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Acting - MA / PgDip

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry. Switch to 2025/26 Entry

The PG Dip/MA Acting course is designed for graduates who wish to undertake advanced studies to further their knowledge and widen their experience of acting in order to take up a professional acting career upon graduation. The course seeks to create independently minded performers and practitioners who are able to apply a variety of methodologies to their creative work....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location Bournville
  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

This course is:

Open to International Students


[00:00:03] Danielle I decided to join the MFA course because I felt like something was missing in my acting. I was doing things, but it just felt like I was missing a piece. I decided to kind of refine my training and figure out what that missing piece was.


[00:00:20] Danielle Hey.


[00:00:21] Friend Hey.


[00:00:21] Danielle You ready for speech?


[00:00:22] Friend Yes.


[00:00:23] Danielle My favourite part is the community aspect in that. There's never a time where I feel, like, forgotten or I feel left out.


[00:00:32] Friend Do you remember the play that you did for the first time?


[00:00:35] Danielle I played like an old, famous actress, and I had, like, big sunglasses. And my mom loves telling the story. How when she saw that play, she cried because she knew that I found what I wanted to do.


[00:00:49] Danielle I think you should never let fear stop you from trying it, because you then will always have that regret of what if I just went for it? My biggest aspiration as an actor is to be a part of the RSC. I know that's going to be a lot of hard work, and this could be a lot of steps to get there, but that's the dream.


[00:01:17] Danielle I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken.


[00:01:24] Friend Woo!


[00:01:26] Danielle All right. So. Is that okay?


[00:01:30] Friend Yeah. Sure.


[00:01:32] Danielle Yeah.


[00:01:33] Danielle When you know you've achieved what you set out to do, you gain confidence making the next step less scary and more exciting. I came here wanting to flourish as an actor, and I have I've worked on my weaknesses. I've put all of the techniques into practice, and now I know this is just the beginning for me.


[00:02:07] Danielle I've come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken. Your spirits relax. And for what? Words. Words, words.


The PG Dip/MA Acting course is designed for graduates who wish to undertake advanced studies to further their knowledge and widen their experience of acting in order to take up a professional acting career upon graduation.

The course seeks to create independently minded performers and practitioners who are able to apply a variety of methodologies to their creative work. Its aim is to inculcate forward thinking practitioners able to create real employment opportunities for themselves, both in finding work and creating work.

This laboratory programme provides opportunities for students to enhance their experience and understanding of acting by focusing on the repertoire of the British and European traditions. Students form an acting company and each exercise, workshop or production is designed to challenge the student actor and to progressively develop the imaginative, intellectual and creative skills required for acting.

The delivery of the course is based on the conservatoire model which requires an intensive taught delivery of a minimum of thirty to forty hours per week over a minimum of thirty weeks per year. Its focus is practice-based learning through which the student is enabled to develop the requisite intellectual, imaginative and physical skills of the professional actor.

Applications still open for September 2024 entry.  Apply now!

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

The MA Acting course is a full-time programme delivered intensively over one year (4 terms – September to September) that provides a fast track to entering the industry in the UK. Whilst there is a specific focus on entering the UK industry, the focus of work within the repertoire is, initially, European, and later widens to include repertoire from World theatre. Studies focus on the ensemble, the tools of Psychological Realism, and the demands of classical texts, professional preparation, and personal research.

Delivered through a series of exercise, workshop and performance opportunities the programme also includes acting for the camera and voice over work, and for MA students culminates in a showcase, a final production and a practice-based research project.

Students are supported through this highly intensive course by a robust pastoral system led by personal tutors who will support students throughout the course. Students can seek tutorials with specific tutors or their course director at any time. Each student receives an individual tutorial on their progress and development every term. This also provides an opportunity for them to speak about their experience of the course and raise any areas of concern.

Students are also given more formal opportunities to feedback on their course through the formal BCU structures. In addition to these, the Course Director holds debriefs for the group after the completion of every performance module and a termly meeting is held in which the cohort can express any areas of concern they may have about the course and its delivery.

Steven Finley

Steven’s path towards acting wasn’t the most typical; he started off his academic journey studying Psychology in Montreal, Canada, before realising his calling at BCU’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. 

Read in full

Why Choose Us?

  • Royal Birmingham Conservatoire staff have vast experience, both within the UK and internationally. Staff have worked with well-known individuals, projects and companies such as the BBC, the RSC, the NHS, British repertory and festival theatres, and much more.
  • To ensure high quality tuition, we normally have a maximum of 16 students enrolled onto the course each year.
  • By joining Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, you will also be part of Birmingham City University, meaning you’ll have access to all the University’s state-of-the-art facilities, including TV and radio studios and a green screen, all of which you’ll have the opportunity to experience.
  • Our graduates include Nicola Coughlan, who have gone on to perform in prestigious shows such as Bridgerton and Derry Girls.
  • One of the most unique things about our programme is the solo performance project, performed as part of our yearly MA FEST.
  • For the final part of the year, our students perform a solo project as part of MA Fest. These performances go on to venues such as the Edinburgh Fringe, Camden/Brighton Fringe, the Birmingham Comedy Festival and the Strawberry One Act Play Festival in NYC, where former students have won major acting awards.

MA Acting overview- students on stage

The MA Acting course is the first anywhere to use the University’s new £62m TV production facilities at Parkside, Birmingham, of which Birmingham Conservatoire is a part. Recorded Media training will prepare you for work in film, television, radio drama and audiobooks.

Open Day

Join us on campus where you'll be able to explore our facilities and accommodation in person, and chat to staff and students from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Booking isn't open yet for our next event, register your interest and we’ll email you as soon as booking goes live.

Next Open Day: 5 December 2024

Register Interest

Entry Requirements

Essential requirements

Essential Requirements

Admission is by audition, but we would normally require an undergraduate degree in Acting or a related subject, or a professional acting CV detailing your experience.

The course is also suitable for professional actors seeking a refresher course.

The MA option is designed for those with suitable academic abilities.

We ask that applicants only apply for one RBC postgraduate acting course in an application cycle.

For full details and advice about auditions and interviews, please visit the Acting Auditions and Interviews section of the Conservatoire website.

English language requirements

  • IELTS overall score 7.0 (6.5 in all components) or equivalent is required.

If you have a qualification that is not listed, please contact us.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2024

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.


You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Essential copies of playscripts

Students studying on this course will receive copies of any playscripts studied on the course.

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of safety equipment in order to use the workshop facilities, at an estimated cost of £100 for black studio clothing, shoes, rehearsal skirt and dance belt.

Media consumable items (mandatory)

This course requires the use of consumables, including actors' headshots that are likely to be in the region of £100 - £500.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment, including a ring light and tripod (£25 - £45) and a yoga mat (£20).

Smartphone (mandatory)

During this course you will need a smartphone with the ability to film - prices vary.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy. We suggest you budget £50 for this although you may wish to purchase additional books and playscripts.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Applications are open. Apply now for September 2024 entry.

How to apply

Please note when applying: you should only submit one application for either the MA or the PgDip Acting course, as you will only be considered for one of these courses and the audition criteria is the same for both. We ask that applicants only apply for one RBC postgraduate acting course in an application cycle, so you should not also apply for the MFA course in the same application cycle.

Please read our information on the audition process before making your application. We charge an audition fee of £46, which must be paid prior to audition and covers the entire audition process. 

You can find guidance on how to prepare for an Audition by visiting the page below. 

Audition Guidance

If you are applying from outside the UK/EU and are not able to attend an audition in the UK, you may wish to submit an online audition. Details of how to do this can be found here. 

Audition Guidance (International Applicants)

Completing your application

Further information on writing your personal statement can be found on the UCAS Conservatoires website.

Course in Depth

PG Dip

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits): 


In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits):

The MA in Acting operates as a one-year, full-time course. As a Master’s student, you will be expected to take a proactive attitude toward study with timetabled classes as well as time for self-directed study.

Throughout the course, you will be taught through a series of modules covering a different aspect of the acting field, teaching you a diverse, yet specialised combination of knowledge and skill. You will formulate a strong understanding of the importance of context to your work, maintaining an awareness of developments within the acting field.

Towards the end of your Master’s you will be expected to devise and present a research project. This project is designed to demonstrate an accumulation of the skills and knowledge you have developed throughout the programme. You will be expected to engage in independent study, researching a specific area of your theatrical interest.

Student stories - Danielle Pinnock

"I chose Birmingham School of Acting because I have always wanted to study abroad in England for as long as I could remember. I think the acting training in England really is special, because you are learning from tutors from all over Europe. I wanted to study acting, because I graduated with a directing emphasis from my undergraduate college, Temple University. I really wanted to sharpen and challenge my acting skills and I was able to do that and more at BSA. I am now in Chicago working at The Goodman Theatre on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s new play ‘By the Way, Meet Vera Stark’. I am understudying for the role of Lottie.


Enhancing employability skills

This MA Acting course is designed to not only develop your practical performance skills but to help you expand your intellectual knowledge of the creative industries. You will finish this course with the skills expected of the contemporary actor, by studying the theory and practice of key acting processes. You will be able to engage critically and creatively, mapping out the performance possibilities of a production text.

You will have the skill to create and perform a believable character with authentic psychological and emotional truths. With knowledge of the demands and performance needs of genres, style and text you will be able to produce content that demonstrates depth, meaning and originality.

As a MA Acting graduate you will confidently be able to analyse performance scripts, applying the principles inherent in the Stanislavski system. You will learn how to make mature and advanced interpretations of a performance text, expanding your ability to analyse and synthesise theatrical work.

You’ll learn the skills and awareness you need will enable you to look out for auditions, leaving you with the best chance of succeeding in your acting career.


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:

In the past, we have welcomed students from international countries such as Norway and further afield. We encourage international students to study with us, as we feel you will benefit from experiencing a new culture and bringing your own perspective and flair to the programme.

As a University, we are one of Britain’s leading providers of creative, talented professionals. We have a range of visiting tutors, industry connections and innovative teaching. In Birmingham alone there are various performing arts programmes and venues, and with London just a train journey away, you will be surrounded by creativity and possibility.

The MA Acting course will be delivered in English, and the ability to speak and to write English with considerable fluency is a requirement for entry to the course. In most cases, a candidate whose first language is not English may be required to take a standard test in English in order to evaluate your level of comprehension, skills in conversation and writing. The result of this test will be necessary prior to being offered a place on the course.

Facilities & Staff

Our Facilities


The School of Acting is based at Ruskin Hall in Bournville, although students can also benefit from a range of performance spaces around the city. As a part of the Arts, Design and Media faculty, we also have access to facilities at the Parkside Building, which boasts state-of-the-art radio and television studios, edit suites, photography studios, and much more.

View video transcription


Students regularly perform at professional theatres across the West Midlands, including The Birmingham Central Library Theatre; Crescent Theatre; Hippodrome Studio (Patrick Centre); The Old Rep Theatre and The Drum.

Our staff

Lise Olson

Course Director, MA in Acting

Lise is currently the Course Director of MA in Acting at Birmingham School of Acting. She relocated from Merseyside, where she trained actors for a decade at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). Lise has been directing and training actors in the US and UK for 30 years.

More about Lise

Stephen Simms

Vice Principal - Acting, Professor of Actor Education

Stephen is the Vice Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - Acting, one of the UK's leading conservatoires of acting, where he is also the Head of Acting. He is also Professor of Actor Education, the only person to hold this position in the country. He directs and teaches on the acting courses at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Recent...

More about Stephen
[00:00:05] Speaker 1: Hi there. [00:00:06][0.2]

[00:00:06] Speaker 2: I'm Becca. And I'm Georgia. [00:00:07][1.1]

[00:00:08] Speaker 1: And we're students on the Acting course. This is Ruskin Hall, which is where the Acting courses at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire are mainly based. [00:00:16][8.1]

[00:00:17] Speaker 2: Follow us. Today, we're going to take you on a little tour around Ruskin Hall. So this is Studio one which is one of ten studios we have here at Ruskin Hall. It's one of our big studios, and it's a favourite of a lot of us because it's it's super bright, it's super open. It's got a big, big window at the back, stained glass window. You have quite a lot of classes in here across all different years. You might do quite a lot of your first year projects in here, maybe dance stuff that needs a lot of space. [00:00:46][28.7]

[00:00:47] Speaker 1: So as you can see, Studio two is connected to Studio one, which is very helpful. When we were doing our divide project in the second year, because we had both spaces, we could have one group rehearsing with the director in Studio one and then we could break out and do some additional work in here. [00:01:01][13.9]

[00:01:02] Speaker 2: Lots of windows, a nice. [00:01:03][0.9]

[00:01:04] Speaker 1: Nice, bright space. [00:01:04][0.5]

[00:01:08] Speaker 2: So this is the resource room. This room is always free, so it's open to any students. If you need to come and do some research, if you want to flip through some plays or even if you just want a bit of downtime to just chill out for a while. [00:01:20][12.4]

[00:01:21] Speaker 1: So as you can see, we've got a number of computers here that are really useful because we get access to single drama online. Got thousands of plays on it as well as connections from the National Theatre on the Globe. If you wanted to watch some plays, if you want to read some plays, we've got this selection here. [00:01:36][15.1]

[00:01:37] Speaker 2: So here we come to some lockers. This is one set of lockers is quite few. [00:01:41][3.5]

[00:01:41] Speaker 1: You get access to a key when you start in first year and I know I used it all the time, I kept my character skirt, and then my characters shoes and any bits of like props or costumes for jewels and things just to save me locking them in every day. I could just store them in one of these. So it's nice and easy. This is Studio three, formerly nicknamed the Green Room. It comes with chairs and desks, so any sort of theory based classes are usually done in here, like acting script studies, that kind of thing. [00:02:05][24.2]

[00:02:06] Speaker 2: And you also might just come in here to do your own personal study in this nice big open room with loads of space to do your work. [00:02:11][5.9]

[00:02:14] Speaker 1: This is Studio four. It's a lovely, nice, bright, open studio, lots of windows. It's used for a range of classes across the years. I remember I had a voice class in here, for example, in the second year. [00:02:24][9.9]

[00:02:24] Speaker 2: As you've probably seen a lot of the studios link into each other. So Green Room literally links into this one. So the building's got a really nice flow and you can always hear of the years and other classes rehearsing, which is really nice. [00:02:35][10.8]

[00:02:36] Speaker 1: So Ruskin is across three levels, we've just shown you the ground floor. Plus there's also Studio five just down there, which is similar to the other studios. Lovely and bright. [00:02:44][8.6]

[00:02:45] Speaker 2: And we're going to now just take a look upstairs. [00:02:47][1.6]

[00:02:54] Speaker 1: This is Studio ten, and this is predominantly where singing lessons at all. [00:02:57][3.3]

[00:02:57] Speaker 2: Yeah, it's for singing lessons. You're normally in a group. [00:02:59][1.5]

[00:02:59] Speaker 1: Please don't worry if you're not a singer. I was terrified on my first day of singing, but the teachers are so supportive and they really, really help you across the first two years of the course with singing. [00:03:09][9.2]

[00:03:09] Speaker 2: Yeah. We also have pianists that come in every lesson. So you have your teacher and then a pianist as well. So you've got two people with a wealth of knowledge about the industry to help you. [00:03:19][9.5]

[00:03:22] Speaker 1: So this is Studio six, one of the largest studios at Ruskin Hall. Just for an example of how this might be used in the second year, I rehearse one of my projects in here with my classmates. We also got to work with the Stage Management students for the first time in the second year, so they would come in in the morning, do a complete mock up of the sets and props tables. Then they'd have a desk with all the effects cues on there. So it was really great to get to work with them from the second year. [00:03:45][22.7]

[00:03:46] Speaker 2: Yeah, also in Studio six as it is one of our biggest studios. You might do quite a lot of movement work in here, so dance or any sort of yoga classes and also on stage comebacks. It's really good. Everyone's got lots of room. [00:03:58][12.3]

[00:03:59] Speaker 1: So this is Studio seven and as you can see, we've got mirrors behind us, which is really useful for movement classes, dance classes, just to see what your body is doing in the space. [00:04:07][8.4]

[00:04:08] Speaker 2: Yeah, and also the studio links to Studio six, the studio just in there and that has a really nice flow to Studio eight. So this is the common room. It's a really nice, cosy, chilled place to come. At lunch or in between any classes. It's got a microwave, a fridge if you want to bring your own lunches. And there's also a really nice independent cafe about a one minute walk across the green, which does coffee and loads of lunch and food. [00:04:43][35.7]

[00:04:44] Speaker 1: And we love that. [00:04:44][0.8]

[00:04:45] Speaker 2: So that concludes our tour of Ruskin Hall. Very much hope you've enjoyed. It's a really lovely building ever since we've been based here. Everyone in a drama school, has just loved that we've been in bournville, it's a really nice, picturesque, safe and fun environment. [00:04:45][0.0]