Applied Theatre (Community and Education) - BA (Hons)

Currently viewing course to start in 2024/25 Entry.

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.

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

This course is:

Available with Professional Placement year

Open to International Students


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.

This course is open to International students.

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 has strong partnerships with all of the major producing theatre companies in the Midlands, including Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Birmingham Hippodrome, with whom we regularly collaborate in the areas of Learning and Participation. 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 long-term connections with Big BrumWomen and Theatre, Hanyong Theatre Company, Stans Café, Loudmouth and the Play HouseAll of these companies host our students on placements, run sessions in the University, invite us to events, and all of them provide employment for our graduates, in the knowledge that they will be getting students with a strong understanding of the work.

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. 

Professional Placement Year

This course offers an optional professional placement year. This allows you to spend a whole year with an employer, following successful completion of your second year, and is a great way to find out more about your chosen career. Some students even return to the same employers after completing their studies.

If you choose to pursue a placement year, you will need to find a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will be able to draw on the University’s extensive network of local, regional, and national employers, and the support of our Careers teams. If you are able to secure a placement, you can request to be transferred to the placement version of the course.

Please note that fees are payable during your placement year, equivalent to 20% of the total full-time course fee for that year.

Why Choose Us?

  • We’re ranked 2nd in the UK for Drama and Dance (Guardian League Table 2024).
  • 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 will benefit from actor training experiences within the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alongside a contemporary Theatre-making curriculum, and the creation and presentation of regular public-facing performance projects.
  • You will develop skills in drama facilitation, workshop leading and directing, working with a wide range of participants within school and community settings.
  • An extended work placement module sits at the heart of the course, and you will engage and work closely with a professional organisation/host within the UK or overseas (e.g. a producing theatre, an independent touring company or a festival organiser) as a key part of your second year studies.
  • Your course culminates in an industry-facing showcase platform, as you mount a festival of new theatre, and perform original productions alongside an exhibition of your wider applied projects and industry experiences.

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.

Next Open Day: 6 June 2024

Book your place

Entry Requirements

These entry requirements apply for entry in 2024/25.

All required qualifications/grades must have been achieved and evidenced at the earliest opportunity after accepting an offer to help confirm admission and allow for on-time enrolment. This can also include other requirements, like a fee status form and relevant documents. Applicants can track their application and outstanding information requests through their BCU mySRS account.

96 UCAS tariff points

Please note: If you qualify for our BCU Accelerate scheme, you could receive an offer that is two grades below our normal entry requirements. Find out more about BCU Accelerate.

Applicants will also need to complete an interview for this course; see interview arrangements below.

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: BA (Hons)

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: BA (Hons)

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.

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.

Travel (mandatory)

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.

Books (optional)

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.

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.

Main deadline date for our Acting courses is 31 January 2024, 18:00 (UK time) – please note that applications submitted after the main deadline date will still be considered for the 2024 intake

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

  1. Register with UCAS
  2. Login to UCAS and complete your details
  3. Select your course and write a personal statement
  4. Get a reference
  5. Pay your application fee and submit your application

Guidance for International students

There are three ways to apply:

1) Direct to the University

You will need to complete our International Application Form and Equal Opportunities Form, and submit them together with scan copies of your original academic transcripts and certificates.

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.

Personal statement

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:

  • Course choice - Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?
  • Career plans - If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.
  • Work experience - 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.

Worried about Personal Statements?

If you've got no idea where to start or just want to check you're on the right track, we’ve got expert advice and real examples from our students to help you nail your personal statement. You can even download our ultimate personal statement guide for free.

Get personal statement advice

*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Course in Depth

Year one

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

Year two

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

Year three

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

Download course specification

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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.

Professional Experience

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, Loudmouth, Talking Birds, BeatFreaks, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Chickenshed, Birmingham Hippodrome, Pines Special Needs School, The Lyric Hammersmith, 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.

Applied Performance- course in depth image

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.


We work closely with performance companies to offer placement opportunities and visit students during their time on the course. Some of our associate visiting companies and placement providers include:

  • Big Brum
  • Open Theatre
  • The Rep
  • The Playhouse
  • Stan’s Café
  • Women & Theatre

Naomi Cooper

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.

Read about Naomi’s placement

Zoe Hedge

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.

Read about Zoe’s placement


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:

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.

[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]