Facts about the program

Study points:
Study duration:
2 years
Teaching language:


Programme Coordinator
Norwegian Theatre Academy,
Artistic Director Karmenlara Ely Seidman

Study Plan for Master in Performance (120 ECTS) (2020–2022)

Study information

This programme researches what performance is, means and can do progressively. The focus is on composition across disciplines, ethical relations and new dramaturgies in practice and theory.

The programme recruits students who are interested in questioning and challenging their artistic practice as performance. Due to the curiosity and interest in the expanded field of arts on which the MA Performance is established the programme will recruit applicants from a wide range of practices, including but not limited to the fields of visual art, choreography, music, composition, directing, acting, theatre, performance art, street performance and dance.

It is conducted in dialogue with the artistic research platform at Østfold University College (HIOF) which includes collaborative BA programmes in Acting and Scenography, masters in Scenography and artistic research PhD fellows. It aims at enhancing the development of the methods, theory, terminology and values emerging from contested perspectives on performance while enriching the field with a critical deepening of artists' research methods and engagement with their context. The term performance in this programme is used in relation to the expanded field of performative practices which have emerged in the past century and are not identified by a single specific arts canon or training discipline, but rather by ever-evolving critical and curious relationships to live performances as compositions of body and space, across disciplines. When the term performance appears in this programme description, it refers to the principles described above.

The programme is aimed at challenging students with practical and theoretical discourses on ethics, new dramaturgies and diverse artistic territories. It is a practice based degree programme where materiality, artistic collaboration and relations in space are researched and questioned. The goal is to strengthen the contemporary live performance field, not just aesthetically but ethically - with theoretical reflections and advanced dialogues on compositional modes and their relation to society. By questioning what performance is and can be in the future the study environment supports continued artistic development for students interested in critically composing live encounters with audiences. Many of the ground principles to be developed and questioned within the programme include: composing with diverse dramaturgical methods and models, collaborative relations across disciplines, ethical consciousness of audiences, materials and relations in public space, and artistic expression developed alongside critical questions toward the tempo, role and scale of production in contemporary live art processes.

What do you learn?

Degree/title obtained

Master of Fine Art in Performance

Learning outcomes

After completing the master program, students will have developed a repertoire of knowledge, skills and competence on an advanced level in the wider field of performance. They will have accumulated knowledge based on insight, understanding of and expertise in the theory and practices of the expanded field of performance connected to their own artistic practice. The student will be able to independently research and apply specialized dramaturgical skills, develop unique methodologies, and ethical reflections relevant to the execution of complex projects. The student will have developed general expertise in concept development, critical reflection and ethical questioning informing collaborative processes, choice of performing spaces and implementation of artistic work as an independent artist. They will be able to lead and manage projects according to their artistic goals. The graduates will be able to contextualize, present and critically discuss their work within a public forum in a cross disciplinary environment, and apply for funding / market their work in the professional field. The student will also be able to work on artistic research in the live arts field in relation to the academic and institutional sector. 


The candidate: 

  • has advanced theoretical knowledge related to the discourse of the expanded performance field, its connections to the history of the international Avant Garde through the 20th century, and its relation to their own practice.

  • has specialized knowledge of international movements in performance theory and critical working methods in composition and dramaturgy

  • can apply practical knowledge in research and development of new dramaturgical and collaborative methods, in relation to exploring artistic forms

  • can critically analyze contemporary ethical and methodological questions raised through their own and others' material and relational work in the field of performance, and their implications for audience reception in the fields of performance making.

  • can contextualize their primary training in relation to / as performance, and expand and develop methods in confrontation and collaboration with artists from other artistic disciplines.

  • understands the structure, methods and process for applying for arts funding within Norway and how it connects with the professional field and artistic entrepreneurship 


The candidate: 

  • can initiate compositional and dramaturgical experimentation in a laboratory setting related to space, materials and audiences, and follow it through to a quality result over a longer period of research.

  • is able to access and analyze various existing performance theories, reflect on the relationship between working methodologies and performance aesthetics and utilize those in relation to their artistic practice.

  • can stretch and question their own artistic territory consciously and with ethical awareness across disciplines, materials, vocabulary and modes of expression.

  • can present and communicate complex performance concepts through precise verbal and practically based communication to artistic collaborators across the art fields, and contextualize their art work critically in written and other documented formats in public discursive fora.

  • can complete a limited artistic research project with an independent artistic vision, under supervision, which is precise in relation to scope of research, form, and methodology related to existing norms of research ethics.

  • can constructively describe, contextualize and market their own artistic production in dialogue with/relation to the professional field 

General competence

The candidate: 

  • can analyze and identify ethical challenges in relation to the research process and can cooperate with others involved in the work, maintaining dialogue.

  • can apply unique and found research methods and take responsibility for the development of collective and individual performance works.

  • can creatively plan, budget, manage and lead performance projects and conduct their own critical debate around the impact and resonance of their work in the public sphere as artistic innovators and ethical entrepreneurs

  • engages in critical application of relevant literature, library services, visual and film material and online tools for gathering relevant source material, and can analyze and apply these to develop a coherent approach to performance practices and formulate research questions and laboratory processes.

  • can convey concept, ethical awareness, cooperation, organization, facilitation and implementation within the changing artistic field as performance creators.

  • can contribute to innovation and innovative artistic processes in conceptualization, composition, dramaturgy and contextualization of work, and thus contribute to the development and renewal of the Norwegian and international art movements.


A bachelor’s degree or an equivalent education of at least 180 ECTS credits.

Due to the curiosity and interest in the expanded field of arts on which the MA Performance is established, we are interested in applicants coming from a wide range of practices including, but not limited to, the fields of visual art, choreography, music, composition, directing, acting, performance art, street performance and dance. 

The application is to be delivered in English language and must contain:

  • Written reflection on the applicants' current artistic practice, its current context and relation to audiences (1-2 pg A4).

  • A motivation letter describing why the applicants wish to develop their skills within Performance, and what this programme would mean for their artistic development. Outline an area of artistic investigation departing from, but rooted in, their current practice (both theoretical and practical), including questions they would like to explore during their studies and its relevance for the field (1-2 pg A4).

  • Documentation of artistic work (portfolio) focusing on the last 5 years (Max 15 pg A4).

  • Curriculum Vitae.

Admission is based on formal education and entrance test.

Structure and content

Content and structure of the programme

The programme has three main fields of study, with the following mandatory courses: 


  • Performativity 1: Context (10 ECTS), 1st semester

  • Performativity 2: Audience (10 ECTS), 2nd semester

  • Performativity 3: Ethics (10 ECTS), 4th semester 


  • Composition 1: Dramaturgy (10 ECTS), 1st semester

  • Composition 2: Materiality (10 ECTS), 3rd semester 

Open Space 

  • Open Space 1: Territory (10 ECTS), 1st semester

  • Open Space 2: Movement (20 ECTS), 2nd semester

In the 4th semester the students will do their Master Project of 40 ECTS.

All courses at Norwegian Theatre Academy are mandatory. All courses in one semester must be passed before a student can continue to the next semester of his or her studies. To pass the exams minimum 80 % attendance is required.

Each area of study is impacted by and woven into the other, both practically and theoretically. The entire programme places an emphasis on independent student lead research with tutors and artist lead workshops and interventions. There will be individual and common workshops, laboratories and seminar work through the various courses and their individual topics, with deadlines in the 1st year defining the questions, spaces and formats for the Master Project.

Student exchange will mainly take place during the 2nd or 3rd semester and especially under the course Open Space, designed for self-study and challenging familiar artistic territories exploring new grounds through moving into unfamiliar contexts. However, exchange could happen in other courses if relevant for the student and approved by the programme leader during the 2nd or 3rd semester.

The courses are described in the course descriptions below.

Teaching, learning and evaluation

The working methods in the master's programme are comprised of lectures, seminars, workshops, productions, group and individual supervision and are based on access to technical, theoretical and artistic expertise.

The study activities will fill 1680 hours during the first two semesters and 1800 hours during the final two semester. 

Activities connected with self-studies/individual work and preparations for exams/evaluations have an estimated workload of 1080 hours during the first two semesters and 1500 hours during the final two semesters, including 1300 hours for the master project. 

Students will have 300 of tuition each of the first two semesters, and 150 hours each of the last two semesters. Part of this will be tutoring, part will be lecturing. The percentage of lecture vs. tutoring in the study units varies in relation to the learning outcomes, where, for example, in the Performativity and Composition units there is a necessity for leading the student through topics and methods in lecture and workshop formats, and in Open Space and Master Project, independent learning and research is facilitated through tutoring at various points in the development process, although there will be collective meetings therein with guest lectures on methodology or project planning workshops. Lectures are understood as teaching moments which bring new knowledge to students through introduction to concepts, theories, histories, literature, methods and practices the teachers are expert in. Tutoring is understood as teaching which deepens students understanding of their own projects through reflection, critique, questioning, guidance towards materials and territories which can open up or unfold new processes in their independent research.

All courses will involve a unique breakdown of lecturing and tutoring. The proportions will vary primarily based on the nature of the subjects: Performativity, Composition, Open Space and Master Project - which have theory and method, laboratory and production elements in varying degrees. It will therefore not be reasonable to determine specific interests prior to the start of the study. An estimate for a standard may mean an average distribution of approximately 75 % lecturing and 25 % tutoring at the start of the program, but such a distribution key will change through the progress of the study towards less lecturing and more tutoring, especially in the Open Space and Master Project units, which have laboratory approaches to independent work and production development, where one could project an inverse proportion of 25 % lecturing and 75 % tutoring in describing the teaching approach.

Theory and practice are two interdependent modes of working and learning in all courses. With the emphasis on, for example, dramaturgy, ethics and materiality in the MA Performance, practice and theory are inextricably linked. The implications of working methods which emerge from theoretical questions and ethical reflections are concrete and impact the compositional work directly, as the critical reflection process similarly develops new knowledge and material from the duration and aftermath of a process. Therefore, the academic skills of mapping and processing new theoretical references and concepts are not only parallel to the compositional and project planning work, but inform methods, vocabulary in the workspace and hierarchies of materials. Knowledge is therefore understood and experienced as both theoretical and practical interdependently. Similarly, new theoretical speaking/writing emerging out of process is not just academic but deeply personal and self-reflective informing the means through which projects are described and implemented in the public - and from which future artistic concepts emerge.

There are possibilities for exchange and study trips, participation in artistic research projects and independent studies that conclude with the artistic Master Project and critical reflection.. The tuition will be adapted to progress in the program, the composition of the group and the students' specialization needs. Students are expected to put in a great deal of independent effort. Active participation and involvement are required, as well as artistic-practical and theoretical-reflective submissions that are described in more detail in the descriptions of the individual courses.

The teaching language is English, but there may be exceptions, for example in connection with collaboration with external institutions on individual basis.


Each individual student will be assigned an advisor in the staff who will follow the student throughout the program. The advisor is the student's main academic and institutional contact, and he/she is responsible for assessing the student's progress from semester to semester in dialogue with the student, the academic staff and the Norwegian Theatre Academy. This advisor will meet with the student individually at least twice a term outside of regular teaching, and is available to consult with the student on their relation with the group and the institution. The advisor will help the student choose a tutor for the Master Project based on the nature of the research, whether this tutor is from within the staff of HIOF or a qualified professional from the field.

Coursework requirements

Each individual course entails coursework requirements. They are described in more detail in the course descriptions. At the end of the first year (Open Space 2) students are required to hand in a written critical text, reflecting the research they have undergone and how it has developed their research projects both theoretically and practically. The student group is required to arrange one internal seminar during the course Performativity 2 in the second semester. Additionally, the student group will co-curate a public seminar with their tutors in Performativity 3 course where they reflect on their Master Project in process. During the seminars, students are required to orally and critically present their research questions and artistic practice and how it develops during the course of the program. The second seminar represents a mid-way point of the Master Project where each individual student is required to present his/her research results through critical reflection, contextualization, and documentation of practical work.

Teaching materials

The students will work with analog and relevant digital tools. The students must pay for teaching materials themselves. In addition to photocopies, textbooks etc., performances, art exhibitions and concerts are defined as teaching materials in the master's program. This means that students must pay for mandatory performances, art exhibitions and concerts, and travels in connection with these events. HIOF may demand that students have their own personal computer.


Course assessment: At the end of the semester, the students' individual effort, academic progress and results in each individual course seen in relation to the defined learning outcome for the course are assessed in an overall discussion between the student, the student's advisor and a lecturer who is a member of staff. For further information, see the course descriptions.

Coursework requirements are defined for each of the courses in the programme. They are described in the course descriptions and must be met before the student can put him or herself forward for assessment.

The grades Pass and Fail are used for course assessments.

Students are only allowed to sit an exam twice (the ordinary exam and one re-sit), cf. Forskrift om eksamen, studierett og grader ved Høgskolen i Østfold (Regulations for examinations and admission to programmes), section 2, 6 and 8.

Formal errors in connection with exams can be appealed against. The assessments of the academic staff cannot be overruled.

New exam / Re-sit

In the event that the grade Fail is awarded for an exam in one or more courses, only one re-sit is permitted. A new course assessment (re-sit assessment) will take place in the last week of the semester.

Research and Development

Artistic research and Development:  

The programme is based on and invested in artistic research (KU). Professional employees carry on artistic research and dissemination of their artistic development. Students are invited to participate with academic staff and guest artists in professional artistic research projects within and outside the institution. The diversity of the artistic and theoretical research of the employees is one of the main sources of the education at all levels, where BA, Master students, PhD students, guest artists, curators, producers and theorists participate. This is a prerequisite and also the basis for progress and achievement of learning outcomes in this program. Artistic research of the academic staff takes place both inside and outside institution on a high national and international level. Students' active participation and contributions may take various forms such as practical and theoretical contributions, and to lesser or greater extent, within artistic productions and publications.


The Norwegian Theatre Academy consists of an international faculty in fixed-term positions with appointments based on artistic expertise and experience in the international art scene, artistic research and teaching. The teaching language is English and the student body for all the degree programmes is highly diverse.

Evaluation of the study

To be able to offer a topical and relevant education of good quality, HiØ is dependent on feedback from the students and on their participation in the evaluation. This study programme of study is regularly evaluated in order to assure and develop its quality.

  • An annual national student survey is conducted among second year students on all bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes under the auspices of the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). The results of the survey are published on the website studiebarometeret.no.

  • HiØ conducts periodical programme evalutations.

  • Evalutions will be carried out of the individual courses; see the individual course descriptions.

Here is how you can influence the quality of your programme:


The programme has a suggested reading list which acts as a base for the programme but is not mandatory in total. References to current performances, theoretical literature, video material, websites, theater productions and exhibitions, art catalogs, film, music, art and theater criticism in the media and other relevant references are to be supplied specific to periods of study. During the 1st semester, the development of an individual curriculum syllabus relevant to the work of the student master research project is proposed on the basis of the program's general bibliography. The individual bibliography will be further developed during their studies throughout the various critical reflection points where development of the Master Project details are approved.

Studies abroad

Østfold University College has an international network with exchange opportunities and appointments with various performing arts institutions, museums and educational institutions. Exchange / study abroad should normally take place in the 2nd or 3rd semester and will extend over varying periods of time. The Norwegian Theatre Academy has exchange agreements for internationalization and student exchanges at master's level in Performance with the following institutions:

  •  University of Giessen,

  • DE University of Gothenburg,

  • SE York St. John University, UK

In addition we have exchange agreements with 8 other partner institutions.

Work and future studies

The programme will form the basis for PhD level artistic research, and prepare the student for admission to artistic research fellowships and other relevant artistic doctoral programmes, with a particular competence in bridging dialogues and practices across artistic fields and traditions, expanding the general field of performance.

The programme qualifies candidates to work on a professional international level in the expanded field of performance, both in the creation and leadership of their own art works and as collaborators on others' original pieces, covering practices in the fields of live arts. Graduates will be familiar with the process of applying for funding in Norway, and therefore manage, market and sustain their own independent artistic work in an international context. Graduates are qualified to participate in innovative works that take place in the framework of festivals, private venues, public institutions and other public spaces and arenas.

The term "expanded field" in the arts can be understood in the context of its early use by author Rosalind Krauss in her influential text "Sculpture in the expanded field" October, Vol. 8 (Spring 1979), p.30) This concept of the "expanded field" in her text referred to practices that crossed outside of the limits of traditional sculpture and entered into the realms of architecture and landscape. Over the past three decades, the boundaries between artistic fields have continued to blur, giving rise to common use of the term "expanded field" as a stretching of the concept and limits of, for example, theatre - which includes but is not limited to traditionally identifiable forms of time-based, live art and performance art which are informed by other embodied and spatial art practices, some of which do not have singular terms. Therefore, "expanded field" gives space for the dramaturgical and material strategies of a wider set of practices emerging from choreography, music, composition and visual arts, etc. The benefit and necessity of the term expanded field, aside from its common use and increasing familiarity to experts in the field, is the openness and curiosity which it prioritizes as a frame for the study rather than a narrowing of practices and forms through singular disciplines or industries.

The study plan is approved and revised

The study plan is approved

Approved by The Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) on November 14th 2017. The programme description was last approved by Karmenlara Ely Seidman, Artistic Director NTA, February 22th 2018.

The study plan is revised

Karmenlara Ely Seidman, Artistic Director and Pea Hov, Head of Studies, October 30th, 2019

The study plan applies to

Autumn 2020

Last updated from FS (Common Student System) July 13, 2020 3:17:03 PM