Our BA (Hons) Applied Theatre aims to inspire the next generation of passionate and skilled theatre-makers. Our focus is on developing the skills and understanding needed to create compelling new performances and theatre projects with purpose. We are concerned not only with how we make theatre, but also why.
*media gallery images from 2017 'Do You See What I See' production.
The majority of what you will learn through studying Applied Theatre will be through practical experience. You will bring the skills and passion you have, and learn how to apply them; as well as gaining new skills in facilitation, devising, and all aspects of theatre-making. You will not only be creating new drama, but gaining the knowledge and understanding needed to engage communities, and exploring the world in the wide variety of environments covered by the term Applied Theatre – such as schools, community or health centres, prisons, hospitals, or out on the streets.
Our strong industry links and on-going relationships with many experienced practitioners and companies working in the field allow us to prepare you for a varied career. As the course progresses, you will work increasingly independently, spending six weeks of the second year on a full-time placement, and in the third year collaborating with fellow students in forming professional ‘companies’, working collectively in live situations. The course ends with a festival of Applied Theatre, which serves as a showcase of your work and a bridge to a wide range of employment.
At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we believe that creating theatre with social and political objectives can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals and communities. We use performance as a tool to explore the world, raise awareness, educate, empower, and instigate real and lasting change.
As an emerging practitioner we will supply you with artistic space, autonomy and choice. With a primary focus on performance, you will also explore the reasons behind the work looking at its history and theories while developing an understanding of the need for constant research, discussion, reflection and development of your practice.
The course is partnered with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, one of the UK's leading production theatres, which gives you fantastic opportunities to engage with The REP's facilities, productions and participation programmes. We also have strong ongoing relationships with Open Theatre one of the UK's leading learning disabled theatre companies, and Geese theatre, the ground-breaking prison theatre group. We also have connections with Big Brum, Women and Theatre, Hanyong Theatre Company, Stans Café and the Playhouse.
The course embraces students from a wide variety of performance backgrounds and actively encourages you to develop your own areas of interest and practice. Recent students have included spoken word artists, musicians/singers, dancers and those with interests as diverse as puppetry and arts administration. If you are passionate about the power of theatre, and you want to make your voice heard, this is definitely a course to consider.
Many students have gone on to work with one of the 50 small-scale and independent theatre companies in Birmingham, or elsewhere around the world, or to develop new companies, or pursue freelance work within Applied Theatre. Others have gone into other creative fields, or teaching or found that the skills they have gained on the course are transferrable across a wide range of work.
Studying Applied Theatre as a degree is a sensible option for anyone who not only wants to pursue a career in theatre and performance, but also wants to create work of real and lasting value in the world around them.
Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:
Or continue their studies, with many choosing to take teaching qualifications and move into the formal education sector.
If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Peter Wynne Willson.
(or equivalent) is the minimum you will need to be considered for this course in Clearing. Use the UCAS Tariff Calculator to work out your points.
You should normally have an A-level or equivalent in drama, dance, performance or a related arts subject.
We also welcome applicants with practical experience in the performing arts. You will normally need a range of GCSEs including English Language at grade 4 (C) or above, plus a minimum of one of the following:
|Typical Offers (UK students)|
96 UCAS tariff points
Two A-Levels at grade C (including Drama) plus two AS-Levels at grade C
A-Level Drama or related subject (C), and CC in two further A-Levels
BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (MMM) in Performing Arts or related subject
BTEC Level 3 Diploma (12 Units) (DD) in Performing Arts or related subject
BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma when studied alongside other qualifications
For full details and advice about auditions and interviews, please visit the Acting Auditions and Interviews section of the Conservatoire website.
Admission to this course is via interview. Please see our Guidance for Applicants for more information.
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2020
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2020
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF 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 up to a maximum of five per cent.
If you'd like to start this course full-time this September, you can apply through Clearing.
International and part-time students can apply online as normal using the links above.
Want to start in September 2021?
You can apply via UCAS from September 2020.
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.
Main deadline date 15 January 2019, 18:00 (UK time) – please note that applications submitted after the main deadline date will still be considered for the 2019 intake.
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.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
The module explores the range of work covered by the term, ‘Applied Theatre’, looking at its roots in political social and educational theatre, and tracing lines through to current provision.
Students will be given a directory of 60 small-scale theatre companies in the Birmingham area, and encouraged to make contacts and see work. Within the module there will be the opportunity to see work and work with some of these professional practitioners.
Drama for Learning 1
The module will cover the history and theory of Theatre-in-Education, introducing key practitioners, and exploring key texts. Looking at the roots of TIE in progressive education and in earlier theatre practice, the module will cover TIE practice from the first company at the Coventry Belgrade in the 1960s, through to current provision in the UK.
There will be an opportunity to see examples of professional Theatre-in-Education with local companies, and some timetabled discussion events, and there will be a practical approach to exploration of theories and methods, and some introductory skills sessions on facilitation and drama conventions.
The module will introduce Community Theatre, investigating the history and key philosophy of work of this kind. You will look at current practice through examination of the work of local companies, and will visit a community project, looking at the process of researching with a community, to create work responding to specific needs.
The assessment is through the creation of a group piece of performance [5 minutes] aimed at a specific community group, and a brief individual account – a short reflective commentary - placing the piece in the context of its intended audience, and the principles and practice of community theatre.
The 60 credit module takes place through the whole of Year One, and from week 10 of Semester Two it is the full-time activity. You will work with a tutor or professional practitioner as director, and collaborate to perform a new piece of theatre for a young audience, either from adapted or commissioned script or through a devising process. The play will be performed by the whole year group to a public audience.
Through the year you will have classes on performance skills [acting, singing movement voice and text] which as the play develops will shift from general classes into direct support for the piece.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
The core of this module is the full-time professional placement in Semester 2.
You will be responsible for arranging a full-time placement in an applied theatre company, arts or education organisation, or appropriate related organisation, for a period of 6-8 weeks during Semester 2. You will be supported in making this placement, which can be in Birmingham, elsewhere in the UK or abroad. The placement needs to be full-time and related to the course.
Drama for Learning 2
Building on Drama for Learning 1, this module will expand your drama teaching and facilitation skills through practical application in live contexts.
You will add to your toolkit of drama conventions, exercises and approaches in a series of workshops, and you will then have an opportunity for an extended application of these skills, working with West Midlands Fire Service to create interactive workshops for school groups visiting the Safeside facility.
This module will look at a number of areas of Applied Theatre where a group or practitioner is working from a particular viewpoint, individual or collective, and explore the history, philosophy and themes of this work.
You will trace the origins of ‘political’ theatre in a range of movements, and look at key texts, and explore the issues raised by devising or writing around themes.
Continuing from the performance module in Year One, you will work in small groups to create a new piece of applied theatre and perform it to a specific target audience.
Initially exploring the process of devising, in a series of workshops you will then form small groups, and each group will use a devising process to create a new original piece. The piece will then be performed to its intended audience. Each group will be directed by an MA Student, tutor or professional practitioner, and will be responsible for researching, devising, rehearsing and performing the completed piece.
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 credits):
This module covers many of the practical aspects of working within the field of Applied Theatre. It is built around each student creating an Applied Theatre ‘project’ of your choice and compiling a full business plan for carrying it out. There is flexibility in the nature of the project, with students encouraged to consider their intentions after graduation, and create a resource of value to them. This could mean you work on something that you intend to do when leaving [for example a plan for setting up a company and carrying out a full-scale Applied Theatre performance project, or a plan for an individual freelance project offer] or it could be a hypothetical project, designed to explore wider issues around developing Applied Theatre practice, or to develop those areas and skills that you feel will be of most benefit to you [for example you could look at how a company might plan work in a specific community or country, or you might create a plan designed to assist a teacher in a term’s work with a particular class].
Each student will need to agree the scope of their plan with the module leader during individual tutorials, and further individual tutorials are available through the module, along with a range of sessions designed to explore careers and employment across the field.
Drama for Learning 3
The module follows from the previous Drama for Learning modules and takes the facilitation and drama skills you have learned to a professional level. In groups you will explore the role of a Learning and Participation team in a theatre and create work to accompany an existing production.
You will receive relevant inputs initially, including from professional practitioners, exploring the role of a Learning and Participation team in a theatre, digital and IT-based approaches, and also advanced workshop skills.
You will work for an extended period in a small group, running an extended project with a community group. [In previous years, projects have been run with older people, with young people with learning disabilities, with nurseries, with refugees] The division into groups, and the decision about the target community group will be made through meetings before the beginning of the academic year [i.e. at the end of Year 2] so that arrangements can be put in place. You will be appointed a professional practitioner as mentor and tutor for the project.
Early in Semester One you will produce a group plan with details of the aims and scope of the project. The group will research the needs of the chosen community, and construct an extended project, using appropriate Applied Theatre and drama approaches.
Applied Theatre Festival
The final module of the Applied Theatre course consists of a Festival of Applied Theatre pieces, created by students. You will work in a small group, forming a ‘company’, and together devise, produce and perform a new original piece of applied theatre aimed at a specific ‘audience’. Each group will be mentored by a member of staff or visiting artist, and will be given a small budget for the production.
The Festival will take place in one building or area each year, and the company will be tasked with deciding how to use the space, so that the piece might be ‘site-specific’ or ‘site-responsive’ – taking account of the qualities of the place. The organisation of the Festival as a whole, including arrangements for ticketing, marketing and technical support, will be in the hands of the companies, with this process being mentored by an industry professional. The Festival will also house an exhibition of the Personal Projects and examples of Community Project work, and serve as a showcase of your work for invited professional practitioners.
Learn through experience and transform from student to practitioner while developing your own style of creative practice. By working in partnership with your tutors, and increasingly independently, you will identify and undertake the roles of performer, deviser, performance maker and facilitator and work with a strong range of artists and companies along the way.
You’ll be provided with a supportive environment where you can truly excel – becoming the very best you can be. We embrace students from a wide variety of performance backgrounds and actively encourage you to develop your own areas of interest and practice. Recent students have included spoken word artists, musicians, singers, dancers and those with interests as diverse as puppetry and arts administration. You’ll learn by doing, through creating new work, and you will acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to work in the diverse field of work covered by the term Applied Performance: including theatre in education, health, prisons and hospitals, community theatre, or out on the streets. You will regularly work away from the Conservatoire, with young people, community groups and a wide range of participants.
If you are passionate about the power of theatre, and you want to make your voice heard, this is the course for you.
Do You See What I see was devised and performed entirely by Year 1 students in 2017 and performed at MAC to a sell-out public audience. The play featured original music and songs and involved every single Applied Performance student, supported by a team of experienced professionals
Audience Responses to DYSWIS
“It was fantastic - the energy and commitment of the performers, and the way they made us think were brilliant”
“Great music, great acting, and a really important story – congratulations to everyone involved”
In your second year you will spend six to eight weeks on placement with theatre groups, community groups or schools, in the UK or abroad, as part of the Professional Practice and Administration module.
Students have undertaken placements with: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Big Brum, The Playhouse, Women and Theatre, mac Birmingham, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Chickenshed, Birmingham Hippodrome, Pines Special Needs School, Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and Soho Theatre and Writer’s Centre.
The placement aspect of this course is designed to allow you to gain authentic experience of a working creative company or organisation, as well as acting as an excellent networking opportunity. You will be expected to develop a comprehensive, hands-on understanding of the administrative requirements of a company, including suitable sources of financial support, or different types of investment that are relevant within a professional environment.
While there are not any timetabled trips or visits within this course you will be expected to facilitate and attend several visits as an aspect of community engagement. These visits are integrated within your modules and you will be assessed on how they contribute to your overall piece of work for the module in question.
In most cases you will work collaboratively within a group to organise these visits, at times you will be expected to deliver workshops within a community visit. It is advisable that as a student you engage as much as possible with activities and events that relate to your desired profession. Birmingham Conservatoire (Acting) frequently produces performances in venues across the city throughout the year.
We recommend you attend these performances not only to familiarise yourself with the Birmingham performing arts industry, but to network and broaden your knowledge.
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.
Drama Leader and Programme Coordinator
Samuel completed his degree in Applied Theatre (Community and Education) at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2019.
He initially chose the Conservatoire to gain a much deeper understanding into the field of theatre in education. At the Conservatoire this was offered, as well as learning a number of different techniques, skills and directing opportunities which aim to mould an artist into a successful theatre practitioner – someone who appreciates the ‘bigger picture’ when making theatre.
After graduation Sam got a role as a young people’s Drama Leader and Programme Coordinator for Faust International Youth Theatre, (where he successfully completed work experience during the course), and is now based in Hong Kong.
Throughout the programme you will develop both personally and professionally, graduating as a fully-trained applied performance practitioner. You will develop the necessary knowledge, understanding and skill to develop a career within applied performance, and further afield. This course will give you the space to nurture and develop your talent, providing you with the skill to operate with reflective, specialist awareness.
An understanding of the relationship between theory and practice will be developed through exploration of a range of cultural and theoretical discourses. Establishing your research, academic, discussion and creative presentation skills you will develop confidence and competency in delivering work. You will establish yourself as a well-informed practitioner by developing an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the contexts and histories of applied performance, theatre and drama.
The practical skills you’ll develop will allow you to make interdisciplinary, original work, catering to the needs of specific audiences. You will be able to work collaboratively to devise and write performances. In addition to this you will nurture your ability to plan, write, develop and facilitate workshops for groups, catering to different needs and contexts.
You will learn a range of applied performance practical skills and methodologies appropriate to practice within community and educational contexts. Collaboration, leadership, communication, professionalism, and administration skills within professional contexts will be developed throughout the programme. This programme is designed with the purpose of encouraging you to realise your talent and skill. Through intensive work, and creative exploration you will develop versatility and a proactive attitude. You’ll graduate with the ability to take on numerous roles, particularly through the development of a specific set of skills.
Our students spend six to eight weeks on placement in the second year, with theatre groups, community groups or schools, in the UK or abroad, as part of the Professional Practice and Administration module. The placement will be self-directed – you will hold the responsibility for identifying an organisation or company, and we will help facilitate this.
In the past students have undertaken placements at hosts such as: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Big Brum, The Playhouse, Women and Theatre, Birmingham mac, Birmingham REP Theatre, Chickenshed, Birmingham Hippodrome, Pines Special Needs School, Greenwich Young Peoples Theatre and Soho Theatre and Writer’s Centre.
The placement aspect of this course is designed to allow you to gain authentic experience of a working creative company or organisation. You will be expected to develop a comprehensive, hands-on understanding of the administrative requirements of a company, including getting a sense of suitable sources of financial support, or different types of investment that are relevant within a professional environment.
Final year BA (Hons) Applied Performance (Community and Education) student Naomi Cooper, took part in a six week work placement with the Play House Theatre in Education Company, based at Birmingham Rep theatre. She secured her placement with the help of her tutors, and speaks more about the advice that they gave her. Read more about the placement, and the impact it had on her final year projects and dissertation.
Final Year BA (Hons) Applied Performance (Community and Education) student Zoe Hedge took part in a six week work placement at Imaginate, based in Edinburgh. Imaginate is a theatre organisation committed to creating, producing and delivering work for children and young people. Read more about Zoe’s work on their annual International Children’s Festival, and the experience she gained by working across various departments.
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.
In 2013, one of our students headed off to Birmingham's twin city in the USA, Chicago, to complete her placement. She left this report prior to her trip:
"In July 2012 I made contact with Birmingham City Council to find out if the organisation Gallery 37 were still running any projects, as I was really excited by the projects they had done previously with communities in Birmingham. After speaking to a Council representative I found that Gallery 37 stopped running any projects as of 2009 due to the unfortunate cuts to Arts Council funding.
"So I decided to get into contact with Gallery 37 in Chicago which is where the Gallery 37 in Birmingham had been brought over from. I spoke to them and explained that I was looking to do a six-week internship with them and explained my reasons why. I was delighted when I said that I might be able to work with them but I wouldn’t find out for sure until around December 2012/ January 2013 when they would be planning their spring programme.
"I kept in contact with them just to make sure that they would see my interest and passion for art work in community and educational settings and would be able to see the benefits I would hopefully be able to bring to their organisation and vice versa.
"In February 2013 I received an email confirming that I could come to work with them in Chicago. I then contacted the Council rep I had spoken to back in July and asked if there was any possible chance that I could apply for funding for my flight and accommodation costs from the Trustees of Gallery 37 Foundation. After finding out that there could be a scope for me to receive a grant, on the terms that I put together a presentation of my internship and present it back to the Trustees, I applied. I was successful and received a letter and a cheque in the post of £650!
"At the moment I'm not too sure what to expect as I have never done anything like this before, especially not on my own. Initially I embarked on this road thinking that it was a good idea not for one moment did I think of it as a plausible one. I've been informed that my role whilst on my placement will be their Youth Outreach Officer, which sounds very hands on and daunting. However I'm very much up for the challenge, mainly because I'm going to be seeing a lot of Chicago and working with its different communities."
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.
Our graduates go on to work in Theatre-in-Education, Theatre-in-Health, Community Arts, and a range of informal or formal teaching – many set up their own companies, or work freelance in the field. Others go on to further study, or to train as teachers.
The high-level of training we offer will pave the way for your future creative career. Recent graduate success includes Charlotte Bell, whose play, Little Creepers has just been given Arts Council funding for a national tour, Phillip Morris who works as Youth Theatre Director at Birmingham Rep, Katie Finch, who works as a Learning Assistant with Frantic Assembly. In addition to this our graduate Bethan Ball completed a paid internship with The Birmingham Hippodrome and Naomi Cooper has just been offered a years internship with the Playhouse Theatre Company.
Graduate employment is very important to us, which is why we have developed our own company. Outspoken has been designed to employ graduates and give current students further professional experiences. The company creates two new pieces each year, in collaboration with The Artrix Arts Centre.
Graduates of this course develop essential skills and knowledge required for further study. If you wish to develop your studies to the next level, this course will give you the confidence and advanced scholarly knowledge required for a Master’s degree within the arts.
The course seeks to advance your knowledge, understanding and of Applied Theatre, focusing on community and education. You will develop a theoretical and practical knowledge which can be applied to further study within the field.
A number of graduates also go on to a postgraduate qualification in teaching, sometimes for Primary, others for Secondary Drama, as they are able to draw on the skills and experience in workshop facilitation they develop as part of the Applied Theatre course.
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:
The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students.
The first-class experience offered by universities are reflected in the world’s largest survey of international students. International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination.
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.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is based at the University’s City Centre Campus. A part of the Arts, Design and Media faculty, we are based within Millennium Point but also have access to facilities at the Parkside Building.
The Parkside Building boasts state-of-the-art facilities such as radio and television studios, edit suites, photography studios, and much more.
There are ten rehearsal spaces, a ‘black box’ performance studio, showers, lockers and workshop space within the Department of Acting. The ‘black box’ performance studio, also known as the Patricia Yardley Studio, is our in-house performance theatre. Using variable acoustics which can be adjusted, and housing a fully operational lighting rig and a quadraphonic sound system.
Each studio contains: specialist acoustic panelling; specialist sprung floors; a heating system that radiates heat equally around the studio; and an air replacement system that maintains a constant room temperature.
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.
Peter is a highly experienced Applied Theatre practitioner, who before taking up his current post has had more than thirty years experience as a writer, director and performer in Young People’s Theatre, Theatre-in-Education and Community Theatre. After graduating from the University of Manchester, he returned to his home city of Birmingham, to set up the city’s first Theatre in-Education Company, Big Brum in 1982. After 10 years as Big Brum’s director, establishing the company as one of the UK’s foremost providers of TIE, he became a freelance practitioner, writing plays, devising and directing, as well as being involved in ground-breaking work in theatre in health, theatre for early years, and international collaboration.
He has written more than 40 plays for companies including Birmingham Rep, MAC, Big Brum ,Women and Theatre , Moby Duck, Greenwich YPT, Language Alive, Gazebo and Hanyong Theatre Company. He has taught at University of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Newman Warwick and the Korean National University of the Arts, as well as running short and long courses, writing residencies and presentations across all phases.
A founder member of Birmingham Education Arts Forum, and the Theatre-in-Heath Education Trust, Peter has in recent years specialized in creating stories with the under-fives, and in setting up international collaborations between the UK and Korea.