Design for the Stage, BA

Duration: 3 years full-time, October start

UCAS code: Institution code: C35; Course code: W461

Award: Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

BA Design for the Stage - Stage design model.

Studying Design for the Stage prepares students to work creatively and professionally as set and costume designers. They will learn to work speculatively and through realised productions in a range of different performance contexts and genres, gaining a firm grounding in theory.

About the course

Design for the Stage students learn through collaboration with those studying on Central’s design, production and acting courses, gaining a deep insight into other practices. They also work closely with the craftspeople and constructors who will realise their designs, and the stage management and technical production teams who will bring their work to the moment of performance.

Skills including model making, technical drawing using AutoCAD and SketchUp, costume drawing and storyboarding using Photoshop, and the use of projected media will be developed, and there will be opportunities to put these skills into practice on realised projects in Central’s professionally equipped performance spaces.

Course Detail

Year 1

Students will develop the of core skills and a clear understanding of what performance and performance design are through taught classes, workshops and realised projects. There will be the opportunity to meet professionals in the field, and to work on a number of collaborative projects that encompass installation and immersive and traditional contexts in which to design.

Year 2

Individual design processes are developed to a near-professional level through a series of assignments, during which students work with directors on speculative design projects using texts and opera. Assignments can also include completing a professional placement with a practitioner or company, or designing a realised performance within Central.

Year 3

Design practices will be applied and refined through work on one of Central’s public productions or a smaller scale professional production, as appropriate. Students will finalise areas of professional interest and identity, and will participate in an exhibition to present a portfolio of their best work to the industry.

Download BA (Hons) Theatre Practice Course Specification 2016-2017 (1.24 MB)


A large number of successful work placements take place, usually once for each student in either the second or third year of the course.

Past students have collaborated with, or had placements at: Improbable Theatre, 2012 London Olympic Ceremonies, John Pawson Architects, Royal Opera House Model Room, Opera North, National Theatre, Punchdrunk, Arcola Theatre, Thin Man Films and Harvey Nichols, and have assisted or worked alongside professional designers and other industry professionals both within the UK and abroad.

Professional Focus

Students on this course often work under the guidance of professional directors and choreographers, and have the opportunity to collaborate in a range of professional settings.

Past students have gained experience by working in live art, small and medium-scale devised and collaborative work, puppetry, circus and street theatre, as well as on text or character-based play productions, large-scale events, and corporate presentations.

Recent Visiting Staff

Tom Cairns, Tim Hatley, Antony McDonald, Tim Hopkins, Jean-Marc Puissant, Katrina Lindsay, Caroline Gawn, Sophie Jump, Polly Teale, Naomi Dawson, Nick Philippou, Stewart Laing, Dick Bird, Jeremy Herbert, Kevin Knight, Michael Taylor, Simon Basketter, Dan O’Neill, Peta Lily, Douglas O’Connell, Grάinne Byrne, Tobias Hoheisel, Julia Bardsley, Simon Vincenzi, Julian Maynard Smith, Hilary Westlake, Sarah Beaton, Scarlett Perdereau, Rajha Shakiry, Will Holt, Jamie Vartan, Judith Weir.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Minimum Entry Requirements

3 A Levels at BBC, BTEC ND: DDM.

Offers may vary from this, depending upon expected grades and performance at interview. Exceptional applicants who do not meet this requirement but demonstrate appropriate potential at interview and via their portfolio may be accepted. All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Admission with Academic Credit

For information on alternative entry requirements see

Application Details

This programme is still accepting applications for 2017 entry, and you are likely to be offered an interview (although UCAS will mark your application as ‘late’).

See How to Apply section for Undergraduate courses.


Find out more about the interview process for this course.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.


Notable Graduates

Ruth Sutcliffe (2008) winner of Best Set Design at the Off West End Theatre Awards in 2012. Winner of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design in 2009.

Rebecca Brower (2011) nominated for a 2013 Off West End Theatre Award for Best Set Design. Winner of The Stage Design Award in 2011.

Recent Graduate Employment

Designers: National Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Pleasance Theatre Edinburgh Fringe, The Place, Southwark Playhouse, Riverside Studios.

Design Assistants: Sadler’s Wells, National Theatre Design Office, Dreamthinkspeak, London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies.

Emerging Artist: National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), Art of Regeneration.

Interdisciplinary Artist and Scenographer: Brave New Worlds.

Art Department Assistant: Thin Man Films, BBC Drama The Interceptor, feature films including Muppets Most Wanted, One Day and Mr Turner.

Production Designer: Long Forgotten Fields.

Recent Awards Successes

The Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2011 – one finalist who was awarded the National Theatre Bursary 2012 and one winner who went on to design a show for the Opera Group.

Winner of The Stage Design Award 2011 for Young Up-and-Coming Designer.

Winner of the Equity Young Members Award 2012.

1st Runner-up in the Hermione Hammond Drawing Award 2013.


View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

Aldona Cunningham, BA, PGCE

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Design for the Stage

Nick Moran, BSc, FHEA, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Production Lighting and Theatre Lighting Design

Dr. Simon Donger, BA, MA, PHD

Lecturer, Course Leader MA/MFA Scenography

Dr Jessica Hartley BA, MA, PGCE, PhD, SFHEA

Lecturer, Theatre and Performance Studies

Current Students

View profiles of the Class of 2017 for this course. Click on each student to see to their CV.

Related Courses


Milda Samsonite
Milda Samsonite

Graduating 2015

I have gained all the essential skills that I need to go out and work in the industry including model making, computer programmes, technical drawings, moment drawings and producing storyboards. The course has taught me about the various types of theatre and performance that exist and what it actually means to be a designer. I’ve been told that theatre is not about one person doing their job, but about many people working together. At Central you collaborate with so many people from different courses - from prop making to working with actors - as well as working alongside industry professionals.

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