2020 applicants
Postgraduate Course

MFA Theatre Directing

MFA Theatre Directing


The details
Theatre Directing
October 2020
2 years
East15 (Loughton) Campus

East 15 Acting School’s MA/MFA Theatre Directing is a unique and renowned course designed specifically for those who are already practicing as or who wish to establish themselves as professional theatre directors.

It is open to emerging theatre directors from the UK and to students from around the world. Our teaching is driven by a wide range of leading directors and professional practitioners from the UK and overseas. The program benefits from its close ties with the London theatre world, which provides training expertise of the highest calibre and the professional networks that are vital to launching a Theatre Directing career.

The MA runs for one year on a full-time basis and the MFA for 24 months. For MA study, you take four modules during three consecutive terms, followed by a three-month period of independent study, at the end of which you present a Director’s Production Workbook (or, alternatively, your MA Dissertation).

For the MFA, running over 24 months, you take eight modules during six consecutive terms, followed by independent study that results in a fully resourced practical project at one of East 15’s theatre performance spaces or in a London theatre venue (or, alternatively, an MFA Dissertation).

Each year you have the opportunity to choose four modules out of the seven or eight different options that we offer every year. The menu of modules rotates on a regular basis but always covers a range of directorial practice that is unrivalled in its diversity and will include several of the following: Shakespeare, Contemporary British Drama, Comedy, Musical Theatre and Opera, Physical Theatre, Brecht, Techniques of Adaptation, Improvisation and Devising Techniques, Contemporary Irish Drama, Rehearsal Processes and Workshops, Collaboration with Designers, Attachment (Assistant Director), The Artistic Director, Commedia dell’Arte and Directing for Camera.

East 15 also runs some modules overseas, most recently in Moscow and Bali, involving specialist practical study in an alternative cultural environment.

Overseas modules in Bali and Thailand include: World Theatre and Theatre of the East. In Moscow, at the GITIS Institute, modules include: Stanislavskian Acting Methodology, Meyerhold and Biomechanics, Michael Chekhov.

MA/MFA Theatre Directing is open to applicants with a background in theatre directing or related fields and is specifically tailored to those seeking professional development in this area. Study is full time but some module choices enable periods of time away to pursue professional theatre work.

This course is taught at our picturesque Loughton Campus.

View more Masters courses from East 15 Acting School.

Why we're great.
  • Module options in Bali and Moscow.
  • Intensive practical training by leading UK professional directors.
  • Largest professional theatre directing programme in Europe.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Our training is by professionals and for professionals, allowing our graduates to work successfully across the globe.

Our international, outstanding teaching faculty is made up of professionals from all areas of live and recorded performance.

Learn more about our staff here.

Specialist facilities

Our Loughton Campus is perfectly located, providing access to both the rich, cultural diversity of London and an attractive and peaceful setting in which to study.

We are just a five-minute walk from London Underground station, Debden, where you can travel in only thirty minutes to Central London, West End theatres and mainline train stations including the Eurostar.

We have three sites at our Loughton Campus – Hatfields, Roding House and Unit Four. Hatfields is a beautiful Georgian dower house, set in five acres of lawns with orchards, flowerbeds and a small lake, providing an idyllic atmosphere for study, relaxation and performance.

Just a short walk from Hatfields is Roding House, a £1.3 million facility containing 10 rehearsal rooms, a green room/café, a sound recording studio and a video editing suite, and our costume department.

Next to Roding House, Unit Four is a £1.5 million facility which is home to the Stage & Production Management department. The Unit contains a large workshop, paint shop, prop shop, prop storage facilities and teaching spaces.

Our on-site Corbett Theatre is named in honour of Harry H Corbett, a key member of Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and early benefactor of East 15. It is used extensively for student productions and is a practical training hub for our BA Stage and Production Management students.

The building is a medieval tithe barn that was dismantled and transported to Hatfields in the 1960s. These unusual origins create a unique performance space with a special atmosphere. Renovated to include full technical facilities, tiered seating for 130 people and fitted dressing rooms, the theatre provides an excellent resource for public productions, while the adjacent Bar and Café provides a social meeting point for students and staff.

Your future

Former students now work as professional freelance directors, run companies and venues as Artistic Directors or teach directing in universities and conservatoires around the world.

“The deciding factors that led me to East 15 for my Master’s degree in Theatre Directing were hands-on directing practise; the very international networks of peers; and of course the prospect of more international exposure through the module set in Moscow. I immensely enjoyed the practical and collaborative nature of classes. We were always on our feet directing our fellow directing or acting students. Not only was I given the opportunity to learn from my instructors and fellow directing friends (all of whom had diverse directing backgrounds and skill sets) in class, East 15 also provided the unique opportunity to learn from a wide range of professional guest artists (writers, actors, directors) who provided great insight into forwarding my directing career. In my study year I was also fortunate to collaborate with design students from Central as I further explored devised theatre. My semester abroad studying Checkhov and Stanislavsky at GITIS-Moscow too was a highlight that had a deep impact on my artistic journey. My final module of school was completed in the midst of a global pandemic. Even during a time when prospects of the theatre industry seemed rather bleak, my teachers were still just as encouraging and enabled me to learn a new narrative form through online classes: directing film.

More than anything, I’ve always felt seen and heard at East 15. This course has helped me further develop my own unique voice as a theatre director and artist. I can’t wait to apply all I’ve learnt and to collaborate with the international network of theatre makers I’ve met along the way.”

Piumi Wijesundara, MA/MFA Theatre Directing

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Our applicants need to undertake a successful interview, plus have a first degree with an overall 2.1 ( or equivalent), suitable previous life and/or professional expertise.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.


Example structure

We offer dynamic and unique courses for actors, directors and students of theatre practice. Training at East 15 draws upon 50 years of tradition combined with a keen sense of the world of stage and screen today.

Our carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore and develop your specialist training.

The Techniques of Adaptation

This module examines the problems of adapting non dramatic texts for performance. It takes as its starting point the pioneering work done by the Shared Experience company in the 1970s and looks at large scale adaptations such as the RSCs Nicholas Nickleby.

View The Techniques of Adaptation on our Module Directory

The Artistic Director

This module is aimed at students with prior experience and knowledge of directing. It explores the problems of leading as Artistic Director including budgeting, contracts, policy, planning, PR and marketing, maintaining relationships with key stakeholders and planning.

View The Artistic Director on our Module Directory

Theatre of the East (Field Study Option)

This module is designed to introduce students to practices, techniques, images and sounds derived from various traditional performance forms across Asia. Each time it runs the module will focus on forms from one country of the region. The module will concentrate on techniques and ideas that can be used for cross cultural performance creation.

View Theatre of the East (Field Study Option) on our Module Directory


This module is designed to provide an introduction to the problems of directing Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It develops specific textual skills and places the plays within the context of the Elizabethan world view and its reflection in the playhouse. It focuses on techniques designed to help actors with speaking verse and examines problems of staging, design and interpretation.

View Shakespeare on our Module Directory

Meyerhold and Biomechanics

This module examines the work of Vsevolad Meyerhold from his early years as a pupil of Stanislavsky to the break with the Moscow Art Theatre and the development of the theory of biometrics, an important precursor of conceptual and physical modes of theatre.

View Meyerhold and Biomechanics on our Module Directory

MFA Theatre Directing Dissertation By Practical Project

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee


Additional costs for materials and field trips of up to approximately £230. Equipment lists are reviewed annually.

International fee


Additional costs for materials and field trips of up to approximately £230. Equipment lists are reviewed annually.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next


When you apply for one of our postgraduate courses, we will assess you on your experience (both academic and practical) and your potential for success.

You need to complete and send us an East 15 application form and two confidential references.

For the MA Theatre Directing, you are assessed on the basis of your written application, although you may be called for interview or given a telephone or Skype interview.

Please check the East 15 website for further information.

Loughton Campus

Visit Loughton Campus

You’ll be in intensive training at one of the most prestigious and internationally respected conservatoires in the country, gaining the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in the performing arts. But fear not! It’s not all work and no play at East 15 Acting School in Loughton.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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