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BA (Hons) Performance: Design and Practice

5 adults pose in brightly coloured outfits by an outdoor swimming pool
Gabriella Engdahl, Normal World,
Central Saint Martins
UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Course length
Three years full-time

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

Apply to start in September 2024 

This course has places available. Read our Guide to applying for a course starting this September through UCAS Extra. For a full list of UAL courses open for 2024/25 entry, visit the Courses with places available page.

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 open day for this course will take place on Monday, 8 July. Book now.

Virtual tours:

You might be interested in checking out the College’s facilities and technical spaces through our virtual tours.

Scholarships, awards and bursaries

Course overview

This is a course for performance makers and the makers of performance. 

BA Performance: Design and Practice is an interdisciplinary performance course for students developing both live and screen-based practices. The course challenges long-established models of authorship encouraging work that is experimental, cross-disciplinary and design-led while developing technical and practical tools in scenography, dramaturgy and movement.   

Our student body and teaching team come from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds. As a community, we are deeply committed to the idea that diverse environments are the most vibrant creatively and we actively celebrate difference. As a course, we encourage creative risk-taking by cultivating a supportive and accepting environment in which unique individual and collective perspectives can develop. We believe in the potential for performance to change the society in which we all live.  

The course offers a flexible approach to charting your own creative pathway enabling you to be responsive and adaptable to the contemporary pressures of a creative career and ready to grow in response to new conceptual and technological developments in our increasingly digital world

Students are encouraged to shape their own unique specialisms and frequently graduate as multi-disciplinary practitioners. Subsequently our students graduate into wide ranging careers in performance-related industries and frequently transfer these skills to wider professions. Students typically have careers as: performance designers, directors, movement specialists, art directors, artists and creative facilitators. They work across many different fields that include performance, dance, live art, digital performance, art direction, event design, immersive experience, transmedia theatre, storytelling, applied theatre, documentary, film and moving image. Students also go on to further postgraduate study. 

We are committed to developing ethical performance practices. To achieve this, we are working to embed UAL's Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice into the course. 

Course units

Central Saint Martins is a site of intense cultural production, generating critical practices that frequently cross disciplinary boundaries and intersect. Central Saint Martins, as a college community, prioritises the urgencies relating to: identities and equity, climate ecologies, and publics and commons. In particular, that our community of staff and students actively pursue change in their sphere of influence that will impact and improve social justice, climate sustainability and cultural democracy.

Our curriculum is devised to allow you to chart your own constellation of practice, encouraging cross- and inter-disciplinary approaches through collaboration, experimentation and critical reflection.  

Creatively you are supported within communities of practice which focus on either body (such as direction and movement), space (design orientated including performance and costume design) or lens (digital performance and screen based practices).  These critical frameworks of body, space and lens enable you to define technical skills in movement, dramaturgy, scenography and screen-based work. 

Year 1 – Introduction to performance platforms 

Unit 1: What is Performance?  
Unit 2: How do we co-create?  
Unit 3: What is Practice?   
Unit 4: Creative Unions  

In Year 1 you will begin to look at perspectives on the creation of performance. You will be introduced to different performance platforms, from live to screen-based practices, through a process of experimentation and collaboration.  This year establishes the critical skills needed to communicate ideas in collaborative, co-creative and collective approaches to performance practice, introducing the core principles within the “body, space, lens” critical framework.  

You will explore source material, concepts of space, time and the audience/performer relationship. You will be introduced to practical and writing skills, developing critical debates within contemporary performance practices that allow you to start building your own approach to performance.  

At the end of the year you will participate in a cross-course collaborative unit focusing on social justice in artistic practice. 

Year 2 – Narratives and Identities 

Unit 5: Why do we develop narrative? (Application/Consolidation)
Unit 6: Why do we tell stories? (Exploration/Experimentation)
Unit 7: What does it mean that I tell a story? (Exploration/Experimentation)
Unit 8: What is the experience? (Application/Consolidation)

This year’s focus is narratives and identities. You are encouraged to examine the political and social contexts in which your work is made and viewed. You will establish core principles of practice related to body, space and lens, while being encouraged to develop deeper levels of critical engagement. You will explore why we make work, who we make if for and its performance and value in society. Units 6 and 7 will encourage creative risk taking, self-exploration and contextualisation of your developing creative practice within wider global political social contexts. In the final unit, you will consolidate and apply this knowledge in preparation for year 3. While the addition of either work experience or industry investigation allows students to consolidate their understanding of how their practice is situated outside of the institute.

The Year 2 curriculum moves between two types of units; focusing on either exploration/experimentation or application/consolidation with students having choice of projects within each type. 

The Exploration/Experimentation units develop new insights into your creative journeys through a practice research approach. You are encouraged through critical workshops, salon discussion groups and laboratory spaces to: develop new ideas and research questions, challenge conventions and to expand practices that embed critical and contextual knowledge into your learning. These units focus on process, enquiry and knowledge.

The Application/Consolidation units; mirror professional creative practice. You work in inter-disciplinary creative teams to realise collaborative works culminating in audience encounters. You will be able to sharpen your technical tools within supported communities of practice, enabling you to develop your own identities and respond to shifting creative pressures. These units focus on realisation, communication and enquiry. 

Year 3 – Audience and Impact 

Unit 9 Where is my practice? (Application/Consolidation)
Unit 10 What is my practice? (Exploration/Experimentation)

This year will focus on audience and impact, encouraging you to establish specialisms with an extended emphasis on audience experience, outreach and impact. Unit 9 will focus on where you position your practice within wider collaborative approaches across a choice of performance platforms through a choice of realised projects. While Unit 10 will allow students to articulate, contextualise and synthesise their practice, with self-directed projects supported by an extended self-reflective ‘written’ component contextualising their developing practice. These projects are in preparation for an exhibition, screening, festival, online space or other form of public engagement.

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.  

Mode of study 

The course 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 Art 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

The learning and teaching methods devised for this course include:

  • Collaborations and group project work 
  • Technical instruction and development 
  • Open forums and on-line symposia 
  • Lectures and co-curated programme of guest speakers   
  • Seminars and discussion groups 
  • Critical workshops/exploratory laboratories  
  • Communities of practices 
  • Reflective practices 
  • Tutorials 
  • Independent study and practice 

BA (Hons) Performance: Design and Practice showreel

2020 Graduate Showreel, BA (Hons) Performance: Design and Practice

Degree Show 2018: Sanghoon Lee

Saul Nash, BA Performance Design and Practice student, on why he chose to study at Central Saint Martins

UAL Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase



Lecturer in Film and Digital Performance: Noorafshan Mirza
Associate Lecturers: Alison Neighbour, Chuck Lowry, Liberty Sadler
Specialist Technician Costume: Verity Cleary
Specialist Technician Lighting and Sound: Luke Cunningham
Specialist Technician Design and Projection: Michael Breakey
Specialist Technician Production Manager: Federica Lippi
Specialist Technician Projection Mapping: Dimitrios Coumados
Programme Director, Performance Programme: Fred Meller

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 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 (24 points)

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: 

Work imaginatively and creatively in visual media 

  • engage with experimentation and invention 
  • show imagination and ambition in your approach to the subject. 

Demonstrate a range of skills and technical abilities 

  • show personal commitment to skill development 
  • engage with materials and processes. 

Provide evidence of intellectual enquiry within your work 

  • demonstrate relevant interest in and awareness of Performance practices across difference platforms for example theatre, moving image or digital performance. 
  • reflect critically on your learning. 

Demonstrate cultural awareness and/or contextual framework of your work 

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

Articulate and communicate intentions clearly 

  • demonstrate appropriate and effective communication skills 
  • present your work appropriately and effectively in the context of a portfolio. 

Indicate the relevance of this course to your personal development 

  • develop your own ideas beyond set project briefs 
  • show willingness to work both collaboratively and independently 
  • reflect your knowledge of this course. 


Apply now

Places available 2024/25 

This course has places available for 2024/25 entry. Applications for 2025/26 entry will open in Autumn 2024.

Apply to UAL

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

University code:


UCAS code:


Start your application

Apply now

Places available 2024/25 

This course has places available for 2024/25 entry. Applications for 2025/26 entry will open in Autumn 2024.

Apply to UAL

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

University code:


UCAS code:


Start your application

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 our personal statement page for more advice.

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 25 pages
  • include a range of work, from finished pieces to works in progress
  • demonstrate your thinking, initiative and personal commitment to a particular project, theme or idea
  • demonstrate an interest in performance design or performance related practices such as film, theatre, performance art, live art
  • feature experimental work to demonstrate your ability to test out different techniques and develop your ideas
  • include research to demonstrate your contextual understanding of performance design and practice
  • include 1 sentence per page to outline the ideas and interests behind the works featured.

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.


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.