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".

Develop your artistic skills and learn to interpret set designs for all areas of the entertainment industry - theatre, video, television and film. Students on this course will collaborate with set designers and art directors, and gain experience of working independently or as part of a team.

About the course

Students will gain experience of working in a wide range of materials, surfaces, textures and effects, enabling them to interpret designs to the level of finish expected by contemporary audiences. They will develop skills in research, analysis and interpretation, and a high level of technical competence in drawing, painting, colour theories and working on both large and small scale elements.

Techniques such as marbling, wood graining, lettering, spray gun and texturing will be taught, and students will gain a good understanding of art history, period styles and architecture. There is the opportunity to develop comprehensive skills as part of a team by delivering realised public productions, and to take on increased levels of responsibility as the course progresses.

Apply for 2017 entry

Interested in applying for 2017 entry? This programme is still accepting applications, and you are likely to be offered an interview; sign up for an interview slot by filling out this form.

Course Detail

Year 1

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. Students work 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. Students will work as part of a scenic art production team on a public production.

Year 2

Development of skills in spray painting, perspective, texture, architectural and figurative painting, trompe l’oeil painting, sign-writing, and learning and applying advanced painting techniques. Students will work on painting a cloth and/or gauze for a Central public production or at a professional theatre in a professional context, and have the opportunity to undertake personal projects exploring techniques not covered by production work.

Year 3

Students will work as Head of Department on a full-scale realised production in Central’s Embassy Theatre or Webber Douglas Studio, managing other students painting scenery, textured floors and walls, and finishes on furniture or specific props. They 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. Students will participate in a public exhibition to present a portfolio of best work to the industry.

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


All students on this course will have the opportunity to undertake placements with professionals and/or organisations.

Past students have worked on productions at Salisbury Playhouse Theatre, Watford Palace Theatre, London Film School, Coolflight Ltd and Scenic Painting Studios. Others have benefited 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 e.g. Oliver!, Mary Poppins, Shrek The Musical, Love Never Dies, Grease, We Will Rock You, Singing In The Rain and Peter And Alice.

Students also regularly undertake placements at the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House 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 of this are painting the display ‘live’ in the windows of London’s well-known Conran Shop, the Bar Of Ideas for the Glastonbury Festival, London Jewellery Week as part of the Hatton Garden Festival, and the Legoland theme park.

The course has links with established scenic studios, such as Souvenir and Scena, where students have had the opportunity to work on television shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Friends Like These, QI, Ant & Dec, Celebrity Golf All Star Cup, The National Music Awards and the Olivier Awards.

Professional Focus

Many opportunities for professional development 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.

Recent Visiting Staff

Lionel Stanhope, Andy Greenfield, Julian Walker, Sue Dunlop, Jon Hare, Alexander McPherson, Ruari Murchison, Viv Sendall, Mark Chapman from Bristol Paints, Natalie Perkins, James Hunt, Nic Webb, Philip Engleheart, Michael Taylor, Gary Thorne.

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.

Admission with Academic Credit

For information on alternative entry requirements please 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.

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.


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.

Recent Graduate Employment

Working on productions at: Royal Opera House, Young Vic, Royal Court Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, Hackney Empire, Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park, Glyndebourne, Royal Shakespeare Company, working with Andy Greenfield at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Almeida Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Buckingham Palace Garden Party, The Mercury Theatre Colchester, 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, The Clink Prison Museum, 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.

Working in roles including: Head of Design Realisation at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Display Manager at Harvey Nichols, Resident Designer and Scenic Artist at The Mill at Sonning.

Students have also successfully started their own companies include: Scene a Theme, designing themed rooms, murals and private fine art commissions, Barnickle Furniture, hand-painted furniture which has previously been exhibited at the Country Living Fair 2012.


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

Carla Mardle, BA

Lecturer, Course Leader Scenic Art, BA

Current Students

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

Related Courses


Robyn Kahn-Cleland
Robyn Kahn-Cleland

Graduated 2013, currently a freelance Scenic and Mural Artist. Recent employers have included Southwark Playhouse, Punchdrunk and Liati Events in Luxembourg.

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.

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