Honours in Performance Studies
The Honours program in Performance Studies involves the completion of two seminars in semester 1. Honours students are also required to attend a weekly, two hour Research Methods session, in which they prepare to write both their dissertation and casebook, which are both due in semester 2.
Honours students are also expected to attend the department’s weekly research seminar series held on Friday afternoons during semester.
At some point in the year, all Honours students will take part in a placement with a professional performance company, or an equivalent organisation or project. The exact nature of this placement will be negotiated with the department Honours Coordinator, and will ideally involve a sustained observation of a rehearsal and/or performance preparation process. From this placement, students will prepare a 12-15,000 word Casebook, submitted late in semester 2. The other major component of the year is the Dissertation/thesis, also of 12-15,000 words in length, on a topic to be negotiated in consultation with the Honours Coordinator and a designated supervisor.
To qualify for Honours in Performance Studies, you must have a credit average or higher and complete 48 credit points in Performance Studies units of study*, including PRFM3961 Rehearsal Studies and PRFM3962 Rehearsal to Performance. In effect, this means completing a major, and additionally completing the two special entry units.
* Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.
The Honours year brings theory and practice together in mutually illuminating ways. It involves specialised seminars, a research thesis on an individual topic as well as a detailed case-study (based on first-hand fieldwork) of training/rehearsal processes with a professional arts organisation or an equivalent performance practice/event. In recent years, students have observed, documented and analysed performance across a broad range of genres, fields and geographical locations including: experimental dance in the Central Australian desert; contemporary Indigenous theatre in Melbourne; productions by Opera Australia; wayang topeng in Indonesia; sketch comedy on commercial Sydney radio; NIDA production exercises; mountain bike racing and a women's AFL team.
This is a complex, challenging and highly rewarding course. Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Honours Coordinator as soon as possible.
Prerequisites: Credit results in PRFM3961 (Rehearsal Studies) and PRFM3962 (Inside Rehearsal), and a minimum of a credit average in another 36 credit points of PRFM units.
Assessment: 2 x 5000 word essays (one for each of the coursework seminars); written casebook on fieldwork experience (approximately 12,000-15,000 words); dissertation/thesis (approximately 12,000-15,000 words).
Weighting of Honours year components:
- Coursework Seminars x 2 (worth 16.5% each)
- Casebook on Placement (33.5%)
- Supervised Dissertation/Thesis (33.5%)
- Research Methodologies
Note: The following information assumes a full-time enrolment. Only where there are compelling reasons is it possible to study Honours part-time. In such cases the precise sequence and pacing of the course must be arranged in consultation with the course coordinator. Students usually complete Honours within one calendar year but we will consider enrollment from June to June across two calender years in special cases. Please contact the Honours Coordinator to discuss these options.
Honours students take two seminars in the first semester of their candidature. The seminars offered each year depend on the availability of staff. Each of the seminars involves two hours per week of face-to-face teaching and a mix of assessment tasks equivalent to 5,000 words (that is, a total of 10,000 words for the semester).
There are two other meetings which Honours students are required to attend in first semester, although neither involve direct assessment. These are the Research Methodologies Session (2hrs) and the weekly Postgraduate Research Seminar series (Friday 3-5). Brief descriptions of all these activities follow.
3hr seminar (16.5% of total Honours mark)
Dr Amanda Card
As an emerging discipline, performance studies has drawn upon a wide range of theoretical positions and resources, from semiotics to New Historicism, cultural studies, feminism, psychoanalysis, discourse theory, deconstruction, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. In this unit, we will read some key theoretical texts and look at how they have been applied to the analysis of performance.
Another seminar is to be announced
2 hr tutorial
Dr Laura Ginters
Although the bulk of a student’s work on the casebook and dissertation/long essay (see below) does not normally begin before second semester, we use these two hours a week in first semester to read and critique work produced by previous PS students to consider the specific demands of these genres of writing, and to plan the year’s work.
Postgraduate Seminar Series
Contact: Katherine Johnson
Fourth Year students are also asked to attend the postgraduate seminars on a regular basis in first semester in order to engage with new research projects in early development. These seminars frequently touch on theoretical and methodological questions that are germane to the long essay and casebook assignments of the Honours course. You will also be asked to do a short presentation on your long essay proposal to this seminar in the latter half of 1st semester for feedback, comments and questions from postgrad students and staff. Debate is lively but friendly and accompanied by tea/coffee, a few biscuits.
There are no formal classes to attend at University in Second Semester (although students are encouraged to meet with the Honours Coordinator at regular intervals) but there are two very time-consuming and demanding tasks: the Casebook and the Dissertation. Both of these documents should be approximately 12,000-15,000 words in length. Before the end of first semester, one of the Performance Studies staff will have been assigned to you as a super-visor and you will need to meet with her/him on a regular basis in order to plan your approach to these large writing tasks.
Every Honours student will participate in a fieldwork placement, upon the basis of which they will complete a Casebook (see below).
The exact timing and nature of the placement will be negotiated by the student in consultation with the departments Programme Coordinator, Ms Kirstin Bokor and the Honours Coordinator, Dr Laura Ginters. Prospective Honours students are advised to think about their placement well in advance of the start of the academic year, and to have a range of possibilities in mind when they come to meet with the Honours Coordinator. The Department will contact and negotiate with the company or organisations in question.
Students have previously been placed with the following projects:
- Belvoir St: Gwen In Purgatory
- Circus Oz
- de Quincey Company: The Stirring
- Bell Shakespeare Company: The Government Inspector
- Nigel Kellaway: Sleepers Wake!Wachet Auf!
- Opera Australia: Tannhauser
- Sydney University Women's AFL
- State of Play: Wilde Tails
- Compaigne Genty] (Paris)
- The Mime Troupe (San Francisco)
(based on fieldwork placement33.5% of total Honours mark)
Fieldwork placements will be arranged as early as possible in the year on the basis of discussions between students, the Internship Officer, the Honours Coordinator and other staff. Students are encouraged to nominate events/productions/companies or genres of performance that they would like to observe in development. The placement should allow you to observe a complete training/development/rehearsal process involving performance makers or events. Your written casebook (akin to the sort of work carried out in the Special Entry unit PRFM3902) is to give an account of this processwhat happened when and where? who did what and why? what seems to be the rationale underpinning the practice of these artists?
(33.5% of total Honours mark)
This is to be written on a topic selected by the candidate after discussion with the Honours Coordinator and the approved supervisor. While it is certainly acceptable to choose a topic that builds on the field observations of the casebook, this is by no means obligatory. The important point is that the dissertation must engage with a clearly defined theoretical question and that it must advance an argument, based on the student’s familiarity with the views of other authors and on some coherently pursued (primary and/or secondary) research.