Image of performers in various poses on a stage bathed in a spotlight.

Musical Theatre

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £6,250
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: N/A
International full time annual tuition fee: £13,250

Course type



Liverpool Screen School

Study mode

Full Time (1 year)

About your course

The MA in Musical Theatre at LJMU has been designed for actors, directors, choreographers, MDs, composers, lyricists, librettist and teachers, to develop mastery of personal craft, by exploring creativity and advancing scholarship in musical theatre.

  • ​Join a passionate community of musical theatre scholars and artists
  • Participate in an annual festival of performance and scholarship titled “Adventures In Musical Theatre”
  • Benefit from a highly flexible, student-centred curriculum and delivery structure, with an emphasis on learning through creative risk and play
  • Take advantage of opportunities to include current work-based activity or undertake a placement
  • Enjoy access to a wide network of local, regional, national and international partners

​The course looks and sounds great

​Richard Reeday, musical director

​This is a course whose time has come – unmatched, as far as I know, anywhere else in the world. Both British and regional musical theatre (and artists) will get the recognition they deserve in terms of proper study.

Chris Grady, Freelance Producer and External Advisor in programme validation

Introduction to the School

The Liverpool Screen School offers you a warm and friendly environment founded on a strong commitment to nurturing and supporting creativity while offering excellent learning resources and first-class student support.

International expertise

You will be taught by professional, experienced and enthusiastic academic staff with extensive and current practical industry experience.

Staff have all worked in the industry with years of experience in drama, musical theatre, screenwriting, poetry, print, radio, television and online journalism. Many of the teaching team in Drama are widely published and prolific writers, producers and actors who have worked on plays and productions at the Edinburgh Fringe, top regional theatres and the West End.

Top class facilities

Liverpool Screen School is based in the Redmonds Building, located in the heart of the bustling Mount Pleasant campus and Liverpool’s growing Knowledge Quarter.

The Drama department has three dedicated buildings for its wide range of performances, workshops and classes: the Joe H Makin Drama Centre which houses rehearsal rooms, workshops, a 90 seat studio theatre and two smaller studio performance spaces; the John Foster Drama Studio, a large multi-arrangement theatre space, newly refurbished to enhance backstage provision and public areas as well as technical specifications; and the adjacent Modular Building which houses classes/tutorials, the department’s wardrobe, Drama staff offices, and where postgraduate students have their own small common room alongside dedicated study rooms/practical studios. All three are designed to offer space and creative freedom to students studying on one of LJMU's many drama undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The buildings regularly play host to in-house student drama festivals, practical assessments, classes, visiting workshops and much more as part of the overall busy programme of events. The Redmonds Building, five minutes’ walk from Drama facilities, contains broadcast studios, news rooms and media production suites. You will also have access to high quality lecture theatres and seminar rooms, social spaces, and the ground floor Starbucks cafe.

All the above buildings are a short walk from LJMU’s Aldham Robarts Library, which contains all the resources you will require for your studies, and is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Why study this course at LJMU?

The MA Musical Theatre seeks to develop your mastery of musical theatre craft, alongside current, relevant critical enquiry and scholarship. The programme focuses on the question: “what constitutes excellence in musical theatre?”

​At the heart of the programme's work is an exploration of craft in creative processes and a belief that rigorous critical enquiry and best creative practice are inextricably linked. It aims to champion new work and new ways of working, and celebrates the unique expressive opportunities and appeal of the musical.

​With a unique ideology and appeal, the degree embraces not only the commercial musical theatre of Broadway and the West End but more experimental work, alongside other recognised forms such as cabaret, burlesque, melodrama, drag, and pantomime. The degree also provides a specific focus for the study of the British musical and its artists.

Programme outline and structure

This MA is an ‘adventure in musical theatre’, which will enhance the mastery of theatrical craft by helping you to define a personal methodology, style and approach to the relevant disciplines of Musical Theatre.

​You will have the confidence to apply knowledge and understanding with originality and creativity for the re-interpretation of received assumptions regarding dominant traditions and practices of Musical Theatre performance. You will also gain the confidence to work creatively, collaboratively and collectively with musical theatre makers who possess varying levels of experience and styles. This degree ultimately aims to develop students into adaptive and flexible musical theatre professionals.

​To develop your own creative practice as a Musical Theatre artist, you will learn how to effectively and appropriately employ a range of research methodologies and critical perspectives, including the ability to interrogate, evaluate and explore Musical Theatre ‘texts’ and processes. For students who wish to develop an entrepreneurial approach and set up their own theatre company, this MA will enable you to explore performance and event creation utilising organisational and managerial skills and industry knowledge.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on core modules for further information on what you will study.

Research Methodology and Proposal    

You will explore the usefulness of different research methods in analysing and developing your understanding of popular theatres/performance and practice-as-research in musical theatre and propose your own research project

Critical Perspectives and Repertoire

Explore key critical perspectives relating to popular theatres/performances, semiotics, historiography, phenomenology, and approaches to performance theory relevant to popular theatres/performances in general and musical theatre in particular

Musical Theatre Laboratory 1 (crafts)

This module has two components; the first examines the range of principles and criteria for artistic selection, and how they convert into subsidiary working practices for librettist, lyricist, composer, director, choreographer, musical director, performer or teacher. The second aspect fosters individual practice and development of personal craft through exploration of collaborative practice crucial to this most complex of forms

Specialist Craft

You will undertake a series of directed creative exercises, aimed at further developing your technical skills and processes. This will be supported by the study of the properties and expressive modes available in a specific discipline and extended specialist study of artists or material connected to your chosen specialism

Musical Theatre Laboratory 2 (ensemble)

You will create and explore musical theatre material in a workshop and rehearsal context leading to public performance/presentation as part of a mini-festival produced by the group

Dissertation and Project

You will plan and deliver a linked final creative/practical project and written dissertation which will demonstrate an advanced level of mastery of your specific craft and the ability to articulate your own and others working practice in your field employing an appropriate critical perspective

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled 'What you will study' is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. It should be noted that option modules will be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.
Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

Assessments are a mixture of practical work, including performance, and written work, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate the required level of learning and achievement.

Practical work assessment is negotiated and agreed in a Learning Contract with tutors and will be appropriate to your specific discipline.   Your ongoing progress will be fed back to you via regular one-to-ones with course tutors and other formative assessment in class and rehearsal.

Staff research interests

You will be taught by leading academics and practitioners who have a wealth of experience, either as actors, directors, musical directors, choreographers, writers, composers or producers.

​Staff research interests include:

  • Composition, lyric and libretto - musico-dramatic structures and narrative/notional treatments
  • Authenticity and theatricality
  • Aesthetic philosophy
  • The work of director/choreographers
  • Queer theory and radical vaudeville
  • The musical as satire
  • Melodrama and pantomime
  • Liverpool and NW Regional Theatre History
  • The British Musical
  • Cabaret as autobiography
  • Director/actor working processes in the musical theatre
  • Integrated performance – beyond the ‘triple threat’

​Programme Leader, Dr Nick Phillips was awarded the first UK PhD (Hull University) in modern Musical Theatre in 1990. Nick has been Head of Acting at both the Central School of Speech & Drama, and LIPA, before joining LJMU to introduce the MA in Musical Theatre and subsequently take on the role of Programme Leader of all Drama provision. Nick is an award-winning actor, composer/lyricist/librettist and director and is currently creating his follow-up to his 2014/15 autobiographical cabaret show Ecce Homo (commissioned by Homotopia).

Nick has written a dozen musicals, several stage plays and adaptations, original cabarets for himself and others, several pantomimes, a chamber opera, and his Red Ribbon Requiem for soloists, choir and orchestra, as premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus. Nick’s early professional life was as Naughty Nickers with gay clown troupe Bloolips, with whom he received a NY Obie Award in 1981. Nick has delivered papers at conferences on Musical Theatre In Education (a new approach to inter-disciplinary training), Sondheim (love among the radio mics – the reinvention of the love duet), and at the international Song Stage and Screen conference (The Diva and the four Ds) and has a book in preparation.

As well as Dr Phillips, core team tutors include Dr Roz Merkin and Dr Andrew Sherlock, along with regular visting tutors, Sally Rapier (Director/Choreographer and current Beatrice Lillie, PhD Schoalr at the Central School of Speech & Drama) and Chris Davey (Director/Burlesque performer/artist and tutor, PhD scholar in Burlesque at Roehampton).

Guest Tutors in 2017/18 will include:

  • Dillie Keane (Fascinating Aida, writer/actor)
  • Richard Thomas (Comoser – Jerry Springer The Opera, lyricist Made In Dagenham)
  • Jonathan Harvey (Playwright and TV screenwriter)
  • Struan Leslie (Former Movement Director RSC, Tutor and choreographer)
  • Simon Deacon (Composer and Musical Director, jazz performer)


Entry requirements (Home)

​You will usually need:

A 2:1 undergraduate degree in a performing arts related subject


A minimum of three years professional training or significant relevant musical theatre  experience, accompanied by demonstrable creative potential and critical thinking assessed through interview/audition and written submission.

The above should demonstrate that you have a sufficient level of knowledge to embark upon the programme (including the required linguistic competence) and to complete the programme within the required time limits. You should provide evidence, in the view of assessors, of your learning capability, study opportunity and commitment to a postgraduate programme of study.

All applicants will be  called for interview in person or, where not possible, via Skype/Facetime.

You must also prepare one of the following to evidence your specific experience and/or craft in musical theatre performance, creation or pedagogy:

a) For performers - an audition of two contrasting songs (at least one of which must be from the musical theatre repertoire) and a spoken monologue. You should provide sheet music for your two songs for piano accompaniment (a pianist will be provided on the day of your audition/interview)

b) For directors, MDs and choreographers - recorded evidence of your work (preferably on USB stick or your own tablet/laptop) where possible, along with any further documentary evidence of your experience, including a list of productions and/or programmes, designs, etc.

c) For librettists, lyricists and composers - at least two examples of your work as follows:

1. Librettists - synopses or outlines of two shows either written or in development, with at least one scene in script form from both and at least one of these to lead into song/dance.

2. Lyricists - at least two full songs, preferably of contrasting style, and preferably in both notated form (script) and recorded (audio or video) in rehearsal/performance. These can be recordings made especially for this presentation.

3. Composers - at least two full songs, preferably of contrasting style, and preferably both notated (piano/vocal score) and recorded (audio or video) in rehearsal/performance. These can be recordings made especially for this presentation.

d) For producers or educators, any documentary or recorded evidence of at least two projects undertaken.

In addition, all candidates should bring along a theatre CV outlining their relevant musical theatre and/or other performance experience in any capacity or role. Any other supporting material is also welcome.

In the interview, we will ask you to articulate not only your background and interest in musical theatre but also the reasons why you wish to undertake this course and what you hope to get out of it.  You will also be expected to demonstrate your ability to articulate ideas and critique of musical theatre at a level appropriate to Masters study. Where possible, this assessment will take the form of a group seminar discussion.  The interview will be held with at least two members of staff, normally the Programme Leader and one of the delivery team.  

In the event of any query regarding preparation, please do not hesitate to contact the Programme Leader for further clarification.

Entry requirements (International)

LJMU welcomes applications from international students. In addition to normal entry requirements, you will be expected to demonstrate a very good level of English language competence, for example an IELTS score of 6.0-6.5 or equivalent. Please note: specific courses may require higher levels of English language competence. If you have applied to study a full-time taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD at LJMU, you should check if you require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme or ATAS certificate. It can take four to six weeks to receive an ATAS certificate, so please make sure you apply as early as possible. You can find out more on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. Alternatively, contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for guidance. Please note: international students entering on a Tier 4 visa cannot study part time. Students entering the UK on alternate types of visa may be in a position to study part time. Please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team for further details before making your application.  In order to obtain a visa you will also need to show evidence that the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your visa application. So please make sure that your finances are in place before applying. For more details, go to our international website

For advice on any aspect of the application process, please contact LJMU’s International Admissions Team.

Application and selection

​Decisions regarding whether to offer a place to an applicant are made on the basis of academic attainment and potential to benefit from the programme.

Will I be interviewed?

​Yes. Applicants will be required to present evidence of respective skills and experience in musical theatre, either in the form of live/recorded audition or portfolio as appropriate.


6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min 51 in each component for UKBA Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Financial support.

Tuition fees

All students enrolled on postgraduate taught programmes at LJMU are liable to pay an annual tuition fee. You can opt to pay your tuition fees in full at the start of each academic year or in instalments. If you need advice about how to pay your tuition fees, please email LJMU’s Student Funding Team.

Funding sources

There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans and Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDLs) to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.

Graduate employment

The degree is aimed largely at applicants who consider themselves ‘musical theatre artists’, whatever the context of their activities – professional, amateur, or educational.

​It will have an appeal for librettists, lyricists, composers, directors, choreographers, musical directors, performers and teachers – though not exclusively so; anyone involved in and interested in getting better at making musical theatre (as well as meeting entry criteria, of course) is welcome to apply. Please note, the MA is not intended as a specific training for performance itself, but will benefit those who are performers in the understanding and ownership of their work as well as providing opportunities for them to develop high-level skills in the process of creating work from scratch.

​In addition, for those with backgrounds in composition, orchestration, playwriting, poetry, etc, it is an opportunity to apply those skills to the specific demands of the musical theatre’s dramatic and theatrical imperatives.

For directors, choreographers and musical directors who have experience across their specific disciplines, the course is providing the opportunity to hone more general techniques to the specific demands of the genre, acquiring new languages and processes in developing effective practice.

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.
Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.

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