Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Degree level: Postgraduate
Awarded by: King’s College London

Theatre Costume (Taught)

Course options

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Course summary

This course is aimed at both costume-making and costume supervising. Costume-making We teach costume-making from first principles, from basic sewing skills, pattern cutting and grading, through to the finished product. The basic sewing skills are organised in five levels: Hand sewing, seams, hems, fastening Pattern matching, tucks, cording, pleats and gathering, buttonholes, eyelets, false lacing Openings, bias rouleaux and piping, facings and using bias Fastenings (zips and fly opening) Pockets Although some time is given to completing all levels, you will be expected to work on them outside teaching hours. All these skills, as well as other maintenance and alterations, are practised throughout the course by working on all the third year shows as assistants. This improves work speed and gives you experience in working with different fabrics and vintage costumes from our store. The forms of pattern-cutting we teach are flat (block), cutting on the stand, and draping – although investigation into further forms is also encouraged, such as going straight to fabric, sizing up from a grid, and taking a pattern from an existing garment. You will also learn pattern manipulation and grading throughout the course. Some garments are taken through to completion as class projects, including corsetry, ruffs, period shirt tailoring and millinery. Others form personal projects and are supervised, although you will be expected to work semi-independently. Costume supervising Costume supervising is taught in the class room with script analysis, budget skills and communication and management skills. It is also practised, firstly with the second year BA (Hons) Acting students as part of a short Shakespeare project, which is toured around schools in the London area. You will then have the opportunity to supervise two or three RADA professional performances, or a film project. We also provide experience of other elements of a wardrobe department. You will have introductory classes in hair and make-up, wig knotting, history of costume, fabric treatments and props skills.

Course details


Year 1: Term one: The term starts with basic sewing before going on to block pattern cutting. You will also spend some time in the props department before working as assistant and dresser on the first set of productions. You will then look at cutting on the stand and manipulating patterns, before assisting and becoming dressers on the second set of RADA productions. Ruff-making and an introduction to corset-making follows. There is also linear teaching in history of costume, costume props and professional development. Term two: The second term continues with a full corset project, with further period underwear if time. You will spend a couple of days with professional dyers to learn about fabric treatments, before assisting on the next set of productions. An Elizabethan ruff and shirt project follows, and some lessons on hair, make-up and wig knotting. The last set of shows are followed by some time to further investigate pattern-cutting and an introduction to millinery with a Sinemay/fascinator project. The term is completed by supervising work on the second year actors combat performances, the ‘Prize Fights’. Term three: The final term of the year spends more time on millinery, including felt blocking and working with Buckram. There is further alteration and costume-making work on productions, as well as costume supervising teaching and a week of working with a professional tailor to produce a jacket. The second half of term launches into supervising the Shakespeare Schools Tour and RADA Festival. Year 2: The second year is less linear in structure. You will choose whether to make two or three personal projects – which involve producing a costume from scratch, using a design of your choice – or supervise two or three RADA productions (a RADA film is also an option). The work created is presented at an exhibition for industry and the public at the end of the year.

Entry requirements

Candidates must be 18 years old by 1 September 2019 and have complete fluency in the English language. If English is not your first language you must have IELTs (academic) level 5.5 or above in all four components. You must hold a minimum of a foundation degree in a related subject and have significant practical experience (gained through education or professional practice). We will consider applicants without a relevant first degree, provided that they can evidence prior learning in this area or a related area for study at level 7. Due to the creative nature of the course, the required balance of practical skills and independent learning ability are considered mandatory to progress within the course.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

EU £13270 Year 1
England £7250 Year 1
Northern Ireland £7250 Year 1
Scotland £7250 Year 1
Wales £7250 Year 1
International £13270 Year 1

Additional fee information

No additional fees or cost information has been supplied for this course, please contact the provider directly.
Theatre Costume at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art - UCAS