MA Theatre Design

MA Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts is designed to support and further theatre design practice-based research. Students will develop the skills and attitude to become designers within the theatre and other performance based disciplines.


Course Leader

Michael Vale

Course Location

Wimbledon College of Arts, Merton Hall Road


Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year
Home/EU Fee

£8,500 (2017/18).

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Use UAL’s fees and funding calculator as a guide to how much your studies may cost.

International Fee

£17,920 (2017/18).

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Use UAL’s fees and funding calculator as a guide to how much your studies may cost.

Start DateOctober 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 9 October - Friday 22 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January - Friday 23 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 9 April - Friday 14 September 2018
Application DeadlineHome / EU - Monday 31 July 2017.
International - No deadline, but students are advised to apply as early as possible

Content and structure

Content: what students can expect

  • To look at historical, current and developing forms of practice in the fields of stage and costume design both practically (principally in the form of design projects) and theoretically (principally in the form of essays and a final dissertation) to form a distinctive view of your own position as a theatre designer
  • A structured series of classes introducing you to a basic understanding of the developing role of digital technology in the field of theatre design
  • To have visiting tutors and professional theatre makers help you look closely at your own practices 
  • To be taught and encouraged to develop model making, technical and costume drawing skills as a way of presenting and communicating your ideas and designs
  • To collaborate with at least one other postgraduate student director to practice and test your abilities to negotiate and communicate within and throughout the production process  
  • You will be required to maintain an online website to act as your on-going ‘notebook’ and research folio over the year which, on leaving the course, may eventually become the basis for your professional online CV
  • To have access to Wimbledon's shared workshops. View the Wimbledon facilities section


The course runs over a total of 45 weeks. Learning and teaching will take place through independent and studio-based practice, written work, group seminars and critiques.


Michael Vale - Course Leader

Michael Vale has designed sets and costumes for over 200 theatre and opera productions both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

His work has been nominated for two Olivier Awards, an Irish Times Theatre Award, a Manchester Evening News Theatre Award, a Charrington Fringe First Award and two Off West End Theatre Awards.

Companies he has worked with include:

Almeida Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre, Birmingham Rep, Bolton Octagon (with whom he is an Associate Artist), Bristol Old Vic, Colchester Mercury Theatre, De Vlaamse Opera (Antwerp, Belgium), Edinburgh Royal Lyceum, English National Opera, English Touring Theatre, English Touring Opera, Galaxy Theatre (Tokyo, Japan), Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Kneehigh Theatre Company, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Los Angeles Opera (United States of America), Lyric Hammersmith, Manchester Library Theatre and Royal Exchange, Munich Biennale (Germany), New Zealand International Art’s Festival, Northampton Theatre Royal, Nottingham Playhouse, Oldham Coliseum, Opera North, Plymouth Theatre Royal, Salisbury Playhouse, Sheffield Crucible, Soho Theatre, Spymonkey, The National Theatre, The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Royal Court, The Royal Festival Hall, The Royal Opera House, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Sage Gateshead, Told By An Idiot (with whom he is an Associate Idiot), Wales Millenium Centre, Warsaw Globe Theatre Company (Poland) and the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Visiting Staff

Have included: 

  • Jon Bausor - Theatre Designer
  • Jane Collins - Theatre Director
  • William Dudley - Theatre Designer
  • Mauricio Elorriga - Theatre Designer
  • Sophie Jump - Theatre Designer
  • David Neat - Model-maker
  • Aideen Malone - Lighting Designer
  • Anastasios Maragiannis - Digital Designer
  • Dick Straker - Digital Designer


Our graduates develop and define their individual practices to progress within Theatre Design, which often leads them in different directions within the industry.

Recent graduates have continued either as professionals or become leading creative innovators within theatre, while others have continued their studies with research degrees.

MA Theatre Design alumni are fully equipped to enter various industry competitions and schemes, such as the Linbury Prize for Stage Design or the Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) trainee scheme, while their involvement with national theatre collections and archives gives them the chance to identify museum curation or other forms of exhibition production as a career. 

Entry requirements

  • BA (Hons) degree in Theatre Design, Costume, Set or Lighting Design, Fine or Live Art, other forms of 3D Visual Design or making such Architecture or Interior Design
  • Alternative qualifications and experience will also be taken into consideration
  • Portfolio of work
  • Study plan

If English isn’t your first language

All classes are taught in English. If English isn't your first language you must provide evidence at enrolment of the following:

Portfolio advice

Portfolios should show the following:

  • A range of visual work which demonstrates experimentation and idea generation 
  • Design development showing how problems are solved
  • An interest in collaboration and making performances
  • An awareness of character in the context of a dramatic situation
  • Previous experience of theatre work
  • Sketchbooks and notebooks

Study plan

The study plan is a statement of approximately 800 words describing your current practice and an opportunity for you to explore potential areas that you want to develop in your studies. 

The plan is the starting point for discussions about your postgraduate studies and will evolve during the time you study with us.

When writing your plan you are not expected to have complete answers to all the questions. 

However, you should be able to:

  • Examine your knowledge and experience in relation to your practice
  • Identify questions and areas that you do not know about
  • Demonstrate how you may intend to tackle these questions and areas

How to structure a study plan

You should include links to referenced text or images where appropriate. 

Each of the following sections should be approximately 200 words.


  • Briefly describe your work
  • Outline recent developments
  • Identify those aspects you would like to take further at postgraduate level


Describe specific areas, issues and critical ideas that are central to your area of interest.


How will you go about exploring your area of interest?  

Are there particular methods you will use? For example - drawing, model making, photography.


Are there resources or equipment that you need to access in order for you to successfully engage in your research?

At interview and portfolio review

We look for:

  • Commitment and motivation for studying theatre design
  • Understanding of contemporary theatre design and its context
  • Evidence of visual interest in theatre through design practice or other, directly related activities
  • Able to articulate though writing and if appropriate, illustration, a potential, considered, theatrical project idea that is feasible and achievable 
  • An ability to work imaginatively and creatively in 2D and 3D visual media, materials and processes
  • A desire to learn and an ability to investigate ideas critically and independently
  • Evidence of critical awareness and self-direction, openness and the ability to learn 
  • Potential for creative problem solving appropriate to theatre design

Successful applicants will be invited to attend an interview and should bring their portfolio.

Applicants may be offered a place on an alternative MA or Graduate Diploma course within Camberwell, Chelsea or Wimbledon. This decision will be based on our assessment of an applicants' creative potential and interests.


Use UAL’s scholarship search to find out what funding may be available to you.

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.

How to apply

Home / EU deadline is Monday 31 July 2017.

There is no deadline for international applications, but students are advised to apply as early as possible.

You can apply for this course using our online application form.


Required information for all postgraduate course applications

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

  • Personal details
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form you will receive a confirmation email.

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

  • Portfolio of work
  • Study plan

The course leader will review your work, may invite you to interview, and will then make a decision on your application.

Please note:

We will send you emails throughout the application process that will contain important information about your application. Please check your inbox.

We will contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents. For example, your English language certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas.

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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