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BA (Hons) Performance: Design and Practice

Start date
September 2020
Course length
Three years full-time
UCAS code

BA Performance: Design and Practice is a course for performance-makers and the makers of performance.

Crossing disciplines, this course questions what performance is, how it is made and what it is for. It is part of the Performance programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Breaking new ground: You will explore new directions in performance using scenography, dramaturgy and critical theory to create ground-breaking new work.
  • Innovative practices: Collaborating across theatre, film, live art and immersive environments, you will work in contexts where practices overlap in unpredictable ways.
  • Live projects: Projects with external organisations will allow you to create live work in professional environments.
  • Flexible skills: The experience you will gain will lead you to work in all areas of performance-associated industries, including theatre, live art, film and performance events. Many graduates also go on to set up their own performance companies.

Open days

The next round of open days will take place from October to November 2020, please check back here by mid September 2020 to book online.

Scholarships, awards and funding

Mead Scholarships and Fellowships

Student work

Degree Show 2018: Sanghoon Lee
Saul Nash, BA Performance Design and Practice student, on why he chose to study at Central Saint Martins


Course overview

On BA Performance: Design and Practice, you will interrogate what performance means in the 21st century. The course challenges the traditional view that performance design is something to look at and performance is something to watch. We will support you to think about performance critically and how it can engage with the world in a meaningful way.

We believe that a dialogue between mainstream traditions and new practices will shape the future of performance. On this course, you will explore the expanding field of performance. In particular, you will study post-dramatic theatre, immersive and interactive events. You will undertake work which takes place outside of traditional theatre spaces. You will study different concepts of performance and its associated objects and materials.  

On BA Performance: Design and Practice, we will develop your ability to think as an artist. Our teaching strategy integrates thinking and making. We acknowledge the varied and specialist skills different roles in the creative industry demand. Our teaching falls broadly into two categories:  

  • Performance design practice – The skills and knowledge required to create the visual components of performance. These include: model making, technical drawing, film shooting and editing, storyboarding and costume.  

  • Contemporary performance practice – The skills and knowledge required to create performance. These include: performance-making strategies, dramaturgy, experimental film-making, resourcing, scheduling, rehearsing and collaborative working. 

BA Performance: Design and Practice challenges traditional British performance culture and its hierarchies. The course questions the long-established model of authorship in performance production. Instead, it promotes a more open structure. It encourages the view that the audio and visual languages of performance are not secondary to written text, but just as important.  

A key element of BA Performance: Design and Practice is sharing and combining ideas and practice. We are proud of the fact that our students have great success doing things we never imagined. Our graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of performance-associated disciplines. These include: visual performance, theatre design, set design for fashion, festivals, design for dance, event design and applied theatre.  

Course units

The BA Performance: Design and Practice curriculum is devised to develop cross-disciplinary skills appropriate to your emerging interests. It includes critical studies and personal and professional development. The course focuses on experiential practice, and personal reflection will inform your choices throughout. Across all stages of the course, we aim to build a shared language and study framework, made up of screenings, guest lectures, artist talks and external events. 

Stage 1 

Unit 1: Performance: Design and Practice: Introduction to Study in Higher 
Unit 2: Right Here Right Now  
Unit 3: Critical Practice 1: Drawing Colour Making  
Unit 4: Performance: Frames and Territories 

In Stage 1 you will begin to look at perspectives on the creation of performance. You will explore source material, concepts of space, time and the audience–performer relationship. You will be introduced to practical and writing skills, allowing you to start building your own approach to performance. Stage 1 establishes the critical skills needed to communicate ideas in collaborative, time-based media. These are mostly explored through peer-group projects.  

Stage 2

Unit 5: Further Adventures in Performance: Making Stuff Happen  
Unit 6: Critical Practice 2: Platforms and Communities 
Unit 7: Performance Design in the Expanded Field  

Stage 2 is a year of transition. You will continue to develop your individual creative identity. You will progress your own methods for working and identify the areas of particular interest that will inform your choices in Stage 3. The skills required to communicate your ideas effectively are refined through intensive practical projects. Towards the end of Stage 2, you will begin to prepare and plan for a major piece of written work in Stage 3.  

Stage 3 

Unit 8: Critical Studies 
Unit 9: Design and Performance 

The units in Stage 3 reflect the potential challenges of professional working life or further study at Master’s level. They are designed to help you apply and expand on the skills gained in Stages 1 and 2. Through project work, you will develop your creative perspective, enabling you to move between activities or pursue a specialist interest. These final units offer flexibility, allowing you to choose the best way to demonstrate your abilities.  

Diploma in Professional Studies  

Between Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the course there is an option to take a year out and complete a Diploma in Professional Studies. This separate qualification (rated at 120 credits) involves researching, undertaking and reflecting on a 20-week (minimum) placement related to your professional interests and aspirations. The Diploma provides a valuable opportunity to make professional contacts and to develop your personal employability skills. 

Exchange opportunities 

The course is actively engaged in the University’s Study Abroad scheme, with the incoming international students bringing an important additional dynamic to the course. 

Mode of study 

BA Performance: Design and Practice runs for 90 weeks in full-time mode. It is divided into three stages over three academic years. Each stage lasts 30 weeks. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.

Credit and award requirements 

The course is credit-rated at 360 credits, with 120 credits at each stage (level).

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons degree).

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the stages for a BA are: Stage 1 (Level 4), Stage 2 (Level 5) and Stage 3 (Level 6). In order to progress to the next stage, all units of the preceding stage must normally be passed: 120 credits must be achieved in each stage. The classification of the award will be derived from the marks of units in Stages 2 and 3 or only Stage 3, using a dual algorithm.

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Level 4 (or 120 credits), or a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) following the successful completion of Level 5 (or 240 credits).  

Learning and teaching methods

Your primary means of learning is through practice. This is supported by: 

  • Lectures, seminars and guest speakers 
  • Workshops and inductions 
  • Live external and internal projects 
  • Collaborations and group project work 
  • Work experience, exchange and community opportunities 
  • Personal and group tutorials 
  • Presentations 
  • Study and development-planning with an emphasis on options and choice 
  • Recommended reading, viewings and visits 
  • Independent study 
  • Peer and self-critical evaluation 
  • Formative dialogic and assessment feedback. 

Assessment methods

  • Performance practice and design practice work 
  • Communication, participation and connectivity 
  • Experimentation 
  • Proactivity, enterprise and agility 
  • Verbal and visual presentations 
  • Written and visual work 
  • Peer and self-critical evaluation 


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.

Dr Andrea Zimmerman

Reader - Lecturer in Dramaturgy and Devising For Performance BA (Honours)

Peter  Bond

Peter Bond

Associate Lecturer, BA Performance: Design and Practice

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 and Design (Level 3 or 4) and one A Level at grade C or above
  • Two 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)
  • 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.

AP(E)L – 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 cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS score of 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

Applicants are selected according to their demonstration of potential and current ability to:

  • Provide examples of a variety, breadth and/ or depth of projects
  • Demonstrate a high level of engagement and commitment to projects
  • Demonstrate an interest in performance or time-based projects or medium
  • Demonstrate examples of independent enquiry which breaks away from norms and/ or offers alternative perspectives
  • Demonstrate examples of experimentation, exploration and self-directed practice
  • Demonstrate skills in communication and management of ideas
  • Demonstrate the use of making and drawing as a tool to communicate and develop ideas
  • Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry and critical reflection.

What we are looking for

We are not just looking for a passion for performance – we are also seeking people who are curious, hard-working, open to new ideas and willing to take risks and get involved in the many different disciplines and practices of working in the professional field of performance. Suitable applicants work imaginatively and creatively in performance and visual media, demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities, intellectual enquiry and cultural awareness.

Making your application

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

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W460

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively. The Admissions Tutor will consider applicants for entry to year 2 and 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course. You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Further information can be found in our UAL External Student Transfer Policy.

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 15 January 2020 for equal consideration.  However this course will consider applications after that date, subject to places being available.

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.

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

University code:          U65

UCAS Code:                 W460


Transfers will be considered for Year 2 and Year 3 of the course if there are places available. For more information on UAL’s Transfer Policy, please click on the link here.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 120 credits (year 1) or 240 credits (years 1 and 2) in the equivalent units/modules on a degree course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer to year 2 or year 3 respectively. The Admissions Tutor will consider applicants for entry to year 2 and 3 on a case by case basis, subject to places being available on the course. You must apply through UCAS and indicate POE 2 for entry to year 2 or POE 3 for entry to year 3 on your application. Further information can be found in our UAL External Student Transfer Policy.

Deferred entry

We recommend you apply by 15 January 2020 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 – Home / EU applicants

Full portfolio reviews include an interview and are likely to take place in the weeks beginning 6 January, 17 February and 24 February, 2020.

Full portfolio review – International applicants

International applicants will be invited from January to March, 2020.

If you 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.  We may also interview you by Skype.

Please note that we do not accept portfolios by post.

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, through 3D objects, or film of your performance
  • 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
  • You can bring any time-based work such as films or performances.  This can be shown on a device and/or link to external sites such as personal website or vimeo/ youtube channels
  • 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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