Theatre Design

BA (Hons) - UCA Rochester - 2019

Our Theatre Design degree fully prepares you for working within a highly creative industry, where set and costume designers deliver dynamic visuals to compliment the remarkable stories being told by playwrights.

The art of storytelling may simply begin with one character, yet through the art and craft of illusion, creative teams develop a vision, one which vividly captures the imagination of its audience. Designing character and constructed environments within dramatic situations offers a unique opportunity to study human behaviour.

Theatre Design provides you with a wide range of creative and practical training. From text analysis to imaginative interpretation, with creativity and practicality going hand-in-hand, the design process takes on as unique a life as that of the playwrights’ intended theatrical world. Our programme provides training in both set and costume design to maximise your potential to work within richly diverse artistic communities.

Our programme also provides you with an understanding of materials used within industry, and to processes used in making. An understanding of material and form, within both historical and contemporary theatre contexts, promotes ability to weigh up the options whilst collaborating within production teams.

First-hand experience within our technical workshops builds key skills. Technical training includes: technical drawing, model making, image manipulation, 3D printing, laser-cutting, hand and machine sewing, metalwork, carpentry, scenic effects, and production realisation of costume, set elements and props.

Our UCA Graduate Exhibition is a celebration of final year accomplishments. 

Length of study:

Three years full-time


UCA Rochester

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Entry requirements:

112 UCAS tariff points

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Next event

20 Feb 2019

Open Day - all campuses

Course details

  • Year 1

    Year one offers tutor-led instruction to the role and responsibility of the designer. Project work consists of the playwright’s text, and establishing industry standard processes for designing. Our emphasis is on establishing a secure foundation upon which future projects will rely. Project work is opportunity to development a full understanding of the playwright’s narrative, and develop personal points of view through costume design and set design. Key skills in theatre craft compliment the project work, this includes hand sewing and machine sewing, woodwork, metalwork, prop making, digital manipulation, and technical drawing.

    Visual Narrative One
    With a playwright’s text as the focus, you begin the exciting process of creative problem solving. Through text analysis and research you begin to discover the context for playwright and the story being told. Through a unique design process you establish interpretations that address character costuming and the look for settings. Designers express themselves through drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and refined scale modelling. Our experienced tutors guide your development towards finding solutions in support of the story being told.

    Visual Narrative Two
    With multiple ways to communicate an idea effectively; this unit aims to establish an understanding of historical and contemporary visual communication within theatre. To broaden the breadth and depth of understanding a series of hands-on problem solving projects guide you through exploring the power of visual communication.

    Key skills fall into your toolbox across year one, through introductions to methods and techniques used in theatre craft making. Training includes introductions to manual-handling of tools, equipment, machinery, and technology. Material and form, and process of making supports toolbox development, and building your confidence in shaping ideas in 3D. This unit consists of a series of workshops, demonstrations, with hands-on problem solving provides experience in woodwork, metalwork, hand sewing and machine sewing, casting, scenic effects, and technical drawing.

    Cultural Contexts 1
    This unit encourages you to investigate culture and history, providing a philosophical and historical insight into past and present cultures and their ideas, and theoretical frameworks through which to consider art, design and scenography.

  • Year 2

    Year two offers tutor-led insight alongside an emphasis on student-led responsibility when designing. Project work consists of the contemporary playwright’s text, establishing in-depth processes for design, embracing current socio-political issues of interest to the living playwright; stories in your own time. Project work is structured to replicate industry practice in working to deadline when designing and making. Year two includes work experience and professional collaborations, supporting insight to industry working practice, enhancing networking and key skill development for your employability

    Visual Narrative Three
    This unit advances on from Visual Narrative One, with emphasis on expanding your creative and practical ability. This unit brings the contemporary playwright and current socio-political issues into focus. A professional theatre visit provides reference to working within professional limitations, where the facility affects your designing. The broadening of personal identity and independent critical thinking becomes integral to the design process. Through project proposals, presentations, digital technology, technical drawing, and craft skill development you will develop further confidence in designing set and costumes.

    Cultural Contexts 2
    A range of critical frameworks deriving from philosophy, art theory, cultural studies and the social sciences are drawn upon in considering the aesthetics, production and consumption of art, design and scenography.

    Visual Narrative Four
    This unit promotes making, where a prop, costume, or scaled design of a setting intended for a performance, is the focus. Workshop technicians support the development of constructed elements in scale, or making of costume. Understanding the shift from page-to-stage, is supported by experienced staff, through mentoring. This unit encourages promotion of your creative ideas in taking design through to making.

    Professional and Collaborative Practice
    This unit of work experience extends your understanding through live projects with partners and collaborators. Work-based project placements are established across the term with aim they provide practical insight to industry. Collaborations provide designing opportunities alongside production management, and making. Creative and practical interests for your career pathways are developed further across these weeks.

    Study Abroad (optional)
    This optional unit will allow you to spend a period of time in an overseas educational institution.

  • Year 3

    The final year of the course consolidates the various elements of study across two years, and is characterised by independent learning and ability to fully bring together project experiences, knowledge and skill, with aim to realise a body of work identifying personal interests.

    Visual Narrative Five and Six
    These units encourage extending design and theatre craft into areas of personal choice. Inspired by narrative you are invited to contextualise your project work and its development in keeping with industry practice for performance. Staff and technicians support self-directed design, your making proposals, prototypes and output. Your work created within Visual Narrative 6 forms the basis of your graduate exhibition at year end.

    Practice in Context
    Substantial, individually negotiated research on a subject that’s related to the contextual concerns of your chosen area of practice. You’ll also develop a portfolio and other promotional material in preparation for professional work that’s relevant to your potential career direction.

  • Study abroad

    This course offers the opportunity to study abroad for part of your second year. To find out more about studying abroad as part of your course please see the Study Abroad section:

  • Fees

    Find out all about the fees for studying with us, as well as the grants, loans and other financial support you may be entitled to:


This course has large studio spaces for set building, costume and propmaking; extensive studios for large-scale prop making and set building. The campus has well-equipped 3D workshops, providing both hand and mechanical processes and high technology, from ceramic, wood and metal workshops to laser cutting and rapid prototyping.

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Course connections

On this course, you'll be exposed to a world of opportunities

  • Industry links

    We’re committed to fully preparing you for a successful career in addition to supporting you with the preparation of your portfolio, CV and professional profile, we encourage you to undertake work placements. Our well-established industry connections include:

    • BBC
    • ITV
    • Propshop
    • Hothouse
    • Pinewood Studios
    • Evolution
    • The Royal Opera House
    • The National Theatre.
  • Careers

    Graduate career destinations for this course include:

    • Manufacturing
    • Self-employment
    • Buying
    • Gallery work
    • Designing
    • Marketing
    • Retailing
    • Production
    • Teaching.
  • Further study

    You may also like to consider further study at postgraduate level.


How to apply - 2019 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

When to apply:

If applying via UCAS the application deadline is the 15 January. If applying directly to us, you can apply throughout the year but we recommend you apply as early as possible so you have time to arrange accommodation and visas.

More information:

Go to our how to apply pages

How to apply - 2019 entry

I am a UK or EU citizen ...

I am not a UK or EU citizen ...

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Along with your portfolio, the standard entry requirements* for this course are:

One of the following:

  • 112 new UCAS tariff points, see accepted qualifications
  • Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4)
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma
  • 112 new UCAS tariff points from an accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in appropriate subject
  • 27-30 total points in the International Baccalaureate Diploma with at least 15 IB points at Higher level, see more information about IB entry requirements.

And four GCSE passes at grade A*-C and/or grade 4-9 including English (or Functional Skills English/Key Skills Communication Level 2).

Other relevant and equivalent Level 3 UK and international qualifications are considered on an individual basis, and we encourage students from diverse educational backgrounds to apply.

*We occasionally make offers which are lower than the standard entry criteria, to students who have faced difficulties that have affected their performance and who were expected to achieve higher results. We consider the strength of our applicants’ portfolios, as well as their grades - in these cases, a strong portfolio is especially important.

International entry requirements

To view the equivalent entry requirements for your country please select it in the list below.

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Non-UK equivalent qualifications

English language requirements

Your portfolio

For this course we will require you to attend an Applicant Day and bring your portfolio for assessment. Your portfolio should show strong visual evidence of a range of relevant skills, is logically organised, and showcases your ability to develop a project or idea. Your portfolio should also ideally include creative project work from your school or college courses, and/or projects you’ve initiated yourself or in the workplace. In both cases, please enclose evidence of your creative processes, as well as materials that demonstrate your 3D creativity, if possible. Evidence of your broader academic skills, including essay writing, should also be included. Further information on how to compile a portfolio and the specific requirements for examples of work to be included will be provided on the Applicant Portal after you apply.

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