UQ’s creative outputs are acclaimed nationally and internationally, and have made significant contributions to the shape and conception of Australian literature, drama, and music. Creative Writing, Drama, and Music at UQ engage with both individual creative works and research-based portfolios. The area addresses historical and contemporary texts as well as the specific conditions of creative practice. The impact of this research shows itself in the recognition by both audience and critics of the creative texts that it generates and performs, and extends to engagement with Australia Council policy on arts education and youth arts programs.

Music compositions, live performances and studio recordings, novels, plays, and poetry collections underpin this research strength, which is anchored by a strong theoretical foundation. A key feature that distinguishes the creative work at UQ is that it is research-led and produced in a context of research debates and interventions.

UQ's Performing Arts and Creative Writing researchers have held significant positions (in editorial roles and in leading organisations). Staff and students have received major research grants and awards for creative work including the Queensland Poetry Prize, Patrick White Playwrights' Award, APRAs, Australian Music Centre Classical Music Award and recognition by the Academy of Humanities. They have a wide network of partners including Queensland Writers Centre, Brisbane Writers Festival, UQ Press, Queensland Theatre Company, Multi-Media Art Asia-Pacific, Q Music, Literature Board of the Australia Council, Queensland Literary Awards, the State Library of Queensland, Musica Viva, Queensland Music Festival, Playlab, and Queensland Corrections through Dr Rob Pensalfini's Shakespeare in Prison Project. The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble is a resident company. Creative writing staff are regularly invited to major writers festivals and to act as book reviewers and critics. 

This research strength is comprised of several strands of activity, including:

  • Music Composition and Performance 
  • Creative Writing 
  • Research into Music, Musicology, and Theatre

Performing Arts and Creative Writing in brief

  • More than 20 full-time equivalent researchers
  • More than 50 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 250 publications since 2008
  • More than $1.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Performing Arts and Creative Writing research rated above world standard – in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise.
  • Research benefits from infrastructure such as:
    • Recording studio; Digital lab for music research; instruments for performance research; and sophisticated software for music therapy, education, and performance
    • Theatre space for teaching and performance for Drama, including the Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio
    • Leading national research collections in the field of music through the UQ Library
    • University of Queensland Press - Australia's largest university press.

Highlights of UQ Performing Arts and Creative Writing


UQ Music’s Creative Collaboratorium was established by Professor Margaret Barrett in 2010 to bring together strengths in music composition and performance. It also provides a research focus for composition, musicology, music education, music health and well-being, and performance. Highlights of musicological research include work into the history of music theory, with a particular focus on the canon and related contrapuntal procedures in Western art music from c. 1500 to c. 1800, and research into seventeenth-century and early eighteenth-century opera German and court music, and the reception of the music of Handel and J. S. Bach in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Australasia. Other research interests within UQ Music include Russian and Soviet music, the analysis of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century music, and the cultural psychology of music education, the role of music in early childhood development, and theories of musical narrative. 

Music performance 

UQ’s Music School boasts several leading internationally renowned performers, including Patricia Pollett, violist and leader of the Ensemble in Residence, the Viney-Grinberg Piano Duo, Graeme Morton, recently honoured with the Order of Australia (AM) for service to the arts for his outstanding work on choral performance. Robert Davidson is composer/bassist and founder of Topology, which is a Key Arts Organisation in both the Australia Council and Arts Queensland. Topology was awarded Outstanding Contribution in the 2009 Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). The School has forged strong and vibrant partnerships with major Australian performance organizations such as Musica Viva, the Australian Youth Orchestra, ABC Classics and the Queensland Music Festival. School staff are actively involved in commissioning and performing new works with leading Australian and international composers and performers including Andrew Ford, Matthew Hindson, The Brodsky Quartet, The Kransky Sisters, and the Southern Cross Soloists. 

Creative writing

Authorship of new literary texts 

Creative writing research at UQ constitutes a substantial program in the creation, dissemination, and critical reception of new literary texts across a range of forms. UQ researchers Venero Armanno, Bronwyn Lea, and Kim Wilkins are widely published in local and international book markets, while Stuart Glover is a regular presence in the Australian cultural media and Stephen Carleton’s award-winning plays have been performed across the country. 

Cultural impact 

UQ’s Creative Writing researchers maintain an important industry presence, which drives a series of partnerships, such as the Brisbane Writers’ Festival. Venero Armanno is regularly published book critic. Bronwyn Lea is a key figure in the organisation of contemporary Australian poetry and one of the leading poetry editors in the country. Lea is a regular advisor to government and national arts organisations on literary matters. Kim Wilkins is the Deputy Chair of the Queensland Writers Centre and a consultant for the Hachette manuscript program. Stuart Glover is the founding Chair of the Queensland Literary Awards. Glover has substantially influenced state arts funding policy and remains an advisor to the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He was the founding director of the Brisbane Writers Festival, founding Chair of Multi-Media Art Asia-Pacific, Chair of Q Music, a Board Member of the Queensland Theatre Company, Deputy Chair of the Queensland Writers Centre, and is a past member of the Literature Board. 

Drama and theatre studies

UQ Theatre and Drama explores historical and contemporary theatre of Australia and beyond through politics and performance. It includes a wide range of theatre forms, genres and cultures (from Restoration theatre to contemporary site-based performance; from theatre of the Pacific to Gothic theatre in Australia and beyond) and critical fields of inquiry (cultural geography, spatial inquiry, intercultural theatre, and digital mapping). 

UQ Drama shapes cultural spaces 

Professor Joanne Tompkins’ research into cultural spaces has led to work in virtual reality environments that reproduce contemporary, recognisable gallery spaces, museums, and theatres. Ortelia, a commercialisable research outcome of UQ Drama, is a Virtual Reality environment that enables virtual access to cultural venues for curating, designing, and storing cultural exhibitions, artefacts, and theatre productions. It intervenes in the ways in which museum and gallery exhibitions are curated and archived; and how theatres light their productions and design their sets. In historical terms, Ortelia is helping recreate theatre venues that no longer exist to discover more about historic performance. Tompkins’ research has yielded significant findings about performance, such as the special effects used in theatres in Shakespeare’s day. This galleries and theatres mapping project elaborates the contributions that well-grounded history, aesthetics and performance research play in the development of cultural heritage.