About this course
The MA in Musical Theatre at LJMU has been designed for actors, directors, choreographers, MDs, composers, lyricists, librettists and teachers.
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 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.
During your studies you will learn to apply knowledge and understanding with originality and creativity for the re-interpretation of received assumptions regarding 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.
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.
"This course enables students to develop their skills in musical theatre to an expert level through conversations and experiments with faculty and colleagues. Students with various backgrounds and specialties, such as choreographers, directors, writers, and composers, gather to establish a community, work in projects together, inspire each other, and create synergy. While you follow the module structure and enjoy an academic journey, you will also develop your personal interests and specialties, as well as being able to focus on an area where you would like to pursue deeper expertise. As an international student, I was given multiple opportunities to test my unique ideas, derived from my cultural background, in writing musical scripts. In addition, I could expand my critical thinking in the frameworks that the course provides."
Eyoon Jang, Graduate (South Korea)
Programme Leader Nick Phillips
Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students
The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:
- Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
- Access to programme-appropriate software
- Library and student IT support
- Free on-campus wifi via eduroam
Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:
- accommodation and living expenditure
- books (should you wish to have your own copies)
- printing, photocopying and stationery
- PC/laptop (should you prefer to purchase your own for independent study and online learning activities)
- mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
- field trips (travel and activity costs)
- placements (travel expenses and living costs)
- student visas (international students only)
- study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
- academic conferences (travel costs)
- professional-body membership
- graduation (gown hire etc)
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.
Please be aware that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect your tuition fees. Learn more about your fee status and which tuition fees are relevant to you.
Further your career prospects
LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2018) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.
This programme 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.
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 provides the opportunity to hone more general techniques to the specific demands of the genre, acquiring new languages and processes in developing effective practice.
“This is a course with flexibility that is about mastering your specialism in a space where experimentation or play is encouraged. Its unique focus explores big critical ideas while realistically preparing you for a career in the industry.”
Laura Corradi, current student
Discover the building blocks of your programme
Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.
Research Methodology and Proposal
The proposal is intended as a first step towards the Dissertation and Project Module which runs throughout the year. It enables you to:
- acquire and apply a developed understanding of research methodologies and connected methods in designing practice
- explore and examine the principles of testing ideas through practice in a workshop setting
- create a proposal for a personal research project aiming to test theoretical construct or working process in creative practice
Critical Perspectives and Repertoire
The material in this module is paralleled by the workshop exploration of crafts in Musical Theatre so that critical theory will also be tested in practice. This module enables you to:
- acquire and apply a range of critical perspectives on the analysis of musical theatre and how it works
- make detailed analysis of selected musical theatre primary source material in the form of text or performance
Musical Theatre Laboratory 1 (Crafts)
This module will let you understand a range of working principles and criteria in applying specific crafts in the creation and performance of musical theatre. It aims to:
- acquire enhanced technical vocabularies and understanding of the specific crafts and how they work together
- develop and present a comprehensive understanding of one or more identified crafts through practice
- develop the key skills in using practice as a means to test ideas
This module will enable you to develop mastery of one or more specialist crafts related to the creation and performance of musical theatre. The module aims to:
- enhance knowledge of aspects of the business and employment market directly related to respective crafts
- identify personal professional development needs and strategies for activating them
Musical Theatre Laboratory 2 (Ensemble)
This module provides enhanced knowledge and mastery of individual craft through performance or other form of public presentation. It aims to:
- collaborate to professional standard in the design and delivery of a mini-festival of events
- evaluate and orally articulate personal practice in the context of individual professional development and ensemble/production collaborations
Dissertation and Project
This module will enable you to design, undertake, analyse and evaluate a significant piece of independent creative practice-as-research, in an advanced critical framework.
An insight into teaching on your course
Following a full-time, highly intensive induction week, the delivery of the programme is designed to give opportunities for those with other personal or professional commitments to structure full-time study in terms of their own time management. Full group attendance is required for only one whole day a week (at present Fridays 9.30am – 6pm) in Semesters One and Two, although most students find it advantageous to allow two days per week (Thursday and/or Saturday added to the Friday classes) in which to be regularly on-site for tutorials or small group working. When project work kicks in, however, students may well find it advantageous to be on site much more frequently for group rehearsal purposes. However, with good planning and available transport, students are able to undertake this course without moving to Liverpool.
The focus of our teaching and learning on the course is the Musical Theatre Laboratory, providing a dedicated ‘safe’ space for students to explore their creative options and discover their unique expressive voice. Students should expect to be not only researching but creating material on a week-by-week
basis which constitutes the activities of a very busy full-time MA programme of study. Following the end of Semester Two (late May/early June) students present a mini-Festival of work and conclude their year-long Dissertation and Project Module by the end of August as the culmination of the programme.
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.
How learning is monitored on your programme
To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme. Assessment techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.
Assessments on this programme are a mixture of practical work, including performance, and written work, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate the required level of learning and achievement.
Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning
Dr Nicholas Phillips
Musical Theatre - Programme Leader
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. He is an award-winning actor, composer/lyricist/librettist and director and is currently creating the 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 Philharmoinic Orchestra and Chorus. His 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.
This course is ideal for anyone who has a passion for musical theatre in all its forms (cabaret, pantomime, burlesque, melodrama and many more) and who seeks to enhance their knowledge of their craft, whatever area that may be in, in the context of advanced critical thinking. It aims to provide a year of adventure in musical theatre.
What you can expect from your School
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, a five minute walk from the 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 conveniently close to 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.
Order your brochure Research
You will need:
- a minimum 2:1 honours degree in a performing arts-related subject
- a minimum three years professional training or significant musical theatre experience with demonstrable creative potential and critical thinking assessed through interview/audition and written submission
- to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge to embark on and complete the programme so you should provide evidence of your learning capability, study opportunity and commitment
All applicants will be interviewed. Please refer to the Application and selection section below for further information about what to prepare and the interview.
- RPL is accepted on this programme
- IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component)
- Pearson PTE Academic 64 (minimum 59 in each component for UKVI purposes)
- You will be interviewed for this programme
If you have any specific queries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the programme.
ADMISSIONS GUIDELINES FOR INTERVIEW and Audition/Portfolio Presentation
All applicants will usually be called for interview in person or, where this is not possible, via video call.
All candidates must prepare and present an audition song from the musical theatre repertoire. This is not to assess your ability as a performer per se, but to ensure you can undertake the work in the Musical Theatre Laboratory modules where we all work together in exploring what constitutes effective performance in musical theatre.
If you are interviewing live, you should if possible, provide sheet music for your two songs for piano accompaniment (a pianist will be provided on the day of your audition/interview). However you may audition to backing tracks or unaccompanied in both live and video interview contexts if you think that is more appropriate.
(If for any reason you are unable to undertake this task you should contact the Programme Leader email@example.com in advance of the interview to discuss your circumstances.)
Performers - For those whose primary interest is in performing you should also prepare a second contrasting musical theatre song.
For all other skills, please supply documentary evidence of work in your particular field as follows:
- Librettists - ynopses or outlines of shows either written or in development, or sample script
- Lyricists – your lyrics in either/both notated form (script) and recorded (audio or video) in rehearsal/performance. These can be recordings made especially for this presentation
- Composers – samples of musical theatre writing, usually in either/both notated form (piano/vocal score) and recorded (audio or video) in rehearsal/performance. These can be recordings made especially for this presentation
- Producers or educators - any documentary or recorded evidence of at least two projects undertaken
- Directors, MDs and choreographers – recorded evidence of your work in rehearsal or performance
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 the Masters level of the course.
In the event of any query regarding preparation, please do not hesitate to contact the Programme Leader firstname.lastname@example.org for further clarification.
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.