Theatre Lighting Design, BA | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Theatre Lighting Design, BA

Explore the School

Discover Central's Lighting, Design, Study and Social spaces on our VR tour.

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




3 years full-time, October start


Institution code: C35; Course code: W450


Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

About the course

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

  • Learn to design lighting for live performance, developing creative and technical expertise
  • Develop practical skills such as rigging, focusing and plotting for lighting and video
  • Possibilities for professional work and placements to develop your portfolio

Theatre Lighting Design Course Leader Nick Moran discusses the roles, responsibilities and career opportunities of a Lighting Designer.

Training at Central

Our joint emphasis on practical as well as aesthetic development gives you the opportunity to create highly innovative lighting design. The training includes practical projects in Central’s well-equipped studio and performance spaces, alongside a rigorous investigation of the design process and visual communication.

As you progress through the course, you will be encouraged to develop your own design style, supported by tutors, mentors and visiting professionals.

Industry focus at Central

You will benefit from Central’s industry focused teaching and research culture, which ensures that what we do and what we teach is at the forefront of knowledge and industry practice in theatre, events and concert touring.

You will be encouraged to experiment with a variety of both new and older technologies, including automated lighting, video, projection, LEDs and other emerging technologies, as well as more traditional theatre fixtures and even candles!

Throughout the course, you will be introduced to professional practitioners, including many successful graduates of the course, who will often be working alongside you in role, as mentors, and as project leaders.

Course Detail

YEAR 1: Introduction

  • Includes a solid grounding in ‘the tools of the trade’, building confidence in the practical side of creating stage lighting and working on developing your creative responses to texts and other sources.
  • You will be guided to develop ways of successfully collaborating, and working as part of multi-disciplinary creative and technical teams.
  • Short production projects offer opportunities to practice the roles, so that by the summer term, you will be ready to take on a lead role on a smaller show, or assistant on a larger production.

YEAR 2: Continuing the process of building practical skills and confidence as a designer

  • Through realised productions and speculative projects, you will work closely with students from other courses and visiting professionals
  • Develop your ability to communicate, negotiate and solve problems in a team environment
  • Workshops include working at height, working with electricity, programming, video design and event lighting.
  • By the end of this year, you will be confident in rigging, focusing and plotting lighting for other designers, as well as for your own independent work.
  • Complete at least one realised lighting or video design for a Central production.

YEAR 3: Focus on professional development

  • You will be able to take advantage of Central’s relationships with the lighting industry, including numerous alumni and leading international designers.
  • Begin to focus on your preferred career pathway.
  • There are opportunities to continue to develop the skills of a contemporary lighting designer or video designer and gain a further understanding of the technologies involved.
  • Projects offer experience of the managerial and creative demands faced by lighting designers on larger projects and productions.
  • You will take part in an exhibition presenting a portfolio of your 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.

Admission with Academic Credit

or information on alternative entry requirements 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.


All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio, which should demonstrate their experience of stage lighting (no matter how small that might be) and their understanding of, and passion for, the industry they wish to train for. For more on preparing a portfolio for a lighting course, see the Association of Lighting Designers website - Training section, where the Course Leader Nick Moran has written some guidance.

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 & Opportunities

Central’s lighting courses are supported by major industry partners, including White Light and PRG UK, Mesmer and 59 Productions (the video companies behind many large-scale theatre and opera productions). We also have strong links with smaller companies that were started by graduates, such as DBSL, Liteup Events and Cassius Creative.

A panel of industry experts helps final year students launch their professional careers. Many opportunities for lighting students come through the network of graduates already well-placed in theatre, concert touring and event industries. The course has excellent links with the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), and local theatres and other venues which helps you to network in the industry, and to find placements and job opportunities.

Recent Visiting Professionals

Lighting Designers

  • Richard Pilbrow
  • Rick Fisher
  • Andy Purves
  • Simon Corder
  • Nick Richings
  • Ziggy Jacobs
  • Katherine Williams
  • Matt Daw
  • Johanna Town.

Leading Production Lighting Specialists

  • Mark Mumford
  • Marc Callahan
  • Martin Chisnall (Harry Potter And The Cursed Child)
  • Stuart Crane (White Light).

Lighting Programmers

  • Lawrence Stromski
  • Jim Beagley

International Lighting Scenographer

  • Yaron Abulafia.

Visiting graduates

  • Jo Richardson (Co- Director of Full Production Services)
  • Adam Povey (Theatre Production Electrician and Lighting Designer)
  • Squib Swain (Concert Lighting Designer for Bombay Bicycle Club, The Streets, The Delphics, etc.)
  • Dan Hill (Lighting Designer for Paul Weller, Mark Ronson).

Graduate Employment

Graduate employment and career pathways include:


Including as Programmer and Assistant Lighting Designer:

  • National Theatre
  • Glyndebourne
  • English National Opera
  • Sadler’s Wells
  • The Place
  • Young Vic
  • Royal Court Theatre
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • Hampstead Theatre.

Lighting Design

  • Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House,
  • Arcola Theatre
  • Tricycle Theatre
  • Park Theatre
  • Curve Theatre Leicester
  • Numerous small and medium-sized producing and receiving houses throughout the UK and Europe.

Site-specific work

  • Goat and Monkey
  • Secret Cinema
  • National Youth Theatre.

Events and Production

Graduate traineeships with White Light and Imagination

Working on events at The Royal Albert Hall, the Roundhouse, Chelsea Football Club, The O2 Arena, Geneva Motor Show and venues throughout the UK and Europe.

Video and Projection Design

Team members at:

  • English National Opera
  • Glyndebourne Festival Opera
  • National Theatre
  • Complicite
  • For bands including The Delphics, The Streets and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Concert Touring and Festivals

Including Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival and V Festival.

Touring Lighting Designer

Worldwide with bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, The Streets, The Script and Mark Ronson.

Notable Graduates

Richard Pilbrow, (1955) Founder and Emeritus Chairman of Theatre Projects, and one of the world’s leading theatre design consultants and lighting designers.

David Howe (1993) Long term associate of Paul Pyant on award-winning shows such as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, and award-winning international lighting designer in his own right.

Jamie Thompson (2003) Winner of Knights of Illumination 2012 for his work as Lighting Designer for the concert tours of the band The Script.

Matt Daw (2005) Associate Lighting Designer to multi award-winning lighting designers Bruno Poet (Sigur Ros & Miss Saigon) Paule Constable (War Horse, Berlin) and Hugh Vanstone (Shrek The Musical).

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.

Nick Moran, BSc, FHEA, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Production Lighting and Theatre Lighting Design

2018 Graduates

Find out more about our 2018 Theatre Lighting and Design graduates.

Class of 2019

View profiles of Theatre Lighting Design students graduating in 2019.

Register for email updates