Theatre Studies

The PhD in Theatre Studies program offers students the opportunity to pursue their studies through coursework, comprehensive examinations and a doctoral dissertation project.

Program Overview

PhD students will receive training in the broader theoretical, critical and historical contexts of theatre studies. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to develop expertise in an area of their choice.

Our faculty research specializes in classical theatre and its modern adaptations, modern drama, the reception of alternative theatre and cinema, disability theatre, and dramaturgy, among many others. Faculty are particularly interested to work with those whose academic interests relate to their own fields of expertise and the broader strengths of the Department of Theatre and Film.

The theatre studies PhD program has the following requirements:

PhD students must complete their coursework as follows:

  • Minimum of 18 credits at the 500 level in Theatre, English or any topics related to your area of specialization
  • May be required to take an additional 12 credits as determined by the Graduate Committee.
  • THTR 547: Directed Reading (up to 6 credits)
  • Students are permitted under the Western Deans’ Agreement to take 6 graduate credits at the universities covered by the Agreement (Alberta, Brandon, Calgary, Lethbridge, Manitoba, Northern British Columbia, Regina, Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser, and Victoria). Students interested in pursuing this option should consult with the Graduate Chair and obtain the necessary forms from Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G&PS).
  • Students are also encouraged to attend and participate in department workshops and colloquia.

The comprehensive examination process asks the student to:

  • Generate tailored bibliographies that persuasively define the field of study in its current state and in its historical development
  • Demonstrate their range of knowledge
  • Demonstrate their ability to deploy their knowledge effectively through argumentation, documentation and analysis of primary and secondary sources

Doctoral candidates must demonstrate reading knowledge of one language (other than English) relevant to their research area and/or in which there exists a significant body of theatre studies criticism. The language requirements must be fulfilled before submission of the dissertation proposal.

The doctoral dissertation must be an original contribution to knowledge in an area selected by the candidate, based upon primary sources. The PhD candidate is strongly advised to select a dissertation topic and research supervisor as early as possible and to begin work on the dissertation within one of the research seminars.


The theatre studies PhD program only selects a handful of students each year. For those interested, please follow these application instructions:

  • Submit your UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies application
  • A copy of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended and are currently enrolled in. If your transcripts are in a language other than English you must also provide a certified translation
  • A statement of purpose (500 words) that details:
    • Your proposed area of study and its potential contribution to the wider field in which it is situated
  • A recent writing sample that demonstrates the quality of your thinking and writing
  • Three letters of recommendation via UBC’s eReference system
  • A resume of your academic training

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