MA Contemporary Dance Performance (PPS) - NSCD


Type: Postgraduate

Qualification: MA Contemporary Dance Performance (Professional Placement Scheme)

Duration: 1 year (full-time only)

Validated by: University of Kent

This one-year, full-time programme provides an opportunity for students to undertake extensive professional development and refine their performance skills, as a member of an established professional dance company.

Applications for 2022 entry are now closed.

Read our announcement of the companies participating in the scheme for 2022/23.

Download Course Fact File How to apply

Course overview

The distinctiveness of this programme lies in the offer of a work placement with a professional dance company of between five and nine months. Students work alongside professional dancers at their chosen host company, experiencing the creation, rehearsal, production and touring of a professional performance programme or project, including any related education and community outreach work.

Whilst on their placement, students are supported by a tutor at NSCD. Placement experience is supplemented by a wide range of technical and creative work delivered at NSCD, involving performance platforms, classes with VERVE and research-based activities. Crucially, students on the professional placement pathway develop an understanding of the wider skills required of a professional dance artist, through small-scale projects, introductions to local networks and awareness of a variety of activities such as workshop teaching and project management.

NSCD programmes of study are validated by the University of Kent. The Programme Specification is available here: MA Contemporary Dance Performance – Programme Specification

Participating companies:

Due to Visa restrictions, students outside the UK are only eligible to apply for a placement with Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds. For information about student visas visit:

*UK applicants will need a Visa from the destination country for placements with Tanzmainz and Holstebro Dance Company. Students will need to prove they have funds to cover living costs for 8 months (approximately £3000 or €3,500) prior to application for a visa and acceptance of a place on the programme. Students also need to be double vaccinated before travel.

Entry requirements

Our postgraduate programmes are open to graduates of two/three year dance training programmes at higher education level, who would therefore usually be 21+ years of age, or to dance artists with some professional experience.

What will I study?

The course operates on a modular basis.  Most modules count for either 30 or 60 academic level 7 credits, with the final major research project being worth 60 credits.  Each credit taken equates to a total study time of around 10-20 hours.  Total study time includes scheduled teaching, independent study, directed study and assessment activity.

Students will take modules worth approximately 60 credits per term. All students take a total of 180 credits across the MA as a whole. Our teaching is informed by research, and module content changes periodically to reflect developments in the discipline.

  • Technical Practice (30 credits) Compulsory module
  • Company (60 credits) Compulsory module
  • Performance Practice (30 credits) Option module
  • Artist as Facilitator (30 credits) Option module
  • Final Major Research Project (Dissertation) (60 credits) Compulsory module

Teaching and learning

You are taught through a combination of practical classes and workshops, lectures and seminars. Seminars and small group tutorials enable you to discuss and develop your understanding of topics covered in smaller groups. In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your academic tutors. You use industry-standard facilities throughout your course.

At level 7 (as a guide) you typically have around 24-30 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 24– 30 hours of work based placement activity, constructed through an individually negotiated learner plan (INLP)

Photo: PPS student Asmara Cammock and dancer Luke Crook performing with Tavaziva at the National Theatre. Credit: James Bellorini

Assessment and Feedback

NSCD employs a wide variety of assessment methods including formative, continuous and summative assessment.

Assessment evidence is collected through:

  • Continuous and summative assessments in technique modules, creative and performance modules
  • Assessed rehearsal processes
  • Showings of performance, choreographic work, improvisation & movement research
  • Lecture demonstrations
  • Written essays and dissertations
  • Written /verbal project reports and evaluations / reflections
  • Individual and small group verbal presentations
  • Observation of teaching practice
  • Viva Voce

Students receive ongoing feedback in practical classes and through the tutorial system in which professional and academic development are considered and evaluated. Through placement, students have a professional mentor within the company who will offer formative feedback in all areas of their placement activities. Achievement is measured against module assessment criteria and in accordance with programme and module learning outcomes. Students must meet the specific attendance requirements for the programme.

Overall workload

Your overall workload consists of class contact hours, around 24-30 hours per week, on top of this independent learning which is expected to be at least 2 hours per module, rehearsals (vary according to each company’s schedule) and assessment activity with each credit taken equating to a total study time of around 32 hours. While your actual contact hours may depend varying aspects of delivery e.g. intensive rehearsal periods or technical weeks or touring, the following information gives an indication of how much time you will need to allocate to different activities at each level of the course.

Download Course Fact File

NSCD Value Added

Based on a comparison with other HE Dance degrees of the same price, NSCD are devoted to the experience we give our students and to what we try to offer them as ‘value added’ for their course fees:

  • A full term extra of tuition (May-August) including classes, support and guidance
  • On average more contact hours per week  (creative workshops and technique classes)


  • Enrichment classes are offered in the evening, some of which are free to NSCD students – these have included pointe work, fitness, men’s ballet vocabulary, yoga, percussion and Lighting for dance, Gymnastics for dancers
  • Visiting workshops with guest Choreographers and companies
  • Access to visiting artists and practitioners talks
  • Cost of travel to placements, performances etc
  • Career development workshops inc. audition preparation
  • Sponsored Theatre Visits
  • Health and well-being days
  • On-site injury intervention and support
  • Reduce priced theatre tickets and deals
  • On-site counselling service
  • Access to additional rehearsal spaces
  • Access to projects and research run by staff and our network of partner organisations
  • Subsidised support for injury support including Physiotherapy.