Four Term in Theatre Design (MA)

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Created to challenge and inspire the next generation of theatre designers, the Theatre Design MA course at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School delivers intensive vocational training, enabling talented designers to develop their creative and technical ability in set and costume design for performance.

The Theatre Design MA course has just four places on offer in each intake, students receive focused individual mentoring and support from the BOVTS team and high-profile visiting professionals, all set in the environment of an integrated company staging fourteen productions a year.

The course duration is four terms; starting in April the course runs until July the following year.

The full time course is aimed at multi-skilled postgraduate level students. We encourage applicants with a range of experience and previous training in Theatre, Art and Design, (Architecture, Costume, Graphics, Interiors, Film Design, Painting, Sculpture, Drama and Theatre). We do not limit entry to students with previous training, although the majority of applicants come from degree courses. A comprehensive portfolio of artwork is required at interview.

Collaborative working with students from a range of disciplines at BOVTS, design students are offered at least three leading design positions on public productions at a variety of respected venues – from The Bristol Old Vic Theatre to the Brewery Theatre.

Master-classes and workshops with visiting professional practitioners help build a thorough understanding of the subject, these include script analysis, life and figure drawing, model making, technical drawing, CAD, Photoshop and model photography. Specialist lectures cover theatre design and costume history. Research and practical work are supported by site and production visits including trips to theatre design events and exhibitions.

An extensive portfolio of industry-standard work can be achieved over the course of four terms, including staged productions and theoretical projects. Students leave BOVTS with the skills, knowledge and confidence to build careers as professional designers. There are end of year exhibitions at the Royal West Academy of Art in Bristol and in London.

Inspiring leadership by Head of Design Angela Davies, who is an award-winning theatre designer with high-level industry links. The course equips its graduates for entry into prestigious Theatre Design competitions such as the Linbury Prize for Stage Design and the RSC’s trainee scheme. BOVTS graduates held 5 out of the 12 final places in the Linbury Prize 2013.

Applications are accepted at least one year in advance of the course start date. The four-term course starts at the beginning of the summer term and completes at the end of the summer term of the following academic year.

Recent graduates have held design positions at the RSC, Pilmlico Opera, Bristol Old Vic, The Brewery Theatre and the Tobacco Factory, The Finsborough Theatre The Vault Festival and with Kneehigh Theatre Company.

To receive more information on course structure and highlights, please contact

SBTD Exhibition shines spotlight on British stage design.

The SBTD exhibition: Make Believe - featured 150 UK based designers work on display included MA Theatre Design Graduates - Max Dorey, Chris Gylee, Mayou Trikerioti and also BOVTS production Designer's, Angela Davies and Rauri Murchinson.

In this clip Rauri talks about Theatre Design in and also the work of Head of Design is featured.

click this text to go to the BBC website in a new tab.

Short film of the BOVTS Finalists at the Linbury Prize 2013 CLICK HERE.

Recent course graduate 2013, Rosanna Vize has been successful in attaining the Trainee Design position at the RSC following on from graduate Max Dorey.

Please download the course highlights document MA Theatre Design Course Highlights

Please see a recent article about the course and the Head of the Course

Stage Article

“All applications are made direct to the Theatre School NOT THROUGH UCAS. ”

Applications Closed Course Fees Term Dates Courses Guide

Course Outline

Term 1

  • - Intensive skills-based classes from professional practitioners, including model-making and technical drawing
  • - Theatre script analysis and period research workshops
  • - Exploration of the collaborative creative process with a professional director and the MA Directors at BOVTS on the Theatre and Short Play Project
  • - Master-classes in advanced model-making techniques, technical drawing, an introduction to Photoshop and model photography
  • - Production and site visits.

Term 2

  • - Continued exploration of the design process through to presentation with meetings with a visiting professional on the Opera Project
  • - Regular design tutorials with additional workshops and classes to extend understanding.
  • - Theory is put into practice by designing the set or costumes for a BOVTS Spring production
  • - Collaborative working with a staff or visiting director and the BOVTS production teams for professional theatre venues

Term 3

  • - Design presentations and exploration of the production process through to full stage realisation.
  • - Close collaboration with actors, stage managers, technicians and scenic artists
  • - Work with the BOVTS MA Directors to complete production designs for the Brewery Theatre
  • - Skills classes and support in CAD and Photoshop and an introduction to portfolio design.

Term 4
  • - Series of small-scale productions for the Brewery Theatre
  • - Work begins on summer productions, exploring the role of set or costume designer in-depth
  • - More independent working with mentoring and support through the process
  • - Development of CV and professional portfolio
  • - Preparations for the end of year exhibitions at the Royal West Academy of Art, Bristol and London
  • - Exhibitions and Industry interviews with professional practitioners from a range of theatre disciplines, providing networking opportunities and pathways to work

PLEASE NOTE: Applications open on 1st October 2016 for April 2018 entry.

Offline Applications

Please contact:The Admissions Office, 1-2 Downside Road, Bristol BS8 2XF.

Tel: 0117 973 3535.


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Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Ltd, 1-2 Downside Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2XF
Admin: 0117 973 3535 | Box Office: 0117 973 3955 |

Photos: Graham Burke

Registered in England number 02430025 | Registered charity number 900280 | VAT number 520494954

Conservatoire for Dance and drama University of the West of England