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, including 12 credit points from compulsory 2000 level units of study and 6 credit points at 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 which are on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

You complete 18 junior credit points, which may include PRFM1601. Junior units introduce you to foundational knowledge and to current debates across the discipline.

Senior-intermediate units of study (2000 level)

You complete 12 senior credit points of compulsory 2000 level units of study: PRFM2601 and PRFM2602. These compulsory units of study are designed to offer an overview of an area, genre or disciplinary problem, giving you an opportunity to survey and consolidate knowledge and skills in a particular area, contributing to your chosen major.

Senior-advanced units of study (3000 level)

You complete at least 6 senior credit points at 3000 level. Senior advanced units allow you to deepen your knowledge in the major.

The remainder of senior units to make up the requirement of the major can be taken from senior elective units of study either at 2000 or 3000 level.

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 prerequisite unit

Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1

Senior-intermediate compulsory unit


Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Senior-intermediate compulsory unit


Senior elective unit

eg PRFM2604

Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1

Senior-advanced PRFM unit

eg PRFM3604

Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Senior elective unit

eg PRFM3606

Senior elective unit

eg PRFM3606
Senior unit Senior unit

Our honours year brings theory and practice closely 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 a research culture that is world renowned and regularly attracts senior international visiting scholars to the department.

Admission to Performance Studies honours requires completion of 48 senior credit points in Performance Studies with a Credit average or better, including PRFM3961 and PRFM3962.

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

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.

Contact/Further Information

Department website:

Undergraduate Coordinator: Assoc Prof Ian Maxwell
Phone: +61 2 9351 6847

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