This two-year Master of Fine Arts in Acting is rooted in practice and designed with international graduates in mind. Studying here will help you develop a deeper understanding of the processes of acting through an exploration of play texts from the British and European traditions, providing you with a progression route to an acting career or to further study at MPhil or PhD level.
This conservatoire-level actor training has a research focus which enables graduates to develop high-level, innovative approaches to practice. The programme cultivates originality of thinking and self-direction in order to tackle technical, interpretive and scholarly problems within the field of acting and performance.
Studying a postgraduate acting degree at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire will advance your knowledge of the non-naturalistic forms of theatre that form the bedrock of the British Tradition. The British tradition of acting is long-admired and internationally renowned. With great historical context, the British performing arts continue to spark inspiration and discussion both in terms of research and practice.
Throughout this course you will explore style in relation to theatre performance, drawing your focus towards understanding the world of the play. You will gain significant experience in acting in classical forms of theatre and other forms that make specific stylistic demands.
The course is delivered through various modes of study, such as research through practice, practice-based learning, workshops, performances, lectures and seminars as well as private study. This provides you with the unique experience of working in a range of styles and genres.
In 2020 we were ranked as a top ten university in the UK for Drama and Dance by the Guardian, with outstanding facilities and a team of staff who engage directly with industry. Based at our City Centre Campus you have access to multiple resources across the University.
We have relationships with the Shakespeare's Globe (London), Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Birmingham Royal Ballet as well as being centrally located a short walk away from numerous arts organisations.
Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Thursday 11 June 2020. Visit us to get a real insight into student life at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.
You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,906 available for postgraduate study.
Previous performance training is essential for this course. A first degree in drama, acting or performing arts, or performance experience will be required in addition to an audition and interview.
The normal entry requirement is a first degree in a related subject area (e.g. Acting, Drama, Musical Theatre, Performing Arts, English and Drama) but potential students with a degree in another discipline or with experience in a related professional area would also be considered.
You should normally possess a first degree, performance diploma or equivalent qualification.
You will also be considered if you do not meet the above entry requirements, but possess an appropriate level of performance skills and professional experience.
For full details and advice about auditions and interviews, please visit the Acting Auditions and Interviews section of the Conservatoire website.
To maximise your learning experience, we only select a limited number of students each year for this course. Admission to this course is via audition. Please see our 'Audition Preparation Guidance' for more information.
Don't meet our entry requirements? You could apply for courses at our International College.
Starting: Sep 2020
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.
The majority of applicants for this course register for and attend an audition in the USA in conjunction with the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA). Alternatively, online auditions and in-person auditions in the UK are available. All details regarding the audition process are included within the guidance for applicants.
Please note: if you are auditioning in the USA and are an American applicant, this course is eligible for US Federal Loan applications for tuition fee and living cost funding. If you are successful in gaining a place on the course, you are responsible for applying for your tuition fee and maintenance loans if this is how you wish to fund your studies. We will provide guidance and information at the point of offer regarding the US Federal Loan system and how to apply.
Further information on writing your personal statement can be found on the UCAS Conservatoires website.
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.
We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Did you know that you can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?
In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 300 credits):
You will need a firm understanding of the basic core principles that support a successful performance and to practice those essential core technical skills of acting, voice and movement within a rehearsal and performance experience. Practicing the craft of acting within the rehearsal environment allows for an understanding and practice of the theoretical elements of creating and communicating a character, as used by contemporary practitioners, whilst developing your imaginative powers, narrative and improvisational skills. You will be encouraged to take responsibility for your learning and required to begin to develop a personal working system and code of practice that will foster a professional attitude both in rehearsal and performance, with further time spent in evaluation and appraisal of their own system.
Acting Skills 1 (Acting, Movement, Singing and Voice)
This module delivers practical class sessions in Movement, Voice, Singing and Acting in order that the student develops and embodies the highly specialized skills that form the basis of the actor’s ability to manifest interpretive and creative performance choices at an advanced level.
The work undertaken in these classes supports the intellectual, imaginative, creative and physical work taking place simultaneously in the modules Acting: Foundation; Workshop 1 and 2; and Production.
Workshops 1 and 2
This module further develops the work undertaken in the module Acting Exercises.
To enter the profession, students need access to the relevant employment ‘gatekeepers’, such as agents, casting directors, artistic directors etc. It also allows students to develop appropriate interview/audition techniques and to prepare a portfolio of material for future auditions. The module gives students initial support in the transition into work.
For PgDip and MA students, this module enables students to prepare audition material and present it to a professional audience, normally both in Birmingham and London.
Workshop 3 is designed to provide an opportunity for the actor to explore the creative processes of acting in greater depth in relation to playing Shakespeare.
Actors work in a laboratory environment and rehearsal conditions to explore the acting demands of the classical genre. This module builds on their experience of the Acting Exercise in Term 2 which also focused on Shakespeare, providing an opportunity to rehearse and perform an edited version of a play for an invited audience.
This module spans the First Year of the course and leads to the completion of the Major Project, delivered in Term 4. Along with the Production modules, the Major Project represents the culmination of your journey on the course.
You are encouraged to undertake research-through-practice and create a performance-based Major Project. You may choose to include a written component by way of evaluating your practice or you may choose to perform and be examined through a viva voce examination. There are a range of options for submission, laid out in the Major Project module brief.
This module spans the programme and the Major Project, delivered in Term 4, represents the culmination of your journey on the course. It is the point in the course when you have the opportunity to reflect on all you have learnt thus far in order to initiate lines of enquiry and personal strategies through which to develop your own ideas as a foundation for future work in the field.
Much of the work of the Major Project is self-directed. You are encouraged to undertake research-through-practice and create a performance-based major project. You may choose to include a written component by way of evaluating their practice or you may choose to perform and be examined through a viva voce examination. There are a range of options for submission, laid out below and in the module brief.
This module will provide MA students with the opportunity to rehearse and perform to the public in a complex professional- level environment. Students will further develop high standards in synthesizing technical, research, interpretative and specialist communication skills, informed by knowledge and understanding of contemporary acting theory.
Acting Skills 2 (Acting, Movement and Voice)
This module delivers practical class sessions in Movement, Voice, Acting and Singing in order that the student develops the highly specialized skills that form the basis of the actor’s ability to manifest interpretive and creative performance choices at an advanced level.
Class content is entirely focused on the needs of the group and the individual within the group. The emphasis in the second year is on demanding contemporary practice and on exploring the relationship between the demands of classical and contemporary texts.
Productions 2 and 3
This module brings together all of the elements of the programme in two fully-staged performances. Students work to a fully professional model, as a member of an ensemble, playing as cast, in roles selected to provide them with opportunities to develop all of the requisite professional, imaginative and creative skills.
As an intense programme, the course is delivered through practice-based learning, challenging your intellectual, imaginative and physical skills.
This course is aimed at international students with previous performance training and offers those with a passion for live performance the opportunity to explore just what it is that makes British acting unique.
From Shakespeare to the pantomime, Restoration comedy to contemporary situation comedy, the British tradition of acting focuses on the importance of narrative, depth, dimension and consistency of character, technical precision, and the actor’s relationship with the audience.
Students opting for the MFA would not take the Research Project Module in Year 1, but only complete this in Year 2.
Students would opt to take EITHER Singing OR Voice and Text in Year 2 – they would not take both.
For the Practical Voice module students would retake the module offered in Year 1 but have an assistant teaching role (with supervision from the module tutor).
Voice and Text would operate in a similar way.
This means that the only additional modules, in terms of timetabled teaching and delivery, are Pedagogy and Placement 2 and 3 and Professional Portfolio.
Your first year of study follows an integrated learning mode, with modules designed to teach problem solving, evaluative and interpretative methods. You shall investigate through practice the key developmental stages of British theatre performance. With particular focus on Renaissance theatre, Restoration theatre, and the Well-Made Play, as well as contemporary playwrights.
You will be taught through a series of workshops, which explore the demands of a specific dramatic forms. These workshops will delve into particular aspects of the British tradition, allowing you to broaden your in-depth knowledge of key periods and specific eras in performance history. You will also focus on developing your performance skills, engage with contextual studies and are required to keep a workbook throughout your studies.
Through keeping a workbook you establish and develop your ability to critically reflect upon your own work.
Our visiting tutors' and guest directors' inspiring, and continuous interactions of British performing arts means you will truly learn from the experts. In your first year of study you will form an acting company alongside your fellow students; this will widen your understanding of the practice and acting traditions within the UK.
The MFA students will be studying alongside with the MA Acting students for the first two terms from year 1 of study and will be split from the MA Acting students in the third term where they will be doing a workshop instead of the production and showcase which the MA Acting students will be doing.
In the second year, your studies will allow you to form a deeper understanding of the demands of non-naturalistic dramatic texts and forms of theatre of the British tradition.
With a particular focus on two key elements of the British tradition, you will explore the narrative aspect of the drama and its implications for actors, and the actor's relationship with the audience. You will also develop your understanding of the demands of performance spaces, working in a range of theatre spaces in the city. We aim to challenge your perspective, allowing you to see these elements as creative factors in theatre performance.
We will work to assist your professional and personal development. You will explore, in-depth, your own practice and research interests in order to produce an original, informed and innovative research project.
The research project is a key component of your second year, it is an opportunity to showcase and apply the knowledge you have learnt throughout your course. You will be able to produce either a dissertation or a research through practice performance piece. This particular module will allow you to develop your knowledge and produce work of a professional standard. You will create work that has the possibility of laying out a potential pathway for yourself within the field.
The course offers significant opportunities to develop your acting skills and your understanding of the nature of the theatre event.
We encourage you to take responsibility for your own development within the course, as well as offering laboratory experience through a series of acting workshops.
A full-scale production in term three of the course offers the opportunity to draw together all of the knowledge and skills you’ve learned so far through performance practice.
The final research project provides the means to investigate in depth an aspect of non-naturalistic theatre within the British tradition.
Graduates of this course have developed essential skill and knowledge required for further study. The course prepares you for progression to further study by providing you with opportunities to explore current study and research, within the field of acting and beyond.
If you wish to develop your studies to the next level this course will give you the confidence and advanced scholarship knowledge required for PhD study.
Studying the British tradition offers you the chance to explore prestigious venues and facilities that have impacted British performing arts throughout history. This programme includes a number of field trips which inform and support the delivery of the course, offered in terms one and two. These can include theatre visits, educational tours, museums and art galleries. In the past we have conducted annual day trips to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, taking part in workshops concerning acting, voice and movement.
Trips are coordinated to deepen your knowledge and understanding of acting and the industry. It is important particularly for international students to begin to attend productions in Birmingham or elsewhere in the UK as this will deepen your understanding of British theatre.
The School frequently produces performances in venues across Birmingham 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.
As a graduate of this course you will be able to return to careers in the performance industry or in education with additional skills and a clearer understanding of British actor training and style. This will inevitably increase your employment opportunities, giving you a competitive edge in a highly competitive field.
You will have the right tools to teach, or mentor specialising in the British Tradition. You will be knowledgeable in a range of traditional British theatre forms, being able to reflect this through practice. Your knowledge of style and genre will enhance your employability, certainly if you are an international student as you will learn unique skill and knowledge unlike any taught internationally.
The various modes of teaching, such as studio-based workshops, presentations and productions will transform your confidence. These methods of study provide you with the ability and skill to translate your knowledge to others, whether that is through production or teaching. Through your understanding of style you will adapt and become versatile, knowing how to respond to the demands of the audience, space and the text itself.
Throughout the duration of the course you will be encouraged to critically reflect upon yourself and your peers. This will allow you to develop the ability to critically feedback and develop your work, allowing you to progress further. We aim to install confidence within your professional development, making you aware of the skills that you hold and teaching you how to apply them in a professional context.
While there are no compulsory placements within this programme we do not discourage you to be proactive, formulating your own relationships with local theatre venues and companies.
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 the past we have employed students to work in the School of Acting's reception, presenting our students as the first point of contact for visitors. We have confidence in our students who do a fantastic job representing their school and its student body.
Graduates from this programme often go on to become teachers, researchers, mentors, trainers and actors.
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:
Our MFA Acting (The British Tradition) course has been specially designed to cater for an international cohort; using research and practice to establish and develop a Master's level of knowledge concerning the British Tradition. International students will notice a difference between conservatoire-level training in the UK compared with that in other countries.
As a postgraduate student you will benefit by immersing yourself within an acting school with a variety of courses. The School is rich in diversity, with a combination of home and international students. You have a unique opportunity to learn from others, sharing and discovering new cultures and experience.
In the past we have had a high level of American applicants studying our MFA in Acting (The British Tradition). As an international student, studying the British tradition in an energetic and creative city offers a unique and fulfilling experience.
There is no other School more suited to host your studies. Located within the West Midlands, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, you will be at the heart of British arts and culture. Experience first-hand the culture of Britain, indulge yourself in context and allow your studies to be shaped by historical, authentic British settings.
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.
Our students come from around the world but our acting course is most popular with international students from:
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.
Our staff have not only have extensive expertise, but they continue to work and thrive within industry.
Alex Taylor has worked extensively in the UK, USA and South East Asia as a director, an actor and as a voice specialist. From 1984-1990 he was the Director of the School of Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University and, at thirty, was the youngest drama school principal in the UK. He created one of the first honours degree courses for intending actors in Britain. Subsequently, he became one of the Master Teachers at the Juilliard School, New York.
In 1993 he joined the School of Drama at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. While in Hong Kong, Alex starred as Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim’s 'Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' and as Albin in Jerry Herman’s 'La Cage Aux Folles' at City Hall.
He also directed productions for the Academy, the National Theatre of Korea and led masterclasses in Acting and Voice at the Shanghai Theatre Academy and the University of Korea. Now living and working in the UK at Birmingham School of Acting, he has directed over thirty productions.
He has recently worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company as a voice coach on a range of productions and directed productions of 'Once On This Island' and Martin Sherman’s 'Bent' for professional theatre companies in Hong Kong.