Theater and Performance Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Within the Theater and Performance Studies curriculum, we understand performance to be a mode of critical inquiry and research, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for public engagement. The theater events that take place within the department are the means by which students engage with theater performance on the physical, intellectual, and aesthetic levels. It is our hope that you will not only grow as performers but also as artists, thinkers, makers, viewers, researchers, and participants in the whole of the artistic event.

The practical focus of the major is to create theater of all kinds using all its art forms. Whether new to theater or seasoned with years of training and skill, all students receive an education that engages them fully. Your focus may be on acting, dance, technical theater/design, performance studies, or some combination of these. Equally important to us is the study of theater and dance performance theory, history, culture, and literature, thereby balancing the practical with the theoretical. Students engage in other upper division electives in stage management, playwriting, directing, choreography, sound design, scenic design, costume design, or lighting design, as well as a myriad of performance opportunities.

The theater training and academic courses offered by our department are geared toward the student who is interested in learning about theater and performance from multiple perspectives. As either a major or minor in Theater and Performance Studies, you will study with nationally and internationally known faculty, respected for their scholarly research and for their creative work. Our graduates have gone on to professional careers in all theatrical fields and graduate schools all over the world. Our alumni include professional actors on stage and screen, arts journalists, stunt actors, directors, producers, playwrights, and more.

Further departmental opportunities include student-directed theater performances and projects, honors projects, internships in local Bay Area theaters, teaching courses in the department, and invitations to diverse and exciting lectures and performances. Students also have access to world-renowned visiting guest artists through our close relationship with Cal Performances and our extensive network in the field.

Declaring the Major

Most majors declare after taking 2 of their 4 lower division requirements. For more information on this, see the Major Requirements tab on this page.

Honors Program

Majors in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies with an overall GPA of 3.3 in the University may apply to complete an honors project. There are two types of honors projects:

  1. Research & Thesis
  2. Research & Performance

Students should consult with the Undergraduate Academic Advisor and can find more detailed information, including the application, at https://tdps.berkeley.edu/undergrad/honors-projects

Minor Program

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies offers a minor in Theater and Performance Studies. For further information regarding the minor requirements, please see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Transfer students can determine coursework transfers into the minor by bringing unofficial transcripts and course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor. A course equivalent to THEATER 10 can transfer from other institutions into the minor. It is rare that another course from a junior college will transfer into the minor because equivalent coursework is seldom found. Since the minor will be from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, it is likely students will do most of their minor coursework in the Department.

Declaring the Minor

Most minors declare after taking 1 course in the department. For more information on this, see the Minor Requirements tab on this page.

Other Programs Offered by TDPS

Dance and Performance Studies (Major and Minor)

Visit Department Website

Major Requirements

In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements, listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the below requirements specific to their major program.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only. 
  2. No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
  3. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.

For information regarding residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.

Declaring the Major

Students may declare the major after passing two of the four lower division required courses. Choose 1 course from the practice courses (THEATER 10 or THEATER 14 or THEATER 60) and 1 course from the performance studies courses (THEATER 25ACTHEATER 26, or THEATER 52AC) so you will have experienced both parts of your Theater and Performance Studies Major before declaring. Students will then be required to complete the 2 remaining lower division courses after declaring.

Lower Division Required Courses

Take the 4 lower division required courses:
THEATER 10Fundamentals of Acting I (This course is required for students intending to take the acting training sequence. Students who have college credit for an equivalent acting course and who audition into a more advanced level can be considered exempt from Theater 10, with approval.)3
or THEATER 14 Performance Workshop
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 25ACThe Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater4
or THEATER 52AC Dance in American Cultures
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3

Upper Division Required Courses

Majors must take at least 24 upper-division units in TDPS. Usually three elective courses in addition to the required courses are enough to meet this requirement.
Required Technical Theater
Take the following 2 courses:
THEATER 167Technical Theater: Performance Practice1
THEATER 168Technical Theater: Shop Practice1
Required Production and Design
Select 1 of the following production or design courses:
THEATER 172Stage Management3
THEATER 173Scenography: Scenic Design for Performance3
THEATER 174Scenography: Costume Design for Performance3
THEATER 175AScenography: Lighting Design for Performance (it is recommended to take 175A before proceeding to 175B unless you have consent of the instructor)4
THEATER 175BScenography: Advanced Lighting Design for Performance4
THEATER 177Sound Design for Performance4
Required Performance History
THEATER 151Foundations in Performance History4
Required Performance Studies
Choose 2 Performance Studies courses from this list. You may repeat the same-numbered course with different content.
THEATER 114Performance Research Workshop4
THEATER 117ACCalifornia Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
THEATER 119Performance Theory4
THEATER 121Performance and Culture4
THEATER 125Performance and History4
THEATER 126Performance Literatures4
Electives
Majors are encouraged to pursue depth in their studies (acting, dance, performance studies, design or technical theater). Elective coursework includes Independent Studies, Honors Projects, Internships, leading a Workshop Project, teaching a DeCal course, and Education Abroad Programs. Please note that "taking" DeCal courses does not count toward your major. Usually completing three elective courses fulfills the requirement of 24 units of upper division TDPS courses.

Transferring Units

A maximum of eight units of equivalent upper division coursework transfer into the major from the Education Abroad Program (EAP), other UCB departments, or other four-year colleges as electives upon departmental approval. All L&S-approved units from other colleges transfer into the student's BA degree but rarely into the Theater and Performance Studies major. Transfer students should bring a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for evaluation.

Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements.

General Guidelines

  1. All minors must be declared before the first day of classes in your Expected Graduation Term (EGT). For summer graduates, minors must be declared prior to the first day of Summer Session A. 

  2. All upper-division courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

  3. A minimum of three of the upper-division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.

  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required in the upper-division courses to fulfill the minor requirements.

  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.

  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.

  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If students cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, they should see a College of Letters & Science adviser.

  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

Requirements

Required Lower Division
Select 1 of the following lower division courses:
THEATER 10Fundamentals of Acting I (This course is required for students intending to take the acting training sequence. Students who have college credit for an equivalent acting course and who audition into a more advanced level can be considered exempt from Theater 10, with approval.)3
THEATER 14Performance Workshop3
THEATER 25ACThe Drama of American Cultures: An Introduction to Our Theater4
THEATER 26Introduction to Performance Studies4
THEATER 52ACDance in American Cultures4
THEATER 60Introduction to Technical Theater and Production3
Required Upper Division Performance Studies Course
Select 1 upper division Performance Studies course:
THEATER 114Performance Research Workshop4
THEATER 117ACCalifornia Stories: Theatrical Representations of Race, Labor, and Tourism4
THEATER 118ACPerformance, Television, and Social Media4
THEATER 119Performance Theory4
THEATER 121Performance and Culture4
THEATER 125Performance and History4
THEATER 126Performance Literatures4
THEATER 151Foundations in Performance History4
Elective Upper Division Courses
Choose a minimum of 4 electives to build a focus in your studies.
 
 
 
 
 

Notes

1. A course with the identical course number may only be counted twice in the minor.

2. Transfer Units: It is rare that Community College coursework will transfer into the Theater and Performance Studies Minor because they are lower division.  If you have had college-level acting training, generally a Fundamentals of Act I (Theater 10) will transfer in from your Community College.  Since your minor will be from this Department, it is likely that you will do most of your minor coursework here.  If you have a question about coursework transferring into the minor, bring unofficial transcripts and course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor.

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this campus requirement course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses are plentiful and offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.

College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

Foreign Language

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

Breadth Requirements

The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.

Unit Requirements

  • 120 total units

  • Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units

  • Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
Residence Requirements

For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, go abroad for a semester or year, or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an L&S College adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.

Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.

Senior Residence Requirement

After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your B.A. degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.

You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.

Modified Senior Residence Requirement

Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.

Upper Division Residence Requirement

You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.

Student Learning Goals

Mission

The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, innovation, creativity, knowledge production, and public engagement.

Undergraduate majors and minors are well prepared for the future, both as artists and engaged citizens of the world. At a time when scholars and practitioners across a variety of fields call for more cross-disciplinary intellectual collaboration and project-based learning in higher education, the department takes pride in its daily commitment to collaboration and to the kind of rigorously critical, team-based projects the department develops with its students, staff, and faculty both in the classroom and in its production season.

Vision

Within our active experiential learning spaces, our students develop strong analytical and technical capacities. Our graduates are uniquely equipped to bring a just, creative, interconnected and relational approach to the pressing challenges of our time.

Learning Goals for the Major

  1. Ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal written form
  2. Proficiency in research methods (i.e., utilization of public and private archives, libraries, electronic databases, oral histories or textual and performance analysis)
  3. Collaborative skills
  4. Foundational stagecraft and production skills and knowledge (design, craft and technology, stage management, new media)
  5. Literacy in foundational dramatic texts and fundamental concepts of performance theory
  6. Basic history of Euro-American theater practice including issues of race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in the performing arts
  7. Basic acting technique

Skills

Through upper-division coursework, electives, and capstone experiences students should also possess advanced training in at least one of the following:

  1. Directing
  2. Playwriting
  3. Acting
  4. Design
  5. History/Theory/Literature
  6. Stage Management
  7. New Media

Major Map

Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:

  • Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study

  • Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success

  • Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression

  • Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world

  • Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley

Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.

View the Theater and Performance Studies Major Map PDF.

Courses

Theater and Performance Studies

Contact Information

Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies

15 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-9012

Fax: 510-643-9956

tdps@berkeley.edu

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Prof. SanSan Kwan

15F Dwinelle Hall

sansankwan@berkeley.edu

Undergraduate Student Academic Advisor

Laxmi Kumaran

15B Dwinelle Hall

laxmik@berkeley.edu

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