CRICOS CODE 080368E
NIDA’s MFA (Directing) enables talented early career practitioners to master the directing process.
Through training in production, the interpretation of text and the communication skills required to connect with a contemporary audience, the course challenges students to create and express their own vision. The training also supports students to incorporate modern technology in performance and engage with multi-platform work.
Applications for 2020 will open on 1 July, 2019.
- About the course
- Admission criteria
- How to apply
- Advanced standing
- Student work
- Further Info
About the course
The course places strong emphasis on the collaborative role of the director in the theatrical process. It also focuses on the director’s methods of communication with actors, designers, stage managers, playwrights and other creative team members.
Students will produce a short play, or film, in a public season. Applicants will note the course involves an international field trip. The airfare and a capped contribution to expenses will be provided by NIDA.
Want to know more about this course? Dr Egil Kipste, Head of Directing explains.
The duration of the MFA course is 15 months and comprises seven subjects with a total 180 credit points, with a lead subject (60 credit points) which is the focal point.
Students will need to be resident in Sydney and available on a full time basis from late January to early December of the first year. In the final three months (January to March of the following year), students complete their research project and write up the results as a journal article. It is normally not essential that students be resident in Sydney during the final three months of the course.
Applicants should note that the course may involve interstate travel, and will include an international field trip.
Course duration and contact hours
Students are at NIDA from 9am to 6pm from Monday to Friday. During production terms students may also be required for rehearsals after hours and on weekends.
Additional time also needs to be allocated to library work, research, preparation for classes and private study. For this reason it is difficult for NIDA students to maintain regular part-time jobs. Studying at NIDA is a big commitment so students need to manage their time and resources carefully.
All NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees are three-year full-time courses. All NIDA Master of Fine Arts courses, except for Cultural Leadership, are 15-month full-time courses.
Orientation Week - (w/c 4 Feb)
Contextualising Practice (Intensive) - 6-7 Feb
Perth Festival - 12-21 Feb
Play 1: Private Lives - 25 Feb – 8 March
Generating Research through Practice (Intensive) - 4-5 March
Play 2: 12 Betrayal - 11 – 28 March
Contextualising Practice (Intensive) - 15 March
Contextualising Practice (Intensive) - 22 March
Contextualising Practice (Intensive) - 29 March
Scene work with VET (Full Time) - 1-5 April
Actor Centre Australia - 8-18 April
Easter Break - 19-26 April
Guerrilla Shoot with VET (Full Time) - 29,30 April, 1 May
Generating Research through Practice (Intensive) - 2-3 May
Theatertreffen (Berlin) - 5 May – 19 May
Study Break - 20-31 May
NAISDA - TBC
Queen's Birthday Holiday - 10 June
Cabaret with VET (1 week of Afternoons, 1 week Full Time) - 17-28 June
Study Break - 1 – 12 July
Music Video Clips - Triple J - July- Sept (Preparation throughout year)
Generating Research through Practice (Intensive) - 1-2 Aug
Working with Opera Singers - August
Creative Development with VET (Full Time) - 26-30 Aug
Study Break - 9-13 Sept
Labour Day Holiday - 7 Oct
Graduation Play Rehearsal Week 1 (DDGP) - w/c 18 Nov
Graduation Play Rehearsal Week 2 (DDGP) - w/c 25 Nov
Graduation Play Tech Week (DDGP) - w/c 2 Dec
Graduation Play Performances (DDGP) - 11, 12, 13, 14 December
Research Period - Jan – March 2020
Directing Practice (60 credit points)
Directing Practice is the lead subject of the Directing course. In this subject students learn to conceptualise, devise and deliver a theatrical production. This includes selecting and researching the work, developing the production concept and staging the production.
Students will be provided with a number of opportunities to work with actors and other creative artists. This may include directing actors in scene work on extant scripts, performers in self-devised work, or opera singers and bands for music video clips. There are also opportunities to work with other NIDA students – props makers, designers, writers and technical production practitioners – on special projects.
Directing Techniques (30 credit points)
Directing Techniques is the key support subject for this course. Directing Techniques develops advanced skills in deploying directorial techniques in the rehearsal room.
There is significant focus on the examination of and experimentation with directing methodologies with the purpose of developing the skills inherent in delivering an established directing methodology. This will include, for example, a study of an adaptation of Stanislavski’s Active Analysis methodology that is practiced by each director over a number of iterations.
A second key area of development in this subject is communication skills whereby students, through a series of interactive role-play sessions, focus on improving their communication skills when working with performers.
After some experience in directing, students will critically reflect on their progress and skills acquisition by participating in seminars with their peers. Finally they are offered an opportunity to focus more deeply on aspects of skills acquisition in a studio setting. The content of this studio time is self-generated and aims to promote sophisticated and improved personalised directing techniques.
The Contemporary Director (15 credit points)
Dramaturgy (15 credit points)
This subject provides a theoretical background to the dramatic forms of Western playwriting and the skills required for the practical application of the dramaturgical components of dramatic writing to theatrical presentation. Students develop a process for, and skills in, evaluating unproduced dramatic manuscripts.
The key objective of the subject is to gain an understanding of the key dramaturgical concepts and components in Western dramatic form. Students analyse extant play scripts. And apply their developing knowledge of dramaturgy and script analysis by collaborating with playwrights on script development. Later in the year this progresses to work with playwrights (acting as dramaturgs) on full-scale productions, synthesising the previous learning.
This process is underpinned by the pedagogical philosophy that the learning of dramaturgy is best achieved by cumulative and problem-solving experiences.
Scenography (15 credit points)
This subject prepares students to work with theatrical design concepts and stage designers in creating artistically cohesive theatrical productions. The subject begins by exposing students to the theories of the fundamentals of art and design and then progresses to a range of projects which apply these theories to the creation of set and/or costume design.
Students then work on a series of projects. The Model Box project is a director-designer collaboration where, in a problem-solving scenario, directing students and design students alternate as directors and designers on creating a three dimensional model box of a play.
Opera Project is a studio collaboration in which, under supervision, students begin to design an operatic production in a studio setting. Supervisors interrogate design decisions based on dramaturgical decisions with reference to the principles of art and design. The final design is formally presented to a panel of opera practitioners for assessment.
The two major practical collaborative projects with designers are a music video clip, and a fully realised production.
Contextualising Practice (15 credit points)
This subject develops each student’s understanding of their site of cultural endeavour within the framework of a wider field of contemporary cultural enterprise. The subject is designed to facilitate engagement by arts practitioners as well as producers, executives and managers, with a view to contextualising the practice of a wide range of creative and cultural professionals.
The subject begins by introducing critical thinking, and a survey of cultural studies in the 20th and 21st centuries. The remainder of the subject is divided into topics that explore critical frameworks through which cultural practice might be understood.
Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points)
This subject introduces students to the concepts and methods of practice-based research as these apply to the exploration and investigation of the arts.
Initially students are introduced to the concept of research and to research skills and related issues, including ethics, as these apply to practice-based research. Subsequently, students identify their research topic and design the research project, undertake investigation and gather data, and process the data and other findings. The subject culminates in the writing of a journal article as the final research output. Journal articles arising from this subject are posted to an internally accessible research journal. Students whose journal articles are assessed as outstanding are encouraged and supported to submit them to externally published journals.
Essential requirements for admission
- All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have five years relevant experience in a related area.
- Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at http://www.ielts.org/
- We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:
- Working creatively
- Collaborating as part of a creative team
- Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and technical abilities
- Providing evidence of intellectual enquiry and reflection within their work
- Communicating clearly
- All applicants applying for the graduate courses at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have at least five years relevant experience in a related area.
- Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.
We require all international applicants to:
- attend an interview in Australia, although an initial interview can be conducted through Skype or equivalent
- be aware of the visa conditions and financial obligations you are required to meet as an overseas student
- accept full responsibility for all arrangements concerning entry into, and residence in, Australia (including visas and health insurance)
- have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of 8.0 IELTS and bring evidence of your English language capability to your interview. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.
International students are able to apply for all full time courses at NIDA. Please note Cultural Leadership will only be offered part time in 2018.
International students should select the option ‘International- Offshore Applicant’ during the application process. A representative from NIDA will then be in touch via email to organise an interview over Skype which will suit both you and our staff.
For more information on applying as an international student, see international students.
Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.
Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.
Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.
Tuition fees overview
|Degree||Course duration||2019 Annual tuition fee $AUD*||Estimated course tuition fee*|
|Master of Fine Arts (Directing)||15 months||$31,462.20||$31,462.20|
Tuition fee details
|Subject code||Subject||Credit points||EFTSL**||Tuition fee*|
|DIR9104||The Contemporary Director||15||0.104||$2,621.85|
|COM9102||Generating Research Through Practice||30||0.208||$5,243.70|
*The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.
** EFTSL - Effective Fulltime Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full time study load of 1.0 for academic year.
Administration and Other Fees 2019
These fees are payable at the time the service is provided or item purchased.
|Binding supplies||1 comb,1 cover, 1 back||$2|
|Graduation||Academic Dress Hire: gown, hood and cap||$35|
|Additional tickets for guests (2 guests no charge)||$20 per head|
|Student ID Card replacement||Replacement of a lost student card||$25|
|Photocopying||B/W – single sided||$0.05|
|B/W – double sided||$0.10|
|Colour – single sided||$0.10|
|Colour – double sided||$0.20|
|Replacement of lost locker key||$25|
|Testamur replacement||1 testamur – domestic postage||$80|
|1 testamur – standard international postage||$90|
|Transcript replacement||1 transcript – domestic postage||$20|
|1 transcript – standard international postage||$30|
As part of your course you will be asked to ensure you have copies of the following books.
- Merlin, Bella (2007). The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit
- Carnicke, Sharon M (2008). Stanislavsky in Focus (Second Edition)
- Eikenberry, Kevin (2007). Remarkable Leadership
- Mitchell, Katie (2009). The Director's Craft. Routledge.
- 1 camera or camera phone for use in sessions
Information Technology Recommendations
To access NIDA wireless (iWIRE) network, students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 7 and later), Macbook (Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later) or a Tablet (less than three years old with wireless facility). All the devices should comply with 802.11a/b/g/n WPA-Enterprise security. All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.
For file transfers and data backup, a 500GB hard drive or higher and an 8GB USB stick are also recommended, as is a DVD burner, for optimum visual graphics on your computer(Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not required.
Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.
FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student's tuition fees. In 2018 the FEE-HELP lifetime limit is $102,392.
The government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their incomes rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.
For more information go to studyassist.gov.au
Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?
You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:
- an Australian Citizen; or
- hold a permanent humanitarian visa.
The following students are NOT eligible for FEE-HELP:
- New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
- Australian permanent residents
- Overseas students.
Entry requirements FAQs
Entry requirements for each course are available under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab on individual course pages.
Is there a maximum age restriction for students?
There is no maximum age restriction for any NIDA undergraduate or graduate course.
How do I apply for a full-time course at NIDA?
The first step is to fill in an application form, available online from July 2018. You must then prepare for your audition or interview, the details of which can be found on the course pages.
Can I apply for more than one course?
Yes, however a separate online application form and payment of application fee $150.00 will be required for each course you would like to apply for.
My application form isn’t working/loading!
Online applications are open from July annually.
If you are having difficulty using the online application form, check your internet browser: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari are the recommended browsers. You should also turn off any security that blocks pop-ups, as this may prevent the application screen from opening.
What do I do if the interview dates are not suitable?
NIDA aims to accommodate all Australian states during the audition/ interview period. If the dates provided are not suitable to individuals we will try to work with you to create a suitable alternative.
If you cannot attend any of the available dates during the application process, please select the option ‘Other- Dates provided not suitable’ and email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further options
International students (all courses other than acting) should select the option ‘International- Offshore Applicant’ a representative from NIDA will then be in touch via email to organise an interview over Skype which will suit both you and our staff.
What do I do if I haven’t received details of my interview?
Once you have submitted your application and paid your application fee you will be emailed a receipt as well as further details regarding preparation for your audition/ interview. If you do not receive any emails from NIDA please check your junk/ spam filter or promotions filter (Gmail). If you are still experiencing difficulties please contact us at: email@example.com
What do I need to prepare for my interview?
Does NIDA give audition/ interview feedback?
Due to the large number of people being auditioned/ interviewed, it is not possible for NIDA to provide individual feedback, either orally or in writing. However, the audition/ interview are learning experiences, particularly through the opportunity in the auditions to observe the presentation of audition pieces by other applicants and any redirection suggestions provided to you or other applicants by members of the audition panel.
Where will my interview take place?
During your online application you will have the opportunity to select the date and location of your audition/ interview. The specific location details will be sent to you with your receipt once you have submitted a complete application form. You will also be sent further information for how you can change the location/ date of your audition/ interview if necessary. Please note that NIDA reserves the right to amend your audition/ interview date/ location at any time depending on availability.
What happens after my interview?
Final selections are made for each course by mid- December when study offers will be distributed to successful applicants via email.
Please note applicants who do not make it through to the recall stage for Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and Master of Fine Arts (Directing) courses have not been successful for the 2017 intake.
Studying at NIDA FAQs
How are NIDA’s courses structured?
NIDA offers a conservatoire based method of education and training based around intensive practice-based learning.
There is formal class work, practical instruction, lectures and, for some courses, periods of placements in the arts industry. Each course has dedicated time to discipline-specific immersion, as well as common subjects undertaken by students of all disciplines.
NIDA Play Productions and screen work provides practical learning experiences, giving students the opportunity to apply learnt technical skills. Play productions are an important part of NIDA’s higher education courses with usually five productions being produced each semester.
More detailed information about course structure can be found on the individual course pages.
What facilities does NIDA offer?
NIDA’s award winning campus includes a range of facilities available to students:
- the Parade Theatre, seating over 700 people, is equipped with advanced technology in sound, lighting and scenery
- performance spaces of varying sizes. The Parade Studio, Parade Playhouse, Parade Space and Atrium are also utilised for productions
- the state-of-the-art Reg Grundy Studio is used for film and television recording
- the Rodney Seaborn Library, specialising in the performing arts
- computer-aided design (CAD) and multimedia studios
- rehearsal rooms, teaching spaces and music practice rooms
- and workshops for the manufacture of scenery, properties and costumes.
What student services does NIDA offer?
Because of NIDA’s close relationship with UNSW, in addition to the NIDA library, NIDA students have access to the UNSW Library, The Learning Centre, health services and the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre, all located close to NIDA.
NIDA students have access to student counselling services provided through UNSW.
Indigenous students can also use the services of the Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Centre at UNSW.
Does NIDA offer credit transfer for study undertaken elsewhere?
Yes, NIDA grants credit for formal study undertaken in recognised higher institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions, where the applicant has met the learning outcomes, attained the knowledge and/or developed the skills relevant to a specific subject. An application for credit must be submitted and approved prior to commencement of the course. For further information see NIDA’s credit transfer policy.
NIDA Student policies FAQs
Can I defer my studies at NIDA?
Due to the highly competitive nature of NIDA’s admissions process, you must enrol for the year for which you have been offered a place. You cannot defer acceptance of a place. If you want to enrol in a subsequent year, you will need to apply again the following year and go through the interview process again. There is no guarantee that you will be offered a place next time.
Application for leave of absence by continuing students must be made in writing with reasons to the Head of Course for consideration and recommendation to the Director/CEO. Approval for leave of absence can only be granted by the Director/CEO and only under exceptional circumstances.
Can students be suspended from NIDA?
In addition to cancellation of enrolment for non-payment of tuition fees, a student’s enrolment at NIDA can be suspended or cancelled on the grounds of misconduct.
See NIDA student policies for more information.
What are the tuition fees for accredited courses?
Financial assistance FAQs
Are there scholarships available for studying at NIDA?
NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we will now be able to offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership for the 2018 intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership only) course fee.
NIDA does not offer other scholarships that cover the cost of tuition fees.
NIDA students, who are Australian citizens, are able to access FEE-HELP loans for assistance with their tuition fees. For more information on FEE-HELP loans see www.studyassist.gov.au or the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages.
Is financial assistance available for Master of Fine Arts students?
The Master of Fine Arts courses are not approved courses for students to receive Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and Pensioner Education Supplement through Centrelink. Master of Fine Arts students enrolled in a full-time course are eligible to apply for a NIDA bursary.
NIDA offers full-time students the opportunity to apply for financial assistance (bursaries) at the beginning of each year to assist with living costs. The bursaries are made available through the generosity of donors to NIDA and from bequests. Bursaries are paid on a fortnightly basis during the NIDA year, with the value of individual bursaries in 2015 ranging from $1,600 annually to $4,000 annually, depending on need and the year and course of study. Bursaries are only available to students currently enrolled at NIDA in full-time courses.
NZ and international students FAQs
Is there a limit on the number of international students accepted each year?
NIDA welcomes applications from international students. While there is no quota for international students, there are limited numbers of students in each course.
What are the English language requirements for international students?
Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0 for Acting, Directing and Writing for Performance, or IELTS 7.0 for other higher education courses. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.
International applicants who are short-listed for the Acting course after the recall audition must provide evidence of their English language capability by the end of the first week in December in order to be considered in the final selection process. International applications for other courses should bring evidence of their English language capability to their interview.
Where can I find more information about international students at NIDA?
How to apply
Applications for 2019 courses are now closed.
How to apply
- Evidence of your most recent qualification (e.g. school report, Higher School Certificate, university transcript or testamur).
- Proof of identification (e.g. passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate; ID must show your date of birth).
- A passport style photograph (less than six months old, in colour, well lit, plain background).
- Academic IELTS or equivalent (international applicants only)
- Any course related documents/portfolios.
2018 interview dates to be confirmed.
What to prepare
SUBMIT WITH YOUR APPLICATION
The following should be uploaded with your application:
1. PROFESSIONAL CV
- You should upload a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant information.
2. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
- You will need to provide proof of your university degree/s or five years of professional experience in a relevant area. This can be a scan/photograph of your transcript or testamur from the awarding institution; if you are offered a place in the course you will be required to provide a certified copy.
3. A CRITICAL ESSAY
- Prepare a two page critical essay or report on your practice, or a particular cultural event you have witnessed. This should be uploaded with your application.
- You may upload a digital portfolio with your application; otherwise you can bring one with you to your interview. You should prepare examples of past work that you feel will support your application and demonstrate your suitability for a career in directing and the arts and entertainment industry.
PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
5. DIRECTING PROJECT
- Select one production from the provided list for your project. Prepare your project according to the requirements and bring it along to your interview for discussion.
What to expect on the day
ON THE INTERVIEW DAY
Interviews are conducted by two NIDA staff members, in person. Interviews will run for approximately one hour. The interview is in two parts:
- First, there will be a brief talk about NIDA, the MFA (Directing) course and what will happen during the interview. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about NIDA or about the interview itself.
- Each applicant will then be interviewed for around 45 minutes. During the interview, we will discuss your project; your ideas about theatre, film and the broader creative industry; and why you want to study Directing at NIDA.
ON THE RECALL DAY
If the selection panel would like to see more, you may be asked back for a recall interview on a separate date. Here you will be asked to work with one or two actors on an excerpt from the text and respond to direction from the panel in regard to directing the performers.
Should you be short-listed for acceptance into the course after the recall, you may be asked to submit a list of three referees who have seen your work, or worked with you in some arts-related capacity. NIDA may contact these referees before making a study offer.
Please note if you are not invited to attend a recall, you should consider your application unsuccessful this year.
- Preparation! The more time and effort you put into the project and interview preparation in advance, the more confident you’ll be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.
- Come with a clear idea of why you want to study Directing at NIDA.
- Plan your journey to the interview. Give yourself plenty of travel time to allow for delays.
- We know that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as interesting and enjoyable as possible. The interview is designed to give you the very best opportunity to show your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.
The Directing Project
Directing project options
Prepare a project based on EITHER
- Blasted by Sarah Kane
- The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg
The nominated should texts be readily available from your local library, bookstore, or online. Should you have any difficulty obtaining the text, please contact NIDA.
Directing project requirements
Prepare a project based on your nominated text.
Consider the following questions in relation to the specified play and be ready to discuss them at your interview:
- Text: What ideas is the playwright trying to express? What is the relevance of the play to contemporary Australian audiences?
- Characters and Actors: What kind of people are the characters in the play? In what kind of world do they exist? If you had complete freedom of choice, which actors would you cast in your production?
- Design: How would you describe the imaginative world of the play? Where is it located?
- Lighting: How should lighting be used to reveal and expose areas of this play and the design of your production?
- Costume, Sets and Props: What particular requirements are there in each of these areas?
- Music and Sound: What kind of music or sound effects would you use, and why?
- Theatre: Where would you stage your production? What kind of theatre will it be in? What kind of equipment will you require? What problems might arise in the staging?
- Production Design Concept: Communicate your production through collected material. This could include drawings or models of sets and costumes, impressions in collage or electronic; anything that will help the selection panel to understand your production concept.
The collaborative nature of NIDA's conservatoire training means that NIDA does not encourage advanced standing/academic credit/recognition of prior learning, particularly for discipline based subjects. However a student can apply for academic credit or recognition of prior learning at the time of enrolment. Details are available on the student policies page.
See definitions for common terminology (PDF, 33KB).
See student work from productions, events, classwork and student projects.
Directors' and Designers' Graduating Productions 2017
Highlights from season of productions by our graduating MFA (Directing) and BFA (Design for Peformance) students.More
Directors Productions 2015 gallery
Gallery of NIDA's Master of Fine Arts (Directing) student productions from 2015.More
Triple j Unearthed 2016 NIDA video clips. Directed by NIDA Master of Fine Arts Directing students.
Graduates have a range of employment options given the breadth of opportunity for exploration and development facilitated through the course.
- Theatre director
- Film director
- TV director
- Performance director
- Event director
See NIDA's list of Alumni.
Read more about NIDA's Head of Directing Dr Egil Kipste, Director of NIDA's Centre for Creative Practices.