MA Contemporary Dance Performance (VERVE) - Northern School of Contemporary Dance


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.

Applications for 2023 entry are now closed.

Read the choreographer announcement for VERVE 24


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 and internationally. VERVE seeks connections with partner institutions, industry professionals, choreographers and companies, to broaden and enrich the students’ experience and understanding.

Choreographers who have previously worked with the company include Akram Khan, Maxine Doyle, Sita Ostheimer, Noa Zuk, Lali Ayguade, Ben Duke, Lenka Vagnerova, Douglas Thorpe, Joan Clevillé, Anton Lachky, Lea Anderson, Ben Wright, Mari Carrasco and Hannes Langolf.

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

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. This course is for recent graduates or graduates with extensive performance 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 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, 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.

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
  • Assessed rehearsal processes
  • Showings of performance, choreographic work, improvisation & movement research

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

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