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MA Theatre Design

Start date
September 2019
Course length
1 year (full time)

Course suspended

MA Theatre Design at Wimbledon will not be taking applications.

If you are interested in Theatre Design take a look at MA Theatre and Production Design.

MA Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts supports and furthers theatre design practice-based research.

MA Theatre Design Stories

Adam Nee - MA Theatre Design

We caught up with MA Theatre Design graduate Adam Nee on his influences, his time on the course and the industry links he has made leading to work at the […]

Course overview

MA Theatre Design will actively nurture the emergence of a ‘personal vision’ that is central to designing for theatre, whilst also immersing you in the collaborative nature of theatre practice so that you are able to build ideas, proposals and events with other theatre and performance makers.

What to expect

  • To develop essential communication skills such as discussion, drawing and the construction of physical and virtual scale models
  • To look at the rapid developments in lighting, sound and digital technologies and how they are used in theatre design
  • To consider how the creation of an environment can connect an audience to the content of a performance and can contribute towards the continuing development of the performance space as a place for social interaction and debate
  • Through practice-based projects and critical independent research you will explore established stage design methodologies and protocols, while learning how to make the professional judgments required by the industry. You will work within the conventional boundaries of theatre design and challenge accepted performance practice
  • To examine how relationship between audience, space and action operate in the context of theatre and the performing arts. You will research the ways in which theatre designers have realised ideas in the past and the present while speculating on the expansion of future practice. This will help you form a distinctive view of your own position as a theatre designer
  • To have visiting tutors and professional theatre makers help you look at your own practices
  • To collaborate with at least one other postgraduate student or theatre practitioner to practice and test your abilities to negotiate and communicate throughout the production process
  • Throughout the course you will be required to maintain notebooks, sketchbooks and any digital evidence illustrating your research and design processes
  • To have access to Wimbledon's shared workshops. View the Wimbledon facilities

Mode of study

MA Theatre Design is offered in full-time mode and runs for 45 weeks over 12 months. You will be expected to commit an average of 40 hours per week to your course, including teaching hours and independent study.

Course units

A short description of each unit and what you can expect.

Unit 1 - Design methods

This unit is an introduction to your course, the college and the university.

  • Inductions to learning resources and workshops at Wimbledon
  • To explore the diverse range of models and practices that exist within the broad discipline of theatre design
  • To work on a speculative design proposal for a London theatre in response to an existing script
  • To give a presentation on your design proposal to your peers and staff
  • To work in groups with your peers to devise, design, build and perform a collaborative performance of at least 5 minutes in length
  • To produce a reflective piece of writing on the process leading to your collaborative performance of 500 - 1000 words
  • To critique 2 theatre performances, concerts, conferences or exhibitions you have attended during the unit
  • To produce a theoretical and critical research essay of 1500 words
  • To complete a study plan with guidance from tutors
  • Lectures, seminars, crits and tutorials

Unit 2 - Design practice

In this unit you will enhance your knowledge in the development of practical research methods that can progress your design proposal ideas.

  • To work with a postgraduate or professional director/theatre practitioner to produce a collaborative speculative design proposal
  • To plan and deliver a set and costume design for an existing script and venue
  • To present your designs to peers and staff
  • To produce a theoretical and critical research essay of 3000 words
  • To produce a critical analysis of your collaborative speculative design proposal of 500 - 1000 words
  • To critique 2 theatre performances, concerts, conferences or exhibitions you have attended during the unit
  • To revisit your study plan in preparation for your final design project in unit 4

Unit 3 - Design scale

In this unit you will be asked to extend the scale of your practical design abilities. 

  • To produce a large-scale speculative design proposal for a stadium or festival event based on an existing piece of music in a genre of your own choice
  • To look at lighting, sound and digital technologies and how they are used to explore linear and non-linear narratives
  • Subject specific seminars on video design, content creation, post-production, programming and projection

Unit 4 - Design exhibition

In this final unit you will work independently to complete and present a final design project.

  • To contact with an appropriate professional theatre practitioner or practitioners, who can advise, help and support you during your final design project. You will be responsible for negotiating the length and nature of that contact
  • To present work in the college postgraduate show
  • To produce a dissertation of 5000 words

Learning and teaching methods

  • Collaborative work
  • Group and individual tutorials and crits
  • Independent study
  • Practical and technical workshops
  • Lectures and visiting speaker talks
  • Project based learning
  • Staff and student led seminars and discussions
  • Studio, external venue and other visits

Assessment methods

  • A record of the process of your collaborative performance
  • Analysis of your design process
  • Collaborative speculative design proposal
  • Crits
  • Design project
  • Dissertation
  • Essays
  • Online research folio
  • Speculative design proposal


Visiting staff have included:

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

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard minimum entry requirements for this course are:

  • BA (Hons) degree in either art and design or drawing-related disciplines, including social and other sciences or engineering
  • Alternative qualifications and experience will also be taken into consideration
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio of work

Entry to this course will also be determined by the quality of your application, looking primarily at your portfolio of work, personal statement and reference.

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
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference
  • 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

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

Selection criteria

We look for:

  • Commitment and motivation for studying theatre design
  • Understanding of contemporary theatre design and its context
  • Evidence a visual interest in theatre through design practice or other, directly related activities
  • Be 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

Making your application

Course suspended

Fees & Funding

Home / EU fee

£10,890 (2019/20).

International fee

£19,930 (2019/20).

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Additional costs

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


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

Use our search tool to find out more about the scholarships and awards available to students.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

Our graduates develop and define their individual practices to progress within theatre design. This often leads them in different directions within the industry.

Recent graduates have continued as professionals or become leading creative innovators within theatre. Others have continued their studies with research degrees.

MA Theatre Design alumni are equipped to enter various industry competitions and schemes. For example the Linbury Prize for Stage Design or the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) trainee scheme. 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.

Find out how careers and employability helps our students and graduates start their careers.

View college guides



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