Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Theatre Studies

University of Otago
1 year
Full time
Master's degree
Scholarships available

About this program

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Theatre Studies

The MA by thesis

The thesis option normally requires at least one year of full-time study and entails completion of a thesis. The thesis is a major piece of supervised research of up to 40,000 words on a topic of current interest.

The primary aim of the MA by thesis Program is to develop in a candidate skills needed to identify a significant topic, design and implement an extended piece of research, and present the findings in a form acceptable to an expert readership.

Why study Theatre Studies at Otago?

Theatre Studies is a subject that is easy to become passionate about. It provides an understanding of the nature of performance, allows you access to the tools of a theatre-maker, and looks at performance using critical and analytical skills.

You'll study different times and cultures from a theatre perspective, ranging from Shakespeare to performance art and all points in-between. Practice and analytical investigation inform and support one another.

Your lecturers have professional as well as academic expertise in the fields of acting, producing, directing, criticism, stage design, lighting and sound design, playwriting and translation. And then there is our unique weekly Lunchtime Theatre Program at Allen Hall, which is your testing ground as a performer, director or playwright, and in all aspects of stagecraft.

Otago offers a wide selection of papers in Theatre Studies, drawn from the following areas:

Performance skills: improvisation; principles of actor training, including Shakespeare, voice and movement

Analysis and interpretation of drama on stage and screen

Bicultural theatre; drama and theatre of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Pacific and Australia


Theatre history, contemporary drama and performance art

Performance analysis and critical theory

Theatre technology and design, especially lighting and stage design

Playwriting and the creation of new theatre works

Admission requirements

The MA by thesis: The normal admission requirement is a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) degree in one of at least 24 subjects, but admission on the basis of alternative qualifications and experience is possible. Some thesis candidates may be required to pass approved postgraduate papers before embarking on the thesis research, but will be advised of that before enrolment.

If your first language is not English you need to meet our English language requirements as follows: IELTS score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0); Internet-based TOEFL: Score of 95 with a minimum writing score of 22; Paper-based TOEFL: score of 587 (TWE 4.5), we also accept a number of other English language tests. Due to COVID-19, we currently accept IELTS Indicator Test, and TOEFL iBT Special home Edition.

Don't meet the English language requirements? The University of Otago Language Centre "English for Otago" Program offers a pathway for Undergraduate and Postgraduate students to meet the English language requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate study.

Does this course require proof of English proficiency?

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Program content

  • The degree can be undertaken as a 240-point Program of study comprising papers and a thesis for students with a bachelor's degree or as a 120-point thesis-only Program for students with appropriate postgraduate level study (see Section 1(c)).
  • The degree may be awarded in any of the subjects listed in the MA(Thesis) Schedule. With the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) the degree may be awarded in a subject not listed in the MA(Thesis) Schedule.
  • The student's course of study shall be approved by the Dean, Head of School, Program or Department. In the case of the 240-point Program, the Dean, Head of School, Program or Department will confirm that the combination of papers will provide adequate preparation for the thesis component.
  • A candidate shall, before commencing the investigation to be described in the thesis, secure the approval of the Dean, Head of the School, or Head of Program or Department concerned for the topic, the supervisory team, and the proposed course of the investigation.
  • A candidate may not present a thesis which has previously been accepted for another degree.
  • A candidate taking the degree by papers and thesis must pass both the papers and the thesis components.
  • For a thesis, the research should be of a kind that a diligent and competent student should complete within one year of full-time study.

Subject areas

The degree may be awarded in any of the following subjects:

  • Anthropology
  • Childhood and Youth Studies* (thesis only)
  • Chinese
  • Classics
  • Communication Studies
  • Computer Science
  • Development Studies* (thesis only)
  • Economics
  • Education
  • English
  • Film and Media Studies
  • French
  • Gender Studies
  • Geography
  • German
  • History
  • Human Services* (thesis only)
  • Indigenous Development / He Kura Matanui
  • Information Science
  • Japanese
  • Linguistics
  • Māori Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Peace and Conflict Studies* (thesis only)
  • Philosophy
  • Politics* (thesis only)
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology
  • Spanish
  • Statistics
  • Theatre Studies

Scholarships & funding

Several scholarship options are available. Please check the university website for more information.

Program delivery

Application Details

Applicants must apply online. They should also attach all the necessary supporting documents which includes scanned copies of their previous official academic transcripts (awards gained, marks, grades) with their application, and provide proof of their identity this is usually achieved by providing a certified copy of the personal details page of their passport or a birth certificate (in English). Applicants must also submit detailed research proposal that shows they are familiar with current literature surrounding their topic; an up-to date curriculum vitae; and name of the academic staff member with whom they have been in contact; and with an approximate start date. They may also be required to submit an Educational Credential Evaluators report (ECE). As soon as applicants have completed their online application, their proof of identity document must be posted to International Office, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand. International student applications for semester 1/summer school study close: Oct-31; Semester 2 study close: Apr-30.


International tuition fees per year: 34566 NZD


Level of Award of the Degree

The degree may be awarded with distinction or with credit.

Career paths

Theatre Studies graduates work as actors, directors, publicists, script-writers, TV/radio journalists, film-makers, comedians, designers, teachers, musicians and theatre technicians. Others take up careers in arts administration, advertising and marketing, or undertake further training in theatre-related fields.

Some choose to combine Theatre Studies with another subject (e.g. English, Music, Dance, Anthropology, Film & Media, Psychology, Maori Studies and many more) or with another degree, such as Law, Marketing or Education.

Theatre papers teach personal and professional skills which are widely applicable across a range of careers and disciplines. They include critical analysis, research, creativity, confidence, team-building techniques and the ability to communicate in diverse ways. These attributes are highly valued in many professions, as are cultural sensitivity and the ability to think laterally and independently. They are skills for a career, and skills for life-long learning.

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About this institute

University of Otago

Founded in 1869, the University of Otago is New Zealand's first university. Otago has gained an excellent international reputation for its research and teaching. Ranked among the world’s top 1% of universities according to QS World University Rankings, Otago students...

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Why study at University of Otago

Otago’s approachable, world-renowned teaching staff are dedicated to fostering creativity and independence and helping students achieve their visions for the future.

Otago graduates are globally in demand, with 95 percent of graduates going on to employment or further academic studies. Otago’s Social Impact Studio provides volunteering and leadership opportunities, while programmes like Audacious support start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Otago boasts some of the best completion rates for a doctorate or master’s qualification in the world, with exceptional supervisory support.

At Otago, old meets new, from iconic historic buildings to modern, award-winning laboratories and teaching spaces, on one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.

Contact info

University of Otago

362 Leith Street
9016 Dunedin
New Zealand

Phone no: +64 0800 80 80 98

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