EGH336 : Performance Essay

Convener(s): Dr Rachel Zerihan


Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course Convenor.

General Information

The final-year Performance Essay module requires you to work independently to plan, prepare and present a short (normally 20 minute) performance in an area of theatre you find especially interesting and stimulating. The Performance Essay is analogous to the Literature Dissertation in that it marks out a ‘space’ – here defined temporally and spatially, rather than by word limit – and invites you to use this to explore what fascinates you most in your subject in a way that is distinctive, well-informed and original. The Performance Essay is creative, rather than simply interpretive: thus although you may choose to draw upon pre-existent dramatic texts, these will typically be ‘quoted from’ and used alongside devised or other original/found material rather than regarded as a complete script for production. Students opt to take this module either by the Individual Practice route or Group Practice route: in the first case, you work as writer-director (and if you choose, as solo performer), and receive an individual mark; in the second case, you work as part of a pair or small ensemble, and will be awarded a group mark.


This module is largely conducted through your own independent practice. This means that ‘teaching’, understood in conventional terms, is minimal. Each Performance Essay will have a supervisor, who will be your main point of contact throughout the semester. Your supervisor will meet with you at the start of the semester to discuss ideas and help clarify the initial proposal and, where appropriate, to advise on process. S/he will also have regular meetings with you subsequently to discuss progress and debate with you about your ideas. However, your supervisor will not directly observe any rehearsals or practical ‘drafts’ of the work in progress; in this sense, the eventual presentation of the Performance Essay is more akin to sitting an examination paper than preparing a coursework essay. Your supervisor will still comment critically and supportively on your work in progress, but to an extent it is down to you to articulate this: thus you can meet to debate ideas and ask for advice over difficulties, and you can request feedback on scripts, designs and other documentation you provide. Following the presentation of the Performance Essays, students are required to attend a 15-minute viva with the assessing tutors. The purpose of the viva is to help tutors in determining the final marks for the Performance Essay practice element.


There are two elements of assessment for the Performance Essay module:

(i) Performance Essay: 70%.*
The mark for this element will be on the final performance itself. The viva (see 'Teaching') will help tutors to arrive at the grade for this.

* Those students who opt for Group Practice will normally receive a group mark for this element.

(ii) Reflective Commentary (1,500 words): 30%.

Each student will submit a Reflective Commentary, which will receive an individual mark. This means that students who take the module by Group Practice will receive a group mark for their Performance Essay, but the remaining 30% of the assessment will come from an individual mark.

Contact Details

0114 222 0235

Information last changed: Thursday 17th of March 2016 :: 10:10:17 AM (GMT)

course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK