Design for Performance

Design for Performance

What is Design for Performance?

RWCMD is a world leader in the training of designers for performance. Our Design department offers immersive, hands-on practical and ‘fit-for-the-future’ training for students wanting to work across the theatre, event, film and television industries.


Do you have a love of art and design and want to develop your passion and be inspired? Can you look at your work with critical reflection and see your progress?

Show us how you put your hands into action to make things and share examples of what you enjoy doing creatively. Seeing your artistic development is interesting to us and we encourage you to be critically reflective about your work and show us what worked and what did not.

Design for Performance (also known is Scenography) trains you in the creation of stage and performance environments for Theatre, Film and Television (inclusive of Scenic Design, Costume Design and Construction, Digital Design and Puppetry Design).

We are committed to tackling underrepresentation in the industry and want to build a diverse creative community enriched by multiple perspectives. We therefore actively encourage applications from all backgrounds to study in our supportive and nurturing environment.

Fundamental to the course is the relationship with the industry. We’re continually listening to what skills they’re expecting us to provide to our students, and in return, we have a fantastic relationship with them. We have had guaranteed employment across film, television, and theatre after graduation over the last few years.'

Sean Crowley, Director of Drama and Collaborative Performance Practice


Where do you see yourself working in the industry?

Our students define their own path and can experience all aspects of Design for Performance including model making, puppetry, costume, sound, lighting and conceptual design before deciding what to specialise in.  You choose what you want to be, and we help you find that journey through your professional life by tailoring the course to you. You will be taught by award-winning practitioners.

The skills you learn here are hugely attractive to employers. The creative sector often approaches us to work with our sought-after graduates and this is reflected in our high graduate employment rate across film, television, and theatre.


Why study design for performance at RWCMD?

  • We are a world leader in the training of designers for performance producing Golden Globe, Tony & BAFTA-winning graduates.

  • Our graduates are regularly honoured at the prestigious Linbury Prize for Stage Design and get the chance to work with some of the country’s leading theatre, opera and dance companies and to exhibit at the National Theatre.

  • We offer immersive, hands-on practical and ‘fit for the future’ training and have built strong relationships with major UK arts companies in film, TV, and theatre.

  • Recent student & graduate film and TV credits include Willow, Havoc, His Dark Materials, Sex Education, Winter King among others.

  • We can offer placement opportunities with renowned venues like Royal Opera House, National Theatre, Sherman Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company among others.

  • Our in-house production company, the Richard Burton Company, produces around 24 productions a year which offer our students cross-course collaborative opportunities 

  • Our design students create their design work for public performances, working with directors, actors, musicians’ singers and stage managers. The performances range from classic dramas, specially commissioned plays, main stage musicals, large-scale operas and, uniquely for design, site-specific puppetry.

  • We offer regular talks and visits by leading international practitioners like RWCMD Fellows Pamela Howard and Paule Constable.

  • We have a high ratio of staff to students with lots of dedicated one-to-one training and mentoring available to our students.

Balance exhibition

Balance Logo

Each year, our Design for Performance graduates take part in the Balance exhibition in Cardiff and in London. The exhibition is a celebration of students’ work across all areas of design, across all College productions. View the work of this year’s graduates.

  • Find out more about RWCMD
    • Our thriving, multicultural institution welcomes 800 students from more than 40 countries. You’ll train side-by-side with other instrumentalists, actors, singers, composers and performance designers and will work with them on projects throughout the year.  
    • Collaboration forms a huge part of what we do, allowing you to immerse yourself in new experiences with a broad range of disciplines and skills from across the college. Our unique student-led company REPCo, encourages students to work together to be bold, imaginative and entrepreneurial.
    • Our industry partnerships provide real-world, enhanced learning experiences with leading arts organisations and professional musicians, also offering you opportunities to build your future professional networks.
    • RWCMD is a vibrant arts centre staging 500 performances a year (many of which are free) which are a combination of world-leading artists and student work, often side by side. Regular major events at RWCMD include BBC Young Musician of the Year, and BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and standalone events such as the World Harp Congress in July 2022. 
    • The College is the first UK conservatoire to achieve a gold standard level of quality assurance across Music, Drama and Under 18s in the recent international MusiQuE, Music Quality Enhancement review. Reviewers were particularly impressed with the College's approach to the individual student experience, multidisciplinary collaboration, and overall ambition, citing RWCMD as a shining example of best practice across European conservatoires, and reflecting the College's exceptional people and unique community. 
    • As the world’s only Steinway-exclusive conservatoire the College now has a world-leading fleet of pianos, and every acoustic piano at the College is a Steinway.
    • We fundamentally believe in the power of music to transform and enrich society, developing skills in teaching, coaching and co-creating projects to create musicians of the future who will make an impact as performers, teachers and enablers within the broader community. Fundamental questions - ‘How can we shape the industry of the future’, ‘How can we use art to make a difference’ - help us to produce musicians who are truly relevant to a 21st Century world.
    • You’ll practice, study and perform in a beautiful, inspiring setting, bordering Bute Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. We have a chamber music hall with extraordinary acoustics, a glass-lined foyer and performance space, the Richard Burton Theatre, as well as state-of-the-art studios and rehearsal spaces.
    • Our campus is right in the centre of Cardiff, the UK’s first Music City, and the thriving, compact capital of Wales, which is only two hours by train to central London. 
    • Cardiff was named as the most cost-effective city in the UK for students, according to the NatWest Student Living Index 2022.

Sign Up to Receive Updates

To receive further information on studying with us, please sign up below.

An email asking you to confirm your address will be sent. Please check your spam / junk folder if the email doesn’t arrive within a few minutes.


Latest from the Blog