MA Costume Design for Performance

The costume design course aims to develop confident and experimental practitioners who will push the boundaries of the subject of costume beyond its established traditional role.

Please note, the previously advertised flexible mode of study for this course is no longer available.

MA17 Costume Design for Performance Show 

Behind the scenes teaser film at MA Costume Design for Performance at MA17.

A video made by MA Fashion Media Production student Marie-Therese Hildenbrandt about the UAL Markings Festival, which celebrated the relationship between performance and illustration.

MA Costume for Performance students participate in UAL's Markings Festival, celebrating performance and illustration.

Girl in costume, with blue make-up.
Nianhan Cao

Nianhan Cao - view Showtime profile

Costume by Stamatia Megla

Stamatia Megla, 2013 - view Showtime profile

Funding opportunities

Use UAL's fees and funding calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Use UAL’s scholarships search to find out what you might be eligible for.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.


Course Leader

Agnes Treplin

Course Location

Lime Grove

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length15 months
Home/EU Fee


UAL Home/EU alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

International Fee


UAL International alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments


Autumn Term Dates11 Sep – 1 Dec 2017
Spring Term Dates8 Jan - 16 Mar 2018
Summer Term Dates16 Apr – 30 Nov 2018
Application Route

Direct to College

Application DeadlineApplications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Content and structure

The course aims to develop confident and experimental practitioners who will push the boundaries of the subject of costume beyond its established role. Taught largely on a one to one basis, by international practitioners, experienced lecturers and senior researchers, this MA will nurture and challenge your creative ideas about costume and performance.

You will design, realise and experiment with costume based performance ideas for both live performance and film that enable you to define your individual position in relation to contemporary culture and practice, while responding visually to the relevant performance context.

Beyond the understanding of performance and the role of character creation through costume, the study of Costume Design at MA level allows you to locate your practice within the wider realms of contemporary culture and art, as well as within the relevant dramatic, social and political contexts. The course offers many opportunities for collaborations within the college or the wider context of the University of the Arts as well as with practitioners from the large performance and art sector in London and the UK.

The relationship between drawing, practical realisation and performance is central to the way design is approached: ideas are developed on paper, 3D modelling, through movement, as well as through pattern cutting, textile and material manipulation and practical testing. Practical experimentation is achieved through access to the extensive technical facilities available within the college and the expanding knowledge of the uses of analogue and digital methods.
The costume studios are well equipped to enable students to develop their ideas into practical realisation, and expert technical support is provided for students on a weekly basis.

Course structure

15 months level 7 180 credits

Term One:

Costume for Live Performance (40 credits)

Research Methods (20 credits)

Term Two:

Costume for Film (40 units)

Collaborative Unit (20 credits) - find out more

Terms Three and Four

Masters Project (60 credits)

Travelling across London

The renowned London College of Fashion library is at our John Prince’s Street site, and you will need to travel to this site, and possibly others, during your course to use the library, which is open seven days a week in term time, and for tuition and special events.

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page.

Course structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.


MA Costume Design for Performance graduates practice as designers in both the text-based mainstream but also the devised/arthouse live performance and film sector. They often take the collaborative performance work initiated during the course further and as a result, their work has been seen in major national and international festivals, including Prague Quadrennial and Edinburgh Festival, Critical Costume Helsinki (Finland), Pamplona Festival (Spain) and has been exhibited at the National Gallery London, the V&A Museum, National Centre of Performance Art in Beijing, Museum of Modern Art Shanghai and in many other venues in the UK and abroad.

Graduates find employment as assistant designers and costume supervisors in the theatre and film industry in leading institutions such as the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and on films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Suffragette. Others have built careers as experts in specific technical areas of costume, such as, pattern cutting, surface textiles, print and dye or fabricated, sculptural costumes. Some graduates are currently working for major fashion labels such as Chanel, Dior, McQueen and Lawrence Xu producing often unusual one-off costumes and objects for the designer’s catwalk shows.

Graduates have found work with artists, whose work borders on performance, such as Lucy Orta and Tracy Emin.

LCF Careers

LCF Careers provides a comprehensive career management service supporting our students to become informed and self-reliant individuals able to plan and manage their own careers.

Entry requirements

Course entry requirements

Entry to this course is highly competitive: applicants are expected to achieve, or already have, the course entry requirements detailed below.

  • An Honours degree at 2.1 or above in a related discipline. Applicants with a degree in another subject may be considered, depending on the strength of the application
  • Equivalent qualifications
  • Relevant and quantitative industrial experience for a minimum of three years

Selection for interview will be made on the basis of your application, including the personal statement, the reference, the supporting written statement, and examples of relevant work.

If you are selected for interview you will be asked to bring a portfolio of previous work,

Student selection criteria

The course seeks to recruit students from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and welcomes applications from mature students.

What we look for

The course seeks to recruit students who can demonstrate:

  • The potential to develop their practical and critical abilities through academic study
  • Critical knowledge of a subject area
  • A capacity for intellectual enquiry and reflective thought
  • An openness to new ideas and a willingness to participate actively in their own intellectual development
  • Initiative and a developed and mature attitude to independent study

English language requirements

All classes are conducted in English. The level required by the University for this course is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one skill. 

For more information, read the University's English Language requirements page.

International applicants

The International Recruitment Office at the London College of Fashion will help to guide you through the application process and answer any specific questions that you may have regarding our courses. This may include portfolio advice, the application process and fee advice. We offer a ‘drop-in’ facility for applicants who may be in London and wish to obtain further course and admissions information. Please contact us for further information on this facility. We can also arrange a tour of our facilities if we are given prior notice.

Our contact details are: London College of Fashion, International Office, 20 John Prince's Street, London W1G 0BJ.            

If you have a question, you can contact our International Recruitment Office by calling +44 (0)20 7514 7656 / 7678 / 7629 or completing our Online Enquiry Form.  

International applicants should contact the Admission Office by emailing about portfolio requirements (if applicable), interview times and dates.

How to apply

You can apply for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will need to contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal statement

The personal statement is your opportunity to tell us about yourself and your suitability for the course that you intend to study.

Some key points to consider:

  • Make sure that personal statement is your own work and is about you
  • Why you want to study the course you are applying to
  • Try to link your skills and experience required to the course
  • Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for the course and link these with your personality
  • Make sure it is organised and literate (grammar, spelling, punctuation check).


You should submit a 1,000 to 1,500 word written essay. Please include bibliography and referencing. The essay title that you should respond to is:

'Analyse the contribution that costume makes to the development of character and narrative in a particular production (theatre, film or TV)'.

Study proposal

Your study proposal should be no more than 400 words (excluding research sources and bibliography). It should:

  • Describe the performance context of the proposal, demonstrating your knowledge of the historical and contemporary context of your area of study
  • Suggest the area of study in your project proposal, e.g. a particular text(s)/ subject area(s) you might be interesting in exploring/ devising around
  • Consider that the study proposal does change in consultation with tutors; however we need to ensure that you are thinking on the right level for MA study.


You will be required to submit a digital portfolio. Please include digital versions of drawings, photographs of realised designs, speculative design, sketch work, process, photographs, etc. Please ensure that you are labelling and presenting any visual work with care, including dates and captions.

Please note, you can submit text and as many website links as you need to, but the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files.


Course units

Costume for Live Performance

This unit explores costume as central to a dramatic narrative developed live by the performer within time and space. Considering theatrical contexts in its broadest sense as performer and audience relationship, it explores contemporary concepts for the creation of narratives and performances that focus on the body and costume as conveyor of meaning.

Practice and theory in the development of concepts and technical realisation are interdependent for the design process and performance creation. Work will develop individually in response to your particular focus, whilst workshop sessions will introduce you to the full range of supporting facilities available.

While generating conceptual costume-based approaches to performance, you will situate your practice within broader performance contexts and in relation to key practitioners, thus connecting your design work to current cultural debates in contemporary performance practice.

You will experiment and explore your design ideas and will be expected to develop solutions through experimentation, demonstrating initiative in researching the professional context while building a network of contacts. You will also develop your technical skills in the realisation of your designs for the performer’s body, considering movement, materials, scale, sound and lighting in your design concept.

You will develop creative, presentation, communication and management skills through shared peer presentations, practical workshops, master classes, and individual tutorials, as well as through the practical performance workshop where your realised design will be explored in its potential for communicating a meaningful narrative.

Research Methods

The purpose of this unit is to introduce you to the range of research methods, approaches and tools that are available to you in order to conduct your post graduate project.

The unit will cover philosophy and ethics in research, primary and secondary research methods, including quantitative, qualitative and visual research methods, and how to analyse, evaluate and disseminate research findings.

The unit will consider research in a range of contexts relevant to the cultural and creative industries and enable you to understand the relationship between theory and practice.

Costume for Film

This unit focuses on costume for performance viewed through the camera lens, contextualising the practice of costume design for film and all other visual recording media from a broad cultural and artistic perspective. You are expected to situate your practice within theory and in relation to key practitioners.

The presentation of character on the screen is explored in depth through conceptual development, practical design realisation and the ability to utilise the techniques unique to film such as framing and editing, thus developing a practical understanding of professional constraints and opportunities. You will gain such understanding through research and investigation into film makers, production designers and post production technology, as well as through practical workshops for story board, film editing and specialist textile manipulation.

The unit will culminate in a practical film shoot where the realised designs are explored by the performer and recorded as planned from previously developed storyboards.

Collaborative Unit

This unit is designed to enable you to innovate, engage in developmental processes and participate in collaborative working practices. You will be encouraged to develop the professional negotiating and networking skills that you will need in order to be successful in the cultural and creative industries. 

The nature of this collaboration may be within your own course, with students on other courses or with industry. The project that you undertake will depend upon your discipline and the specific requirements of your course. Further details will be available in your unit handbook.

Masters Project

The Masters Project is an important piece of work which will provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in relation to your discipline and chosen project.

Throughout the Masters Project, you are guided and supported by tutorials and peer and staff evaluation at interim stages. You will be allocated a supervisor for your project and will complete a learning contract outlining how you intend to develop and deliver your project.

The Masters Project may take a variety of forms by negotiation and is assessed by presentation in an agreed format.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

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