The Drama Directing MA has been specially designed to equip students with high-level skills and knowledge to work professionally as a drama director.
You will gain experience of production preparation and rehearsal techniques, including dramaturgy and collaborating with designers and other key creatives. The course will build your knowledge, skills and confidence through workshops, classes and projects. You will develop your practice of assistant directing and directing through your own workshop productions of a new script written by one of the School’s MA Drama Writing students.
There is a ‘permeable membrane’ between the Theatre School and the industry, so you will have the opportunity to learn from and work with high calibre professional practitioners as part of your training.
A key feature of the course is that it integrates with other drama disciplines. As a result, supported by experienced staff you will be working alongside writing, acting, design and technical students.
The School follows industry practice within its learning environment. You will be learning the protocols and processes involved in drama production by taking part in realised productions staged in professional theatre venues. You will be taught by School staff and experienced visiting industry professionals. The same approach is taken in the rehearsal room: you will be mentored as an assistant director by a professional director, learning within a structure that reproduces industry practice. You will learn by observation, by doing and from being steeped in the environment.
You will develop a sophisticated understanding of the process of acting and of acting methodologies and techniques, enabling you to work confidently and appropriately with actors in different styles and genres and will have experienced the technical demands of mounting a theatre production. You will also have a thorough working knowledge of working with writers, designers, lighting designers, costume makers and stage-managers.
You will graduate as a thoughtful, reflective and creative practitioner who is capable of making imaginative leaps and be an excellent collaborator, able to articulate ideas inspirationally and be sensitive to the values and creative contributions of others.
A summary document with key course information for 2020 entrants can be found on the policies and procedures page.
Applications can only be accepted through UCAS Postgraduate and not via any third party.
ⓘ Where Covid-19 control measures impact our ability to deliver this course as described for the 2021-21 academic year, we will update offer holders by email and confirm teaching arrangements at least four weeks before term begins.
Successful graduates will have extensive experience of working as an assistant to a range of directors and have successfully led a workshop production of a new play from inception through to completion.
You will graduate with the confidence to network and communicate using the language of the industry. You will be familiar with a range of theatre practices and have the potential to seamlessly transfer from the course to employment as a professional theatre director.
Recent MA Directing graduates have directed at Bristol Old Vic, the National Theatre, Gate Theatre, The Watermill Theatre and The Tobacco Factory.
The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has been approved for the US Federal Student Loan programme.
For further details on options for funding and loans for US students studying in the UK consult the BOVTS US Students funding page.
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Text Book Information: Indicative basic reading lists can be found under the full module specifications
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Gainful employment disclosures
All non-degree educational programmes are referred to as Gainful Employment (GE) programmes. New US Department of Education regulations require institutions to inform current and prospective students of their prospects for ‘gainful employment’ when receiving federal financial aid for non-degree programs such as certificates and diplomas.
It is important to note that at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Title IV Federal Loans are awarded to degree-seeking students only. However, University regulations stipulate that if a degree-seeking student terminates their programme early, they may receive an ‘exit award’ in the form of a certificate or diploma if they have fulfilled the appropriate credit requirements.
Queries relating to your Direct Federal Loans application with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School can be sent to:
University of the West of England (UWE)
Students who successfully complete the course will receive a degree from the University of the West of England (UWE).
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – Operating on two specialist teaching sites (Downside Road, main site and Christchurch Studios). Performing in the major producing theatre venues in Bristol: Bristol Old Vic, Circomedia, Tobacco Factory, Wardrobe Theatre and Redgrave Theatre.
Applicants would normally be expected to have an honours degree in a related subject area and it is essential that they have proven professional experience in one or more capacities within the entertainment industry. This could be in directing fringe productions, working as a performer or in stage management.
Applicants should also have a clear understanding of theatre and individual creative ambitions.
If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency through a relevant qualification, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which can also be used to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requirements. For MA Drama Directing, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in each component of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
All applicants will normally be interviewed by two members of staff. Recall interviews will include the Head of Course.
There are no interview fees.
This module map provides a list of the modules that make up your course.
All modules are compulsory, with each module worth a specified number of credits. They enable you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests.
Module Name: The Director’s Toolkit (50 Credits)
Module Name: Assistant Director (50 Credits)
Optional Modules: There are no optional modules for this stage of this award.
Interim Award: There are no interim awards under this award scheme.
Module Name: Preparation for Employment for Directors (20 Credits)
Module Name: Directing Theatre (60 Credits)
Award: MA Drama Directing
Credit requirements: MA – 180 credits
Each module takes between 7 and 11 weeks each to complete.
In the first term you will be learning in a group with other MA Drama Directing students exploring the different facets of the skills needed to be an effective and creative drama director. You will learn through seminars, workshops, master classes and theoretical projects in a structured teaching environment.
As you progress through the Course you will learn by observing the practice of professional directors in a live theatre setting, initially at assistant director level, under the guidance of teaching staff and / or mentors. You will then develop your own practice by taking responsibility for your own production – learning through doing. By being part of or leading a creative production team your directing skills will be developed by being immersed in the creative process. This will involve initial independent research about a production and creating a vision for the piece, through to the practical realisation of this piece of theatre by leading the whole team to the end point of performance on a stage.
By studying in a conservatoire drama school, you will be immersed in your subject and in an environment in which the School’s many different courses share a common purpose, that of teaching students professional practice for drama production. You are therefore learning alongside different groups of students or individuals with a shared focus, learning your place in the team and learning how to interact purposefully within a creative team.
As you learn the different elements involved in developing your work as a director of theatre or recorded media, your focus will be on enhancing your own skills and approach to leading a team and being the initiator of ideas. You will learn about the production process, be exposed to the work of leading practitioners and be mentored on practical staged productions. Through this you will develop your own voice and individual approach to performance.
There are normally six to eight students accepted on this course per academic year.
It is expected that students are able to work independently and develop leadership skills through the course as well as being taught through structured classes and workshops.
Average independent study hours will be 24 hours per week.
This is a full-time course and so students are expected to be studying for at least 35 hours per week during term time: normally Monday – Friday between 8.30am and 5.30pm. During production periods there will also be evening and weekend work.
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 [email protected] 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.
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.
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.
UWE Wellbeing Service, 3F Reception, UWE, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY Tel: +44 (0)117 32 86268 E-mail: [email protected]
For further information on support which the School offers, please see the Guide to Student Support.
You can also find additional information for disabled applicants and students at all Conservatoire for Dance and Drama affiliated Schools here.
You will be taught by an experienced teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the course modules.
The team includes the School’s Artistic Director (Jenny Stephens), the Directing Tutor (Chloe Masterton) and visiting industry professionals.
Please note: the named teaching team is correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change.
You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.
There is continuous assessment of your drama directing skills, knowledge and understanding. All modules are assessed by coursework (meaning there are no exams). You will receive extensive feedback – written and oral – from teaching staff and visiting industry professionals.
On the first module, The Director’s Toolkit, you will be assessed on two projects. The first is the Collaborative Project completed with an MA Performance Design student, involving a fifteen-minute presentation by you. The second element is a Notional Project: a forty-minute presentation to an industry panel of material in preparation for a theoretical production of a play.
On the Assistant Directing module you will be assessed on the execution of the role of an assistant director on a theatre production, film or audio drama. You will also produce a detailed self-reflective journal relating to the production and your role as assistant director.
The Directing Theatre module will be assessed from your choice of play through to its performance. Aspects of this will include artistic flair and judgement, use of the space, working with the cast and your leadership and management of the creative process. You will produce a critical reflection of the above.
For Preparation for Employment for Directors you will produce a portfolio which will include critical reflection on your production experience as an assistant or lead director, a contacts database from your research into the industry, your own self-promotion material and a personal career plan.
You are assessed on a pass or fail basis (meaning that degrees are undifferentiated).
MA Drama Directing
Duration: 3 Terms – 38 weeks (full-time)
UK Tuition fees for the three term MA Drama Directing Course starting in September 2021 will be £11,100 for the whole course.
International students (non UK) tuition fees for the three term MA Drama Directing course starting in September 2021 will be £24,600 for the whole of the course.
Please note that permanent Irish residents applying for 2021 entry will be classed as ‘home’ student status as a result of the Common Travel Area agreement and are not liable for international fees.
The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has been approved for the US Federal Student Loan programme.
Further details on options for funding and loans for US students studying in the UK can be found on the BOVTS US Students funding page
(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).
Accommodation and living costs not included in the fees
Info and advice regarding potential accommodation and living costs can be found in the General Student Information Handbook.
Sources of financial support
Details on funding options can be obtained from our Student Fees home page available here.
Bursaries, scholarships and prizes
Please see the BOVTS Fees and Financial Support page for details of Bursaries and Scholarships.
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).
Applying for a course at BOVTS
How to apply for our courses through UCAS, including specific advice for international applicants and mature students.
Before you apply
Check the entry requirements
All our courses have course-specific entry requirements. Before you apply, check that you meet the entry requirements for the course you are interested in.
You can apply for this course if you are working towards or have completed a degree-level qualification or have relevant practical experience. This may have implications for funding, and your visa if you are an international student.
Research your course
Before you apply, you should research the course you want to study. Read the UCAS guide on choosing a course.
UCAS is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is a charitable organisation that handles applications for UK universities.
Submitting your application
To apply through UCAS, you will need to fill out a form on the UCAS website to apply. UCAS provides guidance on filling out the application, which will help you:
Applying as an international student
The application process for international students is the same as it is for everyone else. You still need to apply through UCAS.
As well as meeting our course entry requirements, you may have to provide proof of your level of English. This is because you need to meet the Home Office required standards to get a Tier 4 Visa to enter the country for study.
You can find out about Tier 4 Visas from the UK Government.
Applying after a break in studying
If you are age 21 or over, you are defined as a mature student. Although your route to higher education may be different, the application process is the same as it is for everyone else. You still need to apply through UCAS.
We accept a variety of qualifications, including the Access to HE Diploma and Open University credits. View our course pages to find out about entry requirements for each course. If you are a mature student and you have any questions about our entry requirements or your qualifications email [email protected]
Completing the UCAS form
You should complete all sections of the UCAS form. You must include:
In your personal statement you should also explain why you have chosen to return to study now and how you feel you will benefit.
The UCAS guide for mature students explains the different ways you can get into higher education.
Applicant Auditions & Interviews
For some of our courses, we will invite you to attend an interview or audition if your application looks suitable and you are studying a qualification that is harder for us to assess on paper. We may also invite you to attend an interview or audition if you have had a less typical educational history, which means we are unable to consider your application using our normal criteria.
You can find further advice and guidance about our audition and interview process can be found on the individual course page.
Tracking your application
You can follow the progress of your application through UCAS Track.
The University is committed to the promotion of equal opportunities for all. We consider each application on the basis of the applicant’s suitability for the proposed programme of study, at the same time acknowledging the statutory and professional requirements of some programmes. We are keen to encourage applicants from a wide range of academic and social backgrounds to take up the opportunity of studying at the University. We aim to create an environment that respects the diversity of students and enables them to derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from their involvement in the life of the University. To do this we will be proactive about ensuring people are treated fairly regardless of age, disability, race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation.
The Admissions Office deals with enquiries and applications for all undergraduate programmes.
‘The contact with actors was invaluable to my approach to directing.’Ed Viney. Freelance Director