Postgraduate Course

MFA Theatre Directing

MFA Theatre Directing


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

This is a unique and renowned course designed specifically for those who are already practising as or who wish to establish themselves as professional theatre directors.

MA/MFA Theatre Directing is open to emerging theatre directors from the UK and to students from around the world. Teaching is by a wide range of leading directors and professional practitioners from the UK and overseas. The programme 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 career.

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

The MA runs for one year on a full-time basis and the MFA for 24 months. For the MA, you take four modules during three consecutive terms, followed by a three-month period of independent study, at the end of which you present your 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 spaces or in a London theatre (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.

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.

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

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 course emphasis is on launching directing students and graduates into the professional world of theatre and the school spearheads many opportunities for networking, collaborations, placements, enlightening sessions with practising directors and writers, assistant director positions and other exciting possibilities.”

Mark Duncan, 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 course for actors, directors, technical theatre specialists 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 a completed East 15 application form, two confidential references and a copy of your audition payment receipt so that we can arrange your audition.

For the MFA 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.

Applications for 2019 entry will open at the end of October – please check the East 15 website at that time 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.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Related courses

Two women looking at a PC screen
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.