Explore all aspects of contemporary theatre design practice, including; set and costume design and construction, scenic art, site-specific design, puppetry, heritage installation, and design for community and education.
- design for set and costume
- set and costume construction
- scenic art
- site specific
- heritage installation design
- design for community and education.
This Design for Performance course will teach you how to bring together the creative, technical, communicative, collaborative and organisational skills needed to make imaginative performance for a range of professional environments. Formed originally by designers at Nottingham Playhouse, the Theatre Design course at NTU has been running since 1973. Consequently we have strong links with a wide range of performance, heritage and educational organisations, and professional theatre companies.
- Work on live projects with professional organisations such as The Royal National Theatre, Birmingham Opera Company, Blind Summit Puppet Company, and The Royal Lyceum Theatre (Edinburgh).
- Complete a short work placement in Year Two. Opportunities exist with producing theatres, touring companies, production and events companies, schools and community projects, or with acclaimed designers such as NTU alumna, Joanna Scotcher.
- Study in dedicated facilities, including a studio theatre, construction and paint workshops and large teaching spaces.
- Go on study visits to theatres, exhibitions, and performances.
- Apply to go on an overseas exchange to a partner university in Europe through the Erasmus+ scheme.
- Enter competitions and awards set by the UK's most prestigious organisations, such as The Royal National Theatre's Connections festival, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
- Showcase your work at our Degree Show in Nottingham, and be selected to exhibit in London's venues such as New Designers and The Bargehouse.
- The course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Designers, is a member of OISTAT the International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians; the Association of Courses in Theatre Design; and the Society of British Theatre Designers.
Get a glimpse into BA (Hons) Theatre Design at NTU
- Model by Shelley Poole for a Midsummer Night's Dream, 2017
- Costume design drawings by Dawn Soraghan for A Midsummer Night Dream, 2017
- Model by Jessica Kyndt of realised set design for Blue Stockings, Lakeside Theatre, 2017
- Model by Abi Keating of speculative set design for The Good Person of Szechuan, 2017
- Realised set design by Charlotte Leigh and costume designs by Annie McKee for The Devil in Drag, 2017
- Oedipus performance, Emma Williams, 2016
- Set design of King Lear by Helen Tyler, 2016
- 'Feeling Pink' puppetry performance by Rowan Szulek, 2016
- Set and costume design of "A Cigarette and a Banana" by Connie Burley, 2016
- 'Gargantua' set design by Tayler Rebecca, 2016
- 'Leave Your Mark' Southwell Installation by Lucy Shippam, 2016
- Terrorism performance by Lucy Keedwell, 2016
- The Adams Family storyboard by Hanna Davis, 2016
- 'Electra' set and costume design by Alice Halifax, 2016
How you're taught
You will be taught through a variety of teaching and learning experiences that will include:
- group and individual tutorials
- work-based learning placements
- visits and events.
Assessment for this course is 100% through coursework.
How you are assessed will depend on the individual module, but it may take the form of:
- speculative designs
- live performances
- costume garments
- reflective and critically evaluative written reports.
You will usually have an opportunity to talk about your work either through a formal presentation or in a group critique.
Your final degree mark will be based 100% on your final year work.
Trips and study visits
You will have the opportunity to go on a number of trips during the course, as well as to see shows in our own studio theatre. Recent visits have included:
- The British Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Dennis Severs' House, London
- Nosferatu at The Barbican, London
- Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood and The Kite Runner at Nottingham Playhouse
- Hamlet, Peter Pan, Passing On and Theatre Rites at Lakeside Arts Centre
- Boris Godunov at the RSC, Stratford
- The Way of the World at the Crucible, Sheffield.
The University is part of the Erasmus programme and has agreements with a number of partner institutions throughout Europe.
If you're thinking about studying part of your degree abroad, Erasmus is a great way of experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, learning a new language, and gaining a study experience that will enhance your CV. Exchanges usually take place during Year Two of your studies.
You will exhibit your work as part of our Degree Show. This event includes all final year students across NTU's Art and Design courses, and is a great platform for you to showcase your work to members of the creative industries.
You will also have the opportunity to be selected to exhibit your work to industry at New Designers in London, one of the UK's most important graduate exhibitions.
- Year 1 coursework (100%).
- Year 2 coursework (100%).
- Year 3 coursework (100%).
A full-time student on average can expect to spend 1200 hours a year learning which will typically be broken down as follows:
- Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (30%), independent study (70%).
- Year 2 lectures/seminars/workshops (24%), independent study (76%).
- Year 1 lectures/seminars/workshops (20%), independent study (80%).
Careers and employability
The course has well-established links with former students, which lead to a range of career opportunities for new graduates. Careers paths exist within the areas of:
- scenic props and construction
- costume making
- model making
Recent graduates from this course have gone to work in the following areas:
- theatre design and design for performance
- set, props and costume construction
- events and festival designers and arts management
- teaching and educational work
- film, television, and production management.
Examples of employers include:
- Nottingham Playhouse
- York Theatre Royal
- Birmingham Opera Company
- Lakeside Arts Centre
- Sydney Opera House
- Royal Shakespeare Company
- Pinewood Studios
- Rocket Scenery
- The BBC
Our graduates also leave the course with a high degree of value-added skills, enabling them to enter a wide range of careers, including designing and making for theatre and other performance contexts, community and participatory arts practice, arts administration, creative business, and the education sector.
Links with industry
The course has extensive links with industry, including producing theatres, touring companies, production companies, event-based companies, and schools and community organisers. Our students have worked on live projects with organisations such as:
- Blind Summit Puppetry Company
- Nottingham Playhouse
- Birmingham Opera Company
- Derby Live
- Meeting Ground Theatre Company
- New Street Theatre Company
- The Workhouse, Southwell (National Trust)
- Mansfield Palace Youth Theatre
- Black Box Theatre Company
- Mellers Primary School, Nottingham
- Curve Young, Leicester
- Red Earth Theatre
- Urban Angel
- Lost Boys Productions.
Our students have recently enjoyed success in a number of competitions, including the Nottingham Playhouse Prize for Stage Design and the Birmingham Opera Prize for Stage Design.
Industry experts who have recently shared their knowledge and experience with our students include:
- Sophie Jump, a freelance theatre designer
- Marie-Jeanne Lecca, Bill Mitchell and Sue Hill from Wildworks
- Dominic Shaw from Urban Angel
- Peter Farley from the Society of British Theatre Designers
- Sue Pyecroft from Dark Horse Puppetry
- Fiona Buffini and Giles Croft from Nottingham Playhouse
- freelance writers Michael Eaton MBE, Amanda Whittington, and Stephen Lowe
- Dinis Machado from Dance4
- Andrew Breakwell, a freelance director and theatre educator
- Jenny Sealey MBE, artistic director of Graeae Theatre Company.
This is the only Theatre Design degree course in the UK that is accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD), giving you free membership during your studies. You will also have access to CSD online careers advice, guidance, and vacancies.
Hear from our Theatre Design alumni
Work placements and internship opportunities
In Year Two you will undertake a work placement of between three and five weeks as part of the Visual, Technical and Professional skills module.
You will be supported by course staff and have access to a database containing a wide range of contacts for potential work placements. If you have your own contacts or ideas of other places you might like to work, you can also propose these.
Opportunities exist with a wide range of different companies and organisations, including the below.
Working with traditional building-based theatres. Students on this course have previously worked with the Royal Exchange Theatre (Manchester), Nottingham Playhouse, The Crucible (Sheffield), The Harrogate Theatre, the Curve Theatre (Leicester), the Mercury Theatre (Colchester), Polka Theatre (Wimbledon), Little Angel Theatre (London), and Unicorn Theatre (London).
Working with a touring company will see you working out of a base, such as a workshop. Students have previously worked with Theatre Alibi (Exeter), Bamboozle Theatre (Leicester), Blunderbus Theatre Company (Newark), Oily Cart (London), and New Perspectives Theatre Company (Lincoln).
These companies design and make for theatre, TV, film and performance productions. Work includes scenic construction, costume making, prosthetic making and mould making. Students have worked with companies including Rocket Scenery (Nottingham), Lifecast (Elstree Studios, Borehamwood), Visualscene (Leicester), Birmingham Costume Hire, and Promotional Props and Costumes (Nottingham).
This is a growing area that includes launches for TV events, themed parties and company events. Our students have previously worked with Starlight Design (London), Mask Event Design and Production (London), and GameCity (Nottingham).
Companies / Projects which work with Schools and Communities
This includes educational and development projects. Our students have worked with Dragon Breath Theatre (Nottingham), Roundabout (Nottingham Playhouse's educational programme), Red Earth Theatre (Derbyshire), and Theatre Centre (London).
Individual design professionals
Our students also complete work placements with design professionals, some of whom are alumni from the course, including acclaimed designer Joanna Scotcher.
Our Theatre Design studios and workshops are based in the Waverley building, a dedicated Art and Design building. Facilities and equipment include:
- working theatre studio with sound and lighting
- construction and paint workshops
- costume studios
- fully equipped digital design studios
- the latest industry-standard software.