Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Degree level: Postgraduate
UCAS Conservatoires
Awarded by: University of the West of England, Bristol

MA Performance Design (Taught)

Course options

Make sure you check on the university, college or conservatoire website for any updates about course changes as a result of COVID-19.

Course summary

The MA in Performance Design provides specialist vocational training preparing you for a career in designing for the stage and screen. The course has been revised with the latest industry developments in mind and is taught over one academic year through a combination of project and production work. You will acquire a broad range of specialist skill sets in both design and making. Specialisation will enable you to acquire practical knowledge and technical skills from a range of School production staff and/or visiting industry professionals. You will be able to explore unique creative collaboration opportunities within the course and benefit from shared learning, knowledge and skills exchange with other postgraduate and undergraduate creatives. You will be able to create an impressive professional portfolio of project and realised design work. You will launch your career to a range of industry professionals, one-to-one industry interviews and in a graduate exhibition. A full time one-year vocational course designed to create confident leading industry professionals. Learn from design practitioners and visiting industry professionals. Apply a specialist design approach across projects and on School productions. Meet a range of industry professionals in a series of one-to-one interviews, including at the public graduate exhibition. Create an impressive professional portfolio with excellent pathways to employment. Course Structure and Subject Specialisations Set and costume design Set design and scenic crafts: construction and/or scenic art Costume design and making / supervision Lighting design Projection design Prop design and construction Puppet design and construction Design for screen Additional specialisations could include Event Design or Opera Design Design for Dance Design for Screen Design for Theatre in Education (TIE) Set Design for Touring and Design for Devising. Specialisation options require approval by the course leader and may be subject to change according to production schedules. Students are always consulted about any change which affects their course. You will explore your specialisation pathway on at least one realised production. These may include: School theatre productions which usually take place at venues across Bristol short films produced at the School’s Christchurch Studios (link) School theatre productions which usually tour to schools, arts centres and regional theatres. Recent graduates have designed at Bristol Old Vic, The Tobacco Factory, Shakespeare’s Globe, Kneehigh, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Orange Tree Theatre and the RSC. Graduates are regularly successful in attaining the RSC Trainee Design positions and as finalists for the Linbury Prize. The production designs provide excellent opportunities for collaboration with a range of professional practitioners and student production teams, including collaborative working with the MA Drama Directing and MA Dramatic Writing students. An impressive and varied professional portfolio of design work can be achieved during the course. Students gain further promotional opportunities by exhibiting their work in final exhibitions and also create excellent pathways to employment by contact with a high level of industry practitioners.

Course details

Principal study options

During the application and audition process, you must select which instrument(s) you wish to specialise in for the duration of your course. On this course, you can choose from the following options:

Single specialism

Only one instrument is studied. It may be possible to study a further instrument formatively, but this will not contribute towards the qualification.


For all courses, you must select at least one specialism from the 'primary' list. For those studying primary/secondary pathways, two instruments may be selected – one from the 'primary' list and one from the 'secondary' list. Joint pathway students may select any two instruments from either list.

Primary instrument/specialism

  • Drama Production


This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course. Each module is worth a specified number of credits: All modules are compulsory, enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests. All modules are compulsory. Module Number: UATB58-40-M Module Name: Performance Design Project (40 credits) Module Number: UATB59-40-M Module Name: Specialisation Project (40 credits) Module Number: UATB5A-60-M Module Name: Design for Production (60 credits) Module Number: UATB5B-40-M Module Name: Professional Presentation (40 credits) There are no interim awards available. Award: MA Performance Design Credit requirements: MA – 180 credits

Assessment method

All modules are assessed by coursework (meaning there are no exams). There is continuous assessment of project and production work-based challenges. You will have many opportunities to share your work-in-progress and be observed in your collaborative interaction providing you with formative feedback and suggestions for improvement before final assessment of your skills is made. You will receive formative feedback from your tutor both in the studio and in formal meetings. You will be assessed on the demonstration of specialist designer skills used in the production of your design. You will be assessed on completed final design at presentation stage in projects and a completed production design. You will be required to present this to peers, course tutors, industry professionals and to a performance company and production teams on realised productions. Along with developing an analytical and critical continuous appraisal of your progress of design development and process, you will also be asked to evaluate your own learning for each project in a written self-assessment. Progress is discussed in tutorials and your learning pathway, along with your future direction, identified to ensure that your course commitments i.e. roles on realised productions, can support your career plans and specialist area of interest. You are assessed on a pass or fail basis (meaning that degrees are undifferentiated).

How to apply

*If you are an international applicant, or you are applying for a postgraduate course, or are choosing certain assessment locations, the 'on time' deadline may be later in the year - please contact the conservatoire directly.

Application codes

Course code:
Institution code:
Campus name:
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Campus code:

Points of entry

The following entry points are available for this course:

  • Year 1

Entry requirements

Applicants would normally be expected to have an honours degree in a related visual arts subject area such as Fine Art, Sculpture, Architecture, Costume, Illustration, Theatre Studies, or Production Arts. However, applicants with extensive relevant professional experience will also be considered. Applicants would be expected to have entry-level skills and experience relevant to the subject specialisation they are intending to follow. Interviews will be taken in a two-stage approach; a first meeting on-line with the Course Leader and the second in person interview in Bristol (subject to change). A short design project will be offered and the results discussed at the second interview together with the applicant’s portfolio. Applicants should be able to provide evidence of their suitability for the course by the production of a portfolio of art and performance design work. It is an expectation that the applicants understand the required basic skills involved and have knowledge of the role of Performance Designer within a production. Good communication and interpersonal skills are important and applicants will be expected to demonstrate these at interview. If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency through a relevant qualification, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which can also be used to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requirements. For MA Performance Design, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in each component of reading, writing, listening and speaking. All applicants will be interviewed by professional practitioners, including the Course Leader. Applicants will be given an opportunity to ask questions of staff and current students and be shown the facilities at the School where possible.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency through a relevant qualification, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which can also be used to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requirements. For MA Performance Design, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in each component of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Assessment locations

In the event of a successful assessment, applicants may be invited for a further interview prior to being made an offer.

Remote assessment recordings may be accepted in the event that you cannot attend an assessment in person.

Single specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee
Online interviewNo fee charged

Joint principal specialism assessment

LocationOn-time FeeLate Fee
Online interviewNo fee charged

Additional information

Initial shortlisting for interview is based on the work within your portfolio, which you will be required to submit as part of the application process. Shortlisted applicants are set a design project to complete ahead of their interview. The results of the design project and your portfolio will form part of the interview discussion.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Republic of Ireland £11400 Whole course
EU £25500 Whole course
England £11400 Whole course
Northern Ireland £11400 Whole course
Scotland £11400 Whole course
Wales £11400 Whole course
Channel Islands £11400 Whole course
International £25500 Whole course

Additional fee information

The School does have a number of computer terminals that are dedicated to students. However, increasingly much of the information and some of the content of the course is available via the School's virtual learning environment and so you will benefit from having access to your own personal computer and the internet to make the most of your course. It is estimated that a suitable personal computer will cost £300.00–£1,000.00 depending on technical requirements of your chosen specialism. (Please check with the Course leader for recommended functionality.) You will need to research the most cost-effective way of accessing the internet. The School has a number of means tested scholarship funds available to assist students with purchases of computer hardware and other essential costs which would otherwise cause financial hardship. Course materials provided but students may have to allow funds (approximately £500.00) to provide their own work clothes and equipment and contribute to some costs towards their self- promotion materials. For Overseas students only: Student Visa if applying from outside the UK £348.00 Immigration Health Surcharge (with discount for Student Visa holders) £470.00.
MA Performance Design at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School - UCAS