What you'll study

The course provides a broad and detailed look at key topics in theatre and performance, using an approach which combines investigation of contexts, theory, and history with practical application of knowledge and academic skills. We cater to students from across the globe from a range of backgrounds, including professional practitioners wishing to enhance their knowledge, those new to the discipline who are looking to start or change their career, educators, and those who want to combine their passion for performance with academic study.

Students follow a core curriculum in the first stage which provides them with an introduction to the industry and approaches to making and spectating theatre alongside the development of key academic skills, preparing them for the demands of the rest of the course. As students move on they are able to choose from a variety of topics to suit their individual learning needs. Along the way, learners have opportunities to collaborate with others and apply their learning in exciting, creative ways.

The flexible, online nature of the programme, which allows students from anywhere in the world to undertake study alongside work and caring duties, is unique in its approach. It is ideal for neurodiverse and disabled individuals, parents, older learners, and younger learners for whom campus-based study presents challenges – or anyone who is interested in a rigorous, collaborative and innovative mode of study.

Sign up for our next information webinar on 22 April

Information Webinar Recording

Find out more in our current course brochure. 

Hear from some of our graduates

Why choose this course?

Choose your own pathway

You will build your own route through your degree to focus on your own interests and preferences

Subject specialists

You will receive expert teaching from academic staff and industry professionals, whose experience covers the broad spectrum of the discipline

Professional preparation

Alongside your academic work, you will develop valuable skills around professional behaviours, employability and entrepreneurship – fundamental to whatever career path you choose when you graduate

Virtual learning environment

Your learning materials provide you with both theoretical and practice-based perspectives as you study working theatres, practitioners, playwrights and directors alongside the canon of theatre studies at large

International learning community

You will study independently as well as work with others in small groups online, where you will be part of a vibrant community of students drawn from performing arts, education, the arts sector, those looking towards careers in the theatre industry and those studying for their own interest and pleasure

Recognition of prior learning

If you already have academic credits or professional experience you might be eligible for credit exemption for accredited prior and/or experiential learning. Please contact the Lead Academic Tutor to discuss your circumstances

UK students can apply for a student loan

UK students can apply for Student Finance (you must complete a minimum of 30 credits/year)

Join College events

You will be able to attend the College’s annual Symposium event on campus, which includes special guest lectures, master classes and performances

Get a flavour

Play video

Course breakdown

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

Level 4

Level 4 introduces and develops the academic and intellectual skills that you will need for study and professional development. (120 credits) Obligatory (up to 3 years)

  • Theatres at Work (40 credits)

These modules identify and explore the techniques and challenges of presenting theatre today. They include an in-depth study of how a professional theatre company functions in terms of its artistic policies, marketing strategies and funding initiatives. Much of your work will be based around the study of a professional theatre company in your own area and investigations of how it contributes to its localised contexts.

  • The Craft of Playmaking (20 credits)

This module explores ways of analysing dramatic writing in terms of its potential impact and meaning in the theatre. You will examine dramaturgy from a range of perspectives and focus on ways in which a text becomes a blueprint for performance. Plays currently studied include a range of traditional texts such as Oedipus Rex and Everyman as well as more contemporary writing such as Bryony Lavery’s Stockholm and Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog.

  • The Critical Audience (20 credits)

This module examines the relationship between meaning and text by examining a range of approaches to performance. You will investigate how conventions of genre, acting styles, direction and design signify in different ways. By taking the role of ‘the critical audience’ you will explore how contemporary productions are shaped by their historical, cultural and artistic conditions and discover ways of re-framing them within contemporary critical perspectives.

  • Elements of the Performance Work (40 credits)

These modules introduce key traditions or “elements” of theatre-making. You will explore the means by which the performing body is codified through visual elements such as costume, make-up and mask and examine the relationship between text, space, action, the changing social and political functions of performance and the role of context in meaning-making.

Level 5

Modules you will undertake at level 5 include but are not limited to:

  • Naturalism (20 credits)

This module interrogates Naturalism in its historical context. The module looks at the impact of science and technology and the new perspectives of sociology and psychology. The works of important writers including Zola, Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov are studied alongside practitioners such as Stanislavski and Antoine.

  • Shakespeare (20 credits)

This module seeks to explore the plays as vehicles for performance, understanding them in relation to the original performance conditions for which they were created, and, by extension, in the contemporary theatre. In TS502 Shakespeare’s work is addressed through three key themes: Language, Space and Identity.

  • The Playwright (40 credits)

The module closely examines the work of significant British and Irish playwrights within their social and historical contexts. In addition, each unit uses the work of particular playwrights to deepen students’ understanding of certain aspects of playwriting technique. The module closely examines the work of  significant North American playwrights within their social and historical contexts, with units featuring the work of female playwrights and voices from the margins.

  • The Director (40 credits)

This module explores the role of the Director in British and European theatre. While there is some discussion of historical context and development, the main emphasis of the Module is on contemporary practice. Students study the work of both leading and emerging directors through an examination of their creative decisions, working methodologies and complementary discourses; framing these in relation to a range of critical and theoretical considerations.

  •  Beyond the Stage: Space and Place (20 credits)

TS515 investigates the debates surrounding place and space and examines how these terminologies are applied to performance practice, audience theory and definitions of theatricality. TS515 begins by considering the question of place as a location for transgressive acts, examining medieval carnival and concepts of ‘reversal.’ These investigations feed into discussion of more contemporary case studies – of riots and rallies – as these are examples of the appropriation of space for Political and political ends.

  • The Actor and the Realist Tradition (40 credits)

In this practice-based strand, you will be introduced to the dominant approach to acting of the last hundred years, namely that developed by Stanislavski, and guided through the process of the actor’s own preparatory work for rehearsal through a series of practical exercises, tasks and performances of a role of your own choosing.

  • Live and Performance Art (20 credits)

This module explores the processes and practices of contemporary live and performance art from ‘happenings’ to fine art and dramatic postmodernity. The meeting point between fine art, installation and performance, performance art and live art have often articulated as a desire for direct engagement with issues of identity, multiculturalism and globalisation.

  • Musical Theatre: The American Golden Age
    (40 credits)

These modules investigate the world of musical theatre from a twentieth century American perspective (focusing on productions spanning from 1920s-1970s). You will explore the theatrical forms that influenced the musical as it is widely known.

Level 6

Module study options at level 6 include, but are not limited to:

  • Topic in Contemporary Theatre (20 credits)

This module examines some of the major developments in contemporary theatre, analysing the work of specific playwrights and practitioners and exploring particular sites of interrogation that have emerged in the post-millennial period.

Obligatory for Honours:

  • Independent Research Project (60 credits)

The Research Project constitutes the final module for honours students. It is designed to allow you to demonstrate your ability to design and pursue independent research on a subject which draws upon an aspect of your previous study or centres on theatre-related professional practices. Aspects of this work can be practice-based and the module aims to provide broad scope for a range of project types.

Then select 40 credits from the following electives:

  • The Empire Acts Back (40 credits)

TS605 addresses post-colonial theatre in a variety of social contexts, drawing on plays and performance studies from the Caribbean, Nigeria, South Africa, and India. Through critiques of play texts, theory and theatre practice the module will guide you through post-colonial, intracultural and inter-cultural issues including negritude, Black Consciousness, anti-apartheid movements and indigenous practices.

  • Ancient Greek Tragedy (40 credits)

TS607 and TS608 aim to introduce you to Greek plays in their ancient socio-political and performance contexts and in the contexts of their transformations in subsequent theatre spaces, manifestations and cultures. In TS607 you will analyse the only surviving ancient trilogy, the Oresteia of Aeschylus.

  • Brecht and the Epic Tradition in German Theatre (40 credits)

These modules examine Brecht in detail – as writer, director and practitioner. This is achieved through a close reading of a number of Brecht’s plays and productions from the earliest stages of his career through to the immediate post-war period.

  • Shakespeare in Performance (20 credits)

This module explores the translation of Shakespearean texts from page to stage through a series of case studies from the performance history of four plays, and through practical exercises requiring you to prepare a text, or part of a text, as a director might prepare it for performance, providing annotations and a critical analysis of the decisions taken.

  • Theatre of the Absurd (20 credits)

This module is intended to provide you with an overview of the post-war movement known as the Theatre of the Absurd, to introduce its principal exponents, and to enable you to place the plays in your own cultural context. The primary focus of the module is a number of plays written in English and French (the latter studied in translation) in the 1950s and early 1960s which have been characterised as the Theatre of the Absurd.

  • The Theatre Critic (20 credits)

This module is a practical and theoretical introduction to theatre criticism. It discusses the role of the theatre critic in contemporary society and assesses the impact of theatre criticism on performance practices. The unit also explores the techniques and approaches to analysing live performance from the particular perspectives and agendas of the arts critic.

Teaching and assessment methods

Each module is divided into three units. A unit might include notes, tasks, documents, recordings and images – all of which are designed to guide you through the topic in an active way.

You will keep a Coursework Portfolio and Applied Learning Archive which you will share with your tutors online. Regular monthly webinars will also form part of your study routine and will provide you with opportunities to actively engage with other students.

You will have a range of assessment modes that combine to equip you with essential and traditional academic practices alongside opportunities to create, present, perform, collaborate and research.



Your future career

Our graduates have gone on to work across a range of theatre-related roles and in education. Some continue on to further study on postgraduate programmes.

Alumni success

Debbie Bird

Actor, Writer and Producer of Buzzing

Jenny Wooster

Drama Teacher

Martin Christie

Co-Owner and Co-Artistic Director of the Alloway Academy of Dance and Theatre Arts in Ayr, Scotland

Tina Hofman

Artistic Director at Notnow Collective

Craig Sanders

Theatre Manager, West Lindsey District Council

Sharon Frese

Actor and Freelance Theatre Practitioner

Careers options

Studying an Arts related subject provides our students with a wide range of skills. Recent graduates have progressed into the following occupations:

  • Writers, producers and directors
  • Teaching and other educational professionals
  • Actors, entertainers and presenters
  • Theatre designers
  • Theatre managers

Meet the staff

Jayne Richards

Curriculum Manager for Online Learning and Teaching

Read their profile
Karen Morash Lead Academic Tutor of Rose Bruford College's Theatre Studies Online
Dr Karen Morash

Lead Academic Tutor of Theatre Studies Online

Read their profile

How to Apply

UK/Republic of Ireland and international students

Please apply directly to the college via the ‘Apply Now’ button. If you meet the entry requirements, the lead academic tutor will contact you to arrange for an online interview and to gather references. If you are offered a place on the course, you will be able to choose how many modules you wish to undertake.

Apply by 1st July 2023 for September 2023 entry.

Informal enquiries

If you would like to speak with the course team before applying, you are welcome to send your questions to [email protected]

Institution code: not applicable

Course code: not applicable

Full time: 96 UCAS credits

Part time: we give consideration to applicants with non-standard entry requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Summary


3 years - 10 years

Mode of study

Full time or Part time

Start date

January 2023 or September 2023

Course Type

Undergraduate Course


BA (Hons)

Course Fees (2023 Entry)

UK/Republic of Ireland & International students (full time 120 credits)


UK/Republic of Ireland & International students (part time, per 20 credits)


Funding and Support Additional Costs

So, ready?