Applied Theatre (Community and Education) - BA (Hons)
From January 2022, the School of Acting will be moving to a new location, and will no longer be based in Millennium Point. Although not part of the University’s City Centre Campus, the new location will be in Birmingham city centre. Further information will be made available on the website in autumn 2021....
Studying with us in 2021/22 and 2022/23
The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Information about the arrangements for the 2021/22 academic year can be found here.
Should the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic continue in the 2022/23 academic year or subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
From January 2022, the School of Acting will be moving to a new location, and will no longer be based in Millennium Point. Although not part of the University’s City Centre Campus, the new location will be in Birmingham city centre. Further information will be made available on the website in autumn 2021.
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.
What's covered in this course?
*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.
Our professional partnerships
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.
Why Choose Us?
- 100% of students are satisfied with the learning opportunities on this course (National Student Survey 2021).
- You will be taught by a team which is as skilled and experienced as any teaching applied theatre in the UK. There are two full-time tutors who are supported by a range of professional staff, all with extensive knowledge, expertise and experience within Applied Theatre. Our team is made up of visiting tutors, and in-house lecturers, all of whom have and continue to work in industry.
- The course has many industry partners, providing you with fantastic opportunities to engage with other professionals and networks.
You should normally have an A-level or equivalent in drama, dance, performance or a related arts subject.
96 UCAS points
Applicants will be interviewed by the Course Team
It is recognised that some learners may have significant relevant work experience or other professional qualifications and therefore may be admitted to the programme, through an interview process.
|LEVEL 2 QUALIFICATIONS|
|Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level)||See level 3 entry under Irish Leaving Certificate for full details|
|IELTS||6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.|
|Plus one of the following Level 3 (and above) Qualifications|
|A Level and Advanced VCE||
|AS and AS VCE||
|Access to HE Diploma||
|Foundation Studies (Art and Design, and Art, Design & Media)||
|IBO Certificate in Higher Level||
|International Baccalaureate Diploma||
|Irish Leaving Certificate (Highers)||Pass the Irish Leaving Certificate with a minimum of 96 tariff points, achieved in five Higher level subjects. achieved in five Higher level subjects. This must include English Language taken at either Ordinary Level (minimum grade O1-O4 (or A-C/A1-C3)) or Higher level minimum grade H1/H7 (or A-D / A1-D3 up to and including 2016|
|OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma||MMM|
|Scottish Advanced Higher||
|T-Levels||Pass overall (C or above on the core)|
|UAL Extended Diploma in Art & Design||Merit overall|
|UAL Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production & Technology||Merit overall|
|UAL Extended Diploma in Performing and Production Arts||Merit overall|
Admission to this course is via interview. Please see our Guidance for Applicants for more information.
English language requirements
- 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in each band.
If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.
UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2022
- Full Time
- 3 years
- £9,250 per year
- Apply via UCAS
Award: BA (Hons)
Starting: Sep 2022
- Full Time
- 3 years
- £17,500 per year
- Apply via UCAS
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.
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.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
DBS Certification (mandatory)
You will be required to complete a DBS Certificate, so as to be able to work with young people and vulnerable adults. You will be reimbursed for this on submission of a receipt for the fee.
For some modules you will be required to travel within the local area for work in schools and community settings and you will need to budget approximately £200 p/a for this. Some students choose to get a bus pass to cover all local travel.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.
Placement expenses (optional)
If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.
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.
Guidance for UK students
UK 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.
Applying through UCAS
Register with UCAS
Login to UCAS
Complete your details
Select your course
Write a personal statement
Get a reference
Pay your application fee
Send UCAS your application
There are three ways to apply:
1) Direct to the University
2) Through a country representative
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.
3) Through UCAS
If you are applying for an undergraduate degree or a Higher National Diploma (HND), you can apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
You can request a printed form from your school or nearest British Council office. You will be charged for applying through UCAS. Birmingham City University’s UCAS code is B25 BCITY.
Please note that the application process for this course includes an interview stage. If your application is successful, you will be contacted and invited to select a suitable interview date.
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.
School or college experience
Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.
Non-accredited skills or achievement
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.
Course in Depth
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How you learn
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.
In the Summer of 2020 when the first year students were half way through devising a new piece for a young audience, we all went into lockdown, and they had to switch to creating something online from their different homes. The result was a wonderfully inventive, challenging and original web-based piece, exploring the story of a group of people trapped in a disused hospital after a nuclear accident.
This gives a sense of the creativity and passion of our Applied Theatre students, and the kind of work that you can expect to be producing, even in your first year.
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 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.
Trips and Visits
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.
Enhancing your employability
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.
Student undertakes placement in Chicago
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."
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
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.
Facilities and Staff
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is based at the University’s City Centre Campus. A part of the Arts, Design and Media faculty, the School of Acting is currently based within Millennium Point but will be moving to a new city centre location from January 2022.
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.
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.
Course Director, BA (Hons) Applied Theatre
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.More about Peter