Master of Arts in Theatre (Theatre Theory and Dramaturgy)


The Master of Arts in Theatre (MA) (Theatre Theory and Dramaturgy) takes two years to complete, ending with the final defense of the MA thesis.

Courses are given in the fall and winter sessions. If necessary, students may continue working on their MA thesis until its defense, but not beyond the end of the summer session of the second year of study.

No part-time students will be accepted.

The program is administered by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Studies Committee. The MA thesis will be read by and subsequently defended before a committee of a minimum of two examiners, excluding the supervisor. The examiners of the MA thesis will be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies. A copy of the form entitled Nomination of Thesis Examiners will be sent to the FGPS, University of Ottawa.

Core courses

THE 5110/5510 Methodology/Méthodologie 
[offered every year in alternate languages, exclusively to MA students]

This course teaches students advanced academic research and writing skills. It will introduce them to the research methods commonly used in theatre studies—archival research, collection of pertinent data, forms of empirical research, conceptual research, etc.—and will include various practical exercises leading to students successfully writing academic papers, conference presentations and an MA thesis.  It involves possible collaboration with the University of Ottawa library staff, The Institute of Canadian Studies, The Institute of Women’s Studies, the Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture (CRCCF), and Library and Archives Canada (for workshops, tours, etc.).

THE 5120/5520 Epistemology of Theatre Studies / Épistémologie des études théâtrales 
[offered every year in alternate languages, exclusively to MA students]

This course explores philosophical and sociological theories generated by a number of disciplines—from literature to political science—applied to theatre studies, as well as theories generated within the field of theatrical studies. The principal objective of the course is to help students understand and navigate the theoretical writings available to the contemporary scholar, and to articulate a theoretical framework for their own research. Students will also be required to situate their own research within the broader context of today’s epistemologies.

THE 5130/5530 Dramaturgy/Dramaturgie 
[offered every year in alternate languages, shared with MFA/M.A.S. students]  

This course defines the dramatic text as a point of departure for theatrical performance. It discusses the art of dramaturgy as the analysis of the poetics of dramatic text as well as the study of its structural specificities and norms.  Students will be required to study major elements of—and theories related to—new play development, both from a historical perspective as well as a conceptual one. The objective of the course is to equip students with the skills necessary for pursuing a career as a Dramaturge or a Literary Adviser in a professional theatre. 

THE 5140/THE 5540 Theory of Performance / Analyse de la représentation 
[offered every year in alternate languages, shared with MFA/M.A.S. students] 

This course takes into consideration a range of performance forms that define contemporary practice including performance art, fine art, film, site-specific theatre and cyber-spectacle. It seeks to prepare students to write an MA or MFA thesis-paper as well as to equip them with the skills necessary for pursuing the career of a theatre critic.  Major elements of performance will be studied, both from historical and conceptual perspectives.

Elective seminar or course

Over the course of their tenure in the program, students must take one (1) three-credit elective seminar or course either within or outside the Department of Theatre.  Such courses are intended to allow students to take advantage of the wide range of theatre-related expertise available in departments throughout the Faculty of Arts and elsewhere in the University of Ottawa, particularly—but not exclusively—in literature and language departments, other fine arts departments, the Department of History and the Department of Communications.

The Director of Graduate Studies must approve the selection of each elective course.  Electives may be chosen from appropriate seminars or courses offered by any department in the University

There are two distinct categories of elective courses:

  • background electives may fill gaps in students' background preparation as determined at the moment of evaluation for admission into the MA program.  In certain cases, registration in a specific course may be a condition of enrolment; and
  • an elective oriented to the principal research topic: students may take at most one course outside the Department specifically geared to their MA thesis.  This elective presents an opportunity for students to study an author or a period of practice or other subject directly related to their thesis under the guidance of a specialist.

THE6990 Thesis Proposal 
Students must enroll in THE6990 no later than the 2nd session of registration in the program and complete it by the end of the third session. They read works, both dramaturgical and theoretical, directly related to their thesis topic, and prepare their thesis proposal under the guidance of their thesis adviser. The proposal must be defended before the Graduate Studies Committee and the student’s supervisor. A student whose proposal is not accepted may submit and present a second proposal in the following session. Failure to obtain approval on the second attempt leads to a grade of "not satisfactory" for the proposal and results in compulsory withdrawal from the program. The course is evaluated on an S (Satisfactory) / NS (Non satisfactory) basis.

MA thesis (THE6999)
The Master's thesis should reveal that the candidate is able to work in a scholarly manner and is acquainted with the principal works published on the subject of the thesis. Inasmuch as possible, the thesis should be an original contribution.  The thesis will be 80 to 120 pages, excluding the bibliography, and will conform to the methodology established by the Department of Theatre and follow the regulations of the FGPS on Preparing a Thesis or a Research Paper

Degree requirements

A total of 27 course credits is required over a maximum of a twenty-month period, including:

  • four core courses of three credits each (12 credits);
    • THE5110 Methodology
    • THE5120 Epistemology of Theatre Studies
    • THE5130 Dramaturgy
    • THE5140 Theory of Performance
  • one elective course taken either within or outside the Department of Theatre (3 credits);
  • the MA thesis (12 credits).
    • THE 6990 Thesis Proposal
    • THE6999 Thesis

Grading system

Grades are awarded according to the following scale:


90 - 100 %

10 points



85 - 90 %

9 points



80 - 84 %

8 points



75 - 79 %

7 points

Very good


70 - 74 %

6 points

Very good


66 - 69 %

5 points


All grades below C+ (66%) are failing grades for graduate students.


60 - 65 %

4 points


55 - 59 %

3 points


50 - 54 %

2 points


40 - 49 %

1 point


0 - 39 %

0 points

Any student who receives two failing grades (equivalent to six credits), or who fails the same course twice, is required to withdraw.

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