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Acting - MFA

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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....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location Bournville
  • Award MFA
  • Start date September 2023
  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

 From January 2022, the School of Acting has moved and is no longer based in Millennium Point. We moved to Ruskin Hall in Bournville in January and this will continue to be the location for our acting courses for the 2022/23 academic year.

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.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

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.

Download our MFA information booklet

Why Choose Us?

  • Our industry connections stem from internal and external sources. Birmingham School of Acting staff have vast, and notable experience, both home and internationally. Staff have worked with well-known individuals, projects and companies such as the BBC, the NHS, X Factor finalists, West End stars, British repertory and festival theatres and much more.
  • The University is the largest producer of creative professionals outside the South East. We also run courses in Hong Kong and Thailand.
  • As a course designed specially with international students in mind, there is no place better to study your MFA in Acting (The British Tradition) than in Birmingham, at the heart of Britain.

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us on campus at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for an insight into life as a Conservatoire student.

Next Open Day: Thursday 1 December 2022

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

UK students
Essential

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 still be considered if you do not meet the above entry requirements, but possess an appropriate level of performance skills and professional experience.

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

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

 

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.

English language requirements

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

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: MFA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • 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: MFA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • 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.

Printing

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.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Essential copies of playscripts

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

Clothing and safety equipment (mandatory)

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

Media consumable items (mandatory)

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

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

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

Smartphone (mandatory)

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

Excess printing (optional)

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

Books (optional)

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

Field trips (optional)

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

Subscriptions (optional)

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

Memberships (optional)

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

Accommodation and living costs

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

Please read the guidance for applications if you wish to apply for the MFA Acting (The British Tradition).

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.

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

Audition preparation guidance

Completing your application

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

Course in Depth

MFA

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 300 credits): 

Download course specification

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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.

Year one

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.

Year two

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.

Professional Development

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.

Employability

Enhancing your employability skills

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.

Placements

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.

Our OpportUNIty students

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.

International

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 international students

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.

Facilities & Staff

Our Facilities

Location

From January 2022, the School of Acting has moved and is no longer based in Millennium Point. We have worked hard to ensure that our new location at Ruskin Hall in Bournville is a suitable home for our vibrant community of students and staff, whilst still ensuring students can 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.

Performances

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

Alex Taylor

Course Director MFA in Acting the British Tradition, MA in Professional Voice Practice

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...

More about Alex

Stephen Simms

Vice Principal - Acting, Professor of Actor Education

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

More about Stephen