Lighting Design, BA

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3 years full-time, October start


Institution code: C35; Course code: W450


Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

About the course

Studying on the Lighting Design specialism of the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice degree course, you will:

  • Learn to design lighting for live performance, developing creative and technical expertise
  • Develop practical skills such as rigging, focusing and plotting for lighting and video
  • Possibilities for professional work and placements to develop your portfolio

Lighting Design Course Leader Nick Moran discusses the roles, responsibilities and career opportunities of a Lighting Designer.

Training at Central

Our joint emphasis on practical as well as aesthetic development gives you the opportunity to create highly innovative lighting design. The training includes practical projects in Central’s well-equipped studio and performance spaces, alongside a rigorous investigation of the design process and visual communication.

As you progress through the course, you will be encouraged to develop your own design style, supported by tutors, mentors and visiting professionals.

Industry focus at Central

You will benefit from Central’s industry focused teaching and research culture, which ensures that what we do and what we teach is at the forefront of knowledge and industry practice in theatre, events and concert touring.

You will be encouraged to experiment with a variety of both new and older technologies, including automated lighting, video, projection, LEDs and other emerging technologies, as well as more traditional theatre fixtures and even candles!

Throughout the course, you will be introduced to professional practitioners, including many successful graduates of the course, who will often be working alongside you in role, as mentors, and as project leaders.

Interested in applying for 2020?

You can still apply for this course and be considered through UCAS despite them classing your application as 'late'. You can also register your interest in 2020 entry here and our Admissions Team will then contact you about interview options and further details. 

Course Detail

YEAR 1: Introduction

  • Includes a solid grounding in ‘the tools of the trade’, building confidence in the practical side of creating stage lighting and working on developing your creative responses to texts and other sources.
  • You will be guided to develop ways of successfully collaborating, and working as part of multi-disciplinary creative and technical teams.
  • Short production projects offer opportunities to practice the roles, so that by the summer term, you will be ready to take on a lead role on a smaller show, or assistant on a larger production.

YEAR 2: Continuing the process of building practical skills and confidence as a designer

  • Through realised productions and speculative projects, you will work closely with students from other courses and visiting professionals
  • Develop your ability to communicate, negotiate and solve problems in a team environment
  • Workshops include working at height, working with electricity, programming, video design and event lighting.
  • By the end of this year, you will be confident in rigging, focusing and plotting lighting for other designers, as well as for your own independent work.
  • Complete at least one realised lighting or video design for a Central production.

YEAR 3: Focus on professional development

  • You will be able to take advantage of Central’s relationships with the lighting industry, including numerous alumni and leading international designers.
  • Begin to focus on your preferred career pathway.
  • There are opportunities to continue to develop the skills of a contemporary lighting designer or video designer and gain a further understanding of the technologies involved.
  • Projects offer experience of the managerial and creative demands faced by lighting designers on larger projects and productions.
  • You will take part in an exhibition presenting a portfolio of your best work to the industry.

Download BA Theatre Practice Programme Specification 2019-2020.pdf (1.19 MB)

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Minimum Entry Requirements

Our standard academic entry requirements range between 120 and 64 UCAS tariff points. You can see how many tariff points your qualifications would gain on the UCAS Tariff Calculator. International qualifications and others not covered within the UCAS tariff can also be accepted. Please email us if you need further clarification.

Please note that we make lower offers (including unconditional) to exceptional candidates and those who have alternative or prior experience to offer. All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio. Interview and portfolio are key factors in determining which applicants are accepted on to the course.

Admission with Academic Credit

or information on alternative entry requirements see

Application Details

See How to Apply section for Undergraduate courses.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.


All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio, which should demonstrate their experience of stage lighting (no matter how small that might be) and their understanding of, and passion for, the industry they wish to train for. For more on preparing a portfolio for a lighting course, see the Association of Lighting Designers website - Training section, where the Course Leader Nick Moran has written some guidance.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central travelling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.

Industry Links & Opportunities

Central’s lighting courses are supported by major industry partners, including White Light and PRG UK, Mesmer and 59 Productions (the video companies behind many large-scale theatre and opera productions). We also have strong links with smaller companies that were started by graduates, such as DBSL, Liteup Events and Cassius Creative.

A panel of industry experts helps final year students launch their professional careers. Many opportunities for lighting students come through the network of graduates already well-placed in theatre, concert touring and event industries. The course has excellent links with the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), and local theatres and other venues which helps you to network in the industry, and to find placements and job opportunities.

Recent Visiting Professionals

Lighting Designers

  • Richard Pilbrow
  • Rick Fisher
  • Chloe Kenward
  • Howard Harrison
  • Nick Richings
  • David Kidd
  • Prema Mehta
  • Ben Ormerod
  • Johanna Town.

Leading Production Lighting Specialists

  • Rob Sobotnicki
  • Marc Callahan (Director of LiteUp Events)
  • Martin Chisnall (Harry Potter And The Cursed Child)
  • Stuart Porter (White Light).

Lighting Programmers

  • David Ayton
  • Stuart Porter.

International Lighting Scenographer

  • Yaron Abulafia.

Visiting graduates

  • Jess Glaisher (Chief Lx at Young Vic Theatre) 
  • Adam Povey (Theatre Production Electrician and Lighting Designer)
  • Squib Swain & Dan Hill (Cassius Creative - Concert Production Designers)
  • Adam Squire (Chief Lx Regents Park OPen Air Theatre and Tours)
  • Richard Pilbrow
  • Andy Purves
  • Matt Daw
  • Jash Gadsby 
  • Jack Knowles 

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:


Including as Programmer and Assistant Lighting Designer:

  • National Theatre
  • Glyndebourne
  • English National Opera
  • Sadler’s Wells
  • The Place
  • Young Vic
  • Royal Court Theatre
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • Hampstead Theatre.

Lighting Design

  • Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House
  • Arcola Theatre
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • Park Theatre
  • Curve Theatre Leicester
  • Numerous small and medium-sized producing and receiving houses throughout the UK and Europe.

Site-specific work

  • Goat and Monkey
  • Secret Cinema
  • National Youth Theatre.

Events and Production

Graduate traineeships with White Light and Imagination

Working on events at The Royal Albert Hall, the Roundhouse, Chelsea Football Club, The O2 Arena, Geneva Motor Show and venues throughout the UK and Europe.

Video and Projection Design

Team members at:

  • English National Opera
  • Glyndebourne Festival Opera
  • National Theatre
  • Complicite
  • For bands including Jess Glynne, Two Door Cinema Club, Anna Calvi and Eros Ramazzotti.

Concert Touring and Festivals

Including Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival and V Festival.

Touring Lighting Designer

Worldwide with bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, The Streets, The Script and Sweedish House Mafia.

Notable Graduates

Bethany Gupwell (2018) has quickly established a promising career in lighting design, she won The Association of Lighting Designers Francis Reid Award in 2018 and was nominated for Best Lighting Design in the 2019 Offies for her work on Queen of The Mist.

David Howe (1993) is an award-winning international lighting designer for UK and International theatre, opera, dance and concert productions. He is also a long-term associate of Paul Pyant on award-winning shows such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Jack Knowles (2008) was awarded the ADB Award for Plays at the 2018 Knight of Illumination Awards for his work designing the lighting for Barber Shop Chronicles (National Theatre). His most recent credits as a lighting designer include; Top Girls (National Theatre); Three Sisters (Almeida Theatre); The Producers (Royal Exchange Theatre), and Caroline or Change (Hampstead Theatre), for which he is currently working on the Broadway transfer.

Richard Pilbrow (1955) is Founder of Theatre Projects, and is one of the world's leading theatre design consultants, a theatre, film and television producer, and an internationally known author and stage lighting designer. Over the course of his illustrious career, he has received many accolades and awards, including the 4th Knights of Illumination Lifetime Recognition Award in 2011. Richard is also a joint founder of the Association of British Theatre Technicians, Society of Theatre Consultants, The Society of British Theatre Designers, and The Association of Lighting Designers.

Zoe Spurr (2012) is an award-winning lighting designer; in 2019 alone she won a Theatre and Technology Lighting Design award for her work on Frantic Assembly's UK Tour of The Unreturning, the Lightmongers ALD Award for New Talent in Entertainment Lighting, and an Offie Award for Best Lighting Design for Tiny Dynamite (Old Red Lion Theatre). Some of her other theatre credits include; Toast (UK Tour); Emilia (Vaudeville Theatre); An Edinburgh Christmas Carol (Edinburgh Lyceum Theatre), and The Seven Ages of Patience (Kiln Theatre).

Jamie Thompson (2003) is an award-winning lighting designer who co-founded MIRRAD, a visual arts design collective using the latest innovations in live music production. They've worked on the tours for artists such as Yungblud, Rita Ora, KANO, Tinie Tempah, and Emeli Sandé.

Sam Waddington (2016) has recent credits as Associate/Assistant Lighting Designer for productions including; A Christmas Carol (Lyceum Theatre, Broadway/The Old Vic); The Caretaker, and The Master Builder (The Old Vic); Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre); Life of Pi (Sheffield Crucible); Back to the Future (Manchester Opera House), and Present Laughter (The Old Vic).

Anna Watson (2000) has provided lighting for a great many productions, including; Poet in da Corner (Royal Court); Henry VI and Richard III (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse); Appropriate (Donmar Warehouse); A Christmas Carol (Bristol Old Vic), and Leave to Remain (Lyric Hammersmith).

Adam Young (2010) is a Tony Award-nominated video designer. He co-runs FRAY, with fellow alumnus Finn Ross, a multi award-winning video design studio, and has worked on the tours for global music acts such as Years & Years, Jess Glynne, Bombay Bicycle and Pendulum. He has also provides lighting design for theatre, including the 2018 production, Mean Girls. 

Staff on the Course

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.

Nick Moran, BSc, FHEA, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Production Lighting and Theatre Lighting Design

Alex Stone

Lecturer in Performance Lighting
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