Theatre Lighting Design, BA

Duration: 3 years full-time, October start

UCAS code: Institution code: C35; Course code: W450

Award: Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

BA Theatre Lighting Design - Lighting for "Andorra".

This course trains students in the art of lighting design for theatre, live performance and related fields. It involves learning the practical skills required to rig, focus and maintain lighting equipment whilst developing the ability to make aesthetic and technical design choices. It also covers aspects of video and projection design.

About the course

Students are supported and encouraged to make full use of automated lighting, video, projection, LEDs and other emerging technologies. They will benefit from Central’s industry focused research culture, which ensures their design practice is at the forefront of knowledge and industry practice.

With an emphasis on practical as well as aesthetic training, graduates will be able to create work they can be proud of - and earn a living from it. Tuition is structured around practical projects in Central’s well-equipped studio and proscenium performance spaces, with rigorous investigation of the design process. As they progress, students develop their own style, supported by tutors, mentors and visiting professionals.

Course Detail

Year 1

Students will gain a solid grounding in ‘the tools of the trade’ and build confidence on the practical side of creating stage lighting, enabling them to explore and develop their abilities as a designer. Preconceptions of what theatre and lighting design are will be challenged, and the ability to work as part of a collaborative, multi-disciplinary creative team will be formed. The year concludes with a production project giving students the opportunity to take the role of lighting designer and/or lighting programmer.

Year 2

Students continue the process of building practical and design skills on a range of realised and speculative productions, and work closely with students from other courses as well as visiting professionals. Skills in collaborative working, communication, negotiation and problem solving in a team environment will be developed. Workshops include design for video on stage, working at height, working with electricity and architectural lighting design. By the end of this year, students will be able to plan, focus, and plot lighting. There will also be an opportunity to complete at least one realised lighting or video design for a Central public production, working with a professional director.

Year 3

Central’s excellent relationship with the lighting industry, including numerous alumni and leading international designers, will enable students to continue to develop contemporary lighting design skills and to gain a further understanding of new technologies. Project work will offer experience in the managerial and creative demands faced by lighting designers on challenging projects and productions. Towards the end of their training, students take part in a public exhibition – a well-attended forum for presenting a portfolio of their best work to the industry.

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


Throughout the course, but especially in the third year, students will create links with their chosen area of the industry and spend some time working outside Central, to make the journey from the academic world to the professional world as seamless as possible.

Students are able to build and maintain valuable contacts with industry professionals and recent graduates, as well as with major theatre and event companies.

Professional Focus

The lighting courses at Central are generously supported by major industry partners, including White Light, HSL and PRG UK, outdoor event and fireworks company Walk the Plank, and Mesmer, the media and video collective behind many large-scale theatre and opera productions, and 59 Productions. Central also has strong links with smaller companies that were started by graduates, such as DBSL and Liteup Events.

Many exciting opportunities for lighting students come through the network of graduates already well placed in theatre, concert touring and event industries and a regular panel of industry experts helps final year students launch their professional careers.

The course has excellent links with the Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), which helps students to network in the industry, and to find placements and job opportunities.

Recent Visiting Staff

Lighting Designers: David Howe, David W. Kidd, Lucy Carter, Chloe Kenward, Rick Fisher, Paule Constable, Katharine Williams.

Leading Production Lighting specialists: Mark Mumford, Marc Callahan, Martin Chisnall, Stuart Crane.

Members of the lighting departments of: English National Opera, Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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

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. This is particularly true for candidates who do not come straight from school or college.

Admission with Academic Credit

or 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.

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.


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).

Recent Graduate Employment

Theatre: including as Programmer and Assistant Lighting Designer, National Theatre London, Glyndebourne, English National Opera, Sadler’s Wells, The Place, Young Vic, Royal Court, Tricycle and Hampstead Theatres.

Lighting Design: Linbury Stage of the Royal Opera House, Arcola Theatre, Tricycle Theatre, Park Theatre, Curve Theatre Leicester, and numerous small and medium sized producing and receiving houses throughout the UK and Europe.

Site-specific Work: including Goat and Monkey, Secret Cinema, National Youth Theatre.

Events and Production: graduate traineeships with White Light and Imagination Ltd, and working on events at The Royal Albert Hall, the Roundhouse, Chelsea Football Club, Royal Courts of Justice, O2 Greenwich, Geneva Motor Show and other venues throughout the UK and Europe.

Video and Projection Design: team members English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, National Theatre and Complicite, and for bands including Delphic, The Streets and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Concert Touring and Festivals: Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, Lee-Fest, and other festivals.

Touring Lighting Designer: worldwide with bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club, The Streets, The Script and Mark Ronson.


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

Nick Moran, BSc, FHEA, MA

Senior Lecturer, Course Leader Production Lighting and Theatre Lighting Design

Current Students

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

Related Courses


Ingi Bekk
Ingi Bekk

Graduated 2013, freelance Video and Lighting Designer, recently working on Sorrow Beyond Dreams directed by Katie Mitchell, Let It Be the musical and The Machine at Manchester International Festival and on Broadway.

The course helped me tremendously in developing the skills and professional relationships necessary to make an almost seamless move into working as a professional after graduation. On leaving Central, I had already made relationships that have been key to my career progression and have given me the opportunity to work with some of the greatest current theatre practitioners. The world of video in performance is moving at a lightning speed in terms of equipment development and the level of expectation towards what is, could and should be possible. This provides a never-ending challenge of keeping up with current technology and the ‘newest thing out there’. Central has provided me with the tools to be able to continuously develop my skills beyond the course.

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