Contemporary and Popular Performance at Rose Bruford

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).

Contemporary and Popular Performance at Rose Bruford

Why choose this course?

Make connections

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

Students Union at Rose Bruford College August 2023
Contemporary and Popular Performance at Rose Bruford

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

Sam Reynolds

Associate artist- Asia Arts Activism, commissioned by British Council Philippines

Tom Cassani

1st Prize Birmingham European Festivals of Theatre

Livia Kojo Alour

Arts Council GFA Award - solo show 'Black Sheep'

Career Options

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

Play video
Contemporary and Popular Performance at Rose Bruford College

Course breakdown

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

Year 1

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.

Year 2

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.

Year 3

You are expected to be a self-directed learner at year 3. Module study options include, but are not limited to:

Creating Contemporary and Popular Performance (Skill, Devising and Context) III

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.

Activating Change III

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.

Producing Change V: Extended Work Placements

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

Dr Marisa Carnesky

Programme Director for BA Contemporary and Popular Performance

Read their profile
Rose Bruford College Professor of Theatre and Performance Brian Lobel
Professor Brian Lobel

Professor of Theatre & Performance

Read their profile

How to join

UK/Republic of Ireland and international students

Applications are still open for undergraduate courses, submit your application via UCAS.

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.


Course Summary


3 years full time 6 years part time

Mode of study

Full time or Part-time

Start date

September 2024

Course Type

Undergraduate Course

Course Fees (2024 Entry)

UK/Republic of Ireland students (Fee per year)


International students (Fee per year)


Funding and Support Additional Costs

So, ready?