Qualification: PHD
Course Length: 30-48 months / 60-96 months
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Programme overview

The research activity in GSA at Surrey is supported through our new Institute of Performance. The institute acts as the conservatoire’s research hub providing the base for all our postgraduate research and training. This includes regular research seminars with visiting speakers as well as bespoke training sessions on academic skills. The institute also hosts our Centre for Performance Philosophy that fosters innovative and creative research.


Programme structure

PhD researchers on all programmes in GSA can expect three levels of research training and support:

  • University-level training provided by the Researcher Development Programme and the University Library, including a PhD induction, workshops on writing skills and preparation for the confirmation and viva. There is also an annual student-led University Postgraduate conference.
  • School-level training is offered in the form of interdisciplinary seminars, reading groups, visiting speaker events and conferences. This includes our annual Practice Research Festival as well as the events aligned with the Centre for Performance Philosophy.
  • PhD researchers will also receive subject-specific training through regular reading groups or research seminars. We also host PhD researcher presentations that allow you to share and develop ideas in a supportive environment.

As a research conservatoire, we are fully equipped to offer dedicated time and support to practice research experiments and practical modes of knowledge enquiry. We welcome proposals that will result in an c.80,000 word thesis or a practice research curated portfolio.

Selected areas of current staff research are outlined below, but supervision of other subjects may be accommodated – please enquire with the Director of Postgraduate Research:

  • African, Afro-Cuban and Latin/o dance
  • Contemporary dance and dance theatre
  • Costume and costuming
  • Dance ethnography
  • Dance on screen and new media
  • Dance scenography
  • Choreography
  • Kinaesthesia, proprioception and kinaesthetic empathy
  • Performance Philosophy, especially Deleuzian and phenomenological approaches
  • Postcolonial theory
  • Trauma, crisis and performance
  • Theories of space, place and performance

Our conservatoire facilities include a 200-seat theatre, 15 rehearsal-studios, six performance-studios, an art gallery, design studio, digital media labs, and high-quality recording facilities. The university library also hosts the longstanding and internationally renowned National Resource Centre for Dance.



For all our research degrees in performing arts, entry is on the basis of a good honours degree and usually an MA in a relevant arts subject or appropriate professional experience.

Candidates submitting proposals that include practice-based research will be required to evidence appropriate experience and expertise in the relevant area of practice. Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.


IELTS minimum overall: 6.5

IELTS minimum by component: 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in each other element

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 Full-time Part-time
Overseas fees £16,500 £8,200

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2019/20 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2020 entry should please note that 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 research programmes

Our researcher development programme provides a range of workshops and support mechanisms for our postgraduate researchers.

Discover our researcher development programme.


Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.

The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).


As a member of the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership, our highest quality students may be eligible to apply for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) studentships (stipend and fee waiver).

Faculty studentships are also available for top-quality students, covering tuition fees and maintenance at current research-council rates for full-time or part-time study. Please see the Faculty studentships webpage for further information.


Before you submit your formal application form, please contact a potential supervisor or our Director of Postgraduate Research.

Once you have found an appropriate supervisor, please make contact with them to discuss your proposal. You should then proceed to completing and submitting your formal application form.