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MA Directing

Camilla's production of: Kinder K by Norwegian Kristofer Grønskag
Camilla's production of: Kinder K by Norwegian Kristofer Grønskag
Central Saint Martins
Course length
Four years full-time

A Drama Centre course at Central Saint Martins, MA Directing is a unique four-year integrated Master’s degree.

Course closed

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

This course will equip you with the artistic and technical skills to work in a range of different dramatic media including, theatre, film, television, and radio. It is part of the Performance programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Experienced staff team: MA Directing is taught by experienced tutors who have strong, active links to the creative industries.
  • Collaborative studies: You will engage in a range of collaborations with acting, writing and animation students.
  • Professional placements: You will be supported to find two professional placements of up to eight weeks during your studies.
  • Drama Centre: Your training will be informed by influential methodologies, including the distinctive approach to the Stanislavski system which was originally developed by Drama Centre.

More information

Drama Centre


Course overview

In the UK, director training has traditionally been a postgraduate field. Often, students come from degrees in the humanities with extra-curricular experience in theatre. This four-year integrated Master's course was created to provide an alternative to this route. During the course, you will engage with a number of methodologies in order to develop your own process as a director. In the latter stages, you will experiment and express your voice in an increasingly challenging range of contexts across different media.  

MA Directing is principally suited to those interested in directing for the theatre. However, it will also equip you with the skills suitable to pursue further study or professional development in recorded media. Throughout all areas of study, you will return to the central understanding of story and diverse modes of storytelling. You will also be encouraged to work both collaboratively and independently. 

MA Directing is integrated with BA Acting at Central Saint Martins. Working alongside actors, you will learn the importance of your own creative contribution to collective endeavour. It will provide you with an embodied understanding of the acting process, giving you a common language with performers. As the course progresses, you will also collaborate with other courses from the Performance programme.  

MA Directing reflects the distinctive approach of Drama Centre, which identifies two opposing forms of acting: representational and organic. The organic recreates human experience. It integrates mind, body, imagination, senses and emotion, so that the actor can transform credibly into a character. The representational requires the imitation of experience. The actor may live the part in rehearsal but plays it in performance. This involves having made conscious, overt choices about how to represent the character.

Course units

On MA Directing, there is a clear progression from embodied skills training, through critical and creative development, to the establishment of professional practice, contacts and expertise. There is also a strong focus on producing skills. These include fundraising, marketing and project management. This will help establish the entrepreneurial practice vital to a successful career in a competitive, professional environment.  

In order to develop your own approach to directing, you will study the core disciplines of acting, directing and rehearsal techniques. Many of the activities in these disciplines are concerned with finding your voice as a director. Through practical exercises, theoretical seminars, workshops and rehearsals, you will engage in a dialogue between your own personal view of the creative process and inherited tradition.  

Stage 1 

Unit 1: Introduction to Study in Higher Education  
Unit 2: Introduction to Acting Methods  
Unit 3: Introduction to Directing Methods and Context  
Unit 4: Further Directing Methods

During Stage 1 you will investigate the self and learn to move from the concrete to the abstract in your work. You will be introduced to the systematic study of the essential skills of the actor. This will occur through a series of practical classes in acting, voice and movement. You will be immersed in the same work as acting colleagues. You will train as an actor alongside them and are expected to show the same level of engagement and commitment. 

In this stage, you will begin practical directing exercises. You will direct scenes from contemporary, naturalistic plays with a focus on clear, dramatic storytelling. You will also begin a study of plays in their historical and cultural context. You will analyse texts with a view to posing and solving directorial problems. You will also begin a process of writing critically about theatre film and television. 

Stage 2 

Unit 5: Directing and Acting Methods in Practice  
Unit 6: Theatre and Thought  
Unit 7: Perspectives on Acting and Directing 
Unit 8: Development of Professional Practice  

During Stage 2, you will continue to participate in practical classes in acting and movement psychology. You will begin to explore the relationships and collaborations directors have with other artists such as designers, and composers. You will collaborate with students from BA Performance: Design and Practice, as well as other directing students. This work will advance your understanding of the director as a collaborative practitioner. You will also be introduced to the disciplines of acting and directing for the camera. You will begin to acquire practical skills in relation to film and television production. This will include working as a crew member for projects directed by students on Stages 3 and 4.  

Stage 3

Unit 9: The Director in Practice  
Unit 10: The Director in Context  
Unit 11: The Director in Production  

During Stage 3 you are prepared for professional life. You will now work independently of both your acting peers and, often, your directing colleagues. You will be supported in the writing of an adaptation for the stage of approximately 45 minutes. You will undertake an assistant director role on a production. You will also direct and edit a short radio drama in studio conditions. At the end of Stage 3 you will direct a studio theatre production with BA Acting students.

You will be given tutored experience that enables you to understand the requirements of the professional market. A range of producers, directors, artistic directors, agents, casting directors and other industry professionals will deliver seminars to widen and develop your knowledge of professional life. 

Stage 4

Unit 12: Director as Practitioner  

In the final stage of the course, you will advance your thinking and practice through a series of complex challenges. You will develop key skills for producing your work, including training in fundraising and marketing. You will also be introduced to the practice of directing within educational contexts – a key source of employment for early career directors. You will begin the complex journey of taking the skills you have learned and experimenting with their application to refine your own voice as a director. 

Mode of study

MA Directing is offered in full-time mode which runs for 132 weeks over four academic years.  

Credit and award requirements

The course is credit-rated at 480 credits, with 120 credits at each stage (level).  

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree).  

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications the stages for an Integrated Masters are: Stage 1 (Level 4), Stage 2 (Level 5), Stage 3 (Levels 6 and 7), and Stage 4 (Level 7). In order to progress, all units in the preceding level must normally have been passed. The classification of the award is derived from the mark for Stage 4 only.  

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) will normally be offered following the successful completion of Stage 1 (or 120 credits), a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) following the successful completion of Stage 2 (or 240 credits), or a Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA Hons) following the successful completion of Stage 3 (or 360 credits. Note 60 of these credits are at Level 7).  

Learning and teaching methods

During your course you will engage with learning and teaching that includes both online and face-to-face modes. Typically, this will include:

  • Skills classes
  • Specialist workshops 
  • Staff-initiated projects 
  • Rehearsals 
  • Directing in a studio theatre
  • Assisting on film and stage productions
  • Directing a short film
  • Lectures 
  • Group discussions 
  • Individual and group presentations  
  • Independent study 
  • Research 
  • Group analysis under tutorial guidance 
  • Individual tutorials 
  • Peer learning 
  • Self-assessment 

Assessment methods

  • Self-assessment 
  • Peer assessment 
  • Presentations 
  • Performances 
  • Showings


David  Angus

David Angus

Lecturer in Radio Drama, Performance; Lecturer in Recorded Voice, BA Acting

Alex  Bingley

Alex Bingley

Lecturer in Voice, Drama and Performance

Course Leader: Anthony Clark
Associate Lecturer, Acting and Directing: Aoife Smythe
Associate Lecturer, Contextual Studies: Tamsin Stanley
Associate Lecturer, Film Direction and Production: Michael Bray
Associate Lecturer, Radio: David Angus
Associate Lecturer, Visual Awareness: Dylan Stone
Associate Lecturer, Analysis: Ben Askew
Associate Lecturer, Character Analysis: Mathew Wernham
Associate Lecturer, Acting/Year Tutor: David JacksonOleg Mirochnikov
Associate Lecturer, Movement: Liana Norton, Glenn Snowden 
Associate Lecturer, Voice: Janis Price, Jonathan Dawes, Alex Bingley
Associate Lecturer, Sound Creation: John White

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:     

  • Two A Levels at grades C or above
  • Pass in Foundation Diploma in Performance (Level 3 or 4) and one A Level at grade C or above
  • Access to Higher Education Diploma
  • 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 interview and practical work.

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 level 7.5 or above, with at least 6.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

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

  • Expressivity and the ability to communicate articulately
  • Creative engagement with actors and the group
  • Ability to understand and analyse dramatic texts
  • Imagination – visual sense, sensuous engagement with the material
  • Story telling – understanding of narrative devises, character, visual means of expression, textual stresses, build up and resolution of tension
  • Spirit of enquiry – artistic and cultural curiosity and engagement, knowledge of the world of theatre and screen
  • Balance between emotional and intellectual engagement
  • Knowledge of theatre and/or screen
  • Knowledge and experience of the demands and realities of the profession.

What we are looking for

MA Directing is open equally to recent school leavers (who may have spent a year or more working, preferably in a theatre/media context) and to mature entrants with life and work experience, preferably in a performance-related context. 

We are looking for potential student directors who are committed, imaginative, curious and resilient, with respect for actors and a passion for directing, and a serious approach to the art of directing in the classical tradition and for the screen. We are looking for people who are not afraid to take creative risks, who respond to stimuli and who are excited by the idea of being in an ensemble, working generously and openly with others.

Making your application

Due to a full review of actor training at Central Saint Martins, recruitment has been suspended to BA Acting and its associated course, MA Directing.  This will allow time to develop plans for acting and directing at all levels (Foundation, UG and PG) within our Performance programme. All other courses will continue to recruit including MA Acting,  MA Screen: Acting and MA Screen: Directing.

Current students are not affected by the suspension.

Due to a full review of actor training at Central Saint Martins, recruitment has been suspended to BA Acting and its associated course, MA Directing.  This will allow time to develop plans for acting and directing at all levels (Foundation, UG and PG) within our Performance programme. All other courses will continue to recruit including MA Acting,  MA Screen: Acting and MA Screen: Directing.

Current students are not affected by the suspension.

After you apply

Fees and funding

Home fee

£9,250 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students.

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

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, depending on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students.

International fee

£22,920 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. 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 are currently charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about our tuition fees.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, depending on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students.

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

MA Directing focuses on directing for both the theatre and recorded media (film, television and radio). It provides an in-depth study of the art of the actor so that future directors will have an organic understanding of the acting process and a common language with performers. Initially the directing course is integrated with MA Acting at Drama Centre London, but subsequently students focus more specifically on subjects related to directing.

MA Directing offers you developing opportunities to work with actors:

  • in the first place, by acting alongside them and observing actors at work
  • at more advanced stages, through undertaking increasingly complex assistant director functions
  • finally, by directing fellow students in a number of projects.

You'll also have the opportunity to collaborate with designers, musical directors and choreographers, fight directors, editors and sound engineers. In the latter stages of the course you have two opportunities for placements with a variety of theatre and television companies in London and beyond, during which you may observe not only artistic work, but also aspects of technical production, management, publicity, marketing and outreach.

In recent years placement opportunities (on BA Directing) were offered, amongst others, by:

  • The Maly Theatre, St. Petersburg
  • Jim Neason at the Irondale Theatre Company, New York
  • Colin Chambers and the Royal Shakespeare Company on Tynan
  • Declan Donnellan at the Royal National Theatre, the RSC and for Cheek by Jowl
  • Peter Gill on The Voysey Inheritance at the Royal National Theatre
  • Joanna Hogg on the film Unrelated in Italy
  • Miklos Jancso on the film Dear Julia in Hungary
  • Nancy Meckler and Polly Teale at Shared Experience
  • Theatre Royal, Stratford East
  • Di Trevis at Watford Theatre and for Quantum Theatre Company in Pittsburgh
  • Betty TV
  • Arcola Theatre, London
  • Soho Theatre
  • The Orange Tree Theatre
  • Finborough Theatre
  • Ivo Van Hove
  • Katie Mitchell

Future careers

MA Directing aims to deepen your awareness of the profession in all its aspects, including the risks and uncertainties associated with the directing life. In addition to your education and training as an director, we offer education and training for life and work through our personal and professional development programmes.

Many ex-students of Drama Centre London have become successful actors and directors, or have become professionally involved in the wider creative worlds of theatre and the recorded media.

Graduates of the Directing Course at Drama Centre London include artistic Directors of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatres of Greece, Iran, Israel and Portugal, as well as distinguished freelance directors in theatre, film and television. More recently, graduates of the BA Directing course went on to work for leading companies soon after graduation, including:

  • The Arcola Theatre, London and the Trafalgar Studios (West End)
  • The National Theatre Studio
  • The Burgtheater, Vienna
  • Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company
  • The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company