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Acting - MA / PgDip

 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. Transform your career with our postgraduate qualification in acting....

Studying with us in 2021/22

It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.


Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in 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.

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time
  • Location City Centre
  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

 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.

Transform your career with our postgraduate qualification in acting. Designed to advance your practical and professional progress, our MA Acting course provides intense training from staff with rich industry experience.

Previous graduates of this course have gone on to succeed as established performers, including roles at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

You will be taught to maintain a high standard of skill and knowledge and how to transform into an independently-minded performer and practitioner. We will enhance your ability to reflect and analyse, through a range of concepts and ideas. You will enhance your technical skills through practice-based study, learning and developing flexibility to confront issues that you may experience within your profession.

Your classes will mainly be practical studio-based sessions, focusing on the practical application of acting, voice, movement and singing. You will also have time assigned for self-directed study, where you will further develop your work from practical classes. For some modules you will have timetabled rehearsal time, where you will work in groups to produce material.

Your studies will help to influence and shape your career. Previous graduates have been commended by industry for their innovative, challenging project work. Danielle Pinnock‘s final project, a 40 minute piece entitled BODY/COURAGE, won her the Best Actress award at the Strawberry Theatre Festival, and has since been performed internationally.

Why Choose Us?

  • Royal Birmingham Conservatoire staff have vast experience, both within the UK and internationally. Staff have worked with well-known individuals, projects and companies such as the BBC, the RSC, the NHS, British repertory and festival theatres, and much more.
  • To ensure high quality tuition, we normally have a maximum of 14 students enrolled onto the course each year.
  • By joining Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, you will also be part of Birmingham City University, meaning you’ll have access to all the University’s state-of-the-art facilities, including TV and radio studios and a green screen, all of which you’ll have the opportunity to experience.
  • Our graduates have gone on to perform with prestigious companies in the UK and internationally.
  • One of the most unique things about our programme is the solo performance project, performed as part of our yearly MA FEST.

MA Acting overview- students on stage

The MA Acting course is the first anywhere to use the University’s new £62m TV production facilities at Parkside, Birmingham, of which Birmingham Conservatoire is a part. Recorded Media training will prepare you for work in film, television, radio drama and audiobooks.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements
Essential

Admission is by audition, but we would normally require an undergraduate degree in Acting or a related subject, or a professional acting CV detailing your experience.

The course is also suitable for professional actors seeking a refresher course.

The MA option is designed for those with suitable academic abilities.

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

English language requirements

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

Fees & How to Apply

  • International students

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2021

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

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.

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.

Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence

Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices.

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.

Main deadline date 29 January 2021, 18:00 (UK time) – please note that applications submitted after the main deadline date will still be considered for the 2021 intake

How to apply

Please note when applying: you should only submit one application for either the MA OR the PgDip Acting course, as you will only be considered for one of these courses and the audition criteria is the same for both.

Please read our information on the audition process before making your application. We charge an audition fee of £46, which must be paid prior to audition and covers the entire audition process. 

You can find guidance on how to prepare for an Audition by visiting the page below. 

Audition Guidance

If you are applying from outside the UK/EU and are not able to attend an audition in the UK, you may wish to submit an online audition. Details of how to do this can be found here. 

Audition Guidance (International Applicants)

Completing your application

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

Course in Depth

PG Dip

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 120 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. Practising 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.

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.

This module further develops the work undertaken ithe modulActing Exercises.

To enter the professionstudents need access tthrelevanemploymengatekeepers, such as agents, casting directors, artistic directoretc. It also allows students to develop appropriatinterview/audition techniques anto prepare a portfoliomateriafor future auditions. The modulgives studentinitial supporithe transition into work.

For PgDip and MA students, thimodule enables studenttprepare audition material and presenito a professional audience, normally botiBirmingham and London.

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.

MA

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits):

You will need firm understanding othe basic corprinciples that support a successful performance anto practice those essential core technical skillof acting, voice anmovemenwithin a rehearsal and performance experience. Practising the crafoactinwithithe rehearsal environment allowfor an understanding and practice othe theoretical elementof creating and communicating a character, as used by contemporary practitionerswhilst developing your imaginative powers,narrative and improvisationaskills. You will be encouraged ttakresponsibilitfor your learning and required to begito develop a personal working system and codof practice thawilfoster a professional attitude both in rehearsal and performance, witfurthetime spent in evaluation and appraisal otheir own system.

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.

This module further develops the work undertaken ithe modulActing Exercises.

To enter the professionstudents need access tthrelevanemploymengatekeepers, such as agents, casting directors, artistic directoretc. It also allows students to develop appropriatinterview/audition techniques anto prepare a portfoliomateriafor future auditions. The modulgives studentinitial supporithe transition into work.

For PgDip and MA students, thimodule enables studenttprepare audition material and presenito a professional audience, normally botiBirmingham and London.

Thimodulwill provide MA studentwitthe opportunittrehearse and perfortthe publiin a complex professional-level environmen.Students wilfurther develop high standards in synthesizing technicalresearch, interpretative and specialist communication skills,informed by knowledge and understanding of contemporary actintheory.

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.

The MA in Acting operates as a one-year, full-time course. As a Master’s student, you will be expected to take a proactive attitude toward study with timetabled classes as well as time for self-directed study.

Throughout the course, you will be taught through a series of modules covering a different aspect of the acting field, teaching you a diverse, yet specialised combination of knowledge and skill. You will formulate a strong understanding of the importance of context to your work, maintaining an awareness of developments within the acting field.

Towards the end of your Master’s you will be expected to devise and present a research project. This project is designed to demonstrate an accumulation of the skills and knowledge you have developed throughout the programme. You will be expected to engage in independent study, researching a specific area of your theatrical interest.

Student stories - Danielle Pinnock

"I chose Birmingham School of Acting because I have always wanted to study abroad in England for as long as I could remember. I think the acting training in England really is special, because you are learning from tutors from all over Europe. I wanted to study acting, because I graduated with a directing emphasis from my undergraduate college, Temple University. I really wanted to sharpen and challenge my acting skills and I was able to do that and more at BSA. I am now in Chicago working at The Goodman Theatre on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s new play ‘By the Way, Meet Vera Stark’. I am understudying for the role of Lottie.

Employability

Enhancing employability skills

This MA Acting course is designed to not only develop your practical performance skills but to help you expand your intellectual knowledge of the creative industries. You will finish this course with the skills expected of the contemporary actor, by studying the theory and practice of key acting processes. You will be able to engage critically and creatively, mapping out the performance possibilities of a production text.

You will have the skill to create and perform a believable character with authentic psychological and emotional truths. With knowledge of the demands and performance needs of genres, style and text you will be able to produce content that demonstrates depth, meaning and originality.

As a MA Acting graduate you will confidently be able to analyse performance scripts, applying the principles inherent in the Stanislavski system. You will learn how to make mature and advanced interpretations of a performance text, expanding your ability to analyse and synthesise theatrical work.

You’ll learn the skills and awareness you need will enable you to look out for auditions, leaving you with the best chance of succeeding in your acting career.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

International Students

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:

In the past, we have welcomed students from international countries such as Norway and further afield. We encourage international students to study with us, as we feel you will benefit from experiencing a new culture and bringing your own perspective and flair to the programme.

As a University, we are one of Britain’s leading providers of creative, talented professionals. We have a range of visiting tutors, industry connections and innovative teaching. In Birmingham alone there are various performing arts programmes and venues, and with London just a train journey away, you will be surrounded by creativity and possibility.

The MA Acting course will be delivered in English, and the ability to speak and to write English with considerable fluency is a requirement for entry to the course. In most cases, a candidate whose first language is not English may be required to take a standard test in English in order to evaluate your level of comprehension, skills in conversation and writing. The result of this test will be necessary prior to being offered a place on the course.

Facilities and Staff

Our Facilities

Location

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.

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

Lise Olson

Course Director, MA in Acting

Lise has extensive experience both in teaching and industry. As a recipient of directing awards in the USA and UK, Lise has numerous credits in the West End and further afield. Lise was also the founding director of Seattle’s first small specialist musical theatre company.

More about Lise

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 full-scale productions include Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale' and 'Two Noble Kinsmen', Beaumont and Fletchers' 'Philaster', Buchner's 'Woyzeck' and Wedekind's 'Lulu'. Most recently he has directed the award-winning musical 'Spring Awakening', 'The Revenger's Tragedy', 'Total Eclipse' and 'A Clockwork Orange'.

More about Stephen