Performance Studies

The Department of Performance Studies is part of the School of Letters, Art and Media.

About the major

In Performance Studies we look at a broad range of aesthetic, social and everyday performances: from theatre, dance or ‘live art’, to the performative dimensions of politics, sport and fashion. As a Performance Studies major you will explore different approaches to performance making, devise short works, and engage with professional artists-in-residence. While this is not vocational training, it does provide a window onto professional practice. As well as developing skills in workshops, you will attend a wide variety of performances, learn how to document them, how to describe the way spaces are used, how bodies are moving, and how to build these observations into a detailed critical analysis.

Performance, as a conceptual lens, also provides a powerful way of interpreting many non-theatrical events, using theoretical approaches from a diversity of disciplines, including theatre and movement studies, anthropology, history, philosophy and sociology. A Performance Studies major provides a strong basis for students who later train as performers, directors, teachers, arts administrators, or who work in related areas of cultural practice.

Pathways through the major

A major in Performance Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points made up of 2000 and 3000 level PRFM units of study which must include our compulsory 2000 level units of study PRFM2601 and PRFM2602, and at least one unit of study at senior (3000) level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Performance Studies. The table shows units of study being offered in the current handbook year.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You need to complete 18 junior credit points from Table A in your first year. These should include PRFM1601 Performance: Process and Collaboration and PRFM1602 Dangerous Performances.

Senior-intermediate units of study (2000 level)

There are two compulsory 2000 level units of study for a Performance Studies major: PRFM2601 Being There: Theories of Performance and PRFM2602 Performance: Production & Interpretation.

You may also take other senior-intermediate level PRFM units when they are offered. In 2015 these will be PRFM2605 Rehearsing Shakespeare and PRFM2606 Ritual, Play and Performance.

Senior-advanced units of study (3000 level)

To qualify for a major in Performance Studies you must also complete at least 6 senior credit points at 3000 level, but you can take more 3000 units if you have the prerequisites: PRFM2601 and PRFM2602.

In 2015 we are offering PRFM3604 Embodied Histories, PRFM3961 Rehearsal Studies, PRFM3607 Production Strategies for Performance, PRFM3611 Dramaturgy and PRFM3962 Inside Rehearsal.

Sample student pathway through the Performance Studies major
Sample pathway - Performance Studies major
First year S1 PRFM1601 Junior prerequisite unit Junior unit Junior unit


Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second year S1

PRFM2601 (compulsory)

PRFM2605 (optional) Senior unit Senior unit
S2 PRFM2602 (compulsory) PRFM2606 (optional) Senior unit Senior unit
Third year S1 PRFM3604 (optional) PRFM3961 (optional) Senior unit Senior unit
S2 PRFM3607 (optional)

PRFM3611 (optional)

PRFM3962 (optional)

Senior unit Senior unit

Our Honours year brings theory and practice together. It involves specialised seminars, a research thesis on an individual topic and a detailed case study based on first-hand fieldwork. Honours students become a valued part of the department’s research culture.

Admission to Performance Studies honours requires an average of 70 percent or above across 48 senior credit points in Performance Studies, including a major in Performance Studies (36 credit points) with another 12 credit points: PRFM3961 Rehearsal Studies and PRFM3962 Inside Rehearsal.

Refer to the degree resolutions in this handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours:

Contact/further information

Department website:

Undergraduate Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Maxwell
Phone: +61 2 9351 6847

Honours Coordinator: Dr Laura Ginters
Phone: +61 2 9351 6849