Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I encourage prospective candidates to contact me in relation to research projects that explore: the work of women theatremakers in Irish theatre, drama and theatre education, and/or, practice-based investigations.


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Kate McCarthy (pronouns: she/her) is a Lecturer in Drama at SETU. Her teaching, research, and performance practice explore and challenge exclusionary and gendered narratives. Her teaching activities and research outputs use multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression, taking many forms including: theatre practice, workshops, community engagement projects, educational resources, public talks, podcasts, summer schools, as well as publications and conference contributions. In 2021, she was awarded the WIT Early Career Researcher Award and received a Teaching Hero Award, for which she was nominated by her students. Her research interests include: the arts and education; contemporary theatre practice, in particular participatory performance and live art; the work of Waterford playwright, Teresa Deevy; and Waterford’s Magdalene Laundry and Industrial School. 

Kate trained at the Cork School of Music (Munster Technological University), Trinity College London (Associate and Licentiate Diplomas in Performing), and in Drama and Theatre Studies at University College Cork (BA and MA). As a practitioner, Kate has facilitated and devised contemporary performance projects in Ireland and in the UK including: youth theatre, site-responsive performance, street theatre, community engagement project, and drama and theatre education projects.

As a scholar-practitioner, Kate has facilitated a wide range of drama and theatre community engagement projects in the region with the following organisations: Animated State Dance Company; Butler Gallery & Museum; The Copper Coast Geopark; Cruinniú na nÓg; Curious State Theatre and Street Spectacle Company; Garter Lane Arts Centre; Little Red Kettle and Waterford Libraries. Kate also supports work created by young people and has facilitated projects in this domain with organisations such as Activate Youth Theatre and Physcially Phishy youth theatres (Cork); Klub Music (Waterford); Learning for Life programme (SETU); Togher Family Centre (Cork); Waterford Youth Arts; SETU Youth Orchestra; Youth Theatre Ireland.


Kate's teaching and learning philosophy is informed by three interrelated approaches: the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), Teaching for Understanding (TfU), and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). She teaches a range of practice-based and theory-based undergraduate modules in the Department of Arts (see Courses for more information), including on the BA programmes in Theatre Studies, English, and Visual Art. She has also taught on the Social Care, Early Childhood Studies, Design in Visual Communication, and Fáilte Ireland programmes. With Dr Úna Kealy, Kate was co-recipient of a Teaching Excellence Award in 2016.

Research Interests

Kate is a member of the Feminst Research Working Group (International Federation for Theatre Research), the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the Irish Society for Theatre Research, the Arts Education Research Group (Trinity College Dublin), Women in Research Network (SETU), and PLACE (Practice-Led, Active & Creative Engagement) working group (School of Humanities, SETU).

Research projects

IBSA Project: Responding creatively to image-based sexual abuse (with Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney): This project works with SETU students and staff and supports them in creating artistic responses in different media to counter the occurrence of IBSA, recognising that artists, staff, and students can be strong allies in challenging rape culture. The artistic responses will be curated as part of an online exhibition on the project website.

Lyrical Bodies (PI Dr Úna Kealy, SETU), 2022-2027, investigates Waterford playwright Teresa Deevy’s ballet Possession, a work never yet performed, to explore and analyse ableism and gender discrimination towards the Irish Deaf community and Deaf woman via theatre practice research. The project considers how deafened playwright Teresa Deevy reflected on the socio-cultural environment of the mid-twentieth century. This project is funded by the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Fund (SETU) and Research Connexions (SETU).

Letters from the Past (with Dr Úna Kealy) constitutes an inter-generational archival project researching the correspondence between Waterford playwrights Teresa Deevy and James Cheasty.

The Waterford Memories Project (PI Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney, SETU) comprises an oral history, digital humanities project that investigates the Waterford Laundry and Industrial School. This project has multiple research outputs, each funded by different organisations including the Irish Research Council, Creative Ireland, and Waterford City and County Council.

Generation Climate Change (PI Dr Kate McCarthy, SETU) funded by Creative Ireland, in collaboration with Curious State theatre company, this project provided young people in Waterford city and county with opportunities for creative, critical, and reflective thinking about the climate crises and examined drama education and the Mantle of the Expert approach as a critical pedagogy. 

Funding awards

  • SETU Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Fund 2021 (with Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney): €1,800
  • SETU Research Connexions Publication Fund 2021 (with Dr Úna Kealy): €1,494 and SETU Research Connexions Research Dissemination Activity Fund 2021: €500.
  • SETU Research Connexions publication fund 2020, Active Speech: Critical Perspectives on Teresa Deevy with Dr Úna Kealy. Award (with Dr Kealy): €5,000. 
  • SETU Research Connexions fund 2020 with Dr Hazel Farrell, Dr Jenny O'Connor, Dr Susan Connolly. Award: €1,000.
  • Co-supervisor with Dr Una Kealy, GOIPG (IRC) PhD student Aaron Kent. Award: €96,000
  • SETU Research Connexions publication fund 2019 (with Dr Úna Kealy). Award: €3,700.
  • Creative Ireland (2019) Generation Climate Change. Total: €4,500
  • Creative Irealand (2019) Exploring Waterford's Magdalene Laundry (with Dr Jennifer O'Mahoney). Total: €4,500
  • Waterford City and County Council Arts Funding. Total: €1,000



2021- present:

  • editorial consult on a new series of Practice as Research publications (series editor Dr Nicole Brown (University College London)
  • NCCA (Ireland) consultation on Drama, Theatre, and Film Studies (Senior Cycle, post-primary education)
  • advisor for the And-Mitchell Project, a research initiative funded by the Regional Government of Andalucia, Spain to explore the life and work of writer Mairin Mitchell.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Trinity College Dublin

2010May 2018

Award Date: 18 Apr 2019

Masters Degree, University College Cork

Oct 2004Sep 2005

Award Date: 13 Oct 2005

Bachelors Degree, University College Cork

Sep 2001Jun 2004

Award Date: 14 Oct 2004

External positions

Advisor, University of Almeria

2021 → …

External Examiner, University of Limerick


External Examiner, Munster Technological University


MEd Supervisor, Trinity College Dublin



  • PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
  • PR English literature
  • Theatre Studies
  • L Education (General)


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