Scenic Art, BA

Duration: 3 years full-time, October start

UCAS code: Institution code: C35; Course code: W463

Award: Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

BA Scenic Art - Set for "West Side Story".


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About the course

Studying on the Scenic Art specialism of the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice degree course, you will:

  • Undertake realisation of production designs to professional standards
  • Learn to interpret set designs – period or modern, abstract or representational
  • Develop a high-level of technical competence and skills in research and interpretation

The role of scenic artist requires excellent artistic skills, combined with the ability to work independently, or as part of a team, accurately and to deadlines, meeting design specifications agreed with the set designer or art director. On the Scenic Art specialism you will gain experience of working in a wide range of materials, textures, scenic finishes and effects enabling you to interpret the design to the level of finish expected by contemporary audiences.

Develop skills

You will develop skills in research, analysis and interpretation, working on both large and small-scale elements on a variety of surfaces and materials. You will learn techniques such as marbling, wood graining, lettering, spray gun and texturing, as well as gaining a good understanding of art history, period styles and architecture.

Work on our public productions

There will be the opportunity for you to develop excellent and comprehensive artistic and scenic skills as part of a scenic art team on public productions, working closely with students of other theatre disciplines, to contribute to the overall understanding of performance and theatre production.

As the course progresses and your skills develop, your level of responsibility and involvement will increase. The project work that is chosen is negotiated to fit with the area(s) of the industry in which you are most keen to make your career.

Interested in studying this course in 2018?

Although the January UCAS application deadline has passed, we are still able to accept applications to the course through UCAS. If you are interested in finding out more about the course before applying, please email us. We may also be able to provide a personal tour of the campus and talk to you in person about the course.

Course Detail

YEAR 1: Workshops and classes

  • Workshops and classes in colour theory, colour mixing, scaling-up, drawing, scenic art painting techniques, marbling, stained glass, hand painted wallpaper, wood graining, trompe l’oeil and lettering.
  • Working with a professional designer to produce samples for a reproduction of an existing texture or fine art painting, and transcription of an image from a 1:25 scale onto a pre-prepared stage flat.
  • You will contribute an engaged involvement working as part of a production team on a public production within a scenic art team.

YEAR 2: Developing skills

  • Developing skills in spray painting, perspective, texture, architectural and figurative painting, trompe l’oeil painting, signwriting and learning and applying advanced painting techniques.
  • Painting a cloth and/or gauze for a Central public production, or at a professional theatre.
  • You will work in a professional context within the industry and have the opportunity for personal projects exploring techniques not covered by production work.

YEAR 3: Focus on professional development

  • You will work as Head of Department on a full scale realised production in the Embassy Theatre or Webber Douglas Studio, managing other students painting scenery, textured floors and walls, and finishes on furniture or specific props.
  • You will undertake a personal project or placement focused on a main area of expertise, as well as working in professional contexts, e.g. painting scenery for a West End show or regional theatre.
  • You will participate in an exhibition to present a portfolio of best work to the industry.

Download BA (Hons) Theatre Practice Programme Specification 2017-2018 (1.29 MB)

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Minimum Entry Requirements

Our standard academic entry requirements range between 120 and 64 UCAS tariff points. You can see how many tariff points your qualifications would gain on the UCAS Tariff Calculator. International qualifications and others not covered within the UCAS tariff can also be accepted. Please email us if you need further clarification.

Please note that we make lower offers (including unconditional) to exceptional candidates and those who have alternative or prior experience to offer. All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio. Interview and portfolio are key factors in determining which applicants are accepted on to the course.

Admission with Academic Credit

For information on alternative entry requirements please see

Application Details

See How to Apply section for Undergraduate courses.

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.


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.

Industry Links & Placements

You will benefit from the established links the course has with some of the leading London-based freelance scenic artists.

Through placements in the second and third years, students have worked with scenic artists on West End productions such as the English National Ballet’s Nutcracker, Annie, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Love Never Dies, Grease, We Will Rock You, Singing In The Rain and Peter And Alice. Students have also regularly undertaken placements on productions at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Salisbury Playhouse and Watford Palace Theatre.

Through links the course has established with other industries, such as window display, festivals, events and theme parks, students have been able to broaden their scope of skills and expertise working on a diverse range of projects.

Examples are painting the display ‘live’ in the windows of London’s well-known Conran Shop, The Bar Of Ideas for the Glastonbury Festival, and at Thorpe Park.

The course has links with established scenic studios, such as Harvey Nichol’s window dressing department, Rocket Scenery, Scott Fleary, Souvenir and Scena, where students have had the opportunity to work on television shows such as Friends Like These, QI, Ant & Dec, The All-Star Cup, The National Music Awards and the Olivier Awards.

Many opportunities arise through the network of graduates already well-placed in theatre and contacts made with the professional designers who work on public productions at Central.

What our students said

Robyn Kahn-Cleland
Robyn Kahn-Cleland

Graduated 2013, freelance Scenic and Mural Artist. Recent commissions as Scenic Artist include Capital Scenery, the Contemporary American Theater Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Indiana Repertory Theatre and Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Lectures, such as ‘Gender in Theatre’ and ‘Race in Theatre’, introduce you to many aspects of the industry on an intellectual level, while sessions on how to create CVs and portfolios, be self-employed or start your own business help to prepare you for the nitty-gritty of becoming a professional. Undertaking work placements on the course gave me many opportunities to network with professionals and production companies.

Recent Visiting Professionals

Lionel Stanhope, Andy Greenfield, Julian Walker, Sue Dunlop, Janice Gorringe, Gordon Aldred, Stewart Hall, Jenny Knott from Roscoe Paints, Mark Chapman from Bristol Paints, Natalie Perkins, James Hunt, Philip Engleheart, Michael Taylor, Gary Thorne.

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

Scenic Artist, on productions at:

  • the Royal Opera House
  • Young Vic
  • Royal Court Theatre
  • Shakespeare’s Globe
  • Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
  • Glyndebourne
  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Louis Vuitton worldwide visual merchandising
  • Buckingham Palace Garden Party
  • Pitlochry Festival Theatre
  • The Old Vic
  • Watford Palace Theatre
  • Pinewood Studios
  • Alton Towers
  • Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
  • Souvenir Scenic Studios
  • Legoland
  • Cobalt Studios New York
  • Chessington World of Adventures
  • Donmar Warehouse
  • Unicorn Theatre
  • Burning Windmills Pictures (Disney)
  • The London Dungeon
  • CBBC
  • Sky TV
  • Channel 4
  • Samuelson Productions
  • Ealing Studios
  • Elle Decoration
  • Thorpe Park scenic workshops.

Head of Design Realisation, Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Display Manager, Harvey Nichols.

Resident Designer and Scenic Artist, The Mill at Sonning.

Founder members of companies

  • Scene a Theme (designing themed rooms, murals and private fine art commissions)
  • Barnickle Furniture (handpainted furniture, which has previously been exhibited at the Country Living Fair).

Notable Graduates

Ben Sumner (1977) Head of Design Realisation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Christabel (Tink) Cant (2007) Scenic Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company throughout 2014.

Current Students

View profiles of the Class of 2018 for this course. Click on each student to find out more about them.

Class of 2017

Find out more about our 2017 Scenic Art graduates.

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