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

The PhD in Theatre Studies provides comprehensive training in the broader theoretical, critical and historical contexts of theatre studies. Students also have the opportunity to specialize in an area of their choice.

Students will enjoy strong mentoring relationships with faculty members as they progress through their degree and research. 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.

Faculty & Research Specialities

  • Olivia Michiko Gagnon – performance studies, minoritarian performance, critical race and ethnic studies, feminist and queer theory, critical Indigenous studies,  performative/experimental writing
  • Kirsty Johnston – theatre history, Canadian theatre, intercultural theatre, disability arts, theatre and health
  • Lindsay Lachance – dramaturgy, critical Indigenous studies, Indigenous theatre-making
  • Siyuan Liu – theatre history, Asian theatre, Asian-Canadian theatre, modern and traditional Chinese theatre, intercultural theatre
  • Hallie Marshall – dramatic literature, theatre history, ancient Greek theatre
  • Keren Zaiontz – performance studies cultural politics, art-activism, spectatorship,  performing arts festivals, performance and urbanization

Degree Requirements

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, including:
    • 6 credits of required seminars
      • THTR_V 500: Research Methods and Bibliography (3 credits)
      • THTR_V 562: Studies in Dramatic Theory and Criticism (3 credits)
  • May be required to take an additional 12 credits as determined by the Graduate Committee.
  • THTR_V 547: Directed Reading (up to 6 credits)
  • Students have the opportunity (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.

Doctoral candidates must:

  • Pass a comprehensive examination process demonstrating their depth and breadth of knowledge and the ability to deploy it effectively through argumentation, documentation and analysis.
  • Demonstrate reading knowledge of a language (other than English) relevant to their research area and/or in which there exists a significant body of theatre studies criticism.
  • Complete a dissertation proposal and receive approval from the committee. 

Candidates must complete a doctoral dissertation, offering an original contribution to the field's knowledge in a chosen research area. Candidates are 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.



Applications for September, 2024 are now closed.

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
    • Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application
  • A copy of official transcripts (and other registration records) 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 (1–2 pages) that details:
    • Your proposed area of study and its potential contribution to the wider field in which it is situated
    • Your academic training and how it has prepared you for a research intensive and theoretical PhD program
    • How the faculty and their expertise fit your needs and research interests
  • A recent academic 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 background

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