Design for Performance, BA

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3 years full-time, October start


Institution code: C35; Course code: W461


Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

About the course

Studying on the Design for Performance pathway of the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice course, you will: 

  • Be prepared to work creatively and professionally as a set and costume designer 
  • Receive intensive design training with industry-wide interaction 
  • Develop skills through speculative and realised performances at Central
  • Collaborate with performers, directors, other designers and production team.

The course develops practitioners with a strong sense of direction and identity, and an ability to think conceptually. From the first year you undertake speculative design projects that will challenge and test ideas in a broad range of performance contexts, from text-based drama to opera, dance, site-specific performance and installations, under the guidance of professional directors, designers and choreographers. 


This course prepares you to work creatively and professionally as a set and costume designer. You will learn through collaboration with other design and production courses, developing an understanding of the specialist practitioners with whom you are likely to work in your career, such as lighting and sound designers, puppeteers, constructors, stage managers and technical production teams.

As the basis of a collaborative approach to design, you will share some workshops with acting students, enabling a deeper mutual insight into each other’s practices and methodologies. The course provides opportunities to work on undergraduate and postgraduate productions of plays, musicals, devised productions, community theatre, puppetry performances and performance art projects.

Develop skills

You will develop necessary skills, including model making, technical drawing with AutoCAD, costume drawing and storyboarding using Adobe Photoshop, and the use of projected media. You will have the opportunity to put these skills into practice on realised projects in Central’s professionally equipped performance spaces.

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: Key Skills

  • Completion of several units allowing the development of core skills and a clear understanding of what performance and performance design are through a series of taught classes, workshops and realised projects
  • Contact with the professional world as part of the course from the start
  • You will work on a number of collaborative projects that encompass installation and immersive and traditional contexts in which to design.

YEAR 2: Developing individual design processes

  • Developing individual design processes to a near-professional level through a series of assignments, during which you will work with directors on speculative design projects using texts and opera
  • Assignments can also include completing a professional placement with a practitioner or company, or designing a realised performance within Central.

YEAR 3: Professional Development

  • Focus on professional development: applying and refining design practice on Central’s public productions, as well as smaller scale professional productions, as appropriate
  • You will finalise areas of professional interest and identity and participate in an public exhibition presenting your work to invited industry employers and others.

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.

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.

Admission with Academic Credit

For information on alternative entry requirements see


Find out more about the interview process for this course.

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 Placements

A large number of successful placements take place, usually once for each student in either the second or third year of the course.

Past students have collaborated with, or had placements at the following - and have assisted or worked alongside professional designers and other industry professionals, both within the UK and abroad:

  • Improbable Theatre
  • John Pawson Architects
  • Royal Opera House Model Room
  • Opera North
  • Scottish Opera
  • National Theatre
  • Shunt
  • Punchdrunk
  • Arcola Theatre
  • Thin Man Films
  • National Film & Television School
  • Harvey Nichols

Recent Visiting Professionals

Sophie Jump, Simon Basketter, Sarah Beaton, Claire Christie, Keith Orton, Nicolai Hart-Hansen, Jacqueline Gunn, Yael Shavit, Tim Hopkins, Bronya Arciszewska, Amelia Sears, Minglu Wang, Jemima Yong. 

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

  • Designer, National Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Place, Southwark Playhouse, Riverside Studios.
  • Design Assistant, Sadler’s Wells, National Theatre Design Office, Dreamthinkspeak.
  • Emerging Artist, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), Art of Regeneration. Interdisciplinary Artist and Scenographer, BRAVENEWWORLDs.
  • Art Department Assistant, Thin Man Films, BBC Drama The Interceptor, feature films including Muppets Most Wanted, One Day and Mr Turner.
  • Production Designer, Long Forgotten Fields.
  • The Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2015.
  • First runner-up in the Hermione Hammond Drawing Award 2013.

Notable Graduates

Notable Graduates

Ruth Sutcliffe (2008) winner of Best Set Design at the Off West End Theatre Awards in 2012. Winner of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design in 2009.

Rebecca Brower (2011) nominated for a 2013 Off West End Theatre Award for Best Set Design. Winner of The Stage Design Award in 2011. Equity - Young Equity Member 2012, a bursary award to help new practitioners go further in the industry. The Stage - Design Award 2011 and Bursary aimed at up and coming Set and Costume Designers for Theatre. 

Rosie Elnile (2014) winner of the Stage Debut Award for Best Designer in 2017. Jerwood Young Designer at Gate Theatre in 2016/17. Weston Jerwood Creative Bursary holder in the 2014-16 edition of the programme at Donmar Warehouse.

Khadija Raza (2017) won the Linbury Prize in 2017, the UK’s most prestigious award for stage design. Awarded a Stage Debut Award for Best Designer in 2018.

Sami Fendall (2018) was named the overall winner of the Linbury Prize in 2019. 

QianEr Jin (2019) Project 2036 bursary as set and costume designer at The Bush in 2019-2020. 

Sarah Beaton (2011) Winner of the Linbury Prize in 2011. 2015-16 One of the Old Vic 12. 

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.

Aldona Cunningham, BA, PGCE, FHEA

Senior Lecturer, Scenography

Nick Moran, BSc, FHEA, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Production Lighting and Theatre Lighting Design

Dr. Simon Donger, BA, MA, PHD

Lecturer, Course Leader MA/MFA Scenography

Dr Jessica Hartley BA, MA, PGCE, PhD, SFHEA

Lecturer, Theatre and Performance Studies
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