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Course summary

This course will give you the physical, critical and authorship skills to create performances that are relevant to our time. You will become a versatile performer who can make their own work and own their own stage, taking inspiration from live art, cabaret, circus skills, drag, spoken word, burlesque, stand-comedy, stage magic, immersive performance and festivals. What you’ll study This course focuses on practical performance skills like magic, clowning, burlesque and wrestling, taught by cutting-edge practitioners. It is not a traditional Acting course; you will not learn classical texts; instead, you will create your own new, performances which engage with the audience and provoke thought. You will benefit from the opportunity to do industry placements, network with professional practitioners and learn a wide range of practical skills to serve you in your practice (such as event management and collaboration). You will be taught at our Sidcup campus and also at the Tramshed in their new fully equipped premises, immersing you in the industry in the heart of inner London. You will study with award-winning Marisa Carnesky – a renowned live artist and show-woman who has been helping both emerging and established artists evolve ideas, develop their practices and make new work for over 20 years. She also heads up the creative production, performance and theatre company Carnesky Productions (founded in 2004). Reasons to study Contemporary and Popular Performance

  • Make connections: You will be partially taught at Tramshed, the perfect place to network and make connections.
  • Expert training in a specialist field: This course offers rigorous training in both the contemporary and the popular, opening up the field and engaging with contemporary politics and practices.
  • Valuable industry placements: Get real world experience with partners which could include Glastonbury Festival, Bestival, Latitude, Duckie, The Raze Collective, The Cocoa Butter Club, Resonance FM, Run Riot, The Tramshed, The Last Tuesday Society, The Invisible Circus, No Fit State Circus, Boomtown, Secret Cinema, Punchdrunk, World of Wonders, Butlins, Merlin Entertainments, Sky Arts and Channel 4.
  • Learn from the best: Programme director Marisa Carnesky is a reknowned live artist and showwoman. She uses spectacular entertainment forms, including fairground devices and stage illusion, and draws on themes of contemporary ritual, to investigate social issues from an ecofeminist perspective. You will be taught by an exciting range of experts in each specialist field.
Career opportunities You will graduate ready to take on many roles in the cultural sector. Depending on your interests you could go on to write, perform, produce or manage within the growing cabaret, festival, immersive and live event culture in the UK. You may also explore a career in broadcast media and live culture from radio, web and television. You may also be interested in: European Theatre Arts BA (Hons) or Theatre and Social Change BA (Hons)


Level 4 (Year 1) In your first year, you will train practically in performance skills, including performance and acting, conceptualising live art ideas, movement in performance, writing and devising techniques, design and scenography. You will learn this using various techniques, including spoken word, stagecraft, cabaret forms, illusion skills, stand-up comedy, ground-based and static aerial circus skills, outdoor performance and visual theatre. You will also study: Current practitioners – understanding how contemporary issues and popular ideas connect and manifest across culture Decolonised, feminist, queer and ecological perspectives to inform your essay writing around key themes. You will learn about the history of social movements and current theories of critical and political thought, which will underpin performance-making The London performance scene – understanding venues, organisations and ways of working Your first year will culminate in the creation of a short scratch night for a student audience at the Tramshed with students from our Theatre and Social Change course. Level 5 (Year 2) In your second year, you will further hone your performance skills and explore more specialised skills and techniques from live art to circus and cabaret including: advanced stand-up sleight of hand stage magic tightwire slapstick live art the body and duration one on one promenade immersive performance You will start to devise and create your own work and identify current themes and practices which you will study in greater depth. You will take part in a series of short placements, including involvement in performance projects in outdoor festivals, spoken word, comedy and cabaret events, and new productions in fringe theatres and live art festivals. Level 6 (Year 3) In your final year, you will create a significant performance project which addresses key themes from your studies and present your work to an invited audience. You will also take part in an extended placement with a specific company, artist, venue or festival. You will further your work on activating change and work on producing a project for a wider audience. You will also write a written thesis, drawing on your own experiences from your placements and as performance makers. Please visit our website to view the course and module specifications in detail: Course content is regularly reviewed, to make it relevant and current. Course modules are therefore subject to change.

Qualified teacher status (QTS)

To work as a teacher at a state school in England or Wales, you will need to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS). This is offered on this course for the following level:

  • Course does not award QTS

How to apply

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Points of entry

The following entry points are available for this course:

  • Year 1

International applicants

We welcome students from around the world for both BA and MA degree study in performance, design, management and technical arts. We also run short-term courses, summer schools and foundation programmes for international students who are looking for a shorter period of study. You will be studying close to London and have easy access to the amazing culture, restaurants and theatre there. When you study with us, you will join students from more than 25 different countries, and develop skills that could take your career all over the world. We have links worldwide with partner institutions on student and staff exchanges, collaborative projects and wider research initiatives. You may find our international students web page and guide useful: We run webinars with virtual campus tours for prospective international students, you can register here:

Entry requirements

Qualification requirements

Widening Access and Contextual Admissions: Rose Bruford College is committed to widening access. We encourage applications from all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of your background, and ensure that no groups are disadvantaged during the application process. We welcome students from all educational backgrounds. For instance, we look at your age, whether you declare a disability, whether you have spent time in care, the area in which you live and, if appropriate, the relative performance of the school you attend. We offer places based upon your future potential. We may offer you a place based on lower UCAS points than shown here, or an offer that is not linked to UCAS points, if we have evidence of your potential from your application or interview/audition.

Additional entry requirements


English language requirements

You must achieve a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 overall with no less than 5.5 in each component or a Secure English Language Test (SELT) equivalent to this score. We accept all Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) as approved by the UKVI.

Unistats information

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £9250 Year 1
Northern Ireland £9250 Year 1
Scotland £9250 Year 1
Wales £9250 Year 1
Channel Islands £9250 Year 1
Republic of Ireland £9250 Year 1
EU £21735 Year 1
International £21735 Year 1

Additional fee information

No additional fees or cost information has been supplied for this course, please contact the provider directly.

Sponsorship information

Rose Bruford College Bursaries for UK Students: We will offer £600 financial support for each year of the course in the form of a bursary to all students who come from households below the median income level (£29,400). This information is provided to the student loan company who communicate it to our student services team so once confirmed you will be paid automatically in February (£300) and May (£300) if you are eligible. Please note the figures listed here are for academic year 2022/23 and are subject to change.

Contemporary and Popular Performance at Rose Bruford College - UCAS