You are Tomorrow's Scenic Artist

Award: MA Scenic Art


Locations: Bristol Old Vic Theatre School - Operating on two specialist teaching sites (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s Scenic Workshops in Bedminster, Bristol and the main school site on Downside Road, Bristol).

Awarding body: University of the West of England (UWE)

Students who complete the course successfully will receive an MA degree from the University of the West of England (UWE). The agreement between the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the University of the West of England is reviewed every five years for developmental purposes and was last renewed in 2016.

Duration: 1 year (full-time), 38 weeks

Academic year: Full-time course: 24th September 2018 – 12th July 2019

“All applications are made direct to UCAS Conservatoires.”

Course Fees Term Dates Policies & Procedures

Entry requirements 2017-18

Normally entry for this course is with a first degree in a related subject: Fine Art, Illustration, Painting and Drawing, Sculpture, Graphics, Film, TV, Animation, and Theatre.

A good command of the English language is required.

Applicants without a degree but with the equivalent experience would also be considered.

A comprehensive portfolio of artwork is required at interview.

Course overview

Taught by highly experienced industry professionals this Scenic Art master’s level course offers an intensive, vocational training in the many aspects of scenic art offering a maximum of four students who wish to develop their careers as scenic artists.

The course will equip students with the necessary specialist skills required to work in Theatre, including Opera and Ballet, Film, Television and Animation.

The Course runs over three intensive terms during which time students gain skills and experience in scenic art techniques and their application while acquiring an in-depth understanding of professional practice and standards.

Teaching is led by the school’s Head of Scenic Art in collaboration with visiting industry professionals.

Operating from our Scenery Workshops in Bristol and as part of a mid-scale theatre production company. Students paint the sets for the schools six main house public productions while getting the opportunity to work with professional designers and directors and attend design and production meetings to gain an understanding of the roles and demands across all theatre production departments.

Students also receive master-classes in a range of skills and techniques, including; life-drawing, scenically painting and Old Master, perspective, marbling, wood-graining, polystyrene carving, and painting for animation.

Ongoing project work is also an important part of the professional development of the scenic art students and students graduate with a strong portfolio of their work while at BOVTS.

Prior to graduation students complete work placements at some of the most respected scenic art workshops in the UK.

Upon graduation students showcase their work in a public exhibition and are interviewed by some of the UK’s leading industry practitioners.

BOVTS values its strong professional links to the theatre and entertainment industries and we are proud of our exceptional employment record.

Royal Opera House

Emma Troughridge - Head Scenic Artist

'’The BOVTS scenic art course produces ‘industry ready’ as well as highly employable students'’

Aardman Animations

Zoe Starzak - Production Manager, Art & Model Making Department

‘’The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s Scenic Art course has consistently provided us with highly skilled and motivated artists and we look forward to continuing our close ties with the course.’’

Cardiff Theatrical Services

Ian Siddal - Scenic Art Manager

'’Students from the BOVTS Scenic Art course are trained to a high level, and are able to present themselves and their work in a professional manner. This makes them very attractive to employers and there is usually quite a battle between companies to employ the graduates'’

Scenic Art Graduate

Simon Farrell

"The course was probably one of the best experiences of my life. The amazing level of professionalism from everyone involved with the School and its shows were matched by the incredibly high standard of work that was expected of us.’’

Recent graduate employment includes: The Royal Opera House, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Cardiff Theatrical Services, The Royal National Theatre, Northern Ballet, TR2 Plymouth, Richard Nutbourne - Cool Flight Ltd, Rocket Scenery, Cameron Mackintosh’s National and International Tour of ‘Mary Poppins’, Disney's ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Frozen’ on Broadway. Festival work includes ‘Boomtown’ and ‘Glastonbury’. Film work includes: Wes Anderson's ‘Isle of Dogs’ (UK release - March 2018), Tim Burton's ‘Frankenweenie', Aardman Animations' ‘Shaun the Sheep’, ‘Pirates’ and ‘Early Man’ (UK release - Jan 2018). TV work includes: 'Will' for TNT’, ‘Crazy Face’ for Netflix and 'Good Omens' for the BBC (still in production).

A copy of the rules and regulations governing the course is available consult the BOVTS policies and procedures page.

Course Outline

The majority of the teaching and learning will be centred on the Theatre Schools main house shows and a great deal of time is spent learning and exploring the many specialist techniques required before applying these to the scenery. Students will have the opportunity to see their work in public venues around the city.

Emulating the professional world, students will be required to work long hours to meet the deadlines of putting a show on stage and work closely with designers and other production departments, learning collaborative, problem solving and creative interpretation skills.

Tutors work alongside students teaching and guiding as the shows progress. Students will mainly be working in a team with others on the course and will work individually in the masterclasses and or other project work, such as spraying, throughout the year.

Alongside the shows there will be masterclasses, taught by industry specialists in Life Drawing, scenically painting an Old Master, Woodgraining and Marbling, Perspective, 3d poly carving, and painting for Animation.

Term 1

  • • The first three weeks will be dedicated to practical classes and seminars in the role of the scenic artist, the production process, terminology, health and safety, surfaces, preparation and priming, paints and textures, brushes, tools and materials.
  • • Basic colour theory, mixing and matching colour, scaling up, drawing devices, basic carpentry.
  • • Five half day sessions of Life Drawing.
  • • One or two of the Theatre School productions will be painted in the following six weeks. Learning and applying the techniques for the first shows and will be done working in groups of peers under the supervision of the Head of Scenic Art and following the defined guidelines of the professional designers.
  • • Students will learn about paint calls which will be required on both shows as part of the production process.
  • • The final two weeks will be dedicated to a masterclass in reproducing a scenic copy of an old master, using advanced specialist techniques.
  • • A great emphasis is placed on portfolios and students will be photographing and recording their work throughout the year.
  • • Students keep an annotated diary of each of the masterclasses and show that they have worked on throughout this term.

Term 2

  • • One week Wood graining and Marbling masterclass
  • • Students will paint two of the schools main house shows
  • • Under the guidance and support of the tutors, students have the opportunity to supervise or deputise on the Schools public productions. They will learn how to work collaboratively with the student designers, produce samples for the designer’s approval, work as part of the production team and attend production meetings and paint calls, quantify and order materials and paints.
  • • One week Masterclass in Perspective
  • • One week Masterclass in 3d Poly Carving

Term 3

  • • Under the guidance and support of the tutors, students will have the opportunity to reverse roles as either supervisor or deputy Scenic Artist on the schools two graduate productions.
  • • Throughout this term we will be preparing for the exhibition including portfolios and business cards.
  • • There will be and exhibition of their work with the Costume and Design students at one of the city’s leading art gallery’s where industry interviews will be arranged.
  • • One week Masterclass in Animation painting. Students will work together to make a small animation set through from building and painting to finally dressing it at the end. (The scenic art course is extended by a week)

Visits to some of the UK's leading theatre workshops will be arranged, usually throughout the first two terms

Module map

This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course. Each module is worth a specified number of credits: All modules are compulsory, enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests.

  • Year 1
  • Module number: UAMN8Y-45-M Module name: Scenic Painting Theory and Techniques
  • Module number:UAMN93-45-M Module name: Applied Scenic Art
  • Module number:UAMN94-45-M Module name: Scenic Art Department Management
  • Module number:UAMN95-45-M Module name: Industry Engagement/Exhibition Each module 45 credits at level M.
  • Total 180 credits.
  • Interim Award for 90 credits: PG Cert.

  • Each module takes between 7 and 11 weeks each to complete.

Award: MA Scenic Art

Teaching and Learning

The programme is practical and career focused. It is integrated with the school’s other programmes during productions, as well as within the professional environment, as some performances take place in local professional theatres.

The programme features a high level of one-to one teaching by specialist professionals and work is realised for professional standard performances.

The learning is immersive and singular in its focus on high level specialist professional employability as a main learning outcome.

There is a maximum of four students accepted to this course.

The learning is immersive with students taught / supervised by teaching staff at least 35 hours per week across the 38 weeks of the programme.

Academic and Student Support

As part of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD), the School is committed to selecting, training and supporting students, regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion.

Applicants to CDD schools are chosen solely on the basis of their talent and potential to develop the skills required for their chosen profession. The School does, however, judge applicants on their suitability for a course and their potential to successfully complete the training, as the work is rigorous and requires high levels of energy and commitment.

Student Support on the programmes at the School covers a variety of areas such as support for disabled students, academic support, student finance and health and welfare.

Julia Heeley, Student Support Manager, is able to answer queries about support available for disabled applicants/students. Her email address is and she can also be reached by telephone on 0117 980 9247.

Our Academic and Student Support services team provides help in the following areas:

Support for students with disabilities including specific learning difficulties In our admissions process, we are committed to supporting students with disabilities.

Disabled students are encouraged to disclose their support requirements so that we can endeavour to meet them during the audition process and subsequent training.

The School welcomes all students regardless of disability. It is our aim to provide appropriate support so that all students are able to achieve their full potential.

Students with a disability will be provided with advice and support from the Student Support Manager. If you have a disability or specific learning difficulty we recommend you contact her either prior to starting your course or during your first few weeks at the School to discuss any support requirements you may have.

This may include support resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment, learning difficulties such as dyslexia or dyspraxia or mental health difficulties.

We recognise that everyone is an individual and we will work with students to identify potential barriers to training and do what we can to remove those barriers. We will also make any necessary reasonable adjustments, to ensure that disabled students can train at the School.

Quickscan screening

At the School we put a great deal of emphasis on supporting students during their time with us.

We are aware that nationally there is a very high proportion of students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs) e.g. dyslexia or dyspraxia, in institutions which specialise in art, design or the performing arts.

During your first week, the School encourages all students to take a short questionnaire known as QuickScan which has proved to be a useful piece of screening software for students and staff across the CDD Schools. It takes the form of an on-line, easy to navigate, questionnaire which will help to identify your learning style and specific areas of learning strengths and weaknesses. It is used in conjunction with other indicators, including student disclosure (as part of the interview and registration process), tutor feedback on practical and written work, and students expressing their concerns and any support requirements which may become apparent during their studies.

Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

UK students with disabilities (including Specific Learning Difficulties and long-term Mental Health conditions) can apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA)

DSA usually provides support for students with the specialist equipment and tools necessary to support you with your studies, including software, hardware and study skills support. Unlike a student loan, DSA does not have to be repaid. However, it is rarely awarded in the form of financial support.

Applications are made through, Student Finance England (SFE), Student Finance Wales (SFW), or Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

In order to apply for DSA, Student Finance will require evidence of any impairment or disability. This may take the form of a doctor’s or specialist’s letter or, more often, a report from an Educational Psychologist (Diagnostic Assessment Report).

If you require a Diagnostic Assessment from an Educational Psychologist, the Student Support Manager can arrange this for you and can guide you through the process.

Personal Academic Support

Various staff members at the School can help in different ways if you need academic support. If you need help with the content of classes or assessment work, you can ask the relevant head of course, tutor or your pastoral care tutor for an appointment or you can ask the Student Support Manager to arrange a tutorial with the relevant member of staff on your behalf. If you make an appointment, you can prepare for the meeting and discuss your concerns away from class. Heads of courses, modules leaders and individual tutors can all help you with understanding aspects of your training and can offer overall guidance or advice about your programme of study.

Study skills (including reading, note-taking and presentation skills)

Study skills support is usually arranged for students who have been awarded support through Disabled Student Allowance (DSA). However, the Student Support Manager will be happy to arrange one to one study skills support for you if deemed appropriate and necessary.

Mental Health And Wellbeing

Schools within the CDD recognise the challenges faced by students entering higher education and that training in a conservatoire institution can place great demands on a student both physically and emotionally. The CDD has published a leaflet aimed to help students identify signs of mental distress and where to go for support: click this text to go to the CDD website in a new tab


The School has a student therapy and counselling service,¬¬ which is organised and staffed by accredited, registered psychotherapists and counsellors and is there to help with any more deep-seated personal problems on which pastoral tutors are not qualified to advise. If students wish to have an initial assessment with a therapist or counsellor, they should contact the School’s Student Support Manager. A strict professional code of confidentiality is always maintained.

Student welfare and pastoral care

We actively encourage students to develop a pro-active and positive approach to their own ‘wellness’. We are preparing professionals to enter physically and mentally challenging professions and we work to enable students to sustain a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle.

Every student is assigned a pastoral tutor who monitors they progress throughout the year in addition to having access to the Student Support Manager. All students have tutorials with their head of course, head of year or allocated pastoral care tutor in which non-teaching issues can be discussed. A confidential tutorial can be requested of any member of the full-time teaching staff on your course.

In addition, BOVTS students have access to UWE’s Student Wellbeing Service, details of which can be found at:

click this text to go to the UWE Wellbeing website in a new tab UWE Wellbeing Service, 3F Reception, UWE, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY Tel: +44 (0)117 32 86268 E-mail:

For further information on support which the School offers, please see the Guide to Student Support which can be found at: click this text to go to the guide in a new tab

You can also find additional information for disabled applicants and students at all Conservatoire for Dance and Drama affiliated Schools here: click this text to go to the CDD website in a new tab

Teaching staff

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes Head of Scenic Art and visiting Scenic Art specialist professionals.

You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles Here


Students are assessed against professional standards in Scenic Art.

Assessment is practical project based and will include detailed written feedback from teaching staff and the student’s own self-critical annotated portfolio / diary.

Fees and Funding

MA Scenic Art

Duration: 1 year (full-time)

Fees 2018:

  • Tuition fees for EU/UK students on a 38 week (one year) course (MA Scenic Art, MA Film Production and MA Theatre Production Management) will be £10,500
  • Tuition fees for International (Non EU/UK) students on a 38 week (one year) course (MA Scenic Art, MA Film Production and MA Theatre Production Management) will be £21,870
  • (Full-time route only)

    It is not possible to confirm fees for future academic years, as these are dependent on Teaching Excellence Framework outcomes, but the maximum increase in each year will not exceed the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

    The following course-related costs are included in the fees:

    Accommodation and living costs not included in the fees

    Industry work placement – accommodation and travel expenses will be covered.

    Sources of financial support

    If you receive funding from Student Finance you may be eligible to apply for additional benefits.

    Details can be obtained from our Student Fees home page

    available here Please see the BOVTS fees page...

    Bursaries, scholarships and prizes

    The University also provides a number of scholarships and prizes for undergraduate students, which you may be eligible to apply for. Some of these are available to students on any course (such as Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD) scholarships, Hardship Fund and bursaries offered by charitable trusts)

    How to Apply

    To apply for entry to the MA Scenic Art programme in October 2018, you will need to use the UCAS Conservatoires.

    To apply for this course please click here: click here to apply via the UCAS website in a new tab

    Applications open on the 1 September 2017 and close on 15th June 2018.

    Please note that UCAS Conservatoires is a different application system to UCAS Undergraduate.

    Applying Through UCAS Conservatoires

    Although UCAS Conservatoires (previously CUKAS) offers many advantages, it was originally designed to handle applications for music programmes at UK conservatoires and is in the process of being adapted to meet the needs of drama applicants.

    We are working with UCAS Conservatoires and other drama schools to ensure this happens as quickly as possible but, in the meantime, you may find the following notes helpful.

    Application Codes

    • The UCAS Conservatoires Institution Code for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is B65
    • and the Course Code for MA Scenic Art programme is BOV8.

    • • When applying, you will be required to 'select an instrument', please select drama production for the MA Scenic Art programme.
    • • In your application, you will be asked for details of your 'practical/music referee'. This should be a reference written by your drama teacher / lecturer, Head of Department, or any other appropriate person who can comment on your production abilities.

    The UCAS Conservatoires website will allow you to track the progress of your applications using a unique username and password. You will see details of audition dates and times as well as any decisions as they are posted.

    You will find guidance on using this service at or you can contact the UCAS Conservatoires Customer Service Unit on +44 (0)871 468 0 470 (Monday to Friday, 08:30 and 18:00hrs).

    Additional Guidance on How to Apply

    Registration and Audition Fees

    There is a one-off registration fee of £25 to register (for entry 2018) to use the service. The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School also charges an audition administration fee of £35 to cover the cost involved in arranging and delivering auditions/interviews. Both fees are payable through UCAS Conservatoires.

    Personal Statements

    We recommend that you pay particular attention to the information you provide in your personal statement on your application form in order to give us as full a picture as possible of your relevant experience and reasons for applying.

    Application Dates

    You can apply through UCAS Conservatoires from the 1 September 2017. The equal consideration deadline for applications to the MA Scenic Art programme is 15 January 2018. However our applications for this course will close on 28th February 2018.

    If you have any further queries please contact the Admissions Department to discuss:

    Deferred Entry

    We are unable to consider applications for deferred entry.

    Application regulations

    • We will only accept one application per applicant, per year.
    • We will not accept applications if you have previously applied in four or more consecutive years.
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    Conservatoire for Dance and drama University of the West of England