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Foundation Studies in Performance

Students practicing in a performance studio
Students practicing in a performance studio
Central Saint Martins
Course length
1 year - full time

Originating at Drama Centre London and with its focus firmly on practical skills and techniques, Foundation Studies in Performance broadens your horizons and lets you test your aims and aptitudes in a supportive environment.

Course closed

This course is now closed and will no longer be taking applications. Please look at the related courses in our Performance Programme. Here is the closure announcement.

You’ll emerge very well placed to apply for further training in the highly specialised, competitive and demanding performance sector.

This course is part of the Performance Programme.

Great reasons to apply:

  • Foundation Studies in Performance is one of the courses in the Programme that originates from the unique approach and techniques that were developed by Drama Centre London
  • Foundation Studies in Performance has an extremely strong record of students gaining places at recognised drama schools for BA courses
  • You'll benefit from excellent studio, practice and teaching rooms in our iconic building, part of the exciting King's Cross development
  • The course offers a real experience of drama school life, with the same teaching staff and facilities as the undergraduate and postgraduate courses of the Programme
  • You'll experience weekly visits to theatres and other cultural visits as well as close contacts with the profession and professional actors
  • You'll have the opportunity to participate in a professional production - a great start to your career CV.

Drama Centre

Find out more.

Student work

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Course overview

Welcome from Richard Williams, Course Leader

I know that most people on the Foundation course want to go onto a BA Acting course at a recognised drama school. In fact many people on the course have tried for a BA and been recommended to gain more experience. Therefore our Foundation course offers a terrific preparation for BA Acting auditions and courses.

As part of the course you will get one-to-one advice and tuition on audition monologues so you are in the best possible condition both physically and mentally for your next step. And we have a great success rate. Each year about sixty percent of the year group go onto a BA Acting or Directing course at a recognised drama school.

That's only a part of the course. You'll enjoy studying a broad range of subjects - including Shakespeare, Stanislavski, Text in Action, Acting for Camera, Dance, Movement and Performance Technique - all part of the highly focused conservatoire training. Our students approach their next step with the confidence that only such an intensively concentrated course can offer. I know the course isn't cheap, but that's because we are offering the very best of teaching and tuition with an incredibly intensive 30 hours of teaching weekly.

Take a moment to read how vitally productive some of the present and past students have found it. Think about Foundation Studies in Performance as the place to begin your successful theatrical career.

Richard Williams
Course Leader Foundation in Performance Studies

Richard Williams is a theatre and opera director with a long and distinguished career who has won several awards for his directing. He has worked with some of the country's leading performers including Imelda Staunton, Roger Allam, Mark Rylance, Sylvester McCoy and Alison Steadman. Naturally he brings a wealth of experience to the course as well as careful attention to each individual student.

The tutors on the Foundation Course all also teach at BA or MA level and include Oleg Mirochnikov, Liana Nyquist formally assistant to Yat Malgrem, and filmmaker and West End director Harry Burton.

After the completion of the course the Course Leader invites students to join in one or more summer projects which he is connected to in a professional capacity. So in the past students have appeared alongside professional performers at The Bath International Festival in a cabaret of Brecht/Weill songs, poems and scenes; Buxton Opera Festival in acting roles in a Vivaldi opera; the well-established Old Vic New Voices project; ‘Chalk Legends’ an epic production with The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra as part of the Cultural Olympiad and other exciting professional opportunities.

Foundation Studies in Performance is aimed at those who wish to improve their acting, directing and other performance skills in order to make informed decisions about their future careers. This course is part of the Access to HE and Progression programme.

Foundation Studies in Performance enables you to experience the rigour and variety available in the field of drama and to test your expectations and aspirations against the realities of vocational training. On completing the foundation course, students will normally expect to go on to study in higher education, mainly at vocational drama schools.

During the foundation course you will enhance your capacity to learn in a disciplined, organised manner and develop skills leading to self-reliant learning. You will also develop your critical awareness of contemporary performance and will learn to express your ideas clearly and articulately.

Foundation Studies in Performance is fully based in the practice of performance, delivered within a leading University benefits from high levels of expertise of the professional staff across the programme and college.

Foundation Studies in Performance is "diagnostic" in nature: that means that the tutors will seek to help you widen your understanding of the various opportunities for careers in the field of drama. You may already feel that you are determined to pursue a career in acting or directing, for example. In this case, the course will help you to test your commitment and define your expectations. On the other hand, you may feel that, while attracted by the idea of working in drama, you are not yet sure of what the profession has to offer and of how your talent can be developed. If this is the case, then Foundation Studies in Performance will help you explore the opportunities available and enable you to make informed decisions about future studies.

Comments from this year's students

"The knowledge and experience I have gained from the course is phenomenal. It's an incredible start for anyone considering a career in performance"

"I definitely feel it's great value. It's world class training that has prepared me for a BA course"

"The tutors have taught me to challenge myself."

"The intensity was what I needed, the course was challenging and extremely beneficial."

"The course has allowed me to express myself physically and emotionally in a safe and creative environment. The Foundation course has given me invaluable tools that will carry me through my career."

"I got to know myself a lot better, physically and mentally in a safe and collaborative environment."

Foundation Studies in Performance is structured in three stages and includes units in:

  • Acting
  • Acting for Camera and Recorded Media
  • Rehearsal and Performance
  • Improvisation
  • Movement
  • Voice
  • Text Interpretation
  • Introduction to the Performing Arts Business
  • Monologue Study
  • Scene Study/Rehearsal Methodology
  • Singing
  • Directing/Writing options
  • Preparation for Auditions

Stage One

The first, exploratory, stage introduces you to core areas of performance: interaction; physical expression; communication of ideas. You and your colleagues arrive at a shared understanding of the essential nature of performance and its various media, periods and styles. Focused visits to theatre, dance, film and other performance opportunities are followed by group discussions designed to provide a contemporary and historical context. Sustained acting, voice and movement classes begin to develop a sense of 'play', character and circumstance and stage relationships.

Stage Two

The second, pathway, stage invites you to focus on a range of projects, studying the creative, technical and vocational aspects of the different performance media, reflecting your individual interests and potential. Scene and monologue study, recorded media, more advanced movement and voice, contribute to the deepening of the understanding of the art and skills which enable communication between performer and spectator.

Stage Three

The third, confirmatory, stage encourages you to adopt an autonomous, proactive approach to your future development as a performer. You undertake a significant piece of work and assume within it roles that reflect your future aspirations for work and/or further study. You continue to develop and put into practice your own ideas, informed by the experience of the first two stages. Personal, professional and promotion skills are put into practice in order to support your applications to drama schools and elsewhere.


Richard  Williams

Richard Williams

Course Leader, Foundation in Performance; Acting Course Leader, BA Acting

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 entry requirements for this course are as follows:

One or a combination of the following accepted full level 3 qualifications:

*          1 A Level at grade C or above

*          Pass at BTEC Level 3 National Diploma /or other level 3 Diploma in Performing Arts

*          Or equivalent EU/International qualifications, such as International Baccalaureate Diploma

And three GCSE passes at grade 4 or above (grade A*-C).

Entry to this course will also be determined by audition.

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. 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

*          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 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English Language requirements webpage).

Applicants who require a Tier 4 General Student Visa must take IELTS Academic Test for UKVI which is approved by the UK government for your UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) application. No other test can be accepted.

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas:

  • Analysis of the character, text and action presented in the audition pieces
  • Stage presence, use of emotion, intellectual engagement, voice and body
  • Acting focus, level of intensity and variety of expression
  • A sense of play and the ability to collaborate on stage
  • Knowledge and experience of performance
  • Awareness of personal and career goals.

What we are looking for

We look for applicants who can perform as a member of an ensemble, show a positive attitude to performance and demonstrate commitment.

Making your application

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 31 May 2020 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.  Please note that the deadline for bursary applications (for students categorised as Home for tuition fee purposes) is 1 July 2020.

There are two ways international students can apply:

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Application deadline

We recommend you apply by 31 May 2020 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Immigration history check

You will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents or book an audition, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

What happens next


You will be invited to book and pay for an audition through the UAL Portal.  The cost of the audition is £50.00 and is non-refundable.  

You can audition in two ways:

  • Upload filmed audition pieces via the UAL Portal
  • Attend an in person audition.

Due to the volume of applications received, we have limited availability for in person auditions.  We strongly advise you book your audition early and we often find there is greater availability for the earlier audition dates.  Please note if you are unable to attend an audition you have already booked we cannot rearrange an alternative date for you. In these circumstances, you will need to submit filmed audition pieces via the UAL Portal.

The audition day has two stages.  After the first stage we make a selection and notify candidates using a shortlist pinned to the board. If your name doesn’t appear on this ‘recall’ list, it means your application won’t progress further.

Stage 1

In a group setting, you are required to perform 2 contrasting monologues from any 2 plays. Your speeches must be no longer than two minutes.  You may be asked to explain briefly the context of your choice.

After the 1st stage a selection is made and candidates are notified by means of a short-list. If your name does not appear on this ‘recall’ list, it means that your application will not progress for this year.

Stage 2

If you are selected after the first stage, the panel will ask you to repeat one or more or your speeches. The panel are likely to redirect your speech.  You will also will have an individual interview. The panel will question you about your choice of material, your knowledge of the play, and your reasons for applying and will discuss with you your readiness for the rigours of actor training. After your interview, you will be free to go.

Please note that stages 1 and 2 are held on the same day. Auditions sometimes finish around 17:00 and you may need to make appropriate travel arrangements.

Audition advice

  • Auditions should last between 1.5 minutes and a maximum of 2.5 minutes.  We may stop you if your speech is longer than this.
  • Avoid swearing, unless it’s essential to the context
  • Demonstrate your current acting ability, rather than showcasing roles you would like to take on.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees and funding

Home fee


(if you are aged 19 or over on 31 August of the year you start your course)


(if you are under the age of 19 on 31 August of the year you start your course)

These fees are correct for 2020/21 entry and are subject to change for 2021/22 entry.

Home fees are currently charged to UK resident nationals. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, depending on your individual circumstances. Read more advice for EU students.

International fee

£18,300 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry.

Students from countries outside of the UK are currently charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about our tuition fees.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, depending on your individual circumstances. Read more advice for EU students.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

An impressive list of famous performers and a number of world-famous directors have emerged from courses on the Performance Programme.

Alumni include Paul Bettany, Pierce Brosnan, Simon Callow, Frances de la Tour, Paola Dionisotti, Colin Firth, Tara Fitzgerald, Anastasia Hille, Geraldine James, Helen McCrory, Jack Shepherd, John Simm, Colin Tierney, Lambert Wilson, Penelope Wilton and many more. Adrian Noble (for ten years Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company); film writer and director David Leland; novelist Esther Freud and television director Jan Sargent are among our graduates.

For details of the wide range of careers support provided for students, please visit our Careers support page.