Set box design at Rose Bruford College

What you'll study

This course covers the total design process – from the initial brief through visualisation to full performance.

You learn from scratch, starting with model making and computer-aided technical drawing then working on text analysis and designing for actual performances. Developing your visual and creative response to text, character, music, physicality and time throughout.

You will design at least two productions in fully-equipped public venues on campus or in London. You will also develop your professional understanding of the role of the designer and how other technical and creative teams work in bringing together an event or performance.

Rose Bruford College Design for Theatre student creating a model in the work room

Why choose this course?

Expert training

Investigate the fundamentals of set and costume design with tutors who are all practising directors/designers and undertake design projects led by visiting professional designers and directors

Studios and software

Create your work in dedicated design studios and learn using AutoCad, SketchUp and Photoshop - three key industry programs (you can use other programs but we focus teaching on these)


Collaboration across the College means you get to know how costume makers, scenic artists, stage managers, actors and others work. Good preparation to join a creative team. And the transferable skills you gain can be used beyond theatre/ events for example on product launches or photo shoots.


Work placements in your second year can be as a design assistant, in a prop, scenic or costume workshop. Recent placements have included the National Theatre, Globe theatre, The Almeida, Oily Cart Theatre Company as well as assisting designers

Learn from working professionals

Tutors are practising directors or designers with great industry links (National Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, the V&A, Wimbledon Theatre, Greenwich Theatre). Visiting lecturers have included Jamie Vartan (Designer), Michael Walling (Artistic Director, Border Crossings), Laura Keefe (Freelance Director, Royal National Theatre) and Oli Smart (Folded Feather Puppet Company)

Get connected

Professional links include the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne, Oily Cart, Manchester Exchange Theatre, Punchdrunk, London Bubble, Fisher Productions, Almeida Theatre, Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, Emergency Exit Arts, Baseless Fabric Theatre

Design for Theatre guest teacher with student at Rose Bruford College

Course breakdown

Course content is regularly reviewed to keep it relevant and current. Course modules are therefore subject to change.

Year 1

  • Introduction to theatre design – the essentials of design for performance, the principles of dramatic space and performance narrative
  • Conceptual design projects
  • The collaborative process between designer and director
  • Developing costume designs for performance, the creative relationship between costume maker and designer. The history of dress
  • Skills – storyboarding, model boxes, costume drawing, technical drawing
  • CAD
  • Research and analysis of performance and the theatre industry

Year 2

  • Collaborative project – design as an ongoing collaborative process from project inception through to performance, looking at the relationship of technology to the creative process
  • Industry placement and industry talks
  • Conceptual design project for alternative theatre forms
  • Design Practice – small scale realised design, in collaboration with students from other courses
  • CAD
  • Research and context

Year 3

  • Design practice – designing a full-scale public theatre production
  • Contexts of design – investigating the designer’s role for performance or related context, including design for film
  • Professional preparation – CV’s, website, mock interview and professional promotion planning
  • Independent research project
  • CAD
  • Graduate networking

Teaching and assessment methods

In your first year, you will complete around 410 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 790 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 320 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 880 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through: Coursework, presentations, assessed tutorials and portfolios

In your third year, you will complete around 170 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 1030 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through: Coursework, presentations, assessed tutorials and portfolios



Get a flavour

Play video

Your future career

Rose Bruford College Design for Theatre students working on computers in the work room

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 networking event.

Alumni success

Liz Essex

Costume Designer, The Silent Hours, Costume Assistant, Spectre, Suffragette, Genius

Emma Child

Set designer for Mobo Awards 2015; Head of Design Studio, London 2012 Olympics

Andy Sinclair Harris

Concept Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, Hong Kong

Lucy Sierra

Designer, Another World, National Theatre

Victoria Johnstone

Set and costume designer for Rapunzel; Designer for Crying in the Wilderness Productions

Florence Watts

Assistant Designer to Fly Davis at the National Theatre

Careers options

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:

  • Clothing designers
  • Set designers (for stage and performance)
  • Interior decoration designers
  • Draughtspersons
  • Exhibit, display and related designers
  • Artists

Meet the staff

Pip Nash Rose Bruford College Subject Leader Performance Design
Pip Nash

Subject Leader in Design for Theatre and Performance

Read their profile
Dr Marina Hadjilouca

Lecturer in Performance Design

Read their profile

How to join

UK/Republic of Ireland applicants

For 2022 entry, please apply via UCAS by the UCAS deadline on 26 January to guarantee audition or portfolio.

Institution code: 10005523

Course code: W460

UCAS Points

64 UCAS points*

This is equivalent to two C’s 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 audition/portfolio review.


Our Portfolio and Audition pages give an overview of the process and a video of useful interview tips from current and former students. *exemptions from this audition charge

Portfolio Audition Fee Exemption

Please contact us at [email protected] for information on entry criteria if you are applying from outside the UK or require assistance

Course Summary


3 years

Mode of study

Full time

Start date

Sep 2022

Course Type

Undergraduate Course


BA (Hons)

Course Fees (2022 Entry)

UK/Republic of Ireland students (Fee per year)


International students (Fee per year)


Additional Costs

So, ready?