Type: Postgraduate

Qualification: MA Contemporary Dance Performance

Duration: 1 year (full-time only)

Validated by: University of Kent

VERVE is a one-year, full-time programme that offers dancers a safe and inspiring space to grow as an artist, rigorously challenge their physical skill and build an understanding of the professional working environment, as part of a touring contemporary dance company.


Find out more about the artists working with the company in 2024/25 here.


Download Course Fact File How to apply

Course overview

VERVE is the postgraduate company of Northern School of Contemporary Dance. This MA equips students with Professional performance skills as members of a touring Contemporary dance company. Each year the company commissions choreographers from all over the world to create an artistically distinct, physically daring and engaging programme of dance work.

The programme offers emerging dance artists the opportunity to challenge and develop their skills across a varied repertoire of work, guided by teaching staff, alongside an exciting range of visiting artists. VERVE provides dancers with a safe and inspiring space to grow their individual artistry and rigorously challenge their physical skill. Dancers develop their identities as performers, whilst building an understanding of the professional working environment to support them in their future careers.

The company tours to venues and festivals across the UK. VERVE seeks connections with partner institutions, industry professionals, choreographers and companies, to broaden and enrich the students’ experience and understanding.

Previously commissioned choreographers include:

Lea Anderson, Jamaal Burkmar, Mari Carrasco, Joan Clevillé, Maxine Doyle, Ben Duke, Akram Khan, KOR’SIA, Anton Lachky, LA(HORDE), Hannes Langolf, Sita Ostheimer, Douglas Thorpe, Faye Tan, Ben Wright, Noa Zuk

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

Entry requirements

Entry is through a successful audition and interview. This course is open to graduates of two/three-year dance training courses at Higher Education level, or dance artists with professional experience and equivalent vocational dance training.  Applicants are usually 21+ years of age. 

 Students with English as a second language will need a 6.5 ESOL level (with a minimum of 6.0 in reading and 5.5 in speaking and listening)  

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 on this programme take modules worth approximately 60 credits per term.  All students take a total of 180 credits at Level 7 for 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) Default 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, rehearsal and creation periods, and lectures, seminars and tutorials. All teaching takes place within industry-standard facilities. In addition, you have timetabled meetings with your academic tutors. Taught hours vary, reflecting the nature of the module and current professional practice. Average contact time is normally between 16 and 24 hours per week during directed teaching activity.

Assessment and Feedback

NSCD employs a wide variety of assessment methods. Assessment evidence is collected through the following:

  • Continuous assessment of your engagement in technical and creative processes
  • Summative assessment of your achievement in performance or choreographic projects
  • Essays, proposals and verbal presentations
  • Practice-based and written research projects
  • Reflective practice, including written or verbal presentations

Students receive ongoing feedback in practical classes and through the tutorial system in which professional and academic development are considered and evaluated.

NSCD Value for money

We are committed to providing a holistic experience for our students. Based on a comparison with other courses of an equivalent price, we typically offer the following as ‘value added’:

  • Enrichment classes, some of which are free to NSCD students – these have included Gaga, pointe work, fitness, men’s ballet vocabulary, yoga, percussion, lighting for dance and gymnastics for dancers
  • Access to visiting artists’ and practitioners’ talks
  • Reduced-price theatre tickets and deals
  • On-site injury intervention and support
  • On-site counselling service
  • On-site learner support
  • On-site English language support
  • Access to additional rehearsal spaces
  • Access to projects and research run by staff and our network of partner organisations