BA (Hons) Costume for Performance

Applications closed 2016/17

Applications for 2016/17 entry to this course have now closed. Visit the Places available page for a full list of UAL courses that are open for application.

Our excellent workshops, teaching by industry practitioners and work placement opportunities will help you to succeed as a designer and maker of costume, working to support and transform performance.

Work by BA (Hons) Costume For Performance student Isabella Lopez-Smith

Isabella Lopez-Smith, 2013 - view Showtime profile

Work by BA (Hons) Costume For Performance student Grace Brooks

Root person by Grace Brooks, 2011 - view Showtime profile

A performer in a red ribbon costume with trailing ribbons

Danielle Cullen, 2013 - view Showtime profile

Work by BA (Hons) Costume For Performance student Rachel Taylor

Behemoth from Bulgakov’s 'The Master and Margarita’ by Rachel Taylor, 2013 - view Showtime profile

Work by BA (Hons) Costume For Performance student Amy Hickie

Jabberwocky project: the Jubjub Bird and Narrator by Amy Hickie, 2013 - view Showtime profile

Eleanor Gibson

The Tempest's Ariel by Eleanor Gibson, 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.


Course Leader

Claire Christie (acting)

Course Location

Lime Grove

Study LevelUndergraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length3 years
Home/EU Fee

£9,000 per year.

International Fee

£17,230 per year.

Autumn Term Dates26 Sep - 9 Dec 2016
Spring Term Dates9 Jan - 17 Mar 2017
Summer Term Dates18 April - 23 June 2017
Application Route


Application DeadlineApplications for 2016/17 entry are now closed. Applications for 2017/18 entry will open in Autumn 2016.
UCAS CodeW451
University CodeU65

Content and structure

The BA Costume for Performance course is situated in the School of Media and Communication, and is for students who are interested in designing and making costume for performance. This includes the broad categories of theatre, film, music and television, as well as more specialised or multi-disciplinary performances where several elements are combined. The course integrates the intellectual demands of interpretation of the text or other written element within the performance context, with the specialised design and craft skills required for the realisation of original costumes. The cultural and historical context of the subject is explored, to enhance the design and realisation of the practical work. Working in performance is always a collaborative venture, where the success of the production depends upon the joint efforts of a number of creative and specialised designers and makers, who work together with the director and performers. Students on this course have the advantage of being able to work with students from the related disciplines of 3D effects and hair, make-up and prosthetics. Students have the opportunity to do a short work placement in the industry, and there are several industry-facing projects within the course. The course currently has a relationship with the Royal Ballet School where students have the opportunity to do work placements in the Costume Department at the Covent Garden and Richmond Park schools. All the subject tutors teaching on the course are practitioners with extensive experience of the industry.

BA Costume for Performance is based at Lime Grove in Shepherd’s Bush, just west of Holland Park and Notting Hill. The area, which is rich in cultural influences from across the world, is home to Shepherd’s Bush Market and the many fabric shops lining the Goldhawk Road, which sell a good variety of fabrics, including silks, at extremely competitive prices. There are numerous restaurants, cafes, delis and food stores, as well as the market, which reflect the many cultures of the people living there. Nearby is the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, an excellent venue for live bands, and the Westfield Shopping Centre, one of the largest retail complexes in Europe that caters for the luxury market as well as the high street. Holland Park with its Orangery and Leighton House Museum are both worth visiting.

Course Structure

Year One  -  Stage One  -  level 4  -  120 credits 

Term One

Introduction to Study in Higher Education (20 credits)

The Body: 3D and Costume Construction (20 credits)

Term Two

Introduction to Cultural and Historical Studies (20 credits)

Modifying the Form (20 credits)

Term Three

Consolidation and Collaboration (40 credits)

Year Two  -  Stage Two  -  level 5  -  120 credits

Term One

Cultural and Historical Studies (20 credits)

Period and Contemporary Menswear (20 credits)

Term Two

Professional Development (40 credits)

Term Three

Research Methods for Performance (20 credits)

Creative Collaboration (20 credits)

Third Year  -  Stage Three  -  level 6  -  120 credits

Term One

Concept and Design Development (20 credits)

Terms One and Two

Cultural and Historical Studies Dissertation (40 credits)

Term Two and Three

Final Major 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

All courses will require you to spend money on necessary materials during the course, (stationery, and variables according to your subject) and, in some cases, equipment so that you start the course with what you need. Details of approximate additional costs for this course will be available as a download shortly. Please note that prices may change and we cannot guarantee that costs quoted will be exact.



Our excellent resources for educating our students are two-fold: people and premises. People includes everyone at the College who contributes directly in some way to your education, whether as a subject tutor, a technician, an Open Access officer, a librarian or a study support tutor. Premises include the buildings and the facilities contained in them, such as specialist machinery, design studios and workshops, lecture and seminar rooms, and the library.

The Performance courses share an excellent range of facilities across the programmes, including several costume-making studios with pattern cutting tables, overlockers and industrial sewing machines, a suite of specialist rooms for casting and mould making, plaster, fibreglass, latex, silicones and other resins, a sculpting studio, a wig-making and hair styling studio, and prosthetics and make-up studios with live ‘camera to TV’ link. Students also have access to a large VAC former, laser cutter, print and dye room, a large spray booth, and additional access on site to design studios and IT suites.

Claire Christie is the acting Course Leader for BA Costume for Performance. She trained at the University of the Creative Arts at Epsom in fashion design. Following graduation she began her career in costume for theatre, film and television, working over the years on many notable period and contemporary productions. She has made costumes for Judi Dench, Helena Bonham-Carter, Angelina Jolie, Maggie Smith, Dawn French and many others. Film credits include James Bond 007 films Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Elizabeth (1998), Topsy Turvy (1999), Tomb Raider (2003), and Vera Drake (2004). Her most recent film work includes Harry Potter (2005), A Mighty Heart (2007) working with Angelina Jolie, and Easy Virtue (2008) working with Jessica Beale. Opera and theatre commissions include productions for English National Opera, the Royal Opera House, Garsington Opera and the Chichester Festival, working with designers including Alison Chitty, Nicky Gillibrand, Maria Bjornson, and William Dudley. Claire’s teaching career has included Associate Lectureships at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Programme Leader on the Costume Design and Interpretation course at Central School of Speech and Drama. She combines her teaching on this course with being a tutor on the MA Costume Design for Performance in the Graduate School at LCF.

Ali Ruth works as a visual artist and designer in various media across the Performing Arts. He has worked as a fashion designer in Paris and London before starting his research and practice in performance. Initially trained at Central Saint Martins (BA Womanswear) and London College of Fashion (MA Costume Design), Ruth’s practice focuses on the performative nature of costumes with a research interest in costumes as autonomous art objects, questioning the perception of costumes outside the immediate / alternative performance contexts. He currently lecturers Research for Performance across the Undergraduate Performance Courses at London College of Fashion and works as an Associate Lecturer with the MA Fashion Futures Course, where he focuses on studio practice and speculative design approaches. His research interests are in speculative design for the Performing Arts, wearable technology in performance and Critical Design in performance. Ali’s work has received critical acclaim nationally and internationally. Credits include the 2013 Linbury Prize for Stage Design, The 2009 Jenny Packham Bursary and the 2011 BMUKK International Scholarship. Recent design commissions include Scottish Dance Theatre and Extant Theatre Company amongst other international exhibitions.

Jessica Curtis trained at the Motley Theatre Design Course and has vast experience designing productions. She has been production designer for Grovesnor Park Open Air Theatre for 2013- 2015 seasons and has been elected to Equity's Directors and Designers committee. She has taught at Motley school of theatre design, RADA and designed projects at Central School of Speech and Drama, Trinity College of Music, RADA, and Guildhall. Jess currently teaches design across the Performance programme. Credits include, The Holy Rosenbergs (National Theatre), The Kingdom (Soho Theatre), The Little Prince (Hampstead Theatre), Endgame (Liverpool Everyman), Dangerous Corner (West Yorkshire Playhouse and West End), The Wizard of Oz (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Local Boy (Hampstead Theatre), Rhapsody, Fantasy (The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House), Cinderella (Oxford Playhouse), Rookery Nook (Oxford Stage Company), Frankenstein (Frantic Assembly, Royal Theatre Northampton), The Nordic Bar, Rekordelig Bar, Fosters VIP Bar (The Udderbelly, Southbank), Another Door Closed (Peter Hall Company), Man of Mode (RADA), First Person Shooter (The Door, Birmingham Rep), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Southbank Centre, Young Vic), She Stoops to Conquer and Burial at Thebes (Nottingham Playhouse, Barbican PIT, USA tour). Electra (Manteatern, Lund), Pygmalion (Uppsala Statsteatre), Mary Stuart, Much Ado about Nothing (Hipp, Malmo Stadsteatre), Black Crows (Clean Break at the Arcola and tour), Sugar Sugar (Bush Theatre), A Special Relationship (York Theatre Royal and tour), Fields of Gold, Soap (Stephen Joseph Theatre), The Daughter in Law, The Beauty Queen of Lenane (Watford Palace Theatre) Jess has also designed several productions for the New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle under-Lyme; The Royal Theatre Northampton, Salisbury Playhouse and the Watermill Theatre.


Developing your skills

All our undergraduate courses are concerned with the development of your personal and professional skills. On your course you will evolve from learning basic skills in your discipline through to a position where you are an independent creative thinker capable of making an effective contribution to the relevant sector of the fashion industry. Personal and Professional Development (PPD) skills are embedded in all units on every course. Speaker programmes with contributions from alumni, members of industry and others are a part of many courses, as are work placement opportunities in industry. Where relevant, students have the chance to attend trade fairs, enter industry competitions, visit exhibitions and go on field trips and visits. The central position of our John Prince’s Street site in the West End affords students easy access to all sectors of the fashion retail market. In addition, our position as a constituent College in the University of the Arts London means that our students have access to the wide range of activities and events that occur in all the Colleges and at the University’s centre. Last but not least, being in London gives every student opportunities to explore and be inspired by the cultural, intellectual and social life of one of the great capital cities of the world.

Future Careers and Graduate Prospects

Graduates who wish to continue their education at postgraduate level are encouraged to progress to suitable courses within the College, the University or elsewhere.

Many graduates prefer to seek employment as soon as they have completed their undergraduate studies. Recent Costume graduates from this course have gone on to work as designers, makers and supervisors, both contracted and freelance, in film, television, theatre, music promotions, opera and fashion. These jobs include designers at English National Opera and New York Met, ladies maker at Glyndebourne, marketing at Jasper Conran, wardrobe on Holby City, Head of Wardrobe on Lion King, menswear maker at RSC, menswear cutter at ENO, designer on BBC Vision, and fashion stylist. This year two graduates have been selected as finalists for New Zealand’s World of Wearable Art Show 2014. This year one graduate has secured a traineeship at the BBC, one is working on the Ridley Scott film Exodus at Pinewood Studios, another on the feature film, Jupiter Ascending, and another with the renowned milliner, Philip Treacy.

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

Opportunities for All

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and seek to recruit students from diverse socio-economic, cultural and educational backgrounds. We are committed to supporting all our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

Course Entry Requirements

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

Two ‘A’ level passes at grade C or above (this course requires 240 UCAS tariff points) PLUS passes in three GCSE subjects at grade C or above

OR equivalent awards

Preferred subjects include Art, Design, English, Drama and Film Studies.

This course requires a minimum 240 UCAS tariff points.

Exceptionally, applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered if the course team judges the application demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by: related academic or work experience; the quality of the personal statement; a strong academic or other professional reference; or a combination of these factors.

English Language Requirements

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language you will be asked to provide evidence of your English language ability when you enrol.

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

Please visit the UAL Language Requirements page, read carefully and look at the relevant documents.

Student Selection Criteria 

What We Look For

The course team seeks to recruit students who can demonstrate:

  • A strong interest in design and the performing arts
  • The potential for creative problem solving
  • An approach suited to the demands of the course and the projected career pathways in the chosen field of studies, i.e. Costume.

This might, for example, be demonstrated by: related academic or work experience; the quality of the personal statement, a strong academic or other professional reference; or a combination of these factors.

Portfolio and Interview Advice

For this course you will be required to upload a mini portfolio. Further instructions will be sent by the course administrator after application submission. International students should contact the International Office to find out about the portfolio application process.

For this course your portfolio should show evidence of: drawing skills; life drawing; research skills; process; 3D; photography; and vocational skills.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate the following at interview: an understanding of the performing arts; a cultural awareness; visual awareness evidenced through portfolio work; a motivation for working in the performance industry; a motivation to succeed on the course; and a vocational focus towards costume.

Please note that the majority of interviews for Home/EU applicants will take place in the week Monday 22 February to Friday 26 February.

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

How to apply

Home EU Applicants

You can apply online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Go to ‘Apply’ from the UCAS home page, where you will be able to register and create a password that gives you unique access as you complete your application form.

You will need the University code, the UCAS code for this course, and the deadline date for your application. You will find these on the Facts tab.

Contact us on: 

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7514 7973 / 7582 / 7344

Or you can use the UAL Course Enquiry Form

International Applicants

For advice about how to apply as an international applicant please visit the UAL International Application Advice page.

To apply, visit the Undergraduate section of LCF's Support for International Students page.

The International Recruitment Office at 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:

International Recruitment Office, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince’s Street, London W1G 0BJ

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7514 7656 / 7678 / 7629 / 7940

Or you can use the UAL Course Enquiry Form

Deferred Entry

Deferred Entry is normally only allowed in exceptional circumstances. Please contact us before you submit your application if you are considering applying for deferred entry.

What happens next?

All application forms, personal statements and references are read and considered by the course team against the selection criteria listed under what we look for. You will be asked to upload your portfolio online, including drawing, and examples from research, character design ideas, documented work placement, or 3D samples. If the course team wish to consider your application further, you will be invited to an interview, with your portfolio, with the course team. If you are successful at the interview stage you will be offered a place. Applicants are not guaranteed an interview.

Please note that if you are unable to attend the College may not be able to re-schedule.

If you applied through UCAS the result of your application will be communicated to you via UCAS through ucastrack. You will only receive further communication directly from the College if your application has been successful. This will be in the form of a full offer pack including details of accommodation, fees, and other important information.

Showing your Work

All final year students are given the opportunity to profile their work online via Showtime. London College of Fashion can make no guarantee that your work (either in sum or in part) will be shown, exhibited or profiled in any way as part of your course. All student work appearing in College organised events, catwalk shows, exhibitions and other forms of showcase, is selected by a panel of senior staff and, in some instances, external industry judges.

Course units

Year One

In the first term you will study two units.

Introduction to Study in Higher Education gives you an understanding of your personal and professional development at university, with three core purposes: to introduce you to the necessary learning skills for undergraduate study; to show you where you are situated within the College and the University; and to help you understand what you will learn on your course and how you will develop your skills.

The Body: 3D and Costume Construction unit introduces you to the fundamental principles underlying the construction of costume for a performer that enhances or distorts the performer in order to create character. You will research and explore a number of techniques and approaches, and record this in a visually appropriate and informative way. You will learn the basic skills of design interpretation, costume cut and construction, and explore three-dimensional approaches to realising the shape of the performing body. You will develop an understanding of how basic techniques can be used creatively, and will be encouraged to work in an enquiring and innovative way.

In the second term you will study two units.

Introduction to Cultural and Historical Studies introduces you to key concepts and ways of thinking about fashion and its context in society and culture. You will attend lectures, seminars and workshops, and do a significant amount of reading of academic texts in order to complete a formal academic essay for assessment. Completion of this unit will allow you to make an informed choice of subject for study in the second year Cultural and Historical Studies unit.

In the Modifying the Form unit you will work on a focussed design project that will extend your design development process through storyboards, experimentation, drawing and 3D exploration. Your ability to understand a set of characters from a given text will be developed, and the development of design ideas will be explored. This will enable you to produce a set of final designs for a chosen performance context. .Workshops will give you the opportunity to explore how the human body can be modified, adapted, extended and distorted through the use of additions to the body such as padding, frames and corsetry. You will learn how to translate 2D and 3D ideas, and you will extend your costume making techniques.

In the third term you will do the Consolidation and Collaboration unit, which allows you to demonstrate your progress through a collaborative project with students from the other performance disciplines. You will undertake research, design development and presentation as part of a group, using 2D and 3D approaches to produce a joint innovative solution to the brief, working within an agreed design aesthetic to design and realise characters from a script or text.. You will use both experimental and traditional methods to realise your work in a contemporary performance context.

Year Two

In the first term you will be able to study a Cultural and Historical Studies unit of your choice that will broaden or deepen your learning of areas relating to your interests in your chosen field. You will have the opportunity to participate in lectures, seminars and workshops with students from other courses within your School, and will read relevant academic texts and complete a formal academic essay for assessment.

Also studied in the first term, the Period and Contemporary Menswear unit allows you to develop knowledge and skills for the design, pattern cutting and production of period and contemporary tailored garments for men. You will gain an increased understanding of the importance of research as a basis for creative cutting and design development, and establish the relationship between research, cutting and design and construction. Your knowledge of how techniques can be used creatively in the technical development of bespoke tailored garments will be developed.

In the second term the Professional Development unit gives you the opportunity to prepare for entry into the creative industries. You will learn about CV writing and production management skills, and will begin to build your practical work into a portfolio. You will learn about the realities of the industry and your opportunities for career progression. You will develop an analytical and reflective approach to projects, which could include a work placement, simulated industry projects, live competitions, workshops or collaborative opportunities. Recent placements for students have included Home and Away, Opera Australia, BBC’s The Hour, Royal Opera House, V&A Museum, Savile Row tailors Gieves and Hawkes and Henry Poole, New York City Opera and a number of independent film companies.

In the third term you will do two units.

Research Methods for Performance introduces the research methods that you will employ for both your Cultural and Historical Studies Dissertation and your Final Major Project that you will undertake in the third year. You will start to consider the proposal for your dissertation, and you will learn about two key stages, the literature review and the research, how they relate to each other and how they relate in the wider context of Cultural and Historical Studies. You will look at the relationship between primary and secondary sources, ways of developing and originating research, and ways of realising the research appropriate to Cultural and Historical Studies. In parallel with this you will be starting to prepare for your Final Major Project by analysing your career direction and identifying an area of research and practice that you would like to pursue. 

The Creative Collaboration unit gives you the opportunity to work with other students to design and realise characters for a narrative. Working in a small group you will together choose a context for the performance. You are encouraged to look at a new area that you have not designed for before, such as film, television, dance, theatre, opera, music video, advertising or fashion film. You are encouraged to collaborate with performers and students from other disciplines.

Year Three

In the first term you will do the Concept and Design Development unit. This develops the work done in Research Methods for Performance. You will be encouraged to prepare for your Final Major Project by exploring and considering the theoretical and professional contexts of your work through in-depth research, development and experimentation. You will work to a narrative and selected performance context and will develop an appropriate methodology, paying attention to narrative, audience and production values. You will explore new ideas, processes and methods, and take risks and experiment with design and production values, working to an intended location / performance site and audience.

You may choose to focus on one line of enquiry, or produce a series of small test projects, or explore a range of research avenues and methods.

In the first and second terms you will complete a major piece of written work for the Cultural and Historical Studies Dissertation unit. This allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the critical and analytical perspectives developed within cultural and historical theory, and how you can apply these theoretical perspectives in a specific study, which you will have already identified in the third term of the second year. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to undertake primary and secondary research that examines in depth cultural issues relating to a particular aspect of fashion, lifestyle, the body, performance or the media, and to produce a written piece of work that reflects the critical debates around your chosen topic.

The Final Major Project, undertaken in the second and third term, gives you the opportunity to produce a coherent body of original, creative and fully resolved work that will support your entry into the industry. Through your research, design development and project proposal you will produce work that demonstrates innovation, design development, the application of advanced technical skills and a high level of understanding of design for costume for performance. You will be expected to manage your time effectively with reference to your written project proposal produced in the autumn term.

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