GSA’s PhD programmes support innovative research in a wide range of areas, fosters a spirit of independent enquiry, and encourages researchers to challenge received wisdom and extend the boundaries of the discipline

At school and Faculty level, we host regular research events as well as bespoke training sessions on academic skills and informal research development opportunities. The aim is to offer postgraduates researchers a thought-provoking and supportive research environment in which to complete their PhD studies.

We welcome proposals that will result in a written thesis (c. 80,000 words) or a practice research curated portfolio with complementary writing (c. 40,000). As a research conservatoire, we are fully able to offer time and support for practice research experiments and practical methods of knowledge enquiry. 

Three steps to applying

Step 1: Identify and speak to a prospective supervisor: We recommend that you contact our Director of Postgraduate Research Professor Robert Shaughnessy who can connect you with an appropriate supervisor.

Step 2: Apply for a place on the Theatre PhD or Dance PhD programme by the stated deadlines (see below).

Step 3: The strongest applicants will be invited to complete a studentship application form and receive one-to-one support in refining their applications.

PhD Studentships in GSA for Oct 2021 entry

Details will be announced in due course

Research at GSA is multifaceted and, while we welcome applications on any topic, we have particular interests in:

  • Actor training;
  • Animals and performance;
  • Choreography and kinesthetic empathy;
  • Disability and performance;
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the arts;
  • Musical theatre;
  • Performance and cognitive science
  • Performance philosophy;
  • Phenomenology and time;
  • Shakespeare;
  • Screen dance;

All of our studentships are extremely popular and very competitive. The process after application deadlines differs for each studentship scheme. Most candidates will have confirmation by May.

Finance and Funding

Self-financing For details on funding postgraduate study please visit the University Web Page


Are you a Home or EU candidate?

Doctoral College Studentships Home/EU fee waiver, £15,008 stipend per year. This is a university wide scheme and is highly competitive. Application deadlines to be announced

AHRC technē studentships. Home/EU fee waiver, c. £15,008 stipend per year. Now in it’s 7th year, technē is a consortium of 9 universities and funds exceptional PhD researchers. EU candidates who do not have 2-years residency in the UK are eligible to apply for a Fees Only award. Application deadlines to be announced


Are you an international (not EU) candidate?

Vice Chancellor’s Studentships International fee waiver, £15,008 stipend per year. This is a university wide scheme and is highly competitive. Application deadlines to be announced

Questions: If you have any questions about the studentship in GSA, please contact Professor Robert Shaughnessy Director of Research, GSA to find out more.

Studentship Competitions and Funding 

All of our studentships offer a stipend and fees award. The deadlines to have applied to the programme in order to be considered change each year, but typically occur in December or April depending on the funding scheme. 

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) TECHNE Studentships

Eligibility: open to Home / EU candidates (December deadline)


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Studentships

Eligibility: open to all including international candidates (December deadline)


Doctoral College Studentship Awards

Eligibility: open to Home / EU candidates (April deadline)


Our Supervisors

We recommend that you get in contact with either the Director of Postgraduate or a selected supervisor before making a formal application to study for a PhD. Please see below a list of our potential principal supervisors: 

Dr Laura Cull (Lead, Centre for Performance Philosophy)
Performance Philosophy; 20th and 21st century experimental theatre; authorship, collaboration, collective creation & audience participation; time and duration; non-human animals in performance; manifestos; relationship between performance and mental health

Dr Shantel Ehrenberg  
Dance and philosophy; dance pedagogy; kinaesthetic empathy; screen dance; choreography, dance and medical discourses.

Anna McNamara
Actor training; pedagogy; musical theatre; dance

Dr Trevor Rawlins
Actor training; screen acting

Prof. Robert Shaughnessy (Director of Research, GSA) 
Shakespeare in performance, theatre history, applied performance (especially in relation to disability/diversity), twentieth/twenty-first century British drama, actor pedagogy and training.

Dr Darren Tunstall    
Gesture in performance; Shakespeare; physical performance and Lecoq; cognitive science and performance.

Dr Matt Wagner
Shakespearean dramaturgy and stage praxis; theatrical temporality; Beckett and his contemporaries; embodiment and spatiality; theatre phenomenology.

Julian Woolford
Musical theatre; directing; scriptwriting

Postgraduate Researchers in GSA

What are the consequences of reintegrating Laban’s Rosicrucianism into the teaching of LMA to actors and theatre makers?

“Only From Exile Can We Come Home”: Hip Hop Dance as a response to gender and sexuality based trauma since the 1970s and its potential as a cathartic choreographic method.

Gemma Connell is a choreographer, theatre maker and researcher who specialises in community dance practice and dance theatre. Her thesis title is "Resistance and reorientation: an exploration of spatial orientation and agency through representations of gender violence in the Hip Hop dance theatre works of British female choreographers.” 

World-building and immersive scenography.

Methexis, Process and Live Action Role-playing: Representation in Performance as Routes of Inheritance.

Thinking Theatre as Phenomenology and Affect: a new model for post-16 theatre education in England.

Thinking Theatre as Phenomenology and Affect: a new model for post-16 theatre education in England.

Florence Fitzgerald-Allsopp is a UK based creative producer across contemporary art and performance. Her doctoral research considers the relationship between human and non-human animals in a contemporary art context, and examines ways in which we might cultivate a radical feminist understanding of interspecies performance practice. 

Scenographic sensibilities beyond design.

From non-time to time’s presence: transformations of the experience of contemporaneity in durational theatre and performance.

My name is Sylvia Solakidi and I am at the final year of a TECHNE-funded Theatre Research PhD at the Centre for Performance Philosophy, University of Surrey. I have a background in visual arts and performance studies and I also hold a BSc in Biology. I am interested in experiences of temporality in performance and their interactions with the temporality of the global market and networks of the contemporary world. My PhD research explores the concepts of contemporaneity, presence and duration in postdramatic theatre and discusses them alongside phenomenological writings in philosophy and anthropology. My writings are in the field of the creative critical and I have published research papers in: Platform Postgraduate Journal, Antennae Journal, Kronoscope Journal, Performance Research Journal, Global Performance Studies Journal, Streetnotes Journal.

Lighting States - LightingScapes: Transformative Encounters with Light in the Choreographic.

Enabling Musical Theatre: improving representations of disability in new musical theatre writing and production.

Jonas Schnor is a dramaturge and philosopher in the field of contemporary performance and dance.

My PhD research investigates Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of becoming-imperceptible in relation to performance processes and works. Through a series of collaborations with contemporary choreographers and performance makers I examine the onto-epistemological implications of imperceptibility in/as performance.

Narratives of Home: the practice of space in socially engaged theatre.

Problematic Deaths: The Art of Killing in Early Modern Tragedy.