Uncover the creativity and vibrancy of Design for Theatre, Performance and Events here at the School of Visual Communication
The course is a unique programme of study, where you will be invited to make informed and creative contributions to the advancement of contemporary entertainment design practice.
Celebrating the convergence of various subjects while maintaining its core of Art and Design methodologies, the course has been designed to offer a framework within which you negotiate your own focus and direction.
If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year’s course will also have a new name: Interdisciplinary Design for Performance. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.
In your first year, you will develop skills and understanding that encompass spatial, figurative and performance design. From these fundamental principles, you can tailor the remainder of the course to areas of performance that are of particular interest to you and your future career aims.
Areas of study include design and production for theatre, dance, puppetry, museums, concerts, exhibitions, events, festivals, themed environments, nightclubs, film and live arts.
Learning is demonstrated and assessed through an accumulation of individual, collaborative, realised, speculative and live projects along with a suite of high profile industry opportunities. This ensures that the course remains relevant and able to respond to the needs of the contemporary and future workplace.
From its inception, this course has devised, developed and responded to a wide variety of high profile projects and opportunities including innovative paper installations, collaborative music videos, designs for Birmingham Opera Company, placements at The Repertory Theatre, independent animations, costume designs for Birmingham Royal Ballet, live project briefs for Madame Tussauds and design/installation for Download festival.
The course gave me the opportunity to explore a wide variety of career options in the entertainments industry. I developed key skills for each step of the design process, from concepts to completion on site, gaining experience and having a lot of fun along the way! I would recommend this course to anyone who has a passion for designing and creating exciting experiences for all areas in the entertainments industry. Millie Proud Creative - Madame Tussauds and The Eye Brand - Merlin Entertainments
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Visit our School site for more student work and extra information about how we're transforming the futures of creative practitioners.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good portfolio.
|UK Qualification||Requirements 2016/17|
|GCE A Level/ AS Level||BBC at A-Level or 280 UCAS tariff points from A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A-Levels|
|Access to Higher Education Diploma||Pass overall with 60 credits, 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2. Must be in a relevant subject pathway|
|BTEC National Diploma (12-units not including early years)||D*D* or combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Extended Diploma (18-units not including early years)||DMM - 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/ National Award (6-units not including early years)||Combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|BTEC Diploma in Foundation Studies in Art and Design||Distinction|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||28 points overall|
|Irish Leaving Certificate||280 UCAS points - Higher Levels|
|Scottish Higher/ Advanced Higher||280 UCAS points|
|Welsh Baccalaureate (core plus options)||120 tariff points combined with other level 3 qualifications to achieve a minimum total of 280 UCAS points|
|If you have a qualification that is not listed in the table please refer to our full entry requirements on UCAS.
Further guidance on tariff points can be found on the UCAS website.
|EU/Non-EU (International) Qualifications||Requirements 2016/17|
|IELTS||Non English speakers require IELTS 6.0|
|International Baccalaureate Diploma (or equivalent, including internationally accredited Foundation courses).||28 points overall
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.
UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
If you are a full-time undergraduate applicant for 2016/17, and show particular potential, we may be able to make you an unconditional offer if you make us first choice and satisfy certain criteria.
To be considered you must hold, or be predicted to achieve:
280 points or above from three A levels (equivalent to grades BBC or above)
predicted DMM at BTEC level
You will also be required to attend an interview.
Be the first to hear about our Clearing 2016 places and access a range of advice from experts on how to forget a bad exam and survive the summer. We’ve got your back.
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£9,000 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||FT||3 years||£9,250 per year||Apply via UCAS|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2016||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year|
|BA (Hons)||Sep 2017||FT||3 years||£12,000 per year|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.
The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
Your portfolio might be viewed when you are not present, therefore make sure it is easy to use. Think of it like a book. Your name and a title on the outside will be useful - this also helps distinguish the front from the back!
Include relevant work related to the subject area of interest. Know about the course you are applying for. Show ideas generation, experimentation and risk taking. Within your portfolio, are you able to demonstrate knowledge of the subject discipline, practitioners and individuals that have inspired you?
Show examples of paintings, drawings, photographs, three-dimensional work, time-based work and anything else relevant to the area of practice.
Try to show one full project from start to finish with the preparatory drawings included. Annotations are helpful as they show how you research and reflect on the development of your work.
Include three to four final pieces that you are able to talk about. This might include 3D models rather than photographs.
Include sketchbooks. This will give us an understanding of how you think (through your annotations) and allow us to see the development of your drawing. (If the portfolio is digital, photograph or scan some of the best pages).
Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.
The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.
All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.
UK and EU students applying for most undergraduate degree courses in the UK will need to apply through UCAS.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) is a UK organisation responsible for managing applications to university and college.
There are three ways to apply:
You will need to complete our International Application Form and submit it together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.
Our in-country representatives can help you make your application and apply for a visa. They can also offer advice on travel, living in the UK and studying abroad.
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.
You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Your first year of study will introduce you to the basic skills and critical framework within theatre design as a practice. You will be taught through a series of modules, which provide you with the knowledge to further explore the world of event and performance.
You will develop skills and understanding that encompass spatial, figurative and performance design. From these fundamental principles, you can tailor the remainder of the course to areas of performance that are of particular interest to you and your future career aims.
You will develop your technical, creative, analytical, interpretive and reflective skills; helping you to understand traditional theatre design and its relationship to contemporary theatre practice. Through your modules you will discover the application and use of colour, light, scale, composition, the figure and space.
Fundamental issues will be addressed concerning the balance between the application of traditional skills and new media, helping you to further understand the creative role and responsibility of the contemporary theatre designer.
Examples of first year student work
Introduction to Theatre Performance and Event Design
Within this introductory module you will discover the basics of Theatre, Performance and Event Design. You will explore the foundations of creative practice, developing skills and understanding that underpin both your work and the industry. This module is designed to enable you to understand the creative role, and its relevance within contemporary entertainment design.
Theatre design principles
This module will allow you to explore and develop an understanding of the principles of theatre design. You will develop technical skills and knowledge that will aid you within professional practice. Different approaches to problem solving within the context of theatre design will be explored, and you will learn how to creatively apply this to your own work.
The figure in space
The Figure in Space module is designed to make you consider all aspects of the performance, broadening your understanding of the context and possibilities that design provides to a performance. You will be required to examine the architectural environment of the performance space through design; including the relationship between space, scenic components and the performer. Particular emphasis will be placed upon collaboration and the realisation of a scale design through a full size installation.
Shakespeare paper installation
Our first year students recently created a life-size installation featuring more than a dozen of Shakespeare’s most famous creations handcrafted from paper and cardboard as part of the figure in space module.
The show displayed scale models over six feet tall, a three-meter-high balcony and even a walk-in tavern, and was made as a tribute to mark 400 years since the Bard’s death.
Students used techniques learned on the course to sculpt 780 meters of corrugated cardboard and nearly 5,000 meters of brown paper into the entire setting and characters.
We are interested in allowing you to discover your own personal direction within this ever expanding and exciting area of design.
Exploring the role of design within performance you will work primarily on studio-based projects as well as team-based designs. You will widen your transferable and production-based skills, engaging with the fundamental elements of design, production and live performance.
Text to design
This module is designed to allow you to employ the skills you have learnt across all modules, developing your self-management and creative skills. Within this module you will learn how to critically evaluate, abstract concepts and data. You will learn how to make judgements and frame appropriate solutions to design matters beginning to ascertain and implement your own style and approach to practice.
Your second year is designed to broaden your experience and increase your critical approach to the role of the designer within theatre, performance and events. Through a combination of theory and experiment you will learn how to evaluate and apply principles to practice.
You will receive opportunities for placement, field study, collaborative and interdisciplinary work. We shall help you to develop your own personal direction, focusing towards the establishment of a specialised and flexible area of practice.
You will learn how to effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will enhance your ability to work collaboratively within a working environment, demonstrating knowledge of the main methods of enquiry within the field.
Your second year of study is crafted to allow you to develop your critical awareness, and formulate approaches to solving problems. You will develop your own individual style and perspective, drawing upon your own influences and direction.
Examples of second year student work
This module reinforces the sense of community both within the school and further afield. You will learn how to work collaboratively within a creative environment, drawing upon the ideas of others and learning how to become versatile and produce effective work. Live projects, demonstrations and collaborative work will allow you to use your imagination, organisational and collaborative abilities to develop entrepreneurial skills.
Design in context
Broadening your experience and knowledge of the designers’ role within theatre, performance and events you are encouraged to experiment with different design possibilities. You will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the main methods of enquiry, critically evaluating the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems within the context of a live brief.
Identifying personal direction
Here within the School of Visual Communication we feel it is important to allow you to develop your own personal direction, allowing you to craft your own creative journey. We will support you and provide you with plenty of information and skills, yet within this module we will aid you in identifying aspirations, possible career destinations and a direction for the final year.
Investigating industry practice
This module requires you to delve further into industry practice, learning what drives you, and allowing you the chance to undertake an external placement, or work within the creative industries. This will help you build up your creative network as well as provide you with the unique opportunity to gain experience within the industry and apply this knowledge to your individual journey through the course.
During your final year of study you will be supported in establishing the confidence to acknowledge and assert your own distinctive work identity. You will take a critical view of the world of Theatre, Performance and Events, identifying your own aspirations and place within the field. The work will be challenging, yet you will experiment and establish a solid foundation in the basic skills and conventions of the field.
You will be required to demonstrate, within your work, a particular view of what constitutes a design proposition. You will enhance your communication skills, allowing you to develop confidence and understanding, allowing you to capably articulate your views and knowledge to others.
The final year of the programme is designed to help you demonstrate a systematic, extensive and advanced knowledge of contemporary Theatre, Performance or Event Design. You shall work autonomously or collaboratively to a professional standard on self-generated projects, with creativity and imagination.
Examples of final year student work
During this module, you'll refine your conceptual and practical skills in rehearsal for professional design practice, demonstrating a high level of specialist understanding. You will explore both the constraints of space, time and budget and the problems presented in realistic processes and scenarios.
Major personal project
This final year project allows you to create work that is central to your own creative focus and ambitions. You'll put into practice the theory and skills you have learnt throughout your previous years of study, demonstrating your knowledge and skill and you will devise and manage a design proposal from conception to completion.
Examples of recent students' projects
This module is designed to make you effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms, to specialist and non-specialist audiences. You will review, consolidate, extend and apply your knowledge in response to the parameters of a brief in the format of an extended essay.
This final year module is designed to ensure you acquire a range of skills necessary to progress to professional practice, further study, or other career contexts. We will support you and ready you for your creative career.
Through professional development you will be able to critique and enhance your skill, both transferable and industry-related. Through reflective journals you will identify your own personal creative identity, and plan strategies for work.
Throughout the duration of your course the programme will be delivered through a series of modules.
Your learning will be delivered through collaborative practice, group crits, lectures and seminars, project work, presentations, independent learning and research.
You will be assessed through written and verbal presentations, reflective journals, self-evaluation and practical work.
|27||Time in lectures, seminars and similar||MidnightBlue|
|73||Time in independent study||RoyalBlue|
A (Hons) Theatre, Performance and Event Design student Gena Duong gives an introduction to the degree course at Birmingham City University's Institute of Art and Design.
Hannah Turton won the Merlin Award at the Viscom awards after designing a new Madame Tussauds for Birmingham, featuring famous names hailing from the city in the areas of music, television and film, history and sport. The award recognises young, talented designers with a flair for attraction and exhibition design and includes a four-week placement at Merlin, one of the world's largest entertainments companies.
If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.
It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.
The Design for Theatre, Performance and Events course is designed to develop your transferable skills and widen your advanced industry knowledge. Therefore, should you wish to progress into postgraduate study you will have developed the ability to plan and produce research that is innovative, original and challenges the field of creative design.
Here within the school we have an MA in Visual Communication which is research based. Upon successful completion of the BA (Hons) Design for Theatre, Performance and Events you will be eligible to apply for postgraduate study here within the University, or further afield. The degree will help you acquire a range of skills necessary to progress to professional practice, further study, or other career contexts.
By immersing yourself within the industry, whether it's through volunteering, or taking on research roles, you will widen your professional skills palette. Birmingham is a diverse and vibrant city, with a thriving creative industry. It is advisable that as a student you engage as much as possible with activities and events that relate to your desired profession.
As a school we have several industry partnerships, and there will be chances for you to network. Networking will allow you to enhance your contacts with industry, and you will be able to form professional relationships that could lead to further employment, or experience-based opportunities.
Throughout the programme there will be chances for you to partake in fields trips, network professionally and attend visits that directly relate to your interests. Staff and students are presented with the opportunity to attend for example the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design, providing a global perspective on the discipline.
The programme is designed so that you will complete your studies skilled, confident and ready to take on a creative career. Throughout the degree you will develop transferable skills, equipping you for creative practice. You will learn methods and techniques, with the ability to review, consolidate, extend and apply your knowledge and understanding in order to initiate and carry out projects.
You’ll develop the skill to identify and tackle problems, with confidence in communicating information and ideas. You will leave with sophisticated and professional communication and presentation skills.
Not only will you be able to work well within a team through collaborative practice you will also have confidence in your own abilities, with the talent and knowledge to independently produce creative work. Knowledge of the field will be developed throughout your studies, allowing you to critically evaluate historical, contemporary and personal practice.
The course will facilitate in the development of a wide range of both practical and knowledge-based skill. We will help you in your professional development, encouraging you to develop portfolios and gain extensive industry experience. You’ll be taught how to devise and manage design proposals, from conception to completion, readying you for a career in creative design. We’ll help you nurture your own creative flair and talent, with a focus on the creation of your own personal creative identity; something that will make you stand-out in industry.
As a student within the School of Visual Communication you will be encouraged to develop your professional networks. We strongly believe that creating strong relationships with industry will enable you to develop your profile and enhance your professional networks. Networking is vital to furthering your opportunity to undertake work placements and paid jobs.
Throughout the duration of your degree we will challenge you and encourage you to engage with industry, incorporating this through your work. In your second year of studies you will receive the opportunity to undertake placement, field study, collaborative and interdisciplinary work.
The Design for Theatre, Performance and Events undergraduate programme incorporates a variety of work placements and live projects within the industry along with study visits.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.
Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.
The destination of your career is shaped through the work you produce throughout the course, and the experience you gain through professional networks. We will support you throughout the programme to aid your professional development, readying you for a career within the creative industries and further afield. Graduate destinations include working freelance, working for agencies and taking on illustrious project work.
Graduates of the School of Visual Communication have gone on to become Oscar and BAFTA Award-nominated Set Decorators, as well as award-winning theatre designers. Rob Howell is a fantastic example of how studying at the University can provide you with the knowledge and skill to succeed within the field of entertainment design. Rob has now been creating new worlds on stage for over 20 years, with recent work including the West End production of Matilda, for which he won an Olivier Award. Jude Farr is another graduate of our undergraduate programme (previously BA (Hons) Theatre Design) here at the University. Her world-class work has included set design for Downton Abbey, the King’s Speech and numerous other film and TV productions; attracting nominations for some of the most prestigious awards in the industry.
Here at the School of Visual Communication you are in control of your career and we will help you shape it. Our graduates are creative visual problem solvers, design mavericks and thought leaders, feeding employment markets across industries, regionally and internationally.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Here at the School of Visual Communication we welcome students from across the world. Our creative degrees attract many students from overseas.
The distinctiveness of the course appeals to a range of EU/international students from countries and regions such as France, Lithuania and South East Asia. We certainly have an international cohort of students from across Europe, the UK and the West Midlands region.
As an international student you will benefit from studying alongside a diverse range of students, all with different backgrounds and experience. In addition to this the course is led by tutors with experience teaching and learning through international partnerships. Here within the school we have established a creative learning community. Where you will be able to engage and work collaboratively, producing high-quality, imaginative work.
You will also benefit from studying in close proximity to the UK’s diverse and continuously changing creative industries, you are encouraged to engage and regularly network with these industries. The course will aid you in developing and field.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £57 million Parkside Building, part of our City Centre Campus.
We offer extensive studio and workshop space and cutting-edge equipment such as Vicon 3D (an external tracking motion capture facility) and Gypsy (an exoskeleton-based motion capture system). Both of these systems extend the possibility for production of 3D animation and films.
You will enjoy access to our Hollywood standard MILO unit. We were the first School of Visual Communication in Europe to offer MILO motion capture technology, now one of only two owned by Universities in Europe.
We offer cutting-edge provision such as digital print centres and Sonny Ross became the first student on the Visual Communication course to master the art of the RISO machine. He has since used this to produce many successful RISO publications including “Rojo & Baxter” which has been a success at various zine and book fairs across the country.
Specific to the course are a production workshop and design studios in support of The Shell, a completely flexible, state-of-the-art, experimental production space. This space has been designed to accommodate the breadth of work produced by the students and functions as a performance venue, cinema, exhibition space, projection mapping facility, music venue and lecture space. Configured in multiple ways The Shell is a monochromatic environment with portable seating and a retractable wall into the main Atrium.
Joanna graduated from the City of Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University) with a degree in Theatre Design.
Her first design job was with a Theatre in Education group run by the National Trust. They toured the country creating experiential shows for primary school children in NT properties. For the show to work effectively the characters had to look correct for the period of house in which each show was set, and this need for accuracy fired her interest in the history of dress.
Joanna became a freelance designer and maker of period costume, often collaborating with the choreographer Mary Collins – who she met through the YNTT.
In 2012 they wrote a joint paper for the Oxford Dance Symposium about the development of choreography through the 18th century, and how dance costume was affected by styles of dress. Through this work Joanna discovered that although the development of ballet in the 18th century has been widely examined, very little has been written about the costumes, which have such a key role to play in the overall look of the performance. She has always been interested in the relationship between the performers in live performance and their audience, that strong emotional, and yet intangible, connection that develops when watching an effective performance.
In the late 18th century there was a relationship between costume for performance and fashion, and this is evident from the various garments named after actresses or the parts that they played. There is scope for greater analysis of how the fashionable body shape dictated form for some costume, how female dancers pushed the boundaries of acceptable forms of dress, and how fashion was itself influenced by styles seen on the dance stage. Joanna’s research is examining that relationship.