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Central Saint Martins

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BA (Hons) Performance: Design and Practice

Start date
September 2019
Course length
3 years
UCAS code

Course summary

Applications closed 2019/20
Applications for 2019/20 entry to this course have now closed. Visit the ‘Courses with places available’ page for a full list of UAL courses that are open for application.

Challenging assumptions and territories, this course explores theatre, film, video and live art.

It emphasises collaborative practice, instilling a strong set of specialist and transferable skills. In the final year you’ll shape your own individual project, anticipating your future in this diverse and expanding sector.

This course is part of the Performance Programme.

Great reasons to apply:

  • Collaborating across theatre, film, costume and installation, you’ll find yourself in emerging contexts such as immersive performance, socially engaged projects or cutting-edge experience economies- where practices overlap in unpredictable ways
  • You will combine design and critical thinking with performance practice, to produce new and extraordinary visual work
  • Initially exploratory, there are plenty opportunities for you experiment and collaborate with others. Projects explore and challenge the concepts of performance through the frames of space and screen
  • External partnerships offer unique opportunities for students to create live work in professional environments, getting you ready for work or further study on a Masters Degree
  • The experience and skills you’ll gain will lead you to work in all areas of performance associated industries: theatre design, film, design for dance, event design and immersive theatre and many students set up their own companies
  • Restless, talented and ambitious, exploring performance design through multiple media, disciplines and frames within contemporary culture we welcome those who are bold and brave, who want to be challenged and think critically about performance and how it can engage with the world in a meaningful way.

Open days

The next round of open days will take place from mid October to early December 2019, please check back here mid September 2019 to book online.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships

Student work

Degree Show 2018: Sanghoon Lee

2015 degree show catalogue


Facilities - Studio Theatre

Studio Theatre

Find out more about our studio theatre space

Facilities - Post Production

Post Production

Find out more about our Post Production faciliities

Facilities - Costume


Find out more about our costume workshop at King's Cross

Course details

This course is focused on your individual creative potential and critical intelligence. You explore performance creation through design and making. The curriculum content responds to the practice of others, emerging contexts for practice, and diverse perspectives of both audience and maker.

The course presents performance, in its broadest sense, as a dynamic and continuously shifting subject domain. It encourages and facilitates visual practices and processes that challenge the existing conceptions and boundaries of the discipline. You develop as a curious, critically reflective and proactive learner with a unique cultural identity. The course provides a supportive and inclusive environment for the acquisition of skills and knowledge leading you into professional practice and postgraduate study.

Distinctive features from the course programme specification:

  • The embodied engagement with design and its relationship to the performance making process is a unique approach and key concept of the course. This approach fosters ‘performance: design and making’, in eclectic, interdisciplinary contexts of contemporary arts including festivals, installations, theatre, and film, challenging traditional territories, processes and assumptions. We value performance-making strategies where the maker’s relationships with audience, space, time, movement, event and duration are parallel concerns
  • A unique position in a specialist arts and design college and university maintain the traditions of the Art School, where collaborations, activities and initiatives take place with other courses and students and that place value on innovation, restlessness, criticality, uncertainty, academic rigor together with the highly developed skills of professional practice. As such the course is in a unique area between Theatre and Fine Art, Fashion Spatial Practices and Design – all subjects within the college
  • Our central London location offers opportunities to take advantage of high quality partnerships and collaborations with industry, for example: The London Sinfonietta, London Studio Centre, the RCA, the National Trust and the V&A. Opportunities for engaging with diverse audiences through collaborations with, for example, Cardboard Citizens Theatre, Duckie, Live Art Development Agency, English Pocket Opera, and The Royal Albert Hall, O’Neill Ross, Trinity Laban and Punchdrunk, all of which provide opportunities for alternative and site based performance and design.
  • We are proud of the range and standing of the professional practitioners that are our students come into contact with throughout their time on the course. In the past students have come into contact with Geraldine Pilgrim, Tim Yip, Colleen Attwood, Jacqueline Durran, Gareth Evans (Whitechapel Gallery), Free Theatre of Belarus, Peta Lily, Nitin Sawney and Uchemma Dance, Chrysalis Dance
  • The course is practice based and this is reflected in the breadth of ambitious work that has concerns for the societal, ethical and sustainable contemporary performance making agendas. The course actively engages with and has an effect upon diverse audiences and communities.
  • Performance: Design and Practice attracts an international cohort with diverse skill sets who bring and share their knowledge of diverse traditional and emerging cultural performance practices
  • The integration and application of contextual and critical studies with practice gives our students an argument for not only what they are doing but also the process through which work is created. This is developed through understanding performance as research practice. Delivered through lectures and seminars, the wide range of topics and material consider the principles and history of design for performance. Key practitioners and movements, specific to performance and theatre and from a wider context. These broadly are Semiotics, Phenomenology, Post structuralism & Deconstruction, Psychoanalytic theory, Feminist and Gender Studies, Reception theory, Materialist theory, Postmodern and Post-colonial theory
  • The course is practice based and this is reflected in the breadth of ambitious work that has concerns for the societal, ethical and sustainable contemporary performance making agendas. The course actively engages with and has an effect upon diverse audiences and communities. The course offers opportunities for students to develop a broad portfolio or focus their practice on for example design for dance, costume in film
  • We forefront the dialogic and collaborative skills of performance making combined with the innovative thinking, presentation and design skills that are needed in new creative cultural economies
  • Working in collaboration with students to shape their learning increases individual responsibility for learning, professional identity and direction. As the students develop their own practice we provide the opportunity for them to choose emphasis and orientation in the final year. Sites and spaces at KX and the black and white performance laboratories at CSM are fundamental spaces for developing and presenting practice and for experimentation and testing of ideas.

Course units

The course runs for 90 weeks full time over three years, and is divided into three Levels (or Stages), each lasting 30 weeks. The whole course is credit-rated at 360 credits, with 120 credits at each Level (Stage).

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the Levels for a BA are: Level 4 (which is Stage 1 of the course), Level 5 (Stage 2) and Level 6 (Stage 3).

There’s a progression point at the end of each Level and, in order to progress, all units of the preceding Level must normally have been passed.

There’s a progression point at the end of each Level and, in order to progress, all units of the preceding Level must normally have been passed.

If you’re unable to continue on the course a Certificate of Higher Education (Cert HE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Level 4, or a Diploma in Higher Education following the successful completion of Level 5.

To gain a BA (Honours), students must successfully complete 360 credits. The final award consists of marks from Level 6 units only, weighted according to their credits.

Outline of the course

The course is three years full time and is organised in three stages, which correspond to each year of study. There are nine assessed Units over the three years. The curriculum is designed to provide opportunities to develop cross disciplinary knowledge and skills appropriate to your emerging focus and interest. Your studies in performance includes critical studies, personal and professional development and, in Stage two, elements of choice that will give you experience beyond the course. The course is centred on experiential practice and reflection that informs your choices through the course and in the future.

The course aims to create a common contextual and critical framework across all Stages of the course through screenings, guest lectures, related reading and external events – a shared language.

Stage one introduces a variety of skills, relating to curriculum activity and a range of student needs. These skills workshops are progressive and are prioritised to different Units. In Stage two students choose from options of projects which in Stage three form Communities of Practice with shared interests.

There’s a progression point at the end of each Level and, in order to progress, all units of the preceding Level must normally have been passed.

Stage one

Unit one: Performance: Design & Practice: Introduction to Study in Higher Education (20 credits)

Unit two: Right Here Right Now (20 credits)

Unit three: Critical Practice 1: drawing colour making (40 credits)

Unit four: Performance: Frames and Territories (40 credits)

The emphasis in Stage 1 is on introducing perspectives on the creation of performance through explorations of source material, space, time, and the audience-performer relationship. You’ll be introduced to practical, collaborative reading and writing skills so that you can start building an informed personal approach to creating performance.

Stage two

Unit five: Further Adventures in Performance: Making Stuff Happen (40 credits)

Unit six: Critical Practice 2: Platforms and Communities (40 credits)

Unit seven: Performance design in the expanded field (40 credits)

Stage two is a year of transition. You’ll make progress towards developing an individual creative identity, methods for working, and identifying the areas of particular interest that will inform your choices in Stage 3. The practical and personal skills you need to communicate your ideas effectively are refined through intensive practical projects. Towards the end of the year your critical practice is focussed towards planning and preparing for your major piece of written work in Stage Three.

A Diploma in Professional Studies is offered between Stage 2 and 3 of the BA (Honours) course. This separate qualification (120 credits) involves researching, undertaking and reflecting on a 20-week placement related to your professional interests and aspirations (e.g. within organisations such as theatre or film companies, on specific events, or as an assistant to a designer or producer). The Diploma provides a valuable opportunity to make professional contacts and to develop your personal employability skills.

Stage three

Unit eight: Critical Studies (40 credits)

Unit nine: Design and Performance (80 credits)

Stage 3 reflects as far as possible the challenges you’re likely to meet in professional practice or during further study at Masters level. Stage 3 units are designed to help you apply, expand and deepen the skills and understanding gained in Stages 1 and 2. Project work focuses on your development with your creative perspective enabling you to move between activities and contexts, or to pursue a specialist research or practical direction. While Unit 8 is a substantial piece of written work in the form of a word and images document both units offer flexibility, both to facilitate your personal perspective and to help you choose the best way to demonstrate your abilities. Your marks for these two units determine the classification of your degree.

Critical studies embedded within all units and stages consist of explorations of past and contemporary culture through assigned tasks, debate, lectures, presentations and workshops.

Personal and professional development and creative attributes for employability are also embedded into the Units with practice and critical studies, helps you focus on generic study skills and orientation, becoming more closely related to your chosen professional direction.


Kate  Lane

Kate Lane

Course Leader, BA Performance: Design and Practice

Pete  Brooks

Pete Brooks

Associate Lecturer, MA Performance Design and Practice and BA Performance Design and Practice

Dermot  Hayes

Dermot Hayes

Principal Lecturer, BA Performance Design and Practice, Drama Centre London.

Lecturer: Peter Bond
Costume Technician: Jenny Hayton
Stage Technician: Steve Keay
Specialist Technician: Verity Cleary

Course Leader, MA Performance Design and Practice: Michael Spencer
Programme Director, Performance programme: Fred Meller

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:

*          Pass at Foundation Diploma in Art & Design (Level 3 or 4) and 1 A Level at Grade C or above

*          2 A Levels at grade C or above (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          Merit, Pass, Pass (MPP) at BTEC Extended Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          Pass at UAL Extended Diploma

*          Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferred subjects include Art, Art and Design, or Design and Technology)

*          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 assessment of your portfolio. A very high proportion of successful applicants complete a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

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

Selection criteria

We select applicants who can demonstrate current ability and potential to:

Work imaginatively and creatively in performance and visual media:

  • Engage with experimentation and invention
  • Show imagination and ambition in proposals for your work.

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities:

  • Demonstrate spatial awareness
  • Show an understanding of narrative and time-based events
  • Use verbal and/or visual and/or physical media appropriately and effectively.

Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work:

  • Demonstrate relevant research
  • Reflect critically on your learning.

Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of your work:

  • Identify historical and contemporary performance practices
  • Identify social and/or cultural influences on your work.

Articulate and communicate intentions clearly:

  • Discuss your work in group situations
  • Present your work appropriately and effectively.

Demonstrate commitment and motivation in relation to the subject and the degree course:

  • Develop your own ideas and address project briefs
  • Show willingness to collaborate
  • Reflect your knowledge of this degree course.

What we are looking for

We are looking for a variety and breadth and/ or depth of work.

We are looking for a high level of engagement with projects and tasks and the ability to break away from norms, or to offer alternative interpretations.

We look for experimentation in your work, perhaps a collision of ideas and materials.

We are looking for skills in communication and management of ideas.

We are interested in how you handle time based project or medium.

We are looking for making and drawing – not just to represent but to communicate, as a way to explore ideas

We are looking for the questions you ask and the influences you follow

Making your application

Applications for 2019/20 entry for this course are now closed. Applications for 2020/21 entry will open in Autumn 2019.

For EU applicants concerned about Brexit, please see our dedicated page: Brexit Information for Students.

You should apply though Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W460

We do not consider applications for Year 3 Entry for this course.

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 15 January 2019 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Applications for 2019/20 entry for this course are now closed. Applications for 2020/21 entry will open in Autumn 2019.

There are three ways international students can apply to an undergraduate course at Central Saint Martins:

You can only apply to the same course once per year whether you are applying via UCAS, UAL representative or using the UAL online application system. Any duplicate applications will be withdrawn.

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page.

If you are applying via UCAS you will need the following information:

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W460

We do not consider applications for Year 3 Entry for this course.

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 15 January 2019 for equal consideration. However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online via UCAS or through a UAL representative or direct application 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 / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to attend a full portfolio review or submit a full portfolio digitally.

Full portfolio review and interview

Full portfolio review takes place at college, normally between February and March.

If you are living outside the UK or are unable to attend the full portfolio review in person, you will be asked to submit a full digital portfolio (up to 30 pages) through UAL’s online portfolio review system.  If you are submitting a full portfolio online, we may interview you by Skype.

Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

We are interested in you as an individual. Our focus is on your personal interests, your creativity and your initiative in finding out about your proposed area of study. We would like to know about your favourite performers, directors, designers and artists, where you have seen their work at first hand, and how you have gathered more information about the work that interests you.

Portfolio advice

Your work should demonstrate creative development, whether for a college project or in your personal work. By creative development, we mean:

  • Ideas that have originated in your own experience and research and progressed towards potential visualisation
  • Ideas, visual research and experimentation are more important than finished design solutions and can be shown in 2D work, or through 3D objects
  • It’s important that the creative work you include reflects and demonstrates your thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project, theme or idea.

Please remember:

  • The quality of the work is more important than the quantity
  • Where possible, large or 3D work should be photographed and scanned
  • Please organise your work by project, with supporting work presented alongside final outcomes.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the final outcome of your application through UCAS track.

Fees & Funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250 (2020/21).

Tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses have been set at £9,250 per year for full-time study. This applies from the 2018/19 academic year, subject to changes in the law. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students, in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Please visit our Undergraduate tuition fees page for more information.

International fee

£22,920 (2020/21).

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

There are a number of scholarships and awards available to students on this course. Use our search tool to find out more information.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

BA Performance: Design and Practice students leave with a broad and valuable understanding of performance practice in its many forms.

Skills acquired enable BA Performance: Design and Practice graduates to become versatile practitioners in exciting and diverse contexts including theatre, film and television.

BA Performance: Design and Practice students find success as production designers, or in related roles such as director or producer, or, increasingly, in 'hybrid' roles such as designer-director or performer-designer.

BA Performance: Design and Practice graduates also apply their knowledge outside the traditional contexts, working within the fine art industry as performance artists or within the fashion industry as creative managers, video directors and fashion show designers. Or they launch their own independent collaborative ventures, creating performance in their own image.

Recent BA Performance: Design and Practice alumni activity demonstrates the breadth of student activity within the subject:

  • Garance Marneur (2007): Winner of prestigious biannual Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2007. Recent design commissions: ‘Dirty Butterfly’ (Debera Tucker Green) Young Vic Theatre, London 2008; ‘Gianni Schicchi’ (Puccini), Mariinnsky theatre, St. Petersburg, 2008 ‘Turandot’ (Brecht), Hampstead Theatre, London 2009, currently designing for RSC Aut ’11 season
  • Will Bock, Georgia Jacobs and Mary Pope (2005): Formed ‘Strangeworks’ collective, creators of live performance events including ‘March of the Dead’ street performance for Halloween, Hoxton, London 2008, and drawing workshops at Tate Britain 2009 – 11
  • Jing Wong (2006): Co-founder of ‘Daydream Nation’, a company creating theatrical fashion events, including ‘Good Night Deer’ at the ICA Theatre, as part of London Fashion Week 2008
  • Samal Blak (2009): Winner of prestigious biannual Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2009. Design Commission ‘Otello’ (Verdi), Birmingham Opera, 2009
  • Jungmin Song (2007): Performance Artist making work at Shunt Vaults, Fierce Festival (Birmingham) and Spill Festival (2011)
  • Nick Docherty (2008): UK Youth Theatre coordinator for National Theatre, South Bank
  • Miriam Buether (2002): Recently awarded Best Design for work at the Royal Court – Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Designed ‘Anna Nicole’ for Royal Opera House – Feb 11
  • Ben Stones (2004): Winner of prestigious biannual Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2007, designs frequently in West End and most recently for newly re-opened Arcola Theatre, London.

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


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