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Festive Arts MA

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Course Details


Available: Full- Time

Duration: 1 Year

Faculty: Irish World Academy of Music and Dance

Course Type: Taught

Fees: For Information on Fees, see section below.


Dr Niamh NicGhabhann
IW1 - 032 The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick Limerick
353-(0)61 202798
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Brief Description

The MA Festive Arts offers a comprehensive programme of study embracing practical, scholarly and performance-based aspects of festival studies.  Students will have the opportunity to apprentice with a festival towards the acquisition of skills related to festival coordination and design, as well as being introducing to methods for the study of festival, a survey of global festivity, and aspects of festival management.

The Irish World Aademy of Music and Dance has been Ireland’s premier centre for music and dance performance education since its foundation twenty years ago. In keeping with its cutting edge reputation, the Academy is pleased to announce its first programme to expand beyond music and dance and embrace a wide spectrum of performance practices under the umbrella of ‘festive arts’.

The MA Festive Arts is a one year, full-time Masters offering  a comprehensive programme of study embracing practical, scholarly and performance-based aspects of festival studies.  Students will have the opportunity to apprentice with a festival towards the acquisition of skills related to festival coordination and design, as well as being introducing to methods for the study of festival, a survey of global festivity, and aspects of festival management.

The MA Festive Arts joins a suite of ten taught Masters programmes at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, which also offers two undergraduate programmes (BA Voice and Dance; BA Irish Music and Dance Performance), as well as doctoral-level research opportunities and a structured PhD programme in Arts Practice.  The MA Festive Arts programme has a special relationship to the MA Community Music programme with which it will develop shared areas of study.

The MA Festive Arts programme aims to:

  • provide students with a strong foundation in theoretical and methodological principles relevant to the study of festival.
  • provide students with practical experience in the creative development of festival-based artistic programmes, events management, and festival-based performance.
  • provide an integrated context for studying a variety of performance practices.
  • provide students with the skills to engage in reflexive scholarship around their own practice.
  • provide students with the skills to create audio, visual and written archival documentation around identified festivals.


Autumn Semester Spring Semester Summer Semester
  • MD6131 Introduction to Local and Global Festivity
  • MD6021 Introduction to Fieldwork Techniques
  • MD6041 Introduction to Ritual Studies
  • MD6141 Research and Discovery for Festival Studies
  • MD6071 Writing and the Documentation of Arts Practice 1
  • MD6121 Festival Development and Production
  • MD6091 Professional Development for the Performing Arts

Options: students can choose one option from the list below

  • MD6111 Colloquium 1
  • MD6031 Media Technologies for Performing Arts and Arts Research
  • MD6051 Independent Study 1
  • MD6101 Interdisciplinary Improvisation
  • MD6061 Introduction to Somatics


  • MD6122 Introduction to Culture and Performance
  • MD6112 Introduction to Curating Performance
  • MD6062 Critical Contexts for Arts Management & Cultural Policy
  • MU5092 Programming and Production

Options: students can choose three options from the list below.

  • MD6102 Colloquium 2
  • MD6082 Choreography for Camera
  • MD6052 Independent Study 2
  • MD6072 Writing and the Documentation of Arts Practice 2
  • BR5001 Broadening through Awareness, Activism and the Arts
  • MD6092 Introduction to Somatics
  • MD5522 Final Presentation



Programme Modules

Local and Global Festivity

This module introduces students to the study of festive arts through a cross-cultural investigation of festivals based on case studies of specific local, national and international festivals focusing on questions of differences and similarities across time and space; cultural constructs of celebration; festival organisation; varieties of festival design and dynamic; festivals as reflective and / or transformative of their social and cultural contexts.

Research and Discovery

This module introduces students to appropriate methods for studying public, religious, domestic and civic festivity with particular emphasis on performative aspects of festival activities through an exploration of how people understand and narrate their participation in festivity; how scholars access, utilise and present research on celebrating events; how we listen, see, interview, participate, observe and document festivity through notes, photos, videos, archives and public documents; how we analysis and synthesise; how we engage with research in an ethically responsible manner.

Festival Management

This module provides students with a foundation in the issues surrounding festival management and sustainability, covering a range of topics including artistic programming, events management, marketing, feasibility, public relations, media, finance, security, local authorities, health and safety and audience development.

Culture and Performance

This module explores cultural and performative dimensions of festival, contextualising it within a broad range of disciplines including performance studies, cultural studies, ritual studies, material culture studies, ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology with reference to how scholars, producers, directors, managers and artists reflect on the social and physical embodiment of festivity; through an exploration of celebration, commemoration, passage-marking and other kinds of cultural and religious performances, as well as reflections on festival roles, settings, objects, audiences, performers and productions.

Programming and Production

This module provide practical experience of festival programming and production through an internship with a local, national or international festival; the student will begin the process of identifying and selecting a suitable festival site in advance of the commencement of the internship in consultation with the course director and the festival artistic director and will be expected to fulfil an internship programme which provides experience of artistic programming and curatorship; design and production; marketing and audience participation, as well as performance aspects of the festival events.

Irish World Academy Spring Elective

This module offers students the opportunity to pursue self-directed learning of an academic or performance-based project, under the guidance of the course director and an elective supervisor. The student may wish to use the elective to pursue more specialised study in his / her area of study, or to access the other areas of expertise available at the centre. These currently include Ethnomusicology, Ethnochoreology, Music Education, Community Music, Music Therapy, Irish Traditional Music and Dance Performance, Contemporary Dance Performance and other specialist research interests of faculty and doctoral researchers at the Academy.

Final Presentation

This final presentation involves a final performance / thesis submissions or a combination of both, offered by the student as the culmination of his / her work during the course of the programme. The presentation is designed in consultation with the course director and relevant tutors  In the Festive Arts programme, the Final Presentation module will include participation in a ‘Festival Lab’ within which students will incubate projects that will be performed as part of the lab and documented in A/V format and in the form of a 7,500 word reflexive paper.

Content of modules can be found by using the search option on the book of modules.

Applicants should normally hold an honours undergraduate degree (Level 8 - National Qualifications Authority of Ireland) and/or substantial experience of an appropriate arts practice, evidencing a record of achievement equivalent to a high honours degree, as per UL’s APEL policy. In all cases, the application process will include an interview and audition.

What to include with your Application:

  • Qualification transcripts and certificates
  • English language qualification if English is not your first language
  • Certified English translations of your transcripts/certificates where the originals are in a language other than English
  • A copy of your birth certificate (long document).

English Language Requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of either prior successful completion of a degree qualification taught through the medium of English or meet one of the criteria below (no longer than two years prior to application):

Acceptable English Language qualifications include the following:

  • Matriculation examinations from European countries where English is presented as a subject and an acceptable level is achieved
  • Irish Leaving Certificate English –Ordinary Level Grade D or above
  • TOEFL – 580 (paper based) or 90 (internet based)
  • IELTS – Minimum score of 6.5 with no less than 6 in any one component.
  • English Test for English and Academic Purposes (ETAPP) – Grade C1
  • GCE ‘O’ level English Language/GCSE English Language – Grade C or above
  • Cambridge Assessment English - Certificate of Proficiency in English - Grade C / Certificate in Advanced English Grade B
  • GCE Examination Boards – Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations – Grade C / Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate – School Certificate Pass 1-6 / University of London Entrance and School Examinations Council – School Certificate Pass 1-6

Results in examinations other than those listed above may also be accepted as meeting our English language requirements. Contact the International Education Division for advice. 

The programme will equip students with the ability to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of key themes and practices in the area of festive arts studies.
  • Display skills which address the key requirements of festival coordination including artistic programming, events management, marketing, finance, security, health and safely and audience development.
  • Develop a research foundation capable of negotiating ethnographic, practice-based, cultural and historical paradigms of festivity.
  • Engage in practitioner-based research that contributes to the growth of international research in festive arts.
  • Direct a performance-based programme of study.
  • Critically evaluate key issues in performance practice and research relevant to the area of festive arts.