Prof Nicola Shaughnessy

NSLg2RXrDx Having studied Drama and English at Hull University, I abandoned my acting aspirations, acquired an MA in feminist theory and embarked on an academic career (continuing to pursue practice based approaches to teaching and research). My discovery of a neglected corpus of autobiographical plays by women inspired my PhD and a passion for archival research.

A PGCE at Cambridge initiated my interest in applied theatre prior to my first appointment in Cheltenham (now University of Gloucestershire). My extensive experience of curriculum development, academic leadership and educational management began here. I launched a new programme in Performance Arts, participated in the development of a modular degree scheme and the validation process for degree awarding powers. I also directed several productions at Shaftesbury Hall Theatre.

After five years I moved to University College Worcester, playing a similar role in developing Drama within a modular scheme. Here I established my long standing relationship with C&T theatre company and developed postdoctoral research, publishing articles on gender, theatre and autobiography. I also began postgraduate teaching and supervised my first PhD.

In 1999 I was appointed at Kent where I’ve developed my research and teaching specialisms in contemporary performance, applied theatre, dramatic autobiography and performance theory (aesthetics, ethics and cognition and performance). I introduced the Masters pathways in Contemporary Performance and Applied Theatre and was also involved in the development of postgraduate programmes in practice as research as well as initiating Kent’s Graduate Theatre Company Scheme. I’ve played a variety of leadership roles to include being Director of Drama (2004-2007) and Deputy Head of the School of Arts (2010-2012). I’m Director and co-founder of Kent’s Research Centre for Cognition, Kinesthetics and Performance. I participate in a range of national and international subject and research networks: SCUDD (Executive Committee member 2009-2012) TaPRA (Documentation and Applied and Social Theatre working groups); ASTR (Cognitive Science in Theatre, Dance and Performance).

My work explores the cognitive and physiological processes involved in making, participating in and experiencing performance. In addition to publications I’m involved in practice based projects using applied drama and performance in the workplace as part of Kent’s Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise network as well as an AHRC funded interdisciplinary project on drama, performance and intermediality as interventions for autism ( All of my work integrates theory and practice to demonstrate the value of the arts and their importance in society.

External Roles/Advisory Work

External Examiner Drama BA at Liverpool Hope University 1999-2002

External Examiner FdA Performing Arts Bournemouth University 2006

External Examiner BA Drama University of Northampton, 2009-2013

External Examiner Drama BA Drama and Theatre Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2011-2014

Member of HEFCE Drama, Theatre and Performance Benchmarking Panel (March 2007)
HE Expert for consultation on UCAS Tariff for Speech and Drama Awards (May 2006)