What you’ll study
This course focuses on practical performance skills like physical theatre, devising, magic, clowning, drag and burlesque, taught by cutting-edge practitioners. You will create your own new performances, live art and cross-genre theatre work which provokes thought and explores relevant, real-world topics.
You will benefit from the opportunity to undertake industry placements, network with professional practitioners and learn a wide range of practical skills to serve you in your practice (such as performing skills, event management and collaboration). You will be taught at our Sidcup campus and also at the Tramshed in their fully equipped premises, immersing you in the industry in the heart of London.
You will study with award-winning Marisa Carnesky – a renowned live artist and Showwoman who has worked with both emerging and established artists to evolve their ideas, develop their practices and make new work for over 20 years. Marisa also heads up the creative production, performance and theatre company Carnesky Productions (founded in 2004).
Why choose this course?
You will be partially taught at Tramshed, a theatre company and community arts hub based in the heart of Woolwich, South East London, the perfect place to network and make connections
Valuable industry placements
Get real-world experience with partners which could include organisations such as Glastonbury Festival, Punchdrunk, Bestival, Latitude, Duckie, Marlborough Productions, Rich Mix, Run Riot and Tramshed
Expert training in a specialist field
Get rigorous training in both contemporary and popular performance, opening up the field and engaging with a combination of performance skills, experimentation and structural knowledge
Learn from the best
Programme director Marisa Carnesky is a renowned live artist and Showwoman. She uses cross-genre performance forms, including new writing, live art, circus skills, stage illusion and fairground spectacle to investigate social issues from a feminist perspective. As well as working with Marisa, you will also be taught by an exciting range of experts in each specialist field
Your future career
You will graduate ready to take on many roles in the cultural sector. Depending on your interests you could go on to write, perform, produce or manage within the growing contemporary performance, new cabaret, festival, immersive and live event culture in the UK. You may also explore a career in broadcast media and live culture; from radio, online, film or television.
Graduates of the Carnesky Stage School include
Tallulah Rose Haddon
The Last Duel (Ridley Scott) Bandersnatch (Netflix) The Living and The Dead (BBC 1) Kiss Me First (C4), Spill Festival, ICA, Bard College
Associate artist- Asia Arts Activism, commissioned by British Council Philippines
1st Prize Birmingham European Festivals of Theatre
Livia Kojo Alour
Arts Council GFA Award - solo show 'Black Sheep'
Studying an Arts related subject gives you a wide range of skills that can be put to use in many careers. You will have transferable skills in:
- Creating and Devising new performance forms and carrying out your own authored work
- Working knowledge of contemporary venues, festivals and performance contexts
- Working flexibly as artists, writers, directors and producers
- Working as part of a team co-operatively and collectively
- Democratic, ethical management skills and artist development and support
- Leadership, management and event and festival strategy
- Teachers and teaching assistants
Get a flavour
Course content is regularly reviewed, to make it relevant and current. Course modules are therefore subject to change.
Level 4 introduces and develops the academic and intellectual skills that you will need for study and professional development. In addition, you will begin to learn the practical and technical skills of the performer and creator, producer and change-maker.
You will contextualise these in a developing understanding of contemporary, popular and socially engaged performance and theatre. On completion of level 4, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate a range of technical skills including Voice, Cabaret and Circus Skills, Movement, Production and Design.
- Integrate these various skills and techniques into solo and group performances.
- Apply historical and contextual research to performance in a manner which extends its reach.
- Articulate informed ideas and concepts, about the producing of new popular performance, in seminar discussion and in writing.
- Deploy the basics of practice-based research in artistic and analytic ways.
Level 5 develops your skills towards a level appropriate to preprofessional work and gives experience of outside professional and community contexts, including via work placement, group facilitation and guest lecture series.
On completion of level 5 you will be able to:
- Negotiate organisational and logistical planning for making and producing both group devised performances and Practice as Research performative lectures.
- Articulate your artistic and intellectual ideas on contemporary, popular and social change performances, genres and movements in both written and practical modes.
- Present your theoretical ideas confidently using appropriate performance methodologies.
- Manage projects on-campus at Rose Bruford, at Tramshed and beyond college sites.
You are expected to be a self-directed learner at year 3. Module study options include, but are not limited to:
This module runs throughout the whole year across two semesters and enables you to hone your skills and knowledge gained from Creating Contemporary and Popular Performance I and II through creating a significant piece of performance work, supporting marketing and documentation materials, a fully realised and researched pitch for your own event and a critical reflection in writing. Working across the genres of physical theatre, live art and popular performance forms, it combines and reframes these techniques with devising approaches through feminist, decolonised and ecological perspectives of live art practices, with traditional and non-traditional training techniques, devices and exercises re-visioned for the current day.
This module runs the full year and consolidates your practical and theoretical research skills and enables you to investigate, in detail, a specific aspect of Theatre & Social Change and Popular and Contemporary Performance which is of particular interest to you. The module represents the culmination of your critical reflection on performance practices, as well as models and movements for social change, and gives you the opportunity to undertake a sustained piece of independent research work.
This six-month work placement will give you the tools you need to experience being part of an organisation, to see a season or extended period at a workspace, and to build a project for that organisation, thus becoming leaders and innovators inside of theatre & social change. The module (and the degree) concludes with a Social Change and Popular Performance Showcase, an opportunity for you to share these projects with professionals in the field.
Teaching and assessment methods
- In your first year, you will complete around 380 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 80 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through Performances; Coursework, presentations and portfolios; Continuous practical assessment; essay.
- In your second year, you will complete around 380 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 80 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through Performances; Coursework, presentations and portfolios; Continuous practical assessment.
- In your third year, you will complete around 380 hours of indicative scheduled learning and teaching activities and 80 hours of independent learning on projects, productions, placements or self-directed study. Assessment will be through Performances; Coursework, presentations and portfolios; Continuous practical assessment; written thesis.
Meet our Staff
Programme Director for BA Contemporary and Popular Performance
Dr Marisa Carnesky is an Olivier award-winning performer, director and teacher who is interested in where popular entertainment, contemporary performance and the important issues of our times collide.Read their full profile
Professor of Theatre & Performance
Brian Lobel is a performer, teacher and curator, who is interested in creating work about bodies and how they are watched, policed, poked, prodded and loved by others.Read their full profile
How to join
Institution code: R51
Course code: W413
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 and audition.
Workshop audition process
The application process for this course involves a workshop and discussion.
There is no charge for participation in the workshop.Auditions
3 years full time 6 years part time
Mode of study
Full time or Part-time
Course Fees (2023 Entry)
Course fees for 2024 entry have not been published yet
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 that you may incur additional costs as part of the course; as an indication, this could include the following:
- Course-related travel £250/year (estimated)
- Stationery and printing: £60 per year
- Theatre tickets: £150-£175 at the beginning of each year
- Professional Stage Make-up Kits: £125 for the 3 year course (estimated)