What you'll study
This course combines costume-making techniques with core backstage skills. You learn the basics then develop your making skills producing costumes to be worn and performed in – not just to sit on a stand.
You develop practical backstage skills like costume maintenance, alterations and dressing, working on full-scale productions initially as a wardrobe assistant and then a supervisor. You learn in dedicated workrooms that include pattern cutting tables, half and full-scale stands, fitting rooms, laundry and dying facilities and your own dedicated sewing machine. Trips and visiting lecturers who are all working professionals underpin teaching, and the course also includes drawing skills.
Why choose this course?
Learn costume construction, pattern-cutting, corsetry, dancewear, millinery and wig dressing from specialists and working professionals
Professionally equipped workrooms with pattern cutting tables, dedicated machines, half and full-scale stands, fitting rooms, laundry and dying facilities, industrial steamers/irons
Develop the backstage and practical skills needed to supervise and manage a large or small professional wardrobe department. You can also undertake a placement during your course
Working with designers, directors and performers on live shows within the College, in London and beyond you gain a crucial understanding of creative and technical teams through hands-on experience
Learn from working professionals
Recently includes modules taught by a freelancer working on 'Call the Midwife' and 'The Witcher'. And 'Meet the Professionals' talks from Rianna Charles (Fantastic Beasts), freelance maker Kirsty Oriel (Marvel and Bridgerton) and head of men's costumier at CosProp Ross Braganza
Employers of recent graduates include English National Opera, Royal National Theatre, The Globe, numerous London theatres, ITV, Warner Brother Studios, Disney corporation, Vivienne Westwood and Chanel Couturiers
Get a flavour
Course content is regularly reviewed to keep it relevant and current. Course modules are therefore subject to change.
You will be introduced to the academic and intellectual skills that you will need for study and professional development. Modules you will undertake during year 1 include but are not limited to:
Introduction to Costume Production
This module lays the foundation for your training and education and introduces you to the principle costume production methods used throughout the programme. In classes and practical workshops, you will be introduced to a range of pattern cutting and costume construction techniques, as well as different materials and the use of key equipment.
Costume Silhouette and the Body
The relationship between costume, the physicality of the performer, and historical and cultural ideas of body shape and silhouette is central to costume design and making. This module introduces you to period foundation garments and the support and body-shape they can create.
You will use modern methods of manufacture to produce historical silhouettes that can accommodate modern materials and the modern figure. You will research the costumes of a given period and make a corset and foundation garment using modern textiles and boning methods.
You will also be introduced to the process of fitting, and as part of the making of a garment you will conduct the fitting processes required in one-to-one sessions. You will be asked to make aesthetic and practical choices, and you will develop the interpersonal skills required for costume work.
Maker and Designer in Collaboration
This module draws together your learning from the previous modules in level 4 and prepares you for realised production work in levels 5 and 6. You will be introduced to the various aspects of the relationship between costume maker and costume designer, and you will work on an individual project in collaboration with a designer.
The module lays the foundation for your studies throughout your programme. You will be introduced to learning, researching, analysing and investigation techniques. You will develop key skills that will enable you to become an increasingly independent learner and practice researcher. You will learn a range of strategies for analysing different kinds of source material (such as live and recorded media and performance, scripts, visual material, on-line sources, and books) and techniques for documenting and communicating your ideas in written, visual and seminar presentation forms.
Your skills will be further developed towards a level appropriate to professional work. You will be given experiences that simulate professional contexts. Modules you will undertake during year 2 include but are not limited to:
Complex Costume Making Techniques
You will learn a range of craft skills for fabric dyeing, painting and breaking down, and be introduced to the areas of millinery, wigs and hair styles, both in terms of techniques and as elements within an overall costume design informed by period, fashion, character and narrative. The module also introduces you to costume techniques for dance, and specifically the use of stretch fabrics.
Production Practice and Preparation
This module provides you with two opportunities at Level 5 of working in a production team on realised productions, which act as a simulation of professional practice. You will either work as a member of a team under the leadership of a Level 6 student and alongside Level 6 specialist manufacturers, or work as part of a wardrobe team with your level 5 peers. You will be allocated duties within the team, and with tutorial guidance work to meet production deadlines and budget constraints. You will gain experience of fitting costumes to performers, working with a director, running the performance back-stage and get-out routines. The module also gives you the opportunity to study production processes as part of a creative, artistic enterprise, and to examine the professional issues that frame the work of the costume production specialist.
You will make a garment in half-scale, using a pattern drawn from a specified published source. Since the garment is not made to fit an individual, the emphasis of the work is on your research and interpretation of period style, techniques and materials, and achieving accuracy of manufacture.
This module will focus on the role of the Costume Standby in a working TV and Film environment. You will start with pulling the costumes and working to the design brief for the characters and move on to dressing, alterations and working on continuity on set. You will be asked to make considered choices about style and the extent to which you create a period representation or a modern interpretation of the costumes needed for the production. The module also requires you to develop and broaden both your technical and interpersonal fitting skills, work collaboratively and use communication as a key understanding to the role.
You are expected to be a self-directed learner at year 3. Module study options include, but are not limited to:
The module gives you practical experience of the costume production process from design to post-performance. The module allows you to undertake one or more roles (typically two), as costume maker and/or as wardrobe supervisor, so that you can either broaden your experience or focus on one area, according to your career aspirations. Typically you will be working on College productions, and you will negotiate the roles you undertake with your programme tutors, although the final decision will rest with the College, according to the available opportunities.
You will work within a collaborative team, and will liaise with the director, designer and others, supporting and developing their ideas for the production through to its performance.
This role will require you to possess an awareness of aspects of the production beyond your specialist area, and to manage your work in relation to the overall production. Depending on your role, you may need to:
- take a proactive part in production and other meetings
- negotiate with other production staff
- advise on production matters such as health and safety issues and schedules
- manage budgets, resources and other team members
This module focuses on the business, industry and professional environments you are likely to encounter as a practitioner. With tutorial guidance, you will select an employment sector to examine in more detail, interrogating the work methods, processes and employment ecology of the sector.
Through your placement activity and other research, you will investigate the business model that operates in your selected industry sector. You will research how your businesses and self-employed professionals work with their clients/customers, their financial model, and their organisational structures. Interviewing your host will give you an insight that will give you the ability to feedback within your seminar report.
The module also gives you the opportunity to make contacts that may help you to achieve your future employment aims.
This module focuses on your professional development and will help you to make the transition from study into work in your chosen field. As a professional practitioner you will need to make use of a range of networks and channels of communication, both formal and informal, to find work. You will need to be adept at managing the professional persona you present in written communications, on-line, and face-to-face.
- Drawing on your experiences and knowledge of the industry acquired previously on your programme, you will map out and document possible future roles and career paths for yourself. You will also develop a career plan, and prepare for the process of finding work.
- The module will also introduce you to some key aspects of working as a freelance professional, including the UK tax system, basic account keeping and invoicing clients.
Teaching and assessment methods
In your first year, you will complete around 430 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 770 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through: Coursework, presentations, assessed tutorials and portfolios.
In your second year, you will complete around 430 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 770 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through: Coursework, presentations, assessed tutorials and portfolios; Continuous practical assessment.
In your third year, you will complete around 350 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 850 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through: Coursework, presentations, assessed tutorials and portfolios; Continuous practical assessment.
Your future career
We aim to put you in front of and amongst the profession. This includes the opportunity to network and undertake a placement as well as introducing your work to the industry at our graduate exhibition in London.
Costume Technician, Disney Cruise Line
Wardrobe Assistant, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Costume Trainee, Warner Bros Studios
Wardrobe Mistress, School of Rock Tour
Studying an Arts related subject gives you a wide range of skills that can be put to use in many careers. Recent graduates have gone on to become:
- Costume makers/ supervisors (for theatre, opera, circus, film and cruise liners)
- Tailors and dressmakers
- Costume standby and trainees in Film and TV
- Clothing designers
- Product related designers
- Merchandisers and window dressers
- Independent retail owners
- Textile and design technology teachers
- Buyers and procurement officers
Meet the staff
Subject Leader Costume Production
Natasha Dodsworth has the unique experience of having trained on the course she now leads. Since graduating in 1999, she has worked extensively in the costume world in roles as diverse as personal tailoress to pop star Prince, to a wardrobe mistress, to the foremost touring chamber opera company in Britain.Read their full profile
How to join
Applications for 2023 entry are still open, please submit your applications via UCAS by tapping the Apply Now button.
Institution code: R51
Course code: W451
64 UCAS points*
This is equivalent to two Cs at ‘A’ level or one Merit and two Passes at BTEC (QCF) National Diploma or equivalent.*We offer places based upon your future potential. We may offer you a place based on lower UCAS points than shown here, or an offer that is not linked to UCAS points if we have evidence of your potential from your application or portfolio review.
Our Portfolio page gives an overview of what we will ask you to provide once we receive your application.Portfolio
Mode of study
Course Fees (2023 Entry)
UK/Republic of Ireland students (Fee per year)
International students (Fee per year)
Fee Exemption Criteria
- You audition as part of a progression agreement.
- Your household income is under £25,000 per year.
- You are in receipt of benefits including disability benefits: Universal Credit, PIP, DLA.
- You are Care Experienced (Care Leaver/in the care of your Local Authority).
- You have Caring Responsibilities (Young Carer/ Carer).
- You are irreconcilably Estranged with no contact with parents/family due to a relationship breakdown living independently without financial/emotional support from parents/family.
- You can offer other evidence of financial hardship.
- You are being auditioned overseas.
If you think you are eligible for the above fee waivers, our admissions team will be able to provide you with more details when you apply.
Please be aware there is an equipment list for this course. You may also incur additional costs as part of the course, as an indication this could include the following:
- Pattern cutting materials and sewing kits £200 per year
- Backstage kit bag and blacks c.£100
- Stationery: £60 per year
- Reading and reference materials: £50 per term
- Theatre tickets: £100 at the beginning of each year