MA Ethnochoreology

Dance or structured human movement practice is an important aspect of the lives of human beings the world over. Ethnochoreology, the study of dance, movement and culture, aims to extend our knowledge and understanding of diverse cultures and the movement experiences that these cultures offer.

Ethnochoreology is an academic interdisciplinary field and is inclusive of all dance or structured human movement practices. Through critical examination of relevant literature within the social sciences, exposure to diverse dance practices – theory and practice, first-hand experience in the field and subsequent reflection on the process of ‘doing’ fieldwork, students of ethnochoreology document and examine the different meanings of dance and movement within the context of culture. This assists in extending students’ horizons of understanding into how and why people move the way they do and what this tells us about the cultures from which these practices have emerged.

Designed and directed by Dr Catherine Foley, the Master of Arts in Ethnochoreology was established in 1996 at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and was the first programme of its type at any university in Europe. In this pioneering spirit it continues to be a leading programme in the field and to attract an international body of students.

The Master of Arts in Ethnochoreology is a one-year, fulltime, taught postgraduate programme. It offers specialised training in the history, theory, and methods of Ethnochoreology while acknowledging the significance of ‘practice’ in learning and in research. The programme also allows students to develop conceptual and documentation skills necessary for undertaking field research. It equips them with a professional qualification in Ethnochoreology while providing an essential foundation for those wishing to pursue dance research at doctoral level.

The Master of Arts in Ethnochoreology collaborates with other postgraduate programmes at the Academy such as the Master of Arts in Irish Traditional Dance Performance, the Master of Arts in Irish Dance Studies, and the Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology.

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance offers a suite of taught postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in dance, music, voice and festival. Together with the MA Ethnochoreology, MA Irish Traditional Dance Performance, MA Irish Dance Studies, and MA Ethnomusicology programmes, other Master of Arts programmes are available in Classical String Performance, Ritual Chant and Song, Community Music, Contemporary Dance Performance, Irish Traditional Music Performance, Irish Music Studies, Festive Arts, Music Education and Music Therapy. Lunchtime concerts, seminar series, artists-in-residence, visiting guest lecturers and tutors, and a strong research community of doctoral students in Ethnochoreology and other related fields of research, all contribute to providing a rich learning, research and artistic environment for students of Ethnochoreology.

The Master of Arts in Ethnochoreology will appeal to a broad spectrum of students from a wide variety of academic, dance and musical backgrounds and who wish to benefit from the unique configuration of theoretical and practical possibilities offered by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. The MA Ethnochoreology programme is designed to cater for the continuing education needs of individuals in dance/music and in cognate and closely related disciplines, such as Anthropology, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Cultural Geography, Irish Studies, Folklore, Gender Studies, Ethnomusicology, and Education.

Programme of Study

The programme is taught and is structured into three semesters. Semesters 1 and 2 consist of core and elective modules. Semester 3, consists of the completion of the final presentation.

Semester 1

DA5001 Ethnochoreology: History and Theory

MD6021 Introduction to Fieldwork Techniques

DA6021: Dance Ethnography

MD6041 Introduction to Ritual Studies

MD6031 Media Technologies for Performing Arts and Arts Research


MD 6051 Independent Study 1

MD6o61 Introduction to Somatics

MD6091 Professional Development for the Performing Arts

MD6071 Writing & the Documentation of Arts Practice 1

Semester 2

MD6042 Current Issues in Ethnochoreology

DA5022 World Dance Survey

DA6002 Critical Encounters with Irish Traditional Dance


MD 6052 Independent Study 2

MD6062 Critical Contexts for Arts Management and Cultural Policy

MD6072 Writing and the Documentation of Arts Practice 2

MD6082 Choreography for Camera

MD6o61 Introduction to Somatics 2

Semester 3

MD5522 Final Presentation


Entrance Requirements:

A primary degree with first or second class honours


an approved equivalent qualification


an equivalent capability based on prior professional experience.



Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287


Click here for UL Academic Calendar


Click here for UL International  Office 


Click here for Postgraduate Fees


Click here for a list of scholarships available to prospective Irish World Academy of Music and Dance students.



“As a graduate of the MA in Ethnochoreology, the programme has provided me with a solid theoretical grounding and superb practical experience in field research. I feel the programme has aided the development of both, my conceptual and practical practice and has presented me with the opportunity to delve deeper into the research and understanding of dance. I am delighted about being involved in a programme that is characterized by its willingness to embrace an open-minded approach to the anthropological study of dance.”

Jennifer de Brún

“The MA programme in Ethnochoreology has broadened my knowledge of cultural dance and increased my ability to examine movement as a possible reflection of the culture from which it originates.  I feel this course has prepared me to bridge gaps of cultural misunderstandings by drawing connections between cultures through movement. I am currently involved in researching Ethiopian Traditional dances and their influences on my creative practices as a Western contemporary dancer.”

RAS Mikey Courtney

“The MA in Ethnochoreology at the Irish World Academy gave me the invaluable chance to explore dance from a research-based perspective via history and the social sciences, while also engaging with the same dance traditions in my own body.  This unique approach to thinking, writing, and moving all in one setting provided me an opportunity to encounter the dance traditions of other cultures, as well as enriched my understanding of my own dance practice. I now work as both a professional dancer and dance researcher: concertizing, teaching, and presenting at academic conferences on traditional music and dance, Irish studies, and social theory.”

Nic Gareiss

“The MA in Ethnochoreology changed my perceptions on how I view movement, and dance in particular, on a fundamental level. Aspects of human behaviour have become even more interesting and intriguing than what I previously thought. I will never look back.  I now work as a lecturer on the BA Irish Music and Dance programme at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.”

Dr. Mats Melin




Applicants wishing to discuss detailed elements of the programme may contact the course director:

Dr. Catherine E. Foley
Course Director, MA Ethnochoreology

Room No: IW1.22
Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,
University of Limerick,
Phone: + 353-61-202922
Fax: + 353 61 202589

For further details, information and brochures about the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance:

Irish World Academy of Music and Dance,
University of Limerick,
Phone: + 353 61 202590

For queries to the University of Limerick Postgraduate Admissions Office:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Graduate School
Foundation Building
University of Limerick

Tel: +353 61 234377
Fax: +353 61 233287