Costume Construction, BA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Costume Construction, BA

Explore the School

Discover Central's Costume, Production, Study and Social spaces on our VR tour.

Explore Central's Costume, Production, Social and Study spaces in a VR tour



3 years full-time, October start


Institution code: C35, Course code: W460


Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

About the course

On the Costume Construction pathway of BA (Hons) Theatre Practice, you will: 

  • Develop skills in costume interpretation and creative
  • Learn pattern drafting, women’s and men’s costume making, hat making and accessories  
  • Undertake costume supervision and placements with professional companies and designers  
  • Work closely with students of all other theatre disciplines to contribute to the overall understanding of performance and theatre production. 

Technically skilled and creatively inventive ‘makers’ are an essential part of any production team, sensitive to the stylistic intentions of the designer and director. The training will principally be in theatre, but these skills are widely transferable to different environments, including television, film and major live events.

What is a costume constructor?

The work of the costume constructor is to interpret the given costume designs, whether period or modern, abstract or representational. As part of the production team, you will work closely with the costume designer to interpret the brief and create costumes and accessories to the level of finish expected by contemporary audiences, and are able to research and understand the time, place and narrative of the production through analysis of scripts and creative concepts.  

Alongside high-level and varied costume making skills, you will develop skills in time management, resource management, budgeting and scheduling, working closely with students of all other theatre disciplines to contribute to the overall understanding of performance and theatre production. 

What is costume construction?

Costume construction is a craft that requires the making of garments suited to the modern body, while achieving correct shapes and silhouettes for particular eras and designs. You will learn to produce garments that are appropriate for the character and comfortable to enable the performer to use costume to enhance their performance. The course does not focus solely on historical garments and is proud of the range of projects included.

Course Leader, Caroline Townsend explains the difference between Costume Construction and Costume Design

Course Detail

YEAR 1: Projects and workshops

  • Understand the role of the costume interpreter, including pattern drafting, sewing techniques, dyeing and breaking down skills and taught sessions on costume supervision.
  • You will work with a professional designer producing costumes for a tableau vivant and adapting a modern pattern block to making period underwear, such as corsetry and crinolines.
  • You will work as part of a team on a public production, dressing and undertaking wardrobe maintenance.

YEAR 2: Skill development

  • Developing skills: pattern cutting for men and women, cutting and draping on the mannequin, and tailoring techniques.
  • You will make outfits for Central’s public productions, and costumes chosen based on your personal interest, such as a tutu, frock coat or a prop costume.
  • You will have the opportunity to undertake a placement with a professional company, or assist a costume supervisor on a professional production.

YEAR 3: Focus on professional development

  • Acting as Head of Department on a full scale realised production in the Embassy Theatre or Webber Douglas Studio, you will take on the role of Wardrobe Supervisor managing the costumes and students in the costume dressing teams.
  • You will undertake professional projects and placements, researching and making a costume to their specifications, and working with a professional company to create costumes, or to costume supervise.
  • You will participate in a public exhibition presenting your work to invited industry employer portfolio of best work to the industry.

Download BA Theatre Practice Programme Specification 2019-2020.pdf (1.4 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.

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


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 travelling 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 & Placements

From the second year, you will have the opportunity to arrange placements across a wide range of professional companies that work with Central, allowing access to many performance styles and industry locations.

Previous work placements

These include Costume departments of:

  • The Royal Opera House
  • Shakespeare’s Globe
  • The Bloomsbury Theatre
  • Southwark Playhouse
  • The Royal Academy of Music
  • Philip Treacy, Hand and Lock
  • Costume internship with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Costume supervisors’ departments on the West End production of Funny Girl and the National Theatre
  • Chichester Festival Theatre with costume supervisor Karen Large and Channel 5 Documentary Inside Holloway with designer/supervisor Karen Hobbs.

Work with professional designers & costume supervisors

Students have also worked with designers and costume supervisors such as:

  • Bob Bailey (The Happiest Day Of My Life, DV8; Anything Goes, UK Tours)
  • Sara Perks (American Idol, Arts Theatre; The King And I, Leicester Curve)
  • Sarah Beaton (Attachment, The Old Vic; This Is Living, Trafalgar Studios).
  • Hannah McMahon-Major (English Touring Opera)
  • Rosie Neate (A Little Neck, Goat and Monkey; After Troy, Lifeblood Theatre).

Other opportunities with professional companies

You will have opportunities to work with professional companies across a wide range of productions. The following gives an overview of recent activity in this area:

First-year students have worked with set and costume designer Simon Kenny on the Tableau Vivant Project and costume designer/supervisor Helen Coyston on Friends Of Narcissus at the Minack Theatre;

Second and third year students have assisted costume supervisor Hilary Lewis on The Heresy Of Love at Shakespeare’s Globe; assisted costume supervisor Natasha Prynne on Carmen for the Nevill Holt Opera; assisted costume supervisor Samantha Pickering on A Mad World, My Masters for English Touring Theatre; worked with designer Keith Orton making costumes for London Assurance at the Miller Centre and undertaken an internship with Philip Treacy.

Recently second and third year students undertook placements with Hand and Lock, English Touring Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Disney alterations department for Beauty And The Beast, The Conran Shop, The BBC Redux project and the National Theatre costume department.

In the final year, there is the opportunity to work with a professional company to create costumes for one of their productions. For example, many students (and graduates) have undertaken work experience with the White Horse Theatre Company as costume makers and costume supervisors.

Recent Visiting Professionals

Lorraine Westhead, Brigid Strowbridge, Karen Hobbs, Karen Large, Jane Smith, Rachel Young, Kate Flanaghan, Nancy Betton, Lydia Cawson, Simon Kenny, Hannah McMahon-Major, Natasha Prynne.

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

  • Costume Maker, The Nutcracker (Disney), Camden Costumes.
  • Costume Supervisor, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
  • Deputy Head of Wardrobe, Opera Holland Park.
  • Resident Wardrobe Mistress, Hampstead Theatre.
  • Dressers, The Book Of Mormon.
  • Wardrobe Mistress, The Tricycle Theatre and tour, The Father.
  • Archivist, The Fulham Palace Costume Collection.
  • Internship, Royal Shakespeare Company costume department.
  • Design Assistant, Hand and Lock.
  • Costume Assistant, P&O Cruises.
  • Apprentice Tailor, Roxy Cressy Theatrical.
  • Recent further study, master’s degrees, University of Glasgow, Museum Studies with Dress and Textile Histories.

Notable Graduates

Lauren Butler (2012) Costume Supervisor at Opera Holland Park, previously Costume Maker at English Touring Opera.

Jessica Pile (2012) is Production Director of Hand and Lock, which specialises in bespoke, individually crafted embroidery.

Rhys Tucker (2007) Deputy Wardrobe Master for the London production of Phantom Of The Opera.

Staff on the Course

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.

Caroline Townsend, PGCert, PGDip, FHEA

Senior Lecturer, Crafts Costume Construction Course Leader, and BA (Hons) Theatre Practice 1st Year Leader

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

Lecturer, Theatre and Performance Studies

2018 Graduates

Class of 2019

Find out more about our Costume Construction students, graduating in 2019.

Register for email updates