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Make creative and informed contributions to contemporary performance design practice with our unique, future-focused BA (Hons) Design for Performance course. Ambitious in its approach, this course includes design and production for theatre, events, dance, puppetry, museums, concerts, exhibitions, festivals, themed environments, nightclubs, film and live arts.
Negotiate your own path within a framework of core art and design methodologies. Benefit from the collaboration of ideas within a multi-disciplinary School, in a course that reflects the dynamic crossover common to creative arts in the twenty-first century.
Imagination, experimentation and risk taking are fundamental to our students as the challenges and opportunities are so varied on this course. A member of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design, this course provides a broad platform of skills, both traditional and digital to best equip our graduates for employment.
Because flexibility is built into our course design there are no subject routes - you are able to study the same modules together regardless of your specific areas of interest. This fosters a studio culture rich in diversity, collaboration, ambition and intersection.
The School has outstanding facilities, including studios, workshops and The Shell, a completely flexible, state-of-the-art, experimental production space. You will benefit from the insight and experience of staff who are experienced designers, makers and educators, as well as a dedicated technical support team.
You will have the chance to develop and respond to a wide variety of high-profile projects and opportunities. These have included innovative paper installations, collaborative music videos, placements at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, live project briefs for Madame Taussauds, exhibition designs for Casson Mann and sculptural installations for major UK festivals.
Our end-of-year awards are sponsored and presented by high-profile names, and the course consistently achieves excellent National Student Survey (NSS) results.
"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
Our next Open Day for this course will take place in 2018. Register your interest and we'll let you know details as soon as they are available.
To welcome all new home and EU undergraduate degree students starting in 2017 or 2018, we're giving at least £150 worth of credit to spend in a host of ways, on books and a range of learning materials. Even better, it doesn’t have to be repaid.
Our graduates work across a number of industries including film, television, theatre, events and exhibitions. Examples of jobs secured by recent graduates are:
We accept a range of qualifications, the most popular of which are detailed below.
In addition to qualifications, applicants will also need a good physical or digital portfolio.
For students who complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 14 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
For students who do not complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 16 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
For students who do not complete the full IB Diploma: Obtain a total of 16 points or above from three Higher Level Subjects
In addition to the above, applicants will also need:English Group A - Grade 4 or aboveOREnglish Group B and Ab Initio - Grade 5
Country-specific entry requirements and qualifications.
Entry requirements here
International students who cannot meet the direct entry requirements can begin their degree studies at Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC).
From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels
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 in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
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
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.
If your application is progressed, you will be invited to provide a portfolio of your creative work for review. This can be submitted digitally or you can physically bring it in. Your portfolio is your opportunity to show examples of your work and creative interests to support your application.
Please see our portfolio guidance page for tips and advice on putting your portfolio together.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
The personal statement 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.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
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 your course. 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.
View additional costs for this course
Whether you’ve not started yet, or just making final tweaks, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students on how to nail your personal statement by 15 January. You can download our free ultimate personal statement guide which includes all you need to know!
Download personal statement guide
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.
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 performance design and its relationship to contemporary practice. Through your modules, you will discover the application and use of colour, light, scale, composition, the figure and space.
Fundamental visual communication issues will be addressed through a series of core lectures and theory seminars. You will also have the opportunity to work with other students from across the school by selecting one of five in house options.
Examples of first year student work
This module introduces the universal principles and theories of visual communication. The aim of the module is not only to introduce you to the principles within your own chosen subject area, but also to provide opportunities to take workshops in all subject areas, seek advice from experts in other disciplines and work collaboratively with students from all Visual Communication subject areas.
The aim of this module is to introduce you to the main principles found within Design for Performance, creating a solid foundation of knowledge and skill-based practice. Emphasis will be placed upon providing a holistic view of the performance designer’s creative process. Through a series of theory-based lectures and hands-on workshops, you will individually weave together a range of visual ideas responding to the universal themes of space, narrative, performer, audience.
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 the realisation of a scale design through a full-size installation and its relationship to a live audience.
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.
See more images of the Shakespeare paper installation
We are interested in allowing you to discover your own personal direction within this ever expanding and exciting area of design.
Building on the key principles articulated in the three modules in semester one, this complementary, contextual studies module will explore seminal design movements and practitioners of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will provide you with a broad contextual framework that will underpin your design practice, both at university and in the future.
You will have the opportunity to select one of five option modules offered across the school: People and Identity, Sound and Movement, Space and Place, Text and Image, Time and Sequence. Thematic in their approach they are intended to offer you multiple approaches to the diverse practice of visual communication.
This module will consolidate your practice undertaken in the previous projects. Allowing you to develop further your creative process as a designer for performance, it will build on and extend your visual and technical vocabulary. You will use spatial and figurative work to produce a complete design concept for a performance based around a given text, and the final design concepts will be presented as an exhibition.
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. Helping you to further understand the creative role, opportunities and responsibility of the contemporary designer.
To further develop a creative understanding of the practical and technical vocabulary of Design for Performance, this module aims to develop your awareness of the breadth of practice within this industry and your potential role within it. Focusing on creative responses to productions that are specifically non-textual based as a means to actively remove pre-conceived design parameters.
This module provides an opportunity for you to apply your knowledge and skills to an external, professional brief. The brief will be set by an external client/agency, could be a ‘real life’ problem to be solved, or a simulation. It is an opportunity for you to engage in a professional manner with an aspect of your subject area.
Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the creative industries, and this module allows you to develop these skills, making use of University facilities and with the support of academic staff. Within this module framework you are able to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines across the School and wider Faculty.
This flexible module allows you to identify direction within your own practice and future aspirations. Students undertake approaches that will help define their area of practice, which is personalised to their own interests. The structure of this module encourages the development of a more focused, in depth and advanced study through the use of self-directed projects.
In your second year you will have the opportunity to replace 20 credits of study with the following module:
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the workplace, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers.
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 Design for Performance. You shall work autonomously or collaboratively to a professional standard on self-generated projects, with creativity and imagination.
Critical Practice provides the opportunity to adopt an increasingly autonomous commitment to your individually chosen direction. These directions are established with guidance and academic rigour through individual tutorials, guest professionals, workshops, group discussion and peer participation. It creates an environment where passion and dedication to creative activity can flourish.
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project. It is a culmination of your three years of study and should be a personal inquiry of a professional standard and a celebration of you as a work-ready practitioner.
The number of contact hours with lecturers varies depending on the type of activity, the module and the year group. The figures below show a weekly average but these will fluctuate throughout the year.
Scheduled Contact Hours:
These studio contact sessions usually consist of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and group activities in numerous combinations. Additional to these scheduled hours you will be expected to undertake guided independent learning. You will use the facilities within the Faculty and beyond to further develop your individual projects.
The school offers a suite of optional technical workshops including printmaking, studio lighting and a wide range of software packages.
Once you enter the studio you will feel part of a shared community, you’ll find yourself engaging in messy workshops, creative group work and working on live briefs.
Design for Performance requires a multitude of approaches and this is best served through our hybridised studios. Most importantly, these facilities should be flexible enough to support your needs.
We believe that the best way to learn is by doing, throwing your self in at the deep end and accepting that mistakes are part of the process. The activities and projects undertaken on the course are active, hardwork, memorable, realistic and fun.
In your first year, for example, you may take part in group work in which the group is expected to work together using nothing more than £500 worth of brown paper and card to transform The Shell performance space into a life size installation. Past versions have included WW1 trenches, Frost Fairs and a Shakespearean pub complete with characters from the play and the bard himself. All of these were produced over an intensive four-week period.
Likewise, in the second year, a collaborative project with the Film and Animation students sees groups conceiving, designing, constructing, filming, performing and editing short films to a professional standard over a 12 week period. The intention behind this is for you to gain as close to real world experience as possible as the project requires groups to understand the roles associated with producing studio films. This is a longstanding project that has been developed over the past fifteen years.
Collaboration is a vital employability skill within the creative industries and the Collaborative Practice module on this course allows you to develop these skills. Within this module you are able to create an interdisciplinary project with students from complementary disciplines across the School and wider Faculty. See below for an example of one of these projects:
The School has great associations with many industry bodies and professional associations. We are members of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design, Association of Photographers, Association of Illustrators, D&AD (the professional association of designers and advertising), The Society of British Theatre Designers, The Association of Photographers in Higher Education, and the Royal Society of Arts.
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.
View examples of student work...
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.
Find out more
As graduating students you will follow your own career path, which may mean going straight into industry. However, many students look at the opportunities we offer for postgraduate study at the University.
The School runs a one-year MA Visual Communication course as a natural progression from its undergraduate courses. You will be encouraged to continue your journey with us and develop your practice further.
While you study the course you will be offered opportunities to go on group excursions both in the UK and abroad. There are usually three overseas trips a year, which we offer both at subject level, as well as School level, to Venice, New York and Berlin.
Locations do alter each year to allow for students to experience a range of cities. We always put on UK study trips to places such as London, Manchester, Oxford and Liverpool. Where possible, UK trips are free or heavily subsidised.
As a Visual Communication student, you’ll be encouraged to take advantage of these trips as we see them as adding extra value to your course and they do offer additional research opportunities.
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.
“I am the festival producer for SWITCH festival for Tate St Ives. I have been a tutor creating programming with a group of young people to create a festival of newly created artwork, DJs and VJs, and contemporary dance on the beach. I have curated an exhibition and produced an open call for moving image artwork from young people across the UK. My role consists of tutor, mentor, programmer, exhibition designer, copywriter, producer, production manager, lighting designer and community liaison.”
“I started Stax Creations with two friends a few months before graduating. We began by making decor and pallet furniture for local events, and we now design and make large-scale immersive installations and stages for festivals, venues, bars and experiential marketing. Our clients include Cornetto, Coors, Heineken, Carlsberg, Bestival, The Zoo Project and Sound City Festival, taking us to Ibiza, London and all over the UK. We’re on a mission to gather as many creative designer/makers as possible in all disciplines to help us on our way as we grow.”
"I am currently working at an events company that caters for corporate clients, such as Nationwide, Heineken, Müller and BMW. It is an exciting role that involves designing and visualising a variety of live event formats, from exhibitions and roadshows, to business conferences and glittering award shows. I enjoy working across the different departments – creative, technical and event management - and coming up with engaging solutions to clients' briefs, however detailed or open they may be."
“The course allowed me to follow my passion for themed entertainment and pursue it in my final year, along with giving me a huge foot in the door via the Madame Tussauds project, which set me up to be able to work in the field from day one after graduating. I'm a freelance themed entertainment designer with various large clients such as Merlin Entertainment and Compagnie Des Alpes. I've been able to work on projects for Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Legoland parks, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life locations across the world.”
"I absolutely love my job. I love being a part of a wider team, all working towards one goal of delivering extraordinary customer environments every day and new scheme designs within the windows and visual moments within the store. I get to work within the Manchester and London stores, as well as getting the opportunity to travel to places like Paris, Milan and Copenhagen. Within these trips I get to explore different spaces, designs, displays, exhibitions and fashion shows. Visual Merchandising combined both my passion for events and the design of spaces with fashion.
I began working for Selfridges as a sales associate when I left the University. Later I got a job as visual merchandiser for menswear, then team leader, and now assistant manager for the store. No day is the same and no is job quite like this."
"Since graduating in 2013, I have been working for a company called Mad Science as their Operations Manager. This role involves training staff, creating new shows and events, preparing science themed show kits for the whole of the West Midlands and I even had the opportunity to work with huge corporate companies such as National Grid, Alton Towers, Warwick Castle and Seaworld. The course helped me get the experience and skills needed to be accepted for jobs such as this, as well as giving me the confidence to put my ideas forward and make them possible."
"I currently work as a Junior Production Manager for Firecracker Works, a London based production company specialising is design, production and building within the events industry. I work on a variety of different briefs, from events, window displays, experiential activations to installations and interiors.
It is my job to conceptualise and create moods in response to the initial brief and then quote, oversee the logistics and be the 'go to' of the project in hand. I work within a team of spatial designers, project managers and production assistants with the aim to create bespoke design and build."
"With confidence and skills gained from the Design for Performance course, I moved from strength to strength, starting off scenic painting on the new London Dungeons, then freelancing to be creative on various other theme park projects (Lego Land, Thorpe Park and York Dungeons). Now, I work closely with PropTarts as a set builder/ props maker/ assistant designer, as well as divulging into more stage management jobs for various productions in Oxford, In particular the Oxford Playhouse. Design for Performance was the perfect platform for me to start a career in the industry I love."
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 School of Visual Communication offers a broad education, as well as the very specific subject skills so we see many graduates working in the creative industries but also in a variety of employment from management, education, tourism, marketing and freelance business.
Industry demands are constantly changing, so it’s important that we prepare you for all eventualities. The internationalisation components mean you are aware of global expectations and the possibilities of work outside the UK. All modules have transferable skills built into the teaching, meaning you are able to apply your knowledge to a variety of tasks and challenges.
Design for Performance graduates work in a range of careers including:
You are required to develop strong networks, identifying opportunities and work placements appropriate to your practice. Visits to companies, interviews and live projects are an excellent way to introduce you and to develop these links. More formal placements have included opportunities with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Costume Hire, mac Birmingham and 2000trees Festival.
The Live Nation project has been in place for over ten years, with students working on sculptures for the backstage area of Download rock festival.
Summer placements with high-profile internationally-recognised companies Merlin Entertainments and, most recently, Casson Mann have been offered as rewards for live project initiatives. These prestigious opportunities allow students to gain a real insight into the creative approaches used by these organisations.
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:
Students come to study in the School of Visual Communication from all over the world but we have nurtured some long-standing relationships with Malaysia, Thailand, China and India.
If you are a student from these countries, or any other, you should consider studying with us, as we offer a wide curriculum that has internationalisation built into the modules. We actively encourage trans-disciplinary teaching, group projects and have established relationships with colleges and industry overseas.
We take a pride in developing strong creative communities and these thrive on the injection of different cultural experiences. To develop a sense of sharing all experiences and ideas is fundamental to the philosophy of Visual Communication.
Studying this course was the reason why I came to England. In this unique programme of study, I became an interdisciplinary artist experienced in design for theatre, film, performance, exhibitions and more.
The course enabled me to embrace various aspects of performance related design, unifying different techniques and combining them with my traditional art knowledge. I have explored storyboarding, set construction and dressing to filming and post-production. I really enjoyed my time on the course as the range of projects and the high quality of teaching developed the skills I already had, encouraged me to gain new ones and helped me to grow as an individual and an artist at the same time. Most importantly, course tutors never put me in any frames or made rules to restrict my individuality or creativity, instead always encouraged and lead me though my own individual development.
Soon after graduation, I won the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Award at the VISCOM Ian Emes Awards which led to backstage work experience at The REP Theatre. Here, I had the chance to work with a wonderful person, Milorad Zakula, the REP production Manager, along with artists Rob Olins, Douglas Benford and Lee Berwick to create ‘The Sound Of Memories’ - an interactive audio visual installation in the theatre foyer. While there, I was also involved into making of a 50 minute film production to be released in tandem with the new Pink Floyd album, and for ‘The Endless River’ directed by Ian Emes, I was both an art director‘s assistant and a performer as well!
Later on, I took an ERASMUS+ opportunity and a two month placement at a theatre company called ‘Chille De La Balanza’ (located in a former psychiatric hospital!) in Italy, Florence. Here, I helped set up a painting exhibition and worked on set designs for the show ‘Fathers and Sons’ by Ivan Turgenev.
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.
Learn more about BCUIC
Our students come from around the world but our theatre, performance and event design course is most popular with international students from:
Our visual communication degrees are housed in the state of the art £62 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.
Design studios and a production workshop are also integral to the delivery of the course. In the same spirit of the Shell, these spaces are hybridised studios that flex in relation to the students’ demands. This means that these facilities like The Shell are intended to cope with a wide variety of activities from messy craft and model making, through to casting, carving, groups meetings, digital work, projections and discussions. This approach is in line with some of the leading studios based in the UK that thrive on the overlap of processes and flexibility of space.
Paul has been the course director for BA Hons Design for Theatre, Performance and Event (TPE) since 2001. A practising scenographer, his professional credits include designs for large-scale theatre, small-scale outdoor touring productions, corporate events and festivals. He has many years experience as a freelance designer, company director, educator and performer and is currently the Chair of the Association of Courses in Theatre Design.
Read Paul's full profile
With a BA (Hons) degree in Interior Design from Manchester Metropolitan University, and a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Lara has 20 years' professional experience working across many art and design disciplines throughout the UK, Europe and the USA, including sculpture, installation, interior, architecture, exhibition, event and scenography.
Lara has worked within a wide range of design studios as well as running her own studio and working as freelance designer, and projects range from experimental devised theatre to multi-million pound events.
Studios include Imagination, Event Communications and DEGW Architects. Clients include The Imperial War Museum, V&A Museum, The Field Museum (Chicago), Eureka! Children’s Museum, Ten Chimneys Foundation (Wisconsin), Ericsson, Barclays, BBC, Coca Cola, Schweppes and Grosvenor Estate Holdings.
Award-winning and high-profile projects include: ‘The Half - Photographs of Actors by Simon Annand’ for The Theatre Museum (V&A Museum) awarded ‘Best Exhibition on a Limited Budget’ at the Museums & Heritage Awards in 2006, and ‘Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne: A Life on Stage’ at the Ten Chimneys Foundation awarded National Historic Landmark status.
Alongside her commercial design work, Lara has designed over 20 theatre productions. Starting as resident designer for Cook County Theatre Department in Chicago, she has gone on to design for a wide range of theatres including The Performing Garage, New York and The Gate, London. In 2000 she was nominated for an Arts Foundation Fellowship in Theatre Design by Simon McBurney.
Lara’s research interests have emerged directly from her art and design practice, as well as her current experience as an academic within Higher Education. Her PhD study examines the processes of 21st Century design studios which do not define themselves by discipline.
Read Lara's full profile
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.
Read Joanna's full profile
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International enquiry form
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Email the applications team
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