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Why do postgraduate study?

  • Postgraduate study better enables you to identify problems, analyse them, place them in a broader intellectual framework or discourse, and generate possible solutions to them. These are the skills employers are looking for.
  • For creative practitioners, postgraduate study enables you to further develop and to reflect critically upon your creative practice. Being able to develop and share your ideas and insights with others, and to have them recognise your contribution to public knowledge, is a real privilege.
  • In the School of Performing Arts, we aim to help you get the most out of your postgraduate experience.

Theatre postgraduate programmes

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA (Hons))

If you have a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Theatre Studies, you can study towards a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).

The Bachelor of Arts with Honours

Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)

If you have a Bachelor's degree in a subject other than Theatre Studies, you can study towards a Diploma for Graduates.

The Diploma for Graduates is a flexible, one-year course (or equivalent if studying part-time) for those who wish to gain a qualification in another subject.

The DipGrad also serves as a qualification for those wishing to advance to higher-level study in the subject (e.g. PGDipArts).

Tailor-made to suit the individual student's needs, the DipGrad consists of 120 points, of which 72 must be at 300- or 400-level, including papers specified for a major.

The Diploma for Graduates (DipGrad)

Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (PGDipArts) in Theatre Studies

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts is a degree for BA graduates in their major subject.

Students must normally achieve a B/B+ average or better in their 300-level Theatre Studies papers in order to be admitted to the PGDipArts.

The course of study is the same as that for the fourth year of the Honours degree. If students have not done THEA 323, they are required to do THEA 423.

The PGDipArts may be taken full-time for one year or part-time over a longer period.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (PGDipArts)

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Theatre Studies

The MFA was introduced in 2011, and is currently only available in Theatre Studies.

  • It is a practical, studio-based degree designed to enable students to attain a high level of professional mastery, craft and practical skill, through the presentation of both a creative art-work (or art-works) and a written component (exegesis).
  • The degree will equip students with the ability to create theatrical works at a high professional level, providing training to an advanced level of proficiency in the field of specialisation (e.g. acting, direction, design, or scriptwriting).
  • It will enhance students' lifelong ability to contribute to, and to critically reflect upon, the cultural life of New Zealand and the world, with a particular focus on the theatrical and performing arts.

If you are interested in applying to do an MFA contact the Theatre Studies postgraduate advisor, Associate Professor Suzanne Little, in the first instance.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Master of Arts (MA)

If you already have an Honours degree you can complete the MA in twelve months; if you have a Bachelor's degree without Honours you may be admitted to the MA as a two-year programme in which the first year consists of the papers required for the Postgraduate Diploma in Arts.

You will work with your supervisor towards the presentation of a thesis on your research topic by the end of your study period. All lecturers within the programme are available for research supervision. Their interests cover a wide range of areas. See our staff profiles for details of individual staff specialisations.

Following MA study you may proceed to study for a PhD.

The Master of Arts (MA)

Master of Arts (Coursework) programme for Humanities students

The Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA (Coursework)) programme is designed to give students the balance of specific subject knowledge plus broad-based skills employers are looking for.

The programme will take either 12 months or three semesters of full-time study to complete. The programme can also be studied part-time.

The Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD programme is for students working in Musicology, Ethnomusicology, Popular Music Studies and Cultural Studies in music. You will work with your supervisor towards the presentation of a thesis on your research topic by the end of your study period. For a full-time student this is normally at least two and a half years, and for a part-time student it is normally at least four years.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Postgraduate Co-ordinator

Dr Michael Holland
Tel +64 479 5969

Please send all Postgraduate enquiries to:

Postgraduate Administrator

How to Apply

Download the Guidelines for Prospective Postgraduate students (PDF)
Download the Informal Proposal to Undertake Postgraduate Research form (PDF)

Further information about Postgraduate study at Otago

Postgraduate student research

Postgraduate student research in music and theatre

List of Masters' and PhD theses


  • Bell, Kiri Frances. Stranger than Fiction. (MFA, completed in April 2018)


  • Kewene, Francis Waiata. Verbatim and Māori Theatre Techniques: Documenting People's Experiences of Hauora (MA, completed 2017)


  • Duncan, Emily Tess. Waipiata: A Practice-Led Exploration of Heterotopic Playwriting (PhD, completed 2016)


  • Roberts, Martyn. Dark Matter: Engagement Through Threshold States. (MFA, completed in 2014)
  • Metzger, Michael. Laughter through tears: The art of serious comedy. (MFA, completed in 2013)
  • McDougall, Sarah. Fact and Fiction: Historial Murder Material Refocused in a Play Script. (MFA, completed in 2012)
  • Newlands, Erica. In-Compass: An Exploration into Devising Theatre Across Multiple Cultural Identities. (MA, completed in 2011)

A full list of the theses located in the School of Performing Arts (PDF)

Copies of the abstracts of these theses may be viewed in the School office.

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