Skip to content

Design for Theatre and Live Performance BA (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): W460
  • Start Date(s): September 2023
  • Duration: Three years
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: City Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    • A-levels – BBC; or
    • BTEC Extended Diploma – DMM; or
    • 112 UCAS Tariff points from three A-levels  or equivalent qualifications;

    More information

Introduction:

Explore all aspects of contemporary design practice for theatre and the live performance, including set and costume design; construction; digital technologies and design; lighting design and audio visual; site-specific design; puppetry; heritage installation; and design for community and education. The course is facilitated by the highly skilled team of staff and technicians who have years of professional and academic knowledge.

Main image credit: Leslie Travers, Designer from Elysium at the Norwegian Opera.

  • 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.
  • This course is a member of the Performance Design Education Collective (PDEC), and the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD). Through these, we are also a member of the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT).
  • Work on live projects with industry such as The Royal National Theatre, Birmingham Opera Company, The National Trust and Nottingham Playhouse. You can also enter competitions set by organisations such as The Royal National Theatre’s Connections festival, and the Linbury Prize.
  • Go on study visits for inspiration, research, and experience, including live performances, museums and heritage and educational organisations. You can also apply for a European or international exchange to one of our partner institutions, such as Ryerson University in Canada.

Course accreditation

  • Chartered Society of Designers logo

What you’ll study

Throughout your degree, you’ll learn how to develop your creative, technical, communicative, collaborative and organisational skills. We have strong links with performance, heritage, educational and arts organisations, and professional theatre companies, who we regularly collaborate with.

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 design for theatre and live performance. 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 in model making, software packages such as ACAD, Photoshop and SketchUp, live practice work through puppetry, lighting, AV and scenic construction skills.

Contextual Studies: Introducing Research

(20 credit points)

Explore stage and screen history, cultural and contextual knowledge and its relevance to theatre and live performance. 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 (Design for Theatre and Live Performance)

(60 credit points)

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 your final year and your future career.

You’ll work on briefs that further develop your dramaturgical, interpretive, conceptual and visual communication performance practice that takes you beyond the proscenium stage. Craft-based projects will extend and underpin your skills as a designer in areas such as scale-model making, lighting, projection, sound and scenic construction. Performance projects will increase your understanding and your ability to communicate a visual narrative.

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

You will also choose one 20-credit module from:

  • Model Making: Object and Narrative
  • Character Ideation
  • Telling Stories
  • Materials and Making
  • Ethical Design
  • 3D Materials and Exploration
  • Millinery: Object and Narrative
  • Storyboarding: Visualising the Story, Enhancing the Narrative

Exposition (Design for Theatre and Live Performance)

(100 credit points)

Work as a practising designer alongside industry professionals from our associate companies, and develop a design project for a specific client or audience, either individually or collaboratively, gaining an understanding of the process of initiating, developing, managing and realising a complex project. You will also develop your professional design portfolio and work on your reflective analysis of each project, developing your skills and preparing you for an exciting career in industry.

Contextual Studies: Research and Professional Practice

(20 credit points)

Undertake a detailed piece of written work that explores either an industry-related investigation of an area of theatre and live performance 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

Lauren Connolly

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

We’ve had such a diverse range of guest speakers, but one that stands out is a lecture from Totie Driver, a graduate of the course who came to speak about her design for Miss Saigon in the West End.

Theatre Design, BA - Charlotte Dearman

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

The course benefits from an incredible team of staff and an amazing support system. The lecturers have a world of knowledge and experience to share.

Charlotte Murray

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

There were many reasons that influenced my decision to study here, including the excellent facilities, a welcoming work and living environment and the course content.

Theatre Design, BA - Michael Morrison

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

I’ve had the opportunity to undertake two industry placements.

Theatre Design, BA - Rebecca Constable

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

NTU caught my attention with its unique facilities, city centre location and close proximity to the Nottingham Playhouse.

Theatre Design, BA - Shennika Hermanstyne

Design for Theatre and Live Performance

NTU was recommended to me by my college tutor, who had studied the same Theatre Design course many years before. She believed in my potential and told me to strive for the best.

BA Hons Design for Theatre and Live Performance - Alex Hopkin- Spratt

Design for Stage and Screen (Design for Theatre and Live Performance)

NTU has the best facilities that I have seen for students from all backgrounds doing any courses, from 2D work, to 3D realisation, and digital software.

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 visits have included:

  • Prague Quadriennial PQ 2019
  • full access backstage tours of Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables and Hamilton in London
  • Lady Macbeth of Mstensk, Birmingham Opera.

The course has exchange agreements with a number of institutions around the world, such as Ryerson University

Showcase

You will be given the opportunity to exhibit your work during your time at NTU to members of the creative industries. You may also be selected to showcase at Graduate Fashion Week in London – where many of our previous students have won awards.  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

  • All first-year students within the Nottingham School of Art and Design will work together on a joint project.
  • NTU is in the UK’s Top 15 for Art & Design in the Complete University Guide 2023 (Ranked 15th).

Staff Profiles

Kate Burnett

Reader

School of Art & Design

Kate Burnett

Helen Davies

Principal Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Helen is Course Leader of Design for Theatre and Live Performance at NTU

Sean Myatt

Senior Lecturer

Nottingham School of Art & Design

Sean Myatt is a senior lecturer in Theatre Design.

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

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.

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

Careers and employability

Graduates have been employed as designers and assistant designers on a multitude of live productions or have gained employment in specific production roles with companies such as:

  • the English National Opera (drawing room)
  • National Theatre (scenic art)
  • Cameron Mackintosh (model-making).

Graduates have also freelanced alongside internationally renowned designers in and out of the UK and worked on gallery installations, festivals, in film and TV, and for events and as community artists and practitioners.

Connecting with industry

Recent live projects and collaborations have included:

  • Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
  • Nottingham Playhouse
  • Birmingham Opera Company
  • Nottingham Puppet Festival
  • City Arts Nottingham
  • The Workhouse, Southwell (National Trust)
  • Lakeside Arts Theatre
  • Metronome
  • TV Workshop

Industry experts who have recently shared their knowledge and experience with our students include:

  • Luke Halls, award winning video and projection designer
  • Neil Franklin, creative producer from Stage One
  • Richard Willacy, executive director, Birmingham Opera Company
  • International Opera Designer - Leslie Travers
  • Eco - scenographer- Andrea Carr

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. You will study in dedicated facilities, including a studio theatre, construction and paint workshops, and large teaching spaces. Our facilities promote collaboration and innovation. You’ll be working alongside artists, designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, and filmmakers.

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?

The annual fee for our undergraduate degree courses includes a number of items. In addition to expert tuition and access to our first-class workshop and IT resources, you'll receive:

  • mandatory field trips, exhibitions and events required as part of your core studies
  • materials for induction workshops and activities within the workshops and laboratories
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) as required
  • professional body course accreditation (where applicable)
  • infrastructure costs for final year Showcases (where applicable).

You are expected to purchase your own books, standard drawing and writing equipment, and consumables.

Where optional overseas visits are offered, you will need to meet the cost of these.

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?

The annual fee for our undergraduate degree courses includes a number of items. In addition to expert tuition and access to our first class workshop and IT resources, you'll receive:

  • mandatory field trips, exhibitions and events required as part of your core studies
  • materials for induction workshops and activities within the workshops and laboratories
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) as required
  • professional body course accreditation (where applicable)
  • infrastructure costs for final year Showcases (where applicable).

You are expected to purchase your own books, standard drawing and writing equipment, and consumables.

Where optional overseas visits are offered, you will need to meet the cost of these.

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.

Keeping up to date

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

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.