What you'll study
This course will develop your prop making, scenery construction and scenic painting skills.
You will gain hands-on experience and learn from working practitioners. You will graduate with a forward-looking professional knowledge, based on traditional experience and practice as well as modern materials and emerging technologies.
This solid understanding of the technical arts combined with a core practical skills base can be applied across a wide range of roles, sectors and types of performance-based activity.
Why choose this course?
Gain construction skills in wood and metal (using hand tools and machinery). Learn scenic painting techniques and explore prop making in a range of materials. And develop advanced skills with computer-aided design (CAD), digital manufacturing and 3D modelling using resins and silicon
Learn from working professionals
Visiting tutors have included: Nigel Hook, freelance designer and Tony Award winner, The Play That Goes Wrong; Jane Broomfield, Co-designer/Art Director, ITV and BBC; Robert Allsopp, Costume props specialist; Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey production design (residency), Royal National Theatre; Zoe Ross freelance Prop Maker, Royal Opera House
Spacious and equipped workshops on campus, which include CAD facilities, paint frame and specialist fibreglass and plaster room
Professional industry experience
You will undertake at least one industry placement while on the course. Recent placements have included the Royal Opera House, Polka Theatre, Oily Cart Theatre Company, Emergency Exit Arts, Nottingham Playhouse, and commercial scenic workshops such as Scott Fleary (London), Rocket Scenery (Nottingham), Visual Scene (Leicester)
Develop your own areas of specialism through individual project work, productions and work placement. Creating your own unique portfolio, growing your experience and preparing you for a career in the theatre and performance industries
You will manufacture scenic elements to live briefs and see them used in fully realised productions in College and London venues. Gaining an understanding of collaborating with designers, directors and other courses as part of a creative team
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:
In seminars, workshops, practical demonstrations, field trips and classes, you will be introduced to the core craft and practical skills required in a range of theatre, events and performance-related industries.
You will also work with a range of software platforms to develop skills relevant to a range of Scenic Arts functions within the theatre, events and performance-related industries.
You will work with tutors to explore and develop your understanding of complementary fields of practice.
Areas of study are likely to include, but are not limited to:
1. Scenic construction and carpentry skills
2. Metal working techniques
3. Scenic painting, materials and techniques
4. Upholstery and soft furnishings
5. Design principles and model making
6. Three-dimensional modelling
7. Prop making and sourcing
8. General drawing skills
9. Technical drawing and drafting skills
10. The use of AutoCAD or other design software
11. Historical accuracy and traditional techniques
Industry Study and Professional Preparation 1
In class, you will be introduced to the business environments, structures, models and hierarchies that exist within the theatre, events and performance related industries.
You will also be introduced to the requirements of the workplace and encouraged to consider possible goals and career paths in a range of fields.
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:
Advanced Materials and Techniques
With tutorial support and using field trips and independent research to inform your practice, you will further explore the range of advanced materials, techniques and technologies used in theatre, events and performance related industries, being given the opportunity to specialise in a primary area of Scenic Arts, with a secondary specialism in support.
Options for study might include, but are not limited to:
1. Advanced prop making
2. Advanced paint and texturing techniques
3. Scenic construction
5. Stage engineering
6. Venue design and architecture
7. Drapery and fabric skills
8. Make-up and prosthetics
9. The advanced use of AutoCAD or other design software
Primary and secondary options can be articulated in a number of ways. For example, Construction with CAD, or Prop making with Paint Techniques.
Study might take place at a partner institution or with an outside company. It might alternatively take place with a partner international institution or industry organization.
Industry Study and Professional Preparation 2
With briefings and tutorial support, having considered possible goals and career paths in a range of fields, you will go on to further consider relevant business models and environments.
Taking two or three modular options pertinent to your skillsets and ambitions will allow you to focus on particular areas of your chosen industry, conducting research and field work in order to better understand the context in which it exists.
You will have the opportunity to explore an area or areas of your chosen industry by engaging in a short placement or internship, thereby gaining first-hand experience of that environment.
Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
1. Comparative workshop practices
2. Digital tools
3. Industrial design and implementation
4. Specialist materials
5. Specialist techniques
6. Sustainable practice and environmental impact within the broader arts sector
You are expected to be a self-directed learner at year 3. Module study options include, but are not limited to:
You will work on one or more realised projects or productions, either within the College, with a partner organisation, or in industry. Here you will apply your skills, further extending and broadening your knowledge and understanding of Scenic Arts functions, roles, relationships and structures in a variety of contexts.
As you engage with these projects or productions, you will continue to develop your understanding of the sustainability agenda and work within appropriate Health & Safety and other regulatory frameworks.
Depending on scale and scope of project, possible roles could include, but are not limited to:
1. Scenic Workshop Manager
2. Scenic Project Manager
3. Scenic Department Manager
4. Construction Lead
5. Paint Lead
6. Props Lead
7. Prop Maker
8. Designer and builder or maker
These roles might take place on College events or productions, on events or productions at partner institutions, or with an outside company. They might alternatively take place with a partner international institution or industry organization.
You will discuss role options with your programme tutors. You will be expected to take the lead in determining which will be the most appropriate, but the final decision rests with the College.
Industry Study and Professional Preparation 3
With tutorial support, you will further consider business models and environments relevant to your chosen field or fields.
Taking one or two modular options pertinent to your skillset and ambitions will allow you to focus on a particular area of your chosen industry, conducting research and field work in order to better understand the context in which it exists.
You will have the opportunity to explore an area of your chosen industry by engaging in a placement or internship, thereby further developing your understanding of the environment in which it operates.
Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
1. Scenic Arts and the business environment
2. Legislation and regulation within the wider arts sector
3. Sustainability and environmental considerations within the wider arts sector
4. New materials
5. Developing practices and technologies
Teaching and assessment methods
In your first 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
In your second year, you will complete around 160 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 1040 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 30 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 1170 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
Your future career
We aim to put you in front of and amongst the profession. This includes the opportunity to network and undertake a professional placement, as well as introducing your work to the industry at our graduate exhibition in London.
We will also help you plan your career and build a portfolio working on productions and projects either in the College or in external venues.
Production design assistant - design residency - at the Royal National Theatre
Piers Ross & Danny Hayter
Managing partners at All Scenes All Props - specialist builders for Theatre and the Arts
Head of Operations, Cardiff Theatrical Services
Freelance Prop Maker, at the Royal Opera House
The skills you develop on this course will prepare you to join the next generation of Scenic Artists, Prop Makers, Scenic Carpenters, Scenic Metal Fabricators and Scenic Construction Drafters and enable you to pursue a rewarding career in the performance and media industries including theatre, film, television, museum displays, and themed attractions.
And 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:
- Carpenters and joiners
- Interior decoration designers
- Production managers and directors in construction
- Painters and decorators
- Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers
- Skilled tradesperson
- Education support assistants
- Freelancers and Creative start-ups
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: W4W7
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:
- Theatre tickets: £100-£150 at the beginning of each year
- Course materials (books, play texts, art and model making materials): about £50 per term
- Stationery: £60 per year
- On arrival, £50 for your Health and Safety pack, which includes; Safety glasses, work gloves and a respirator