Skip to main content

MA Costume Design for Performance

Two female models dressed in gothic black, one with a colourful teddy bear's head.
Yongyi Yin | MA Costume Design for Performance | London College of Fashion | UAL Graduate Showcase
London College of Fashion
Start date
September 2024
Course length
12 months

This costume design course develops confident and experimental practitioners who push the boundaries of traditions and explore innovations in costume for live, film and digital performance.


Please note that this course is undergoing re-approval. This is the process by which we ensure the course continues to provide a high quality academic experience. During re-approval there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about the course.

Why choose this course at London College of Fashion

  • Where graduates have gone on to work: graduates find employment as designers, assistant designers and costume supervisors in the theatre, film  and music entertainment industry. Employers have included: the Royal Opera House,  Netflix, Amazon,  BBC, National Ballet, major film productions such as Harry Potter, Spiderman and clients such as Dior,  Lagerfeld, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Kylie Minogue. Alumni are employed in leading academic roles for costume design and frequently win prizes in international exhibitions and competitions such as World of Wearable Art, Linbury Prize for Stage Design, World Stage Design.
  • Industry links: the course is firmly linked to industry partners, giving students the opportunity to showcase work to the public on professional platforms and regularly collaborate with professional companies. Previously students have worked with Sadler’s Wells and the V&A.
  • Facilities: students have access to highly specialist workshop facilities and the expertise of supporting technicians in areas of costume, technical effects, media and wearable tech.

Course overview

MA Costume Design for Performance is a course where practice and theory will be taught together in a blend  of academic and practical skills to reflect new ideas, methods of expression, diversity of cultural backgrounds and analogue as well as digital technologies in performance design. The aim of the course is to develop confident and experimental practitioners who will push the boundaries of the discipline. Through conceptual development, specialised design realisation, theoretical and practical-based research methods, you will explore the role of costume within contemporary performance and recorded media. The course encourages thinking and making as intrinsically linked processes and an examination of a diverse range of analytical methods such psychology, anthropology, history and culture, social and political contexts utilising technologies from photography, film, fine art, textile and product design, audio, digital and online platforms, realisation and all aspects of performance to create meaningful narratives for contemporary audiences. You will explore situations and narratives that raise attention to ethical, social and political issues as well as challenge traditional costume practices. MA Costume Design for Performance articulates the value of costume for performance as an important and distinct area of performance research and practice. You will be encouraged to read widely, attend internal and external lectures, events, exhibitions, performances and symposia, engage with UAL research hubs, collaborate across other LCF postgraduate courses and across the University of the Arts. You will engage with other disciplines such as literature, fine art, film, music/sound, dance and science to explore ways to articulate ideas through costume as conveyor of meaning, You will be encouraged to develop independent innovative responses to, and a critique of current costume and performance practices.

Climate, Social and Racial Justice

We are committed to ensuring that your skills are set within an ethical framework and are working to embed UAL’s Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice into the course.

Course units

The course is delivered over 15 months in 3 teaching blocks each lasting 15 weeks. The course is composed of the following units:

  • Narrative Costume and Performance (40 credits)
  • Collaborative Challenge (20 credits)
  • Costume for Screen (40 credits)
  • Research Proposal (20 credits)
  • Masters Project (60 credits)

Each unit will be completed over a period of 15 weeks (full time) 

Full schemes of work are published on Moodle.

The course is offered in full-time mode and students are expected to commit to an average of 40 hrs per week including teaching hours, delivered briefings, tutorials, lectures, design,workshops and other independent study time. Each unit is supported by a range of individual and group tutorials. (see teaching hours allocation). On the Moodle Site for each unit, specific teaching methods are summarised in the scheme of works, detailing the teaching structure of each unit. 

Credit Framework

The credit framework conforms to the University of the Arts London framework in which the unit of credit is 20 credits (equivalent to 200 hours of student study time). All credits on the MA programme are at postgraduate level 7.

Organisation of the Curriculum

The first block provides the opportunity to accumulate 60 credits with the units: Narrative Costume and Performance (40 credits) and: Collaborative Challenge (20 credits) and students who successfully complete this block are eligible for the award of a PG Cert. The second block is a further 60 credits with the units: Costume for Screen (40 credits) and Research Proposal (20 credits) and students who complete blocks 1 and 2 are eligible for the award of PGDip. The third and final block is the Master’s Project, this is a 60-credit unit and students who successfully complete this block are eligible for the award of a Masters. The final award grading is based upon the Master’s Project only.

Learning and teaching methods

The course offers teaching and learning methods that enable each student to develop in areas they are less familiar with and reach a level of professional inquiry, advance their analytical independence, which are vital for their ability to further their career with a distinctive individual approach with which to challenge existing traditions. The course demands a high level of both intellectual and practical engagement. Networking, collaboration and participation in national and international performance and film festivals, exhibitions, competitions and conferences are firmly supported and promoted by the course and programme and help students to disseminate their work in the public domain.

Methods employed for the delivery of the curriculum: 

The teaching and learning is conducted through a variety of lectures, group discussions, regular individual tutorials, presentations, experimental workshops, independent practice,  master classes, external collaborations and detailed feedback from peers and tutors. The course team also seeks to include digital platforms (Moodle) more actively in the delivery of the curriculum.

Research and Analysis:

Students are familiarised with intensive high level theoretical and practical research methods that allows them to situate their own work in the wider field of art and performance design. They are provided with the foundations of postgraduate level systematic academic research that enables them to make informed analytical decisions grounded in expert knowledge. This is accompanied by prototyping, material, movement, technical and creative experimentation to develop both theory and practice together. Students are required to formulate research questions, develop meaningful messages and identify audiences, employ continuous reflection and evaluations of ideas and realisation processes throughout each project from start to completion which are discussed with tutors and peers on a regular basis. 

Students often seek to utilise their existing cultural diversity and skill base to draw attention to social, political and environmental issues. Frequent discussions with tutors and peers offered through the shared MA Costume studio resources, the cross school collaborative unit, the performance research hub and the PhD Performance Dress Lab provide a platform for knowledge exchange. Students are challenged to develop conceptual approaches that questions traditional perceptions and methods to advances the discipline into new areas of investigation. Experimentations and research outcomes are encouraged to be shared on University and public platforms. 

Theory and Practice:

In line with the UAL Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Strategy (2015-2022) the course pursues ‘enquiry-based and object-based learning’. The course provides a close synergy between theory and practice and at the heart of both is high level research that leads, informs and promotes innovation and engagement with the wider context of art, design and performance as a means of effectively communicating to the public. Students learn to understand the fundamental principles by which a costume can convey meaning and message to audiences. This is achieved by detailed text , character and contextual analysis which often requires investigations and understanding of psychological, religious, social, historical, anthropological, political, philosophical, scientific and feminist theory as well as investigations and understanding of materials, anatomy, physics, digital and manual craft techniques which are utilised, engaged and evaluated in their ability to communicate what is intended. Theoretical concepts and ideas are tested under the guidance and in collaboration with specialist researchers and practitioners from the theatre, dance, fine art, photography and film industry.

Experimentation and Innovation:

The course offers an environment which fosters peer to peer learning. Students can test out ideas and prototypes with each other as audience and performers which encourages reflection and discussion. Practice is both independent and supervised allowing for support where needed. The Performance Programme resources and technical support enable experimentation with analogue and offers guidance and expertise. Students can access media facilities where advanced digital construction and interactive technologies for performance are tested and made available. The knowledge by staff and emphasis on students to experiment with materials, shape and form encourages innovation. As a result, students have won recent awards in the categories of innovation and avantgarde design at WoW in New Zealand and participation in Exhibitions such as Evolution of Performance Design (Beijing, Shanghai 2016), Innovative Costume for the 21st Century: The New Generation, (Moscow 2019).

Technical Skills and Prototyping:

In order to enable students to advance their practice, the course offers a series of technical workshops that are embedded in the delivery of the course. Traditional methods such as corsetry, tailoring, padding, millinery, lingerie and material surface manipulation are delivered by technicians and industry specialists. Alongside those, other skills such as film editing, studio lighting, camera operation and life drawing are offered by academic staff and media technicians. Students also have access to performance and textile design technicians who are specialists in areas such as, knitting, embroidery, print, sculpting, casting, puppetry, masks, animatronics, make-up and hair which provides inspiration and support for experimental prototyping. LCF digital learning will provide workshops on using Workflow. The LCF digital learning lab will provide inductions to 3 D printing, body scanning, conductive materials and sensors. LCF digital learning will provide workshops for professional use of online platforms such as professional marketing tool.


Collaboration is firmly embedded in the course curriculum. Especially the 3 core units: Costume for Live Performance, Costume for Screen and Master’s Project as well as the Collaborative unit, all have substantial collaborative components, enabling the students to develop additional skills in directing, producing, management and postproduction. The Costume for Live Performance and Costume for Film unit offer the opportunity  to work with collaborators in a professional situation where their costume   narrative is developed, tested, performed and recorded. For the Master’s Project, students work with collaborators towards a public facing showcase.

Process Records:

The documentation of research, analysis, concept, design, realisation development processes and methods in form of portfolios, technical logs/costume bible and realised costumes form the key components of the unit delivery by students. These are delivered in analogue and digital form to enable students to develop digital presentation  skills for future use. Guidance and support is provided by staff with an outward facing ethos, encouraging students to record their practice with relevant methods to meet advanced professional standards.

Summary of Teaching and Learning Methods:

  • briefings 
  • lectures 
  • seminars 
  • individual tutorials  
  • master classes  
  • material and technical workshops  
  • presentations 
  • Practical testing
  • collaborative and independent practice  
  • formative feedback 
  • critically reflecting on processes of communicating interpretations and narratives of the realised costumes.

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

LCF MA21 | Dual identities: Costume showreel

Latest news from this course


Agnes Treplin originally trained in Fashion Design in Berlin before undertaking the BA(Hons) Theatre Design at Central Saint Martin’s and some years after that the MA Performance and Culture at Goldsmith University. Since 1995 she has worked as a theatre designer on many productions for opera, dance, theatre, musicals, film and TV in the UK and internationally. Her most recent design credits: Who Do We Think We Are? (Southwark Playhouse) A Dashing Fellow (New Diorama Theatre London) Werther. Die Sprache der Liebe (Hans Otto Theater, Potsdam, Germany), Warsaw Melody (Arcola Theatre), Am Horizont (Hans Otto Theater, Germany) Consultants and Man in the Middle (Theatre 503, London) The Last 5 Years (Barbican) Land of The Gypsies (Grand Theatre, Casino du Liban, Lebanon) The Marriage of Figaro and Don Pasquale (ETO)The Rise of the Phoenix and Gibran The Prophet and Don Quixote for the  Byblos International Festival in Lebanon, Al Mutanabbi (Baalbek Festival, Lebanon, Xenobia (Dubai)) Der Freischuetz (National Theatre of Iceland), Othello (Basingstoke Theatre). She has designed over 40 productions for Guildhall School of Music, LAMDA and RADA and was appointed head of Design at Drama Centre London from 2000 - 2010. Agnes is currently leading the curation for the UK participation at the exhibition Innovative Costumes of the 21st Century: The New Generation opening in Moscow in 2019.  She engages in research projects addressing costume in performance and most recently produced and designed a costume performance and subsequent film in collaboration with the National Gallery, London College of Fashion, exhibited at the NG, Shoreditch Town Hall and as part of the Evolutions in Performance Design exhibition in Beijing in 2014 and at Shanghai Museum of Modern Art in 2015. She has taught Theatre Design at Central Saint Martin’s College for over 10 years and has been course director for the MA Costume Design for Performance at London College of Fashion since 2010. In addition she took on the role as Programme Director for Performance at LCF from 2105 -2016, holds the PG Cert for Teaching Art and Design and provides PhD supervision at LCF. She is contributing to international research forums most recently at the World Stage Design Expo 2017 in Taiwan for the conference ‘Thinking Costume’. View Agnes Treplin's full profile here.

Scholar and scenographer Donatella Barbieri publishes extensively, lectures publically, presents work in international exhibitions, curates events and devises performances around costume. She has pioneered methodologies of designs which have, through MA graduates, extended their influence internationally.

Ben Turnbull is a Lecturer in Performance Technology and Design at London College of Fashion, UAL. He is a digital scenographer, 360 VR filmmaker, video  designer and technician who works across live performance in the areas of digital technology, video design, lighting and interactivity. He previously taught at Middlesex University on integrating new technologies into live performance, as Technical Tutor (Performing Arts).

Nadia Malik is the Programme Director for the Performance Courses at London College of Fashion, UAL. She has previously been Course Leader for BA Costume Design and Making at Nottingham Trent University and Costume With Textiles at the University of Huddersfield, Head of Wardrobe at the University of Essex and lectured at various other universities.

Nadia is the Reviews Editor (Exhibitions and Events) for the journal Studies in Costume and Performance, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a committee member of the Society of British Theatre Designersand a PhD candidate at Aalto University, Helsinki. Her research work focuses on Knowledge Exchange between academia and industry through experimental pedagogical practice in costume. She holds a BA in Textile Design from Nottingham Trent University and an MA in Costume Design for Performance from London College of Fashion, UAL.

Nadia’s design work has encompassed new and classic writing, opera, folk and contemporary dance, experimental site-specific devised work and live art, including international festivals. With a collaborative approach to performance devising, her work explores the human body, movement, and how costume-led design practice can engage audiences with performance. She has also curated and produced costume events.

Fees and funding

Home fee


This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee


This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 entry.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • 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;
  • OR Equivalent qualifications;

APEL (Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning)

Applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered in exceptional cases. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience (for a minimum of three years)
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • OR a combination of these factors

Each application will be considered on its own merit but we cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English Language Requirements

IELTS level 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Please check our main English Language Requirements

Selection criteria

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

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.

Apply now

Application deadline


Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply now

Application deadline


Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio and video task deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio and video task deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply to UAL

Start your application

Apply with a UAL Representative

Based across the world, our local UAL representatives can support you with your application from your home country. Check to see if there is a representative available in your country currently.

Find your representative

How to apply

Follow this step-by-step guide to apply for this course

Step 1: Initial application

You will need to submit an initial application including your personal statement, CV, written task and study proposal.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 500 words and include:

  • your reasons for choosing the course
  • your current creative practice and how this course will help you achieve your future plans
  • any relevant education and experience, especially if you do not have any formal academic qualifications.

Visit our personal statement page for more advice.

CV advice

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If you have any web projects or other media that you would like to share, please include links in your CV. If English is not your first language, please also include your most recent English language test score.

Written task advice

In 1000 – 1500 words, please respond to the following discussion:

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

Please include references and a bibliography. This will not be included in the word count.

Study proposal advice

Please provide a summary of your study proposal (400 words).

It should:

  • describe the area of study that you plan to focus on for your major project, including particular text(s), theories and themes that you might want to explore
  • describe the performance context of your proposal, demonstrating your knowledge of historical and contemporary context of your area of study
  • include research resources, a bibliography and appendices if relevant. This is not included in the word count.

Please note, your proposal serves to inform your application and we understand that your ideas will develop and change throughout your studies

Step 2: Video task and digital portfolio

We will review your initial application. If you have met the standard entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a video task and a digital portfolio.

You’ll need to submit these via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool. Please submit your video task on the first page followed by your portfolio.

Video task advice

We’d like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you. When recording your task, please face the camera and speak in English.

What to include in your video task

  • Choose 1 project from your portfolio and explain how it challenged you and your understanding of costume design within performance.
  • Tell us how this experience inspired you to apply to this course at London College of Fashion.

Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept.

Digital portfolio advice

Your portfolio should consist of recent work that reflects your creative strengths.

It should:

  • be maximum 30 pages, including your video task
  • include digital versions of drawings, photographs of realised designs, speculative design and sketch work
  • include work in progress as well as finished pieces to demonstrate your creative process and ability to develop an idea from an initial concept to finished outcome
  • be clearly presented with labels, including dates and captions.

For more support, see our Portfolio advice and PebblePad advice.

Step 3: Interview

You may be invited to an interview following our review of your application. All interviews are held online and last 15 to 20 minutes.

For top tips, see our Interview advice.

You also need to know

Communicating with you

Once you have submitted your initial application, we will email you with your login details for our Applicant portal.

Requests for supplementary documents like qualifications and English language tests will be made through the applicant portal. You can also use it to ask questions regarding your application. Visit our After you apply page for more information.

Applying for more than one course

You can apply for more than one postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you limit your applications to no more than 3 courses. Your application, supporting documents and portfolio should be tailored to each course. If you receive offers for multiple courses, you will only be able to accept one offer. UAL does not accept repeat applications to the same course in the same academic year.

Visas and immigration history check

All non-UK nationals must complete an immigration history check. Your application may be considered by our course teams before this check takes place. This means that we may request your portfolio and/or video task before we identify any issues arising from your immigration history check. Sometimes your history may mean that we are not able to continue considering your application. Visit our Immigration and visas advice page for more information.

External student transfer policy

UAL accepts transfers from other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Read our Student transfer policy for more information.

Alternative offers

If your application is really strong, but we believe your strengths and skillset are better suited to a different course, we may make you an alternative offer. This means you will be offered a place on a different course or at a different UAL College.

Deferring your place

We do not accept any deferral requests for our postgraduate courses. This means that you must apply in the year that you plan to start your course and you will not be able to defer your place to start at a later date.

Application deadlines

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 equal consideration deadlines to ensure fairness for all our applicants. If you apply ahead of either of these deadlines, your application will be considered on an equal basis with all other applications in that round. If there are places available after the second deadline, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.


All our postgraduate courses offer career development, so that you become a creative thinker, making effective contributions to your relevant sector of the fashion industry.

LCF offers students the opportunity to develop Personal and Professional Development (PPD) skills while studying through:

* Access to to speaker programmes and events featuring alumni and industry.

* Access to careers activities, such as CV clinics and one-to-one advice sessions.

* Access to a graduate careers service

* Access to a live jobsboard for all years.

* Advice on setting up your own brand or company.

Career paths

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.