BA (Hons)

Theatre Design

  • UCAS code(s): W460
  • Level(s) of study: Undergraduate
  • Study mode(s): Full-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: September 2018
  • Course duration: 3 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information

Explore all aspects of contemporary theatre design practice, including; set and costume design and construction, scenic art, site-specific design, puppetry, heritage installation, and design for community and education.

  • design for set and costume
  • set and costume construction
  • scenic art
  • puppetry
  • site specific
  • heritage installation design
  • design for community and education.

This Design for Performance course will teach you how to bring together the creative, technical, communicative, collaborative and organisational skills needed to make imaginative performance for a range of professional environments. Formed originally by designers at Nottingham Playhouse, the Theatre Design course at NTU has been running since 1973. Consequently we have strong links with a wide range of performance, heritage and educational organisations, and professional theatre companies.

Key features

    • Work on live projects with professional organisations such as The Royal National Theatre, Birmingham Opera Company, Blind Summit Puppet Company, and The Royal Lyceum Theatre (Edinburgh).
    • Complete a short work placement in Year Two. Opportunities exist with producing theatres, touring companies, production and events companies, schools and community projects, or with acclaimed designers such as NTU alumna, Joanna Scotcher.
    • Study in dedicated facilities, including a studio theatre, construction and paint workshops and large teaching spaces.
    • Go on study visits to theatres, exhibitions, and performances.
    • Apply to go on an overseas exchange to a partner university in Europe through the Erasmus+ scheme.
    • Enter competitions and awards set by the UK’s most prestigious organisations, such as The Royal National Theatre’s Connections festival, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
    • Showcase your work at our Degree Show in Nottingham, and be selected to exhibit in London’s venues such as New Designers and The Bargehouse.
    • The course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Designers, is a member of OISTAT the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians; the Association of Courses in Theatre Design; and the Society of British Theatre Designers.
Video Icon
Get a glimpse into BA (Hons) Theatre Design at NTU

Student work

Video Icon
Creative portfolio advice
Get some top tips for your creative portfolio

What you'll study

  • Year One

    Introduction to Theatre Design (100 credit points)
    You will learn about the key principles, skills, practices, and thinking that inform contemporary theatre design practice. You will create design models, storyboards, costumes, sets and props, installations, performances, and puppets. You will cover puppetry, costume design, contemporary speculative design, spatial construction and scenic art, speculative design for a classic play, performance installation, lighting, and projection.

    You’ll also learn about wardrobe, scenic art, and projection techniques, and you'll begin the first, supported steps to develop your own research project and reflective writing.

    Contextual Studies 1 (20 credit points)
    This module will help you to develop your skills in 2D and 3D media. You’ll work with contemporary and period texts and themes; develop your ability to communicate research, process and design intention; and think about drawing as a way to investigate, test and present ideas.

    You will start to build your technical and professional skills in theatre production by learning about equipment, materials, and processes and protocols in theatre design. These include health and safety, computer-aided design, and 3D drawing.

  • Year Two

    Theatre Design Explorations (100 credit points)
    This module will help you to start thinking about your own specialism within theatre design.

    In the first project you will explore aspects of place, performance, and public in recent and contemporary theatre, with particular emphasis on young people’s theatre, schools, and communities.

    In the second project, you’ll explore the visual imagery of 18th-century theatre and dress. In your final project you will focus on the spectacle, looking at aspects of opera and carnival. You’ll also work on an individual research project, which you will present at the end of the module, and submit written research documents.

    Contextual Studies 2 (20 credit points)
    This module enables you to build on the skills you gained from Year One, but focuses on understanding them within the context of the industry. As part of developing this understanding, you will complete a work experience placement selected from a range of professional performance-related environments.

    A programme of workshops and masterclasses will also help you to develop your skills in theatre craft and technology, computer-aided design and 3D drawing, and digital and interactive media.

  • Final year

    Theatre Design Exposition (120 credit points)
    You will advance your practice in theatre design to a professional level. You will complete at least three projects, which will normally include:

    • a design for performance – working with one of our associate companies, such as Birmingham Opera Company, Blind Summit, or Nottingham Playhouse
    • an independent design project for audience, working with a client
    • a devised performance project for an audience.

    You will also complete a major research project, combining the skills you’ve developed in Years One and Two.

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

Focus equally on both your design and making skills.

How you’re taught

You will be taught through a variety of teaching and learning experiences that will include:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • group and individual tutorials
  • screenings
  • masterclasses
  • work-based learning placements
  • visits and events.

Assessment

Assessment for this course is 100% through coursework.

How you are assessed will depend on the individual module, but it may take the form of:

  • speculative designs
  • live performances
  • artefacts
  • costume garments
  • presentations
  • reflective and critically evaluative written reports.

You will usually have an opportunity to talk about your work either through a formal presentation or in a group critique.

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

Trips and study visits

You will have the opportunity to go on a number of trips during the course, as well as to see shows in our own studio theatre. Recent visits have included:

  • The British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Dennis Severs’ House, London
  • Nosferatu at The Barbican, London
  • Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood and The Kite Runner at Nottingham Playhouse
  • Hamlet, Peter Pan, Passing On and Theatre Rites at Lakeside Arts Centre
  • Boris Godunov at the RSC, Stratford
  • The Way of the World at the Crucible, Sheffield.

Exchange opportunities

The University is part of the Erasmus programme and has agreements with a number of partner institutions throughout Europe.

If you're thinking about studying part of your degree abroad, Erasmus is a great way of experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, learning a new language, and gaining a study experience that will enhance your CV. Exchanges usually take place during Year Two of your studies.

Degree Show

You will exhibit your work as part of our Degree Show. This event includes all final year students across NTU's Art and Design courses, and is a great platform for you to showcase your work to members of the creative industries.

You will also have the opportunity to be selected to exhibit your work to industry at New Designers in London, one of the UK's most important graduate exhibitions.

Assessment methods

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

Contact hours

A full-time student on average can expect to spend 1200 hours a year learning which will typically be broken down as follows:

  • Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (30%), independent study (70%).
  • Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (24%), independent study (76%).
  • Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (20%), independent study (80%).

Work on live projects with professional organisations such as The Royal National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic.

Careers and employability

The course has well-established links with former students, which lead to a range of career opportunities for new graduates. Careers paths exist within the areas of:

  • sceneography
  • scenic props and construction
  • costume making
  • puppetry
  • performance
  • model making
  • education.

Recent graduates from this course have gone to work in the following areas:

  • theatre design and design for performance
  • set, props and costume construction
  • events and festival designers and arts management
  • teaching and educational work
  • film, television, and production management.

Examples of employers include:

  • Nottingham Playhouse
  • York Theatre Royal
  • Birmingham Opera Company
  • Lakeside Arts Centre
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Pinewood Studios
  • Rocket Scenery
  • The BBC
  • GameCity.

Our graduates also leave the course with a high degree of value-added skills, enabling them to enter a wide range of careers, including designing and making for theatre and other performance contexts, community and participatory arts practice, arts administration, creative business, and the education sector.

Links with industry

The course has extensive links with industry, including producing theatres, touring companies, production companies, event-based companies, and schools and community organisers. Our students have worked on live projects with organisations such as:

  • Blind Summit Puppetry Company
  • Nottingham Playhouse
  • Birmingham Opera Company
  • Dance4
  • Derby Live
  • Meeting Ground Theatre Company
  • New Street Theatre Company
  • The Workhouse, Southwell (National Trust)
  • Mansfield Palace Youth Theatre
  • Black Box Theatre Company
  • Mellers Primary School, Nottingham
  • GameCity
  • Curve Young, Leicester
  • Red Earth Theatre
  • Urban Angel
  • Lost Boys Productions.

Our students have recently enjoyed success in a number of competitions, including the Nottingham Playhouse Prize for Stage Design and the Birmingham Opera Prize for Stage Design.

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

  • Sophie Jump, a freelance theatre designer
  • Marie-Jeanne Lecca, Bill Mitchell and Sue Hill from Wildworks
  • Dominic Shaw from Urban Angel
  • Peter Farley from the Society of British Theatre Designers
  • Sue Pyecroft from Dark Horse Puppetry
  • Fiona Buffini and Giles Croft from Nottingham Playhouse
  • freelance writers Michael Eaton MBE, Amanda Whittington, and Stephen Lowe
  • Dinis Machado from Dance4
  • Andrew Breakwell, a freelance director and theatre educator
  • Jenny Sealey MBE, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company.

This is the only Theatre Design degree course in the UK that is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), giving you free membership during your studies. You will also have access to CSD online careers advice, guidance, and vacancies.

Hear from our Theatre Design alumni

Work placements and internship opportunities

In Year Two you will undertake a work placement of between three and five weeks as part of the Visual, Technical and Professional skills module.

You will be supported by course staff and have access to a database containing a wide range of contacts for potential work placements. If you have your own contacts or ideas of other places you might like to work, you can also propose these.

Opportunities exist with a wide range of different companies and organisations, including the below.

Producing Theatres
Working with traditional building-based theatres. Students on this course have previously worked with the Royal Exchange Theatre (Manchester), Nottingham Playhouse, The Crucible (Sheffield), The Harrogate Theatre, the Curve Theatre (Leicester), the Mercury Theatre (Colchester), Polka Theatre (Wimbledon), Little Angel Theatre (London), and Unicorn Theatre (London).

Touring companies
Working with a touring company will see you working out of a base, such as a workshop. Students have previously worked with Theatre Alibi (Exeter), Bamboozle Theatre (Leicester), Blunderbus Theatre Company (Newark), Oily Cart (London), and New Perspectives Theatre Company (Lincoln).

Production companies
These companies design and make for theatre, TV, film and performance productions. Work includes scenic construction, costume making, prosthetic making and mould making. Students have worked with companies including Rocket Scenery (Nottingham), Lifecast (Elstree Studios, Borehamwood), Visualscene (Leicester), Birmingham Costume Hire, and Promotional Props and Costumes (Nottingham).

Event-based companies
This is a growing area that includes launches for TV events, themed parties and company events. Our students have previously worked with Starlight Design (London), Mask Event Design and Production (London), and GameCity (Nottingham).

Companies / Projects which work with Schools and Communities
This includes educational and development projects. Our students have worked with Dragon Breath Theatre (Nottingham), Roundabout (Nottingham Playhouse’s educational programme), Red Earth Theatre (Derbyshire), and Theatre Centre (London).

Individual design professionals
Our students also complete work placements with design professionals, some of whom are alumni from the course, including acclaimed designer Joanna Scotcher.

Complete a valuable work placement in Year Two, helping you to gain experience and develop your professional skills.

Have access to a full working studio theatre, construction and paint workshops, and costume studios.

Entry requirements

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC; 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

Non-standard applicants

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the entry criteria but hold relevant work experience. We will assess applicants of this nature on an individual basis. You must, however, have a creative portfolio to present at interview. If you are a non-standard applicant, you will still need to apply to us using the UCAS form.

The UCAS Tariff

In 2016 the UCAS Tariff changed. In the new tariff, the numbers awarded to qualifications are very different. So, whereas previously a B at A-level was worth 100 points, in the new tariff it is now 40 points. Sound confusing? Don’t worry. We’ve created this calculator to help you work it out.

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels – BBC; 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

Non-standard applicants


We welcome applications from students who may not meet the entry criteria but hold relevant work experience. We will assess applicants of this nature on an individual basis. You must, however, have a creative portfolio to present at interview. If you are a non-standard applicant, you will still need to apply to us using the UCAS form.

The UCAS Tariff

In 2016 the UCAS Tariff changed. In the new tariff, the numbers awarded to qualifications are very different. So, whereas previously a B at A-level was worth 100 points, in the new tariff it is now 40 points. Sound confusing? Don’t worry. We’ve created this calculator to help you work it out.

If you hold international qualifications, take a look at the alternative qualifications we accept for this course.

Are you an international student whose qualifications don't meet the entry requirements? You can prepare for this course at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC). The college is on our City Campus, and NTIC students can use all of the University's facilities.

English language requirements

If English isn't your first language, you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. You can check our language requirements and list of accepted English language tests. Your British Council office can tell you where you can take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test locally.

Next steps

Please also take a look at our International students page and our application guide for international students, which are full of advice and information about the University.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our staff at the International Development Office, who are always happy to help. Or speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.

You'll need a creative portfolio to apply for this course.

How to apply

Application for this course is through the UCAS application form.

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Selection for this course takes place through UCAS application form and, where invited, online work submission, interview and portfolio.

If you are invited to attend an interview at the University, you will need to bring your portfolio with you for assessment. For more information about what we look for during an interview, and some useful tips for your portfolio, download our BA (Hons) Theatre Design interview and portfolio information.

Application deadline

This course starts in September and applications should be submitted by the UCAS deadline – 15 January.

Applications received after this date will only be considered if places are still available, after all applications received by the deadline have been assessed.

Mature students

We welcome applications from mature students (over the age of 21) for this course. We will assess applicants of this nature on an individual basis.

If you are a mature student, you will still need to apply to us by UCAS form, but you don't necessarily need to meet our minimum entry requirements. You must, however, have a portfolio to present at interview.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember that we can only make a decision based on what you tell us, so include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application – it's your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place. You've got 4,000 characters to impress us, so make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you're applying for.

For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up to date

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.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page.

Getting in touch

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

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Application for this course is through the UCAS application form.

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the international entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Selection for this course takes place through UCAS application form and, where applicable, online work submission, interview and portfolio.

If you are resident in the UK and invited to attend an interview at the University, you will need to bring your portfolio with you for assessment. For more information about what we look for during an interview, and some useful tips for your portfolio, download our BA (Hons) Theatre Design interview and portfolio information.

If you aren't resident in the UK we'll ask you to make an online work submission. Download our BA (Hons) Theatre Design work submission information.

Application deadline

This course starts in September and applications should be submitted by the UCAS deadline – 15 January.

Applications received after this date will only be considered if places are still available, after all applications received by the deadline have been assessed.

Mature students

We welcome applications from mature students (over the age of 21) for this course. We will assess applicants of this nature on an individual basis.

If you are a mature student, you will still need to apply to us by UCAS form, but you don't necessarily need to meet our minimum entry requirements. You must, however, have a portfolio to present at interview.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember that we can only make a decision based on what you tell us, so include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application – it's your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place. You've got 4,000 characters to impress us, so make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you're applying for.

For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up to date

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.

Please also take a look at our International students page and our application guide for international students, which are full of advice and information about to the University.

If you need any more help or information, please contact our International team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our staff at the International Development Office, who are always happy to help. Or speak to one of our official NTU representatives for your country.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Further information on how to apply

Need help with your application?
For admissions related enquiries please contact us:
Telephone: +44 (0)115 848 4200

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
  • £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years) for use in the Bonington art shop and School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment workshops and print facilities
  • 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 Degree Shows within Nottingham (where applicable)
  • £20 prepaid printing allowance for use in NTU print shops and with library photocopiers.

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.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

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
  • receive £100 print and materials credit for each year of your course (for a maximum of three years) for use in the Bonington art shop and print facilities
  • 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 Degree Shows within Nottingham (where applicable)
  • £20 pre-paid printing allowance within NTU print shops and library photocopiers.

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.

While we aim to keep any extra study costs to a minimum, please see our page on additional costs and optional extras to find out about any additional expenses you may incur on your course.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418