Postgraduate Taught

MA Digital Performance

Digital performance has rapidly become integral to contemporary practice in the performing arts. Equip yourself with in-demand skills in this field, on one of the most forward-looking postgraduate courses in the UK.

How can you engage audiences in a digital world through original content? How can you translate live performance work to digital and find your own artistic voice online?

If you’re a current performing arts professional looking to upskill, or a recent graduate who would like to be at the forefront of performance practice, this course will give you practical expertise in online performance making, and deep knowledge of the contemporary digital arts shift.

Why QMU?

  • The course is designed to meet not just the current industry shift towards digital, but also future hybrid developments in the industry. You’ll be well placed to produce creative content to compete in an increasingly digitalised performing arts field.
  • You will work in a personal and collegiate environment that nurtures creative talent, which will enable you to build your digital performance portfolio.
    You’ll be part of an international cohort of students working closely and collaboratively with staff.
  • You’ll benefit from a range of professional expertise including input from leading practitioners in the field.
  • The focus of this MA is unique in Scotland and the UK.

Course overview

The landscape of theatre and performance has evolved in recent years, and the way people consume art is changing. Digital performance is increasingly intertwined in the work that is being created and how it is shared.

The course will provide students with frameworks and experiential learning that cover both the practice and theories of performance on the internet, as well as its currency within the industry and the development of entrepreneurial opportunities. You will learn skills in how to develop trust, intimacy, and collaboration in online ensembles, which will be very appealing to future employers. Also, the course will place you well for self-employment, with an awareness of potential platforms, festivals, and networks to allow you to set up and monetise your own individual or collaborative practices.

This course is for all existing levels of digital experience –you do not need to be an expert in advance! A standard laptop and smartphone are the only tech requirements, as QMU will loan any additional kit as necessary.

Popular platforms (such as Twitch, Zoom, BBB, jitsi,, Second Life etc) will be explored, as well as applications that have been purpose built by performance artists specifically for digital performance, such as the UpStage platform.

All students will have access to Adobe Creative Cloud to work remotely, as well as access to our well-resourced edit suite and performance studios.

This course is designed for people who are involved in making performance as part of their professional practice, and also recent graduates who aspire to develop their work in this field. You will be able to perform in your own work, or involve others in your performance making. The course will also develop your awareness of practice research with a potential progression to doctoral study, if desired.

You will be equipped with:
• A critical understanding of the conceptual frameworks underpinning online / digital / internet performance practices
• The skills to apply this knowledge in a practical working context
• A critical understanding of the ethics involved in collaborating creatively with others in an online, often participatory and interactive environment
• An ability to critically reflect on professional development through digital performance practice

Exit awards

MA (180 credits)/PgDip (120 credits)/PgCert (60 credits)


You can opt to study for the full MA, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Teaching comprises a combination of workshops, lectures, seminars, tutorials, case studies, simulation exercises, projects, as well as periods of practice-based learning. Assessment throughout the course will take a variety of forms, including practical digital performances, video essays, reports, research proposals, as well as a practice-based dissertation for the final MA component.

Teaching hours and attendance

Your specific timetable will depend on whether you are studying full-time, part-time or an individual module. Each module involves approximately 25 hours of face-to-face teaching. This will be a mixture of weekly classes combined with a series of intensive study days. Timetables are normally available around one month before you commence your studies. Teaching delivery will be blended (live/online), though campus attendance will be required for most modules. The two taught semesters run from September to December and mid-January to mid-April.

Class sizes

Class sizes will depend on modules chosen but will normally be between 10-25 students. Workshops will be restricted in size and you will work in small groups.

Industry links

Teaching staff have extensive professional experience, plus national and international networks to draw from. Our location in Edinburgh also means you are well placed to take advantage of the cultural context, including easy access to a range of world-class arts festivals.


To obtain a PgCert, you will complete:

  • Online Performance Practice (20 credits)
  • Theories and Histories of Performance on the Internet (20 credits)
  • Performance Making for Digital Audiences (20 credits)

To obtain a PgDip, you will also complete:

  • Practice Research (20 credits)
  • The Only Way is Ethics: Art Representation and Ethics (20 credits)
  • plus a 20-credit elective such as the Student Initiated Module, Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects, or Fundraising, Finance and Development.

For an MA you will also complete a Master’s Dissertation Project (60 credits), which can be practice-based if desired.

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (October 2021) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.

Module information

Performance Making for Digital Audiences (20 credits): This module will allow you to create a speculative online performance project and explore how to make it financially viable in the ‘real’ world. Budgets and marketing plans will be employed to guide students towards the sustainability of their careers

Online Performance Practice (20 credits): You will learn the fundamental principles underpinning digital performance making on a variety of platforms. You will create your own practical online performance project under the guidance of staff, and will critically reflect on its efficacy in relation to the medium

Theories and Histories of Performance on the Internet (20 Credits): Taking the last 30 years of historical perspective as a grounding, this module examines the theoretical justification of performance on the internet, using case studies and past projects. It grounds you in thinking about the types of histories and legacies that can be drawn from to craft effective audience engagement through your own practice

The Only Way is Ethics (20 Credits): The module is designed to develop the critical and practical skills needed for you to engage with the public in the delivery of cultural projects, both live and digital. It looks at examples from history as well as contemporaneous projects that engage with people at the ethical edges of participation to challenge you to develop your own ethical frameworks

Practice Research (20 Credits): This module is practice-led and driven by reflective considerations on each student’s own practice, being exposed to case-studies and lone-projects, as well as individual experimentation. This module also receives insights from guest speakers and experts in the field who can speak of their own practical experience of engaging in online performance projects

SIM (Student Initiated Module) (20 Credits): This module provides you with an opportunity to extend and deepen your critical and integrated knowledge of a selected area of study relevant to your Master's programme through undertaking a self-directed piece of work. Examples could include (but are not limited to) the design of an online performance platform, production of a practical output such as a piece of cyberformance, designing a virtual theatre set, organising an online performance festival, responding to an industry competition or funding call, or an external placement

Fundraising, Finance and Development (20 Credits): This module will equip you with a critical understanding of the principles and practices of fundraising, development and financial management. The assessments invite students to examine financial support mechanisms (eg, completing a funding application or designing a sponsorship pack) as well as a financial literacy exam

Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects (20 Credits): This modules looks at the practical realities of managing and marketing cultural projects, and learning occurs around hypothetical projects that students plan and market in groups

Dissertation Project (20 Credits): Through undertaking a self-directed project that suits your strengths, interests and career aspirations, you will have the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of work that will develop your academic rigour, professional skills, and independence in practice. This can be a 12,000 word research dissertation, or a Practical Project with associated portfolio of evidence and 5000 word reflective essay.




Single modules for CPD

Available. Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact John Dean for more information.



There are several opportunities to apply the theory and practice you learn on ‘real world’ projects. You can choose to undertake a placement through the Student Initiated Module, working directly with other individuals or organisations, and also your practical dissertation project offers opportunities for industry experience. Students are responsible for proposing and securing their own placement host and related costs (eg travel and accommodation) but we will help you with CVs and provide networking opportunities with a range of organisations.


This course aims to help students develop their own freelance career, but will also meet the growing needs of arts organisations seeking to develop their digital content or delivery. Potential career paths include as performers, writers, directors, broadcasting advisors, digital content creators, or in-house digital producers.

We also support entrepreneurial graduates to set up their own businesses. Since 2014 we have supported a range of graduate start up media and performance production businesses through our Business Innovation Zone.

Entry requirements

A UK honours degree or equivalent OR significant work experience in cultural organisations or festivals.

International: You will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 with no individual component score less than 6.0.

Application deadline


Start dates

September 2022. Part-time students can also start in January 2023. 

More information and contacts

Bianca Mastrominico, Programme Leader ( or Admissions (

Fees and transitionary scholarships for postgraduate EU students in 21/22 and 22/23

As part of our management of the Brexit transition, for many of our courses, including this one, we have introduced an EU transitional scholarship for EU full-time postgraduate students commencing their studies on campus in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23. This provides a 40% discount on international tuition fees. The scholarship is available to EU students for whom the international fee rate applies and covers the courses marked with a # in the Postgraduate Fees – Full-Time Study section of our Fees page. This transitional scholarship is not applicable to students from the Republic of Ireland, who will continue to be eligible for the home fee rate.

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2022/2023 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).




Course Overview

At QMU with some blended elements
1 year full-time OR 2-7 years part-time
Start Date
September 2022
January 2023
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Subject Area
Fees & Funding

Engage with the Team

A Student Story

Anna Hainsworth - MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management I was really keen to move up the career ladder and came across the MA Arts, Festival and Cultural Management at QMU whilst browsing the Creative Scotland opportunities website. I realised it would be an ideal way to develop my knowledge of the cultural sector and provide a theoretical basis for skills I had already developed through my professional practice. “The fact that QMU is so close to the centre of Edinburgh was a bonus, which meant I could combine my existing full time job with studying. Read my student story...