BA (Hons) Design for Performance

BA (Hons) Design for Performance

Course Overview

Hands-on experience and work placements with some of the biggest names in the industry form the heart of your training.  

With our specialist tuition in set and costume design, you’ll learn all the practical and professional skills needed for a career working in events, TV, theatre or film.  

It starts with an introduction to design approaches and techniques – such as technical drawing, using design software, constructing costumes and prop making. A series of conceptual and specialist study projects will then allow you to apply your skills and explore your artistic identity unhindered by practical limitations. 

Under the guidance of your tutors, you’ll identify particular strengths and interests to develop through advanced skills classes and performance-based work.  

As a student here, you’ll be immersed in the creative atmosphere that is a hallmark of our conservatoire learning environment. You’ll work alongside students from music and drama in some of the near 30 events held at the College each year.  

You’ll also have work placements with our partner organisations, who are some of the most prestigious names in the industry, including the BBC, Badwolf Studios, Cos Props, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.  

Your course culminates with a student organised showcase of everyone’s practical and project work, collated and refined over the three years. And this will be exhibited in Cardiff and on London’s South Bank where it’ll be visited by potential employers from major theatres and studios. 


Why study this course?  

  • You’ll gain a deep understanding of the theory and practice of performance-related design to prepare you for a career in theatre, film or TV. It includes a broad range of practical skills, including technical drawing, CAD, SketchUp, model making, pattern cutting, costume construction, millinery, tailoring, scenic art and prop making.  

  • Our impressive list of tutors includes creative artists and practitioners from a range of disciplines – they offer you not only first-rate teaching, but mentorship and networking opportunities as well. 

  • We’ve formed strong partnerships with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as the BBC, Badwolf Studios, Cos Props, Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, and you’ll have opportunities to take part in work placements with them during your time here. 

  • You can tailor your study to suit your passion and career ambitions – and you don’t have to decide on a specialism until your final year.  

  • Our class sizes are small, so you’ll have a high level of individual support from your tutors.  

  • Hands-on experience is a fundamental to training. From week one, you’ll start developing practical projects, focusing on collaborative costume, props and puppetry. Later on in your first year, you’ll work individually and as a part of a team to create a ‘costume as performance’ event in collaboration with stage management students. 

  • As part of your course, you’ll also design set and costumes for a classic text in a traditional theatre setting, working with a tutor in the role of director, with additional staff providing practical guidance.  

  • You will also explore puppetry techniques, equipping you for possible placements within the large-scale, site-specific productions staged each summer by the Design for Performance department. 

  • Every year, the College produces more than 26 theatre productions including, musical theatre and opera. As part of your second year, you can work on these productions in roles such as design assistant, scenic artist, prop maker, costumer supervisor or maker, depending on your area of specialism. During your final year, possible roles include that of designer or a senior role within the realisation team.  

  • Every year, between 20 and 30 leading practitioners visit the College to hold masterclasses with our students, offering you unrivalled insight into the industry.  

  • You’ll develop your research skills through lectures, seminars and field trips focusing on important developments in the history of theatre, art, architecture, design and costume. 

  • In addition to your practical, hands-on training, you’ll also learn how to create your own professional website – essential for designers working in today’s industry. 


Entry Requirements

Normally an A level or equivalent qualification in art and design is the minimum requirement for entry.  

Equivalent qualifications include WBQ, Scottish Highers, BTEC National Diploma/Certificate, International Baccalaureate, Advanced GNVQ, AVCE or Advanced Diploma (Level 3), or recognised international qualifications. 

However, we may consider applications from people without formal qualifications if they have an exceptional level of practical ability and suitable portfolio content.   

Ultimately, the offer of a place will be based on individual applications, interviews and portfolio presentations.  

We do recommend that you complete a general art and design foundation course prior to entry.


International Applicants

International applicants whose first language is not English will need to demonstrate that their English language ability meets our minimum requirements. Please refer to our English language requirements page for details of accepted English language tests and required scores.


Tuition Fees for 2023-2024 (2024-2025 still TBC)

Course Duration Students from the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man Overseas Students
3 years full time £9,000 * £23,860 ** 

* Undergraduate tuition fees for UK students are set by the Welsh Government. They are reviewed annually and may be subject to an increase in future years.

** Undergraduate tuition fees for overseas students are subject to an annual increase.

Further information on the funding available towards the cost of tuition fees.

  • Other Costs

    Travel costs are low as most parts of the city are easily accessible on foot. The halls of residence, most residential areas and the city centre are a 10-15-minute walk from the campus. 

    Some teaching will take place at our Llanishen Studios, which is a short bus ride from the campus. A weekly ticket from Cardiff Bus is £14.50 and students aged 16-21 can apply for a pass which reduces this to £9.40 (prices correct as of November 2022). 

    There is an essential tool kit at the start of the course containing the following items in order to start the course, which is available to purchase from the College at a specially negotiated price of £75, which is 50% of the normal price.

    Essential Tool Kit 

    • Swann-Morton Graphic Knife Set (No. 3 Handle and 10a Blades) 
    • Set of 12 artists’ sketching pencils – grades 2H to 8B 
    • Winsor & Newton Gesso 500ml 
    • Hardback spiral sketchbook A3 
    • Set of Daler-Rowney System 3 Acrylics 75ml Tubes (8 colours) 
    • Winsor & Newton Watercolour Set 
    • Artists’ drawing inks – set of 4 
    • General-purpose brushes 1”, 2”, and 3” 
    • Set of 10 assorted small round and flat artists’ brushes 
    • Metric scale rule (triangular) with specified scales 
    • Adjustable set square 
    • Set square 45 degree 
    • Lockable toolbox 20 inch or more 
    • Compass set 
    • Set of 4 fine liners (black): 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 
    • Protractor 
    • 45cm plastic T-square 
    • Flat metal ruler 30cm 
    • 6” scissors 
    • 9” fabric scissors 
    • Thimble 
    • Clear plastic ruler 18” 
    • Tape measure – cloth 
    • A2 cutting mat 
    • 5m steel retractable tape measure 
    • Snap-off craft knife
    • Small, pointed pliers 
    • Small wire snips 

    You will also need to purchase your own steel toe safety shoes. Students are not allowed into the workshops without safety shoes. 

    Using laptops or tablets to support your design and academic studies is a crucial part of your learning. While the College provides computers for teaching and access throughout the day, you will find it necessary at times to use a computer while working at home. The computer should have the following specification: 

    • Intel Core i5 processor 
    • 8GB RAM 
    • 500GB hard drive 
    • NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics card with 2GB of dedicated RAM

    The College provides students access to a large range of software both on college computers and with licenses for the students’ personal computers on a project-by-project basis. Students should however subscribe to Adobe Premiere Suite as all students will use the software provided via the Adobe Creative Cloud. 

    Students are encouraged to attend as many College performances as possible and are eligible for free tickets to Richard Burton Company shows. For other performances, students are eligible for discounted tickets. 

    Students who arrange external professional placements in conjunction with course leaders are responsible for any expenses incurred. 

    The College covers the cost of transportation to London and back for the final exhibition as well as 50% of the accommodation costs. Students are required to cover the remaining 50% – currently £100. Breakfast is provided but other food and drinks are at students’ own cost. 

    For the exhibition stand, you will need to cover the costs of any extra technical equipment required, in consultation with the technical manager. Packing materials for your exhibit are also at your own expense, as are website hosting fees, printing, business cards and crew t-shirts. 

    Dissertations need to be submitted in hardcopy and the cost of printing and binding is the responsibility of the student. 

    Students who are required to re-sit assessments may be expected to pay a resit fee. 

2021 National Student Survey Results: RWCMD Design for Performance

  • The teaching on my course: 100%
  • Learning opportunities: 100%
  • Assessment and feedback: 95.83%
  • Academic support: 98.15%
  • Organisation and management: 96.30%
  • Learning resources: 92.59%
  • Learning community: 97.22
  • Student Voice: 92.59
  • Overall satisfaction: 100
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