commence your studies. Teaching delivery will be blended (live/online), though campus attendance will be required for most modules. The two taught semesters run from September to December and mid-January to mid-April.

Class sizes

Class sizes will depend on modules chosen but will normally be between 10-25 students. Workshops will be restricted in size and you will work in small groups.

Industry links

Teaching staff have extensive professional experience, plus national and international networks to draw from. Our location in Edinburgh also means you are well placed to take advantage of the cultural context, including easy access to a range of world-class arts festivals.

Modules

To obtain a PgCert, you will complete:

  • Online Performance Practice (20 credits): Students will learn the fundamental principles and techniques underpinning performance making on a variety of online platforms. They will create their own practical online performance project under the guidance of staff, critically evaluating its efficacy in relation to the chosen medium.
  • Theories and Histories of Performance on the Internet (20 credits): Taking the last 30 years of historical perspective as a foundation, this module examines the conceptual justification of online performance making, using case studies and relevant examples of digital content. You will be able to appraise both histories and practical legacies, as well as the role of the Internet in building and developing new models of audience engagement and participation.
  • Performance Making for Digital Audiences (20 credits): This module will allow you to understand relationships and engagement with online audiences, creating a speculative online performance project and explore how to make it financially viable in the ‘real’ world. Budgets and marketing plans will be employed to guide students towards career sustainability. 

To obtain a PgDip, you will also complete:

  • Practice Research (20 credits): This module is practice-led and driven by reflective considerations on the student’s own practice, but being exposed to case-studies, lone-projects, as well as their own experimentation. This module also receives insights from guest speakers and experts in the field who can speak of their own practical experience of engaging in online performance projects.
  • The Only Way is Ethics: Art Representation and Ethics (20 credits): The module is designed to develop the critical and practical skills needed for students to engage with the public in the delivery of cultural projects, both live and digital. It looks at examples from history as well as contemporaneous projects that engage with people at the ethical edges of participation to challenge the student to develop their own ethical frameworks.
  • Plus a 20-credit elective.

Elective modules could include: 

  • Student Initiated Module (20 credits): This module provides students with an opportunity to extend and deepen their critical and integrated knowledge of a selected area of study relevant to their Master's programme through undertaking a self-directed piece of work.  Examples could include (but are not limited to) the design of an online creative event, production of a practical output such as hybrid performance work, designing a virtual theatre set, planning an online performance festival, responding to an industry competition or funding call, or an external placement. 
  • Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects (20 credits): This modules looks at the practical realities of managing and marketing cultural projects and learning occurs around hypothetical projects that the students plan and market in groups.
  • Fundraising, Finance and Development (20 credits): This module will equip students with a critical understanding of the principles and practices of fundraising, development and financial management. The assessments invite students to examine financial support mechanisms (eg, completing a funding application or designing a sponsorship pack) as well as financial literacy exam.

For an MA you will also complete a Master’s Dissertation Project (60 credits), which can be practice-based if desired. Through undertaking a self-directed project that suits your strengths, interests and career aspirations, you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of work that will develop your academic rigour, professional skills, and independence in practice. This can be a 12,000 word research dissertation, or a Practical Project with associated portfolio of evidence and 5000 word reflective essay.

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2022) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.

 

Single modules for CPD

Available. Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact Bianca Mastrominico for more information.

Placements

There are several opportunities to apply the theory and practice you learn on ‘real world’ projects. You can choose to undertake a placement through the SIM module, working directly with other individuals or organisations, and also your practical dissertation project offers opportunities for industry experience. Students are responsible for proposing and securing their own placement host and related costs (eg travel and accommodation) but we will help you with CVs and provide networking opportunities with a range of organisations.

Careers

This course aims to help students develop their own freelance career, but will also meet the growing needs of arts organisations seeking to develop their digital content or delivery. Potential career paths include as performers, writers, directors, broadcasting advisors, digital content creators, or in-house digital producers.

We also support entrepreneurial graduates to set up their own businesses. Since 2014 we have supported a range of graduate start up media and performance production businesses through our Business Innovation Zone.

Entry requirements

A UK honours degree or equivalent OR significant work experience in cultural organisations or festivals.

International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score less than 6.0.

Application deadline

TBC

More information and contacts

Contact Bianca Mastrominico or Admissions  (admissions@qmu.ac.uk

Start dates

September 2023. Part-time students can also start in January 2024.

Please Note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2023/2024 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).

Teaching staff is subject to change.

Course Overview

Delivery
At QMU with some blended elements
Duration
1 year full-time OR 2-7 years part-time
Start Date
September 2023
Start Date
January 2024
Study Abroad
No
School
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Division
Fees & Funding

Student Stories and Staff