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Undergraduate

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance

Model in extreme puff sleeves and corset.
Caitlin Shaw | BA (Hons) Costume for Performance | London College of Fashion | University of Arts London
College
London College of Fashion
UCAS code
W451
Start date
September 2024
Course length
3 years (optional 1 year placement)

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance offers a holistic approach to the study of costume. This course is for students who are interested in designing and making. This comprises physical and digital ways of designing and creating for live theatre, dance, film, and television, as well as more specialised performances.

We nurture every student’s distinctive voice, teaching them how to embrace challenge and how to lead their professional field with cutting-edge approaches across all channels: live, broadcast, digital, interactive, experiential and experimental. Through specialist research and collaborative work, we empower our students to think differently by combining traditional and digital techniques in design and costume-making that result in creative and sustainable practices that improve the way we work and live.

Course subject to re-approval

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

  • Students learn from professionals actively working in Film, TV and live performance.
  • The course gives you the advantage to collaborate with students from related disciplines like 3D effects and Hair
    and Makeup.
  • Students have the opportunity to work on industry-related projects within the course.
  • Learning occurs in a collaborative and safe environment.
  • The course prepares students to integrate intellectual demands within the specialized design and the
    craft skills required for  the creation of original costumes.

Open days

The next LCF Open Day is taking place on Saturday 23 March. Book your place.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Course overview

Introduction 

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance prepares students for a career working with costume and fashion in the performance industry, by learning a specialist subject. 

The course benefits from workshops and masterclasses delivered by industry practitioners and work placement opportunities. 

Students create costume for a wide range of performance genres, such as dance, film and television, theatre, circus, opera and performance art. 

What to expect 

  • The course integrates the intellectual demands of interpreting a text, or other written element, with the specialised skills required for the creation of original costumes. 
  • The cultural and historical context of the subject is explored, enhancing practical work. Working in performance is always a collaborative venture, where the success of the production depends upon the joint efforts of many creative specialists who work together with the director and performers. 

Work experience and opportunities 

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. All the subject tutors teaching on the course are practitioners with extensive experience of the industry. 

Mode of study 

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance runs for 90 weeks in full time mode. It is divided into 3 stages over 3 academic years. Each stage lasts 30 weeks. 

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

Year one 

Introduction to Design for Performance aims to introduce you to your course and its subject specialism as well as to effective learning and studentship at undergraduate level. It will orientate you to the practices and knowledge-base needed to understand your discipline and help you to develop your skills for independent & collaborative learning, reflection and your own self development. Students come from many diverse educational backgrounds and a part of this unit will enable to reflect on your own background and how that shapes the way you approach your course. 

This Unit has three core purposes: 

  • to introduce you to your discipline in the context of study at a Higher Education level 
  • to introduce you to learning skills and the requirements of effective studentship at undergraduate level 
  • to orientate you within your course, the College and the University 

Emphasis is placed on the skills needed to locate, navigate and communicate information and ideas effectively and appropriately. You will be introduced to resources that support your studies. We will also discuss studentship, the importance of being an engaged and participatory member of the group and your own personal and professional development. 

The Costume Principles unit will introduce you to some of the fundamental principles and techniques used by costume practitioners. You will be required to research and record processes and the exploration of techniques and approaches in a visually appropriate and informative way.   

The unit encourages your development in technical areas underpinned by an understanding of the principles of specialist subject processes as well as exploring creative three-dimensional approaches to modifying, altering or adapting the performing body.  

You will develop an understanding of how basic techniques can be used creatively and will be encouraged to develop an enquiring approach to the development of costume for performance.

Fashion Cultures and Histories: introduces the Cultural and Historical Studies approach to fashion and related areas. The unit provides a broad overview of the subject and introduces key concepts and ways of thinking that will form the basis of subsequent study. It will also inform decisions regarding the Cultural and Historical Studies unit that is chosen for future study. 

Better Lives: London College of Fashion, UAL (LCF) is a leader in fashion design, media and business education. We have been nurturing creative talent for over a century, offering courses in all things fashion. We encourage students to examine the past and challenge the present. To have inventive, assertive ideas that challenge social and political agendas. We give students the skills, opportunities – and above all, the freedom – to put those ideas into practice. By leading the way in fashion design, business, and the media, we influence culture, economics and our society. 

This unit will provide you with a solid understanding of LCF’ core values and how they connect to your practice. As part of this unit, you will explore diversity, social responsibility and sustainability, themes which you will then apply to a selected project. At this stage, the emphasis is on how you apply your thinking across these important themes to your practice. Your thinking is more important than a finished piece of work at this point. Fashion can change lives. Through teaching, specialist research, and collaborative work, this unit will get you thinking differently. We want you to use fashion to examine the past, build a sustainable future and improve the way we live. That’s why we call this unit ‘Better Lives’. 

Collaboration One: Design and Production  will enable you to integrate the research practices and principles of design, learned in the Introduction to Design for Performance Unit, into a series of collaborative and / or personal projects. It will also extend other areas of design.   

You will undertake research, design development and presentation principles within a collaborative project, working with students from across the Performance Programme.  Further project work will introduce you to the approaches, terminologies and processes of your specialist subject. 

You will be encouraged to take an innovative approach to the design of your work using both experimental and traditional methods within a contemporary performance context.  

Year two 

The Cultural and Historical Studies Unit Critical Issues in Fashion Research 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. 

Core Skills: Costume Practice Responding to a given text, this unit will develop your awareness of the relationship between research, design and technical processes within your specialist subject area. You will develop an understanding of how techniques can be used creatively and will be encouraged to develop an enquiring approach to technical development and experimentation within your work. 

Situating your Practice 

Situating your Practice: Industry Project 
This unit aims to develop your practitioner identity and consider your personal manifesto for performance, by completing a performance proposal for a performance event around a location, and stimulus of your choosing.  This unit brings together the technical skills that you have developed and asks you to now take them further in a performance context. It will allow you to expand your understanding of the work of practitioners who you find useful, inspiring, and interesting, before then applying that knowledge in the creation of your own performance event. 

Situating your Practice: Industry Placement 
This unit aims to develop your professional skills within an industry environment. On your placement, you will be able to experience the pace, atmosphere and discipline of working in the industry. This will give you practical experience of the roles, functions and operations within the industry. The unit requires a minimum of 60 work placement hours. 

LCF Graduate Futures provide career guidance and one to one opportunities starting in your first year at LCF, to help you plan ahead and prepare for your work experience. You will be expected to engage and be proactive in securing your own work experience and one that is suitable to your own personal development, skills, course requirements and career aspirations. This means producing an updated CV and directly applying to companies for work experience using LCF CAREERS LIVE, LCF’s own job board, as well as other resources. You will also be expected to feedback on your work experience after your work experience. 

During the Collaboration Two: Interdisciplinary and Experimental  unit you will collaborate with other students to design and realise characters for a narrative. Working in a small group you will choose a context for the performance. You are encouraged to look at a context you may not have designed for previously, 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 

Optional Diploma Year

CCI Creative Computing

Between years 2 and 3, you can undertake the year-long Diploma in Creative Computing. This will develop your skills in creative computing alongside your degree. After successfully completing the diploma and your undergraduate degree, you’ll graduate with an enhanced degree: BA (Hons) Costume for Performance (with Creative Computing).

CCI Apple Diploma 

Between years 2 and 3, you can undertake the year-long Diploma in Apple Development. This will give you an opportunity to become an accredited apple developer alongside your degree. After successfully completing the diploma and your undergraduate degree, you’ll graduate with an enhanced degree: BA (Hons) Costume for Performance (with Apple Development).

Industry DIPS 

This optional diploma can be taken between years 2 and 3. With support from your tutors, you’ll undertake an industry placement for a minimum of 100 days/20 weeks. As well as developing industry skills, you’ll gain an additional qualification upon successful completion. 

Enterprise DIPS 

This optional diploma can be taken between years 2 and 3. With support from your tutors, you’ll undertake an enterprise placement year where you will explore a business idea from proposal to minimal viable product (MVP). As well as developing enterprise skills, you’ll gain an additional qualification upon successful completion. 

Year three 

Innovation and Design requires you to identify an area of personal interest and to investigate, research and experiment to develop your conceptual design skills. You will demonstrate your skills in the creation of an extensive body of work to show development and experimentation. 

You should consider theoretical and professional contexts of your project, and the surrounding industries, to develop your chosen narrative and performance context.  You will develop an appropriate methodology, and have the opportunity to explore new ideas, processes, take risks and experiment with design and production values, working to an intended performance location and audience. 

The way that you structure your innovation and design work within this unit is up to you; for example, you may choose to focus on one line of enquiry or explore a range of research and design avenues and methods. 

Following on you will complete a major piece of written work for the Cultural and Historical Studies Dissertation  unit. The overall aim of the dissertation is to provide an opportunity for you to demonstrate your understanding of the critical and analytical perspectives developed within cultural and historical theory and your ability to apply those perspectives in a specific study. You will research a topic of your choice that has relevance to the discipline of cultural and historical studies. This may relate to your course discipline and should elaborate knowledge developed in prior cultural and historical studies units. You will undertake a substantial piece of structured primary and secondary research that critically engages with cultural issues relating to fashion, the body, performance, or the media and communications industries and which reflects on the critical debates and concerns addressed in your course. 

Personal Performance Project 
Building on your previous design portfolio created for the Innovation and Design unit, you will now realise your ideas. You will test your ability to respond innovatively to the challenges involved in your chosen performance context. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your specialist skills and specific interests through your individual body of work.  
 
This unit will enable you to realise a personal response to your concept. The structure and outcome of your project will be determined by you. You will identify and construct individually negotiated outcomes to communicate your performance concept towards your chosen audience. 

The Modelling Your Future unit will prepare you for a number of future employment or postgraduate opportunities. It will expand upon your ability to articulate your practitioner identity. You will reflect upon your professional and/or academic goals after having completed your Personal Performance Project to help you to position yourself creatively and to now construct your industry portfolio accordingly. This unit requires you to evaluate, restructure, and position your work effectively as you create a professional roadmap to your chosen future career. 

Learning and teaching methods

The following teaching and learning methods are employed to support the integrated achievement of the course outcomes:

  • Lectures.
  • Demonstrations.
  • Group-discussions.
  • Practical workshops.
  • Seminars.
  • Critiques.
  • Design workshops. 
  • Peer assessment.
  • Briefings. 
  • Student-directed study. 
  • Video screenings.
  • Presentations. 
  • Visiting speakers.
  •  Performance project. 

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

Student and graduate work

  • 2016-Evgeniia-Galeeva.jpg
  • Amy-Thompson.jpg
  • Isabelle-Homer2.jpg
    Isabelle Homer, BA (Hons) Costume for Performance
  • Kathryn-Mae-Poon.jpg

Graduation work by Sally Jane Galvin

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance graduate work by Sally Jane Galvin titled, 'Neptune the Mystic'.

The Performance Programme

Course leaders and students discuss what goes on behind the scenes on three courses at LCF dedicated to the world of performing arts.

Graduation work by Rane Yuqing Jiang

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance graduate work by Rane Yuqing Jiang, titled 'Ghost in the Shell'.

Graduation work by Jess Iliff

BA (Hons) Costume for Performance graduate work by Jess Ilif titled, 'The Spanish Tragedy'.

Latest news from this course

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Fees and funding

Home fee

£9,250 per year

This fee is correct for entry in autumn 2024 and is subject to change for entry in autumn 2025.

Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students.

Home fees are currently charged to UK nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£28,570 per year

This fee is correct for entry in autumn 2024 and is subject to change for entry in autumn 2025.

Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course.

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 minimum entry requirements for this course are:

  • 112 UCAS tariff points from two or more A Levels (preferred subjects include Art, Design, English, Drama and Film Studies);
  • Distinction, Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4) would ‘normally’ expect Foundation plus at least one A-level, with a total of at least 112 tariff points;
  • Distinction, Merit, Merit at BTEC Extended Diploma preferred subjects Art & Design;
  • Merit at UAL Extended Diploma;
  • Access Diploma or 112 new UCAS tariff points from the Access to HE Diploma;
  • 112 new UCAS tariff points from a combination of the above qualifications or an equivalent full Level 3 qualification;
  • or equivalent EU or non-EU qualifications such as International Baccalaureate Diploma at 25 points minimum;
  • and three GCSE passes at grade A*-C or grade 9-4.

Entry to this course will also be determined by assessment of your portfolio.

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
  • 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 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.

Apply now

Application deadline

31 January 2024 at 18:00 (UK time)

If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Apply to UAL

Home students can apply to this course through UCAS with the following codes:

University code:

U65

UCAS code:

W451

Start your application

Apply now

Application deadline

31 January 2024 at 18:00 (UK time)

If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.

Apply to UAL

International students can apply to this course through UCAS with the following codes:

University code:

U65

UCAS code:

W451

Start your application
or

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.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 4,000 characters and cover the following:

  • Why have you chosen this course? What excites you about the subject?
  • How does your previous or current study relate to the course?
  • Have you got any work experience that might help you?
  • Have any life experiences influenced your decision to apply for this course?
  • What skills do you have that make you perfect for this course?
  • What plans and ambitions do you have for your future career?

Visit the UCAS advice page and our personal statement advice page for more support.

Step 2: Digital portfolio

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

You’ll need to submit this via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool.

Digital portfolio advice

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

It should:

  • be maximum 30 pages
  • feature work that best showcases your skills in drawing, life drawing, photography, 3D design and any other relevant creative practices
  • include research to demonstrate your research skills and awareness of the cultural contexts behind costume design
  • include work in progress as well as finished pieces to demonstrate your ability to experiment and develop ideas from initial concepts to final outcomes.

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.

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

You must apply in the year that you intend to start your course. If you are made an offer and your circumstances change, you can submit a deferral request to defer your place by 1 academic year. You must have met your conditions by 31 August 2024. If you need an English language test in order to meet the entry requirements, the test must be valid on the deferred start date of your course. If not, you will need to reapply. Requests are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contextual Admissions

This course is part of the Contextual Admissions scheme.

This scheme helps us better understand your personal circumstances so that we can assess your application fairly and in context. This ensures that your individual merit and creative potential can shine through, no matter what opportunities and experiences you have received.

Careers

All of our undergraduate 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:

  • An on-course work experience or placement year. Please note, this is not available on every course; please see the Course Details section for information about work placement opportunities.
  • 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.

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

Career paths

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, dance and fashion. These jobs include designers at English National Opera and New York Met, womenswear 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. Graduates have been selected as finalists for New Zealand’s World of Wearable Art Show 2014, and have secured traineeships at the BBC, Pinewood Studios, and with the renowned milliner, Philip Treacy.

Examples of graduate work include:

Film:

Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars, Dumbo, Doctor Strange, Phantom Thread, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Suffragette, Mary Queen of Scots, Harry Potter.

Television:

The Crown, Downton Abbey, Gentleman Jack, Poldark, The Tudors.

Opera and Theatre:

National Theatre, English National Opera, Hampstead Theatre, Globe Theatre, Peacock Theatre, Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House.