BA (Hons)

Theatre Design

  • UCAS code(s): W460
  • Level(s) of study: Undergraduate
  • Study mode(s): Full-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: September 2019
  • Course duration: 3 year(s)
  • Entry requirements: More information

FIND US ON

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 events, community and education.

This degree 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.

We have strong links with a wide range of performance, heritage and educational organisations, and professional theatre companies, providing you with fantastic opportunities to raise your profile and grow your professional practice.

Formed originally by designers at Nottingham Playhouse, the Theatre Design degree at NTU has been running since 1973.

Key features

  • NTU is leading arts provider and is ranked 8th in the UK for Art and Design (The Complete University Guide 2019).
  • Employability on this course is excellent - 93% of graduates are in employment or further study within six months (DLHE survey 2016/17).
  • The course is a member of the Association of British Theatre Technicians, the Association of Courses in Theatre Design (ACTD), and the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD). Through these, it is also a member of the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (OISTAT), and participates in the UK exhibition at the Prague Quadrennial.
  • Focus equally on both your design and making skills.
  • Study in dedicated facilities, including a studio theatre, construction and paint workshops, and large teaching spaces.
  • Work on live projects with industry such as The Royal National Theatre, Birmingham Opera Company and The Royal Lyceum Theatre (Edinburgh).
  • Go on study visits for inspiration, research and experience, including live performances, museums and heritage and educational organisations.
  • Complete a three to five-week work placement in Year Two.
  • Enter competitions set by organisations such as The Royal National Theatre’s Connections festival, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Showcase your work at our Degree Show in Nottingham, with the opportunity to be selected to exhibit at other graduate events in London such as New Designers and The Bargehouse.
  • Opportunity to apply for an international exchange to one of our partner institutions, such as Ryerson University in Canada.
  • Follow us on social media

    Keep up to date with what our current Theatre Design students are up to by following our official NTU Theatre Design Instagram account.

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Get a glimpse into BA (Hons) Theatre Design at NTU

Student work

What you'll study

  • Year One

    Both these modules run for the whole year.

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

    Also learn about wardrobe, scenic art, projection techniques, technical and professional skills in CAD and 3D drawing, theatre production, equipment, materials, processes and protocols in theatre design, including health and safety.


    Contextual Studies 1 (20 credit points)
    This module will engage you with theatre history, theory, philosophy, culture, and contemporary practice. It will help you to develop confidence in reflective and evaluative writing. It will prepare you throughout the year for investigating your own research project, which will pave the way to further research in Year Two and final year.

    You’ll develop your ability to communicate ideas in written, visual and verbal form, which will enhance your design work.

  • Year Two

    Theatre Design Explorations (100 credit points)
    This module will help you to consider your own specialism within theatre design. Select projects and approaches which enable you to further develop your practical understanding of the relationship between design, craft and performance and a clear understanding of the requirements and possibilities of different audiences, spaces and contexts.

    These will be underpinned and extended by taught sessions, seminars and workshops in CAD and a variety of digital and interactive media. You’ll complete a work experience placement selected from a range of professional performance and arts-related environments. A programme of workshops and masterclasses will also help you to develop your skills, knowledge and understanding in theatre craft, technology, and the wider application of these within the arts and performance sector.

    Contextual Studies 2 (20 credit points)
    This module enables you to build on the skills you gained in Year One, developing your knowledge and understanding of live performance contexts, and of the wider historical, arts, cultural, and political contexts for your work.

    Develop analytical, critical, reflective and evaluative skills, working on two Individual Research Projects, presented during the year through a variety of communication methods (verbal, visual, and written).

  • Final year

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

    • a realised design for performance – working with one of our associate companies such as Blind Summit, Wild Works, Nottingham Actors Studio, and the National Trust
    • a speculative design project – working with associate institutions such as Birkbeck Theatre Directing (University of London), Nottingham Playhouse, and Birmingham Opera Company
    • an independent design project for audience, working with a client
    • a devised performance project for an audience
    • 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

How you’re taught

On this course, you’ll spend most of your time in a creative studio environment.Teaching and learning experiences will include:

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

Assessment

Assessment is 100% through coursework. You’ll receive feedback throughout each module and will be awarded a grade.

Depending on the module, you may be assessed through:

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

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

Exchanges, trips and study visits

You’ll have the opportunity to go on a number of trips during the course, as well as to see shows brought into our Waverley Studio Theatre. Recent visits have included:

  • The V&A Museum, Don Mar Warehouse, The British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Britain and Tate Modern, Dennis Severs’ House, and The Barbican, London
  • The Rover and Seven Acts of Mercy at The Swan Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST), Stratford
  • Tate Gallery and The Tin Drum at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
  • The Threepenny Opera, The Government Inspector and Tommy at Nottingham Playhouse
  • Billy Budd and Hansel & Gretel at Theatre Royal, Nottingham
  • Kneehigh Theatre Company’s Dead Dog in a Suitcase
  • 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips at Warwick Arts Centre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
  • The BA (Hons) Theatre Design course within the School of Art & Design has exchange agreements with a number of institutions around the world, such as Ryerson University in Canada. You can apply to go on exchange in Year Two for one semester.

Degree Show

In your final year you’ll 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.

Selected work from the degree show may also be exhibited at other graduate events in London, such as New Designers or the Bargehouse.

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%).

Careers and employability

This course has an excellent graduate employment rate, with 93% of graduates in employment or further study within six months (DLHE survey 2016/17).

Our graduates go into fields such as:

  • scenography and performance design
  • set, props and costume construction
  • costume making
  • puppetry
  • performance
  • events and festival design
  • arts management
  • film, television and production management
  • model making
  • teaching and educational work.

Recent graduate destinations 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.

Connecting with industry

The course has extensive links with industry, which means there are many opportunities for you to build your professional practice and raise your profile, such as live projects, guest lectures and competitions to enter.

Recent live projects have included:

  • 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
  • Wild Works
  • Lakeside Arts Theatre.

Abigail Keating, recent winner of the Nottingham Playhouse Award

Our students have also 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 and Nettie Scriven, award-winning stage and theatre-maker designers
  • Marie-Jeanne Lecca, international opera designer
  • Sue Hill, associate director of theatre company, Wildworks
  • Barrett Hodgson, digital designer
  • Alex Stafford Marshall, lighting designer
  • Neil Franklin, creative producer from Stage One
  • Fiona Buffini and Giles Croft from Nottingham Playhouse
  • Richard Willacy, Executive Director, Birmingham Opera Company
  • Michael Eaton MBE and Stephen Lowe, playwrights
  • Jenny Sealey MBE, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company
  • Andrew Breakwell and Rosamunde Hutt, freelance directors and theatre educators.

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.

Work placements and internship opportunities

In Year Two, you’ll complete a work placement of between three and five weeks.

Course staff and the NTU Employability team will support you with tips on how best to approach companies, and how to get the most from your experience:

Recent placement destinations include:

  • producing theatres such as the Royal Exchange Theatre (Manchester) and Nottingham Playhouse
  • touring and young people’s theatre companies, such as Theatre Alibi, Dragon Breath Theatre, and Bamboozle Theatre
  • production companies such as Rocket Scenery (Nottingham) and Lifecast (Elstree Studios, Borehamwood)
  • event-based companies such as Starlight Design (London) and GameCity (Nottingham).

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

All applications welcome

We welcome applications from prospective students with a range of qualifications and experience, and all are assessed on an individual basis. Mature applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria can still be considered providing they have relevant experience to compliment any qualifications.

All applicants will need to apply through UCAS and will be expected to present a creative portfolio at interview.

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

All applications welcome

We welcome applications from prospective students with a range of qualifications and experience, and all are assessed on an individual basis. Mature applicants who do not meet the standard entry criteria can still be considered providing they have relevant experience to compliment any qualifications.

All applicants will need to apply through UCAS and will be expected to present a creative portfolio at interview (if UK resident).

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.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a submission of work online.

If successful, you'll be invited to an interview where you'll need to bring with you your creative portfolio.

Get some portfolio advice.

Keeping up to date

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.

Apply through UCAS.

We will ask you to provide a submission of work online.

If successful, you'll be invited to an interview where you'll need to bring with you your creative portfolio.

Get some portfolio advice.

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
  • 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).

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).

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