Skip to content

Costume Design and Construction BA (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): W451
  • Start Date(s): September 2023
  • Duration: Three years
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    • A-levels – BBC or equivalent; or
    • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
    • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels  or equivalent qualifications.

    More information

Introduction:

This specialist degree focuses on developing both your costume design and costume construction skills. You will learn how to translate your creative ideas into professional costumes for theatre, film and television, dance, opera and other performance areas.

  • You’ll have the opportunity to complete a work experience placement of up to a year in length. Dependent on the duration of your placement, you could gain an additional Diploma or Certificate in Professional Practice.
  • Visit design exhibitions at venues like the V&A in London and the National Theatre costume department. You will also have the opportunity to go on national and international trips to see opera, ballet, theatre and dance performances.
  • You’ll be able to personalise your studies by choosing from a range of up to eight optional modules. Your course also includes our School-wide, sector-leading CoLab module.

What you’ll study

Develop the skills you need to become a versatile costume designer and expert in mixed-media construction. You will study subjects exploring visual research, character and text analysis, contemporary design development and innovative 2D to 3D realisation. Explore such skills as corsetry, pattern cutting, tailoring, millinery, costume props, fabric knowledge, and print and dye. You'll learn how to interpret a brief and work with a creative team to create unique and bespoke costume designs.

As a costume student you will collaborate with students across our Design for Stage and Screen courses, as you personalise your learning journey and tailor your skills to meet your career aspirations in this exciting global industry.

Design for Stage and Screen: Introduction

(80 credit points)

Through independent and collaborative projects and practical workshops, you will develop the skills and vocabulary relevant to costume design and construction. Through experimentation with a variety of methods and materials, this module will provide the opportunity to develop your visual communication skills and 3D problem solving, as you work on individual briefs, and a collaborative project with your fellow Design for Stage and Screen students.

You’ll develop your skills through experimentation with text, character analysis, form, texture, colour and light through a variety of drawing, design work, digital work and construction projects. You will develop the necessary methods to generate ideas and build your 2D and 3D practice using traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques, developing key transferable skills in visual communication, self-evaluation and critical thinking.

Contextual Studies: Introducing Research

(20 credit points)

Explore stage and screen history, cultural and contextual knowledge and its relevance to costume design and construction. You will develop a critical knowledge and understanding of the role that performance, culture, art and design can play within society by examining cultural contexts across a variety of time periods and locations, aiding and enriching your practical work.

Skills Passport

(20 credit points)

This module introduces a variety of practical technical skills and the concepts of safe professional practice. Through exploration of a range of materials and processes, you will build relevant skills and develop your practical knowledge base, while allowing flexibility for personal direction and acquiring an understanding of industry needs.

Exploration (Costume Design and Construction)

(60 credit points)

This module reinforces the interconnectedness of costume design and costume construction and offers the opportunity to deepen your artistic and intellectual enquiry through an experimental exploration of, and personal response to more challenging project work.

Building on the knowledge and skills you acquired in Year One, you will develop and enhance your creative thinking and technical, visualisation and software skills, giving you a sound and relevant preparation for Year Three and your future career.

Strengthen your creative and technical skills through innovative, industry relevant practical work. This provides focus to develop your personal and artistic responses to costume design and construction. You will have the opportunity to apply theoretical and practical knowledge and skills and to consider the progression of your individual practice and artistic style within the stage and screen industry.

Contextual Studies: Research and Impact

(20 credit points)

You will further investigate the role of performance and how it can convey meaning within a variety of cultural contexts, with an emphasis on performance analysis and practice within the global industry. You will continue to develop your intellectual curiosity and critical thinking skills which are key to the expression of your knowledge and understanding.

CoLab: Research, Exploration and Risk-taking

(20 credit points)

Through active participation with team-based problem-solving, you will work together in mixed teams on a project where you will use your creative ideas to generate solutions to the challenge or brief. Your project will allow you to explore how creativity can make an impact in society, as you choose a theme of sustainability, social justice, enterprise and innovation or community. This collaborative learning experience will expose you to a range of new processes and approaches that will develop your creative thinking.

Optional module

(20 credit points)

You will also choose one module from below:

  • Millinery: Object and Narrative
  • Telling Stories
  • Character Ideation
  • Materials and Making
  • Material Stories
  • Model Making: Object and Narrative
  • Storyboarding: Visualising the Story, Enhancing the Narrative
  • Ethical Design

Exposition (Costume Design and Construction)

(100 credit points)

You will negotiate, develop and conduct a self-directed costume design and construction project that is informed by your specific career aspirations and interests within the industry. Your project will combine technical costume design and construction skills with an innovative approach to your work. Sophisticated transferable skills such as reflective independent learning and personal development are emphasised facilitating the development of a personal visual language and creative, critical inquiry in your project work.

Contextual Studies: Research and Professional Practice

(20 credit points)

Undertake a detailed piece of written work that explores either your own final year project, or an industry-related investigation of an area of costume design and construction that is of significance to you. You will hone your research and critical analysis skills as you connect theory to relevant aspects of professional contemporary performance or practice.

Don’t just take our word for it, hear from our students themselves

Student Profiles

BA Costume Design - Fiona Stock

Costume Design and Construction

I love how ‘hands-on our course is, such as industry Fridays when guest lectures speak to us. I also love our course trips.

Hannah Varley

Costume Design and Construction

I really enjoy having such a variety of projects that have allowed me to develop both my design and making skills in a variety of performance areas, such as ballet, opera, theatre, and film. It has allowed me to consider what route I want to take in my career.

Kitty Hawkins

I've enjoyed working alongside some really talented tutors, designers and makers who have taught me so much.

Sophie Anagnostopoulou

Costume Design and Construction

Nottingham is great for me! It isn’t too big and it isn’t too small. There is always something going on, and there are so many things to see and do. It also has good transport links to London; something that is important for art and design students.

Esme Kirk

Costume Design and Construction

The course is one of the only costume courses in the country that teaches you both design and making skills, which I believe makes you more employable.

Milicent Heaton

Costume Design and Construction

At NTU you gain an unbeatable set and range of skills in the specialism of Costume Designing and Making, combined with consistent and in-depth supportive teaching.

Video Gallery

Video Icon
 

How you’re taught

On this course, you will spend your time in creative studio environments. Teaching and learning experiences will include:

  • studio days
  • presentations
  • independent projects
  • demonstrations
  • research
  • reflective journals
  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • study visits.

Collaboration across courses

This course offers our new innovative collaboration module. This gives you the opportunity to work collaboratively with your contemporaries from a range of different art and design subjects and beyond. You’ll be working alongside artists, designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, and filmmakers on daring and creative projects that prepare you for a rewarding career in your chosen industry. Your project will allow you to explore how creativity can make an impact in society, as you choose a theme of sustainability, social justice, enterprise and innovation or community.

International exchanges and study trips

Recent trips have included a visit to the Prague Quadrennial to see international industry experts within the field, a backstage tour of the Nottingham Theatre Royal, the V&A Museum in London, Newstead Abbey’s costume collection, and the National Theatre Open Day. Students have also been to watch Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Cinderella, designed by John Macfarlane, and Dr Frankenstein at the Crucible Theatre. We highlight up and coming performances so students are aware of what is happening relevant to their course work.

This course has exchange agreements with a number of institutions around the world, including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Showcase

You will be given the opportunity to exhibit your work during your time at NTU to members of the creative industries. Visit our ‘We Are Creatives’ showcase to take a look at the work of this year's graduating students’.

Contact hours

  • Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (28%), independent study (72%).
  • Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (22%), independent study (78%).
  • Year 3 lectures/seminars/workshops (20%), independent study (80%).

Further information

NTU is in the UK’s Top 15 for Art & Design in the Complete University Guide 2023 (Ranked 15th).

Staff Profiles

Hayley Meaden

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Hayley Meaden is a Lecturer in the School of Art & Design. Specialising in wearable art and working across Costume, Jewellery and the Visual arts Visual Storyteller. Freeformity

Totie Driver

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) BA (Hons) Theatre Design lecturer and alumna. Totie Driver designed the stage set for 'Miss Saigon'- West End and Broadway and 'Oliver' for world-renowned producer Cameron

Jenny Larkins

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Jenny Larkins is a Lecturer in the School of Art & Design.

Sharon Bainbridge

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Sharon is a Senior Lecturer on BA (Hons) Costume Design & Making, within Design for Stage and Screen at NTU. An outward facing academic with a background in millinery, design,

Neil Dixon

Senior Technician

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Neil Dixon is a Senior Technician for Lighting and Visualisation

How you’re assessed

Assessment is 100% through coursework. You’ll receive feedback throughout each module and will have opportunities to discuss feedback, identify areas of strength and weakness, and set personal goals. Depending on the module, you may be assessed through speculative design and live performances, artefacts, as well as presentations, written work and peer assessment.

Your final degree mark with be based 100% on your final year work.

  • Year 1 coursework (100%).
  • Year 2 coursework (100%).
  • Year 3 coursework (100%).

Careers and employability

Graduate destinations have included costume designing and / or construction for prestigious companies such as Angels Costumiers and the BBC, and freelance or in-house costume designing, making and assisting for a myriad of stage and screen companies, events and performances both large-scale and small-scale. These include everything from Outlander to Not Just Fish & Ships, Lichfield Garrick Pantomime to wardrobe on a cruise ship, and making props on the latest Marvel feature.

Connecting with industry

Live projects or competitions could offer you the chance to gain professional experience and raise your profile. Organisations and programmes the course has collaborated with include:

  • Making Costumes for the Curve, Leicester
  • Working at Lichfield Garrick Theatre on Cinderella
  • Working with Bruce Asbestos and Nottingham Contemporary on live art catwalk

You’ll also be encouraged to participate in national competitions and costume events, seeking out opportunities to work with local cultural centres.

Industry experts who have recently lectured on this course include:

  • television costume designer, Debbie O’Brien
  • specialist costume designer / maker, Ivo Coveney
  • Downton Abbey costume cutter, Sarah Humphrey
  • Society of British Theatre Designers Chair, Fiona Watt

Creative Industries Federation

We are members of the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), which means students in the Nottingham School of Art & Design have the opportunity to sign up to free student membership. Creative Industries Federation are an organisation that represents, champions and supports the UK’s creative industries and membership grants students exclusive access to their selection of resources and events to help advance your career and connect with industry.

Campus and facilities

You’ll be based in the Waverley building – a beautifully restored listed building with real design heritage: it was the original home of the Nottingham School of Art. View our Nottingham School of Art & Design Facilities Hub here.

Entry requirements

112 UCAS Tariff points

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC or equivalent; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
  • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels  or equivalent qualifications; and
  • GCSEs – English and Maths or Science grade C / 4.

Other requirements

Other qualifications and experience

We will consider equivalent qualifications and combinations, please see UCAS course search for details and use our calculator to help you work out how many UCAS points your qualifications relate to.

We may also consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or beyond the beginning of a course where applicable, for example, into year 2. Our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy outlines the process and options available for this route.

Contextual offers

As well as assessing your application and qualifications, we use contextual data and information to make offers for this course. Depending on your circumstances, we may make you an offer up to two grades below the standard entry criteria. Find out how we assess your application.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

International qualifications 

We accept qualifications from all over the world – check yours here:

Undergraduate preparation courses (Foundation)

If you don’t yet meet our entry requirements, we offer Foundation courses through our partner Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC), based on our City Campus:

English language entry requirements 

You can meet our language requirements by successfully completing our pre-sessional English course for an agreed length of time, or by submitting the required grade in one of our accepted English language tests, such as IELTS:

Advanced standing (starting your undergraduate degree in year 2 or 3)

You may be able to start your undergraduate course in year 2 or 3 based on what you have studied before.  This decision would be made in accordance with our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy.

Would you like some advice on your study plans? 

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

What's included in the course fees?

As part of the course, we will provide some basic materials and some necessary printed materials.

The School will cover the costs of any mandatory study trips.

In Final Year, the Nottingham School of Art & Design will provide infrastructure costs for your Showcase. If you’re selected to exhibit your work at a graduate show in London, the School will cover the cost of transporting your work, the exhibition stand and event set-up.

Additional costs

Print and copy costs

We advise you to budget up to £100 per year for printing costs.

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Material costs

Depending on the materials you choose to work with, you should budget in the region of £250 (Year One), £350 (Year Two), and up to £500 (Final Year) to cover the production costs associated with your course. This is of course a broad approximation, as your projects are highly personalised.

Stationery and reading materials

Most study modules will recommend one or more core textbooks, which many students choose to purchase. Book costs vary between courses and further information is available in the University’s bookshop, Blackwell’s.

A good supply of these essential text books are available in the University libraries, which students can easily borrow or access on-line/directly whilst studying in the library. You should budget £50 – £100 per year (approximately) for stationery and reading materials.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

If you choose to join an optional UK study trip, you should budget £40 – 60 per year.  If you choose to join the optional overseas study trips/cultural visits, you should budget £350 (minimum) per year.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

If you undertake work experience or a longer placement, you will have the chance to gain an additional Certificate or Diploma in Professional Practice, dependent on duration.  The Diploma in Professional Practice incurs a fee for the additional placement year.

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there's no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those international students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion, and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our International students page for information about fees, scholarships for international students, visas and much more.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service.

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

What's included in the course fees?

As part of the course, we will provide some basic materials and some necessary printed materials.

The School will cover the costs of any mandatory study trips.

In Final Year, the Nottingham School of Art & Design will provide infrastructure costs for your Showcase. If you’re selected to exhibit your work at a graduate show in London, the School will cover the cost of transporting your work, the exhibition stand and event set-up.

Additional costs

Print and copy costs

We advise you to budget up to £100 per year for printing costs.

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Material costs

Depending on the materials you choose to work with, you should budget in the region of £250 (Year One), £350 (Year Two), and up to £500 (Final Year) to cover the production costs associated with your course. This is of course a broad approximation, as your projects are highly personalised.

Stationery and reading materials

Most study modules will recommend one or more core textbooks, which many students choose to purchase. Book costs vary between courses and further information is available in the University’s bookshop, Blackwell’s.

A good supply of these essential text books are available in the University libraries, which students can easily borrow or access on-line/directly whilst studying in the library. You should budget £50 – £100 per year (approximately) for stationery and reading materials.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

If you choose to join an optional UK study trip, you should budget £40 – 60 per year.  If you choose to join the optional overseas study trips/cultural visits, you should budget £350 (minimum) per year.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

If you undertake work experience or a longer placement, you will have the chance to gain an additional Certificate or Diploma in Professional Practice, dependent on duration.  The Diploma in Professional Practice incurs a fee for the additional placement year.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a digital portfolio. Visit our webpage which has some advice on what to include to help make your portfolio stand out. After you have submitted your portfolio, we may also invite you to an online interview to help us make our final decision.

You can apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not applying to any other UK universities, you can apply directly to us on our NTU applicant portal.

Application advice

Apply early so that you have enough time to prepare – processing times for Student visas can vary, for example.  After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Writing your personal statement

Be honest, thorough, and persuasive – we can only make a decision about your application based on what you tell us:

Your portfolio 

If your initial application is successful, you may be asked to upload a portfolio of your work and you may also be asked to attend an interview.

Portfolio advice

Would you like some advice on your study plans? 

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

The University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.