This one-year MFA level course (in the UK the terms course and program are used interchangeably) gives up to 14 International postgraduate students from outside the UK the opportunity to study in Bristol on an intensive forty-week conservatoire course.
There is a strong emphasis on developing the actor’s voice and body and a commitment to building performance through close text work
The MFA in Professional Acting is a rigorous actor training course available to students from outside the UK who are seeking graduate-level study at a world-class school.
While the majority of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School acting courses are reserved for UK residents only, this course offers that same world-class conservatoire training to fourteen students carefully selected from North America and around the world.
The course emphasises the continued development of the actor’s voice, body and creative process, along with a commitment to building performance through a dynamic relationship with text and language. There is a substantial focus on the classical British and European repertoire, with close attention given to a practical exploration of Shakespearean text in performance.
The course is designed to prepare students for the varied acting demands made within the current performance industry, including those appropriate to the recorded media. In their final term, MFA Acting students undertake a fully-mounted production, supported by professional design, stage management and costume students or practitioners.
This course’s structure is designed to maximise the training opportunity for MFA students while recognising the unique financial and personal demands incurred while studying abroad. With this in mind, the course is taught through an extremely intensive one year structure, utilising extended term dates, and abbreviated breaks between terms.
Please Note: The MFA Acting International course is fully eligible for US Federal Loan Funding.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – Operating on two specialist teaching sites (Downside Road and Christchurch Studios) and performing in the major producing theatre venues in Bristol.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is an associate school of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), a Higher Education Provider registered with the Office for Students. On successful completion of this course, you will receive an award from UWE Bristol. Because of their vocational nature, BOVTS does not award degree classifications – all assessment is completed on a pass or fail basis.
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 here.
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Academic Programmes Available at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School are currently only Graduate programmes
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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:
Please note: this course is only open to those who are NOT ordinarily resident in the UK. This course is ONLY open for international applications, which includes EU students. Permanent Irish residents are classified as ‘home’ student status as a result of the Common Travel Area agreement and are therefore not eligible for this course.
Applicants would normally be expected to have an honours degree in a related subject area such as Drama, Acting, Theatre Studies or Performance Studies. However applicants with extensive relevant professional experience will also be considered.
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 MFA Professional Acting, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in reading, 6.0 in writing, 7.0 in listening and 7.0 in speaking.
Applicants will be auditioned by two practitioners, at least one of which will either be a senior member of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Acting staff or a practitioner of high standing in the industry.
In addition auditions will be video recorded for final selection by senior members of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Acting staff. At audition, applicants will need to demonstrate a good standard of acting, both in terms of preparation and ability to take direction.
Applicants will be given an opportunity to ask questions about the programme as part of the audition session, as well as via internet or phone contact.
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.
Optional Modules: There are no optional modules.
Award: MFA Professional Acting (for international students)
Credit requirements: Total 180 credits from the above modules at level M.
The course is practical and career focused.
It is integrated with the school’s other courses during productions, as well as within the professional environment, as some performances take place in local professional theatres.
The course 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, with high level specialist professional employability as a main learning outcome.
Students are taught supervised by teaching staff at least 30 hours per week across the 40 weeks of the programme.
Students will normally spend on average 10 hours per week in independent study
Students will normally be in class Monday – Friday between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm.
There are up to fourteen students accepted to this course per academic year.
Academic and Student Support
The School is committed to selecting, training and supporting students, regardless of ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion. Applicants 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 or interview 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.
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. 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, wellbeing and counselling
BOVTS recognises 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 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 their 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 on UWE Bristol’s website.
For further information on support which the School offers, please see the Guide to Student Support.
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 senior academics, Head of Acting Courses, Artistic Director, Head of Acting, Head of Voice, Head of Music and Singing, Head of Movement and other Acting Tutors and visiting specialist professionals.
You can learn more about our staff by visiting our staff profiles.
Students are assessed through ongoing monitoring, analysis and feedback on their classes, workshops, rehearsal processes and performance skills and through the assimilation of the guidance and informed judgements of an extensive range of internal and external professional practitioners and potential employers.
Assessment also focuses on the development of self-reliance, intellectual and emotional engagement and initiative in creating growth.
Students are assessed on their professional practice on a pass or fail basis.
Judgements about students’ performance are made against the relevant industry standards.
The UWE qualifications are awarded as non-classified/non-differentiated.
This programme is open to international applicants, including those from the EU. Auditions for this course are held virtually over Zoom or Google.
Each audition normally lasts between twenty-five and forty-five minutes
At your audition, you will be required to present:
Each piece should last no longer than two minutes; if you exceed this time limit you may be stopped. For the song, you may wish to perform a verse and chorus from your chosen piece.
There is a £25 audition fee for this course
How to apply
All applications for degree courses at BOVTS are made directly to the School. Please note that the School no longer uses the UCAS system.
Application for 2024 entry will close on 28 February 2024 at 16:00 GMT.
Applying as an international student and Visa requirements
The application process for international students is the same as it is for everyone else.
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 Student Route Visa to enter the country for study.
You can find out about Student Route Visa from the UK Government.
Applying after a break in studying
The application process is the same as it is for everyone else. You will have the option within your personal statement to explain why you have chosen to return to study now and how you feel you will benefit.
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]
The School 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 School. 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 School. 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 degree courses.
Telephone: +44 (0)117 9733535
Email : [email protected]
Post: Admissions Office, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, 1-2 Downside Road, Bristol BS8 2XF, UK
We will only accept one application per applicant, per year. You cannot apply for more than one course. If you need further advice about choosing a course, please contact the Admissions Office.
‘The tutors are so passionate and supportive.
It’s more of a family than a school.’
‘The intensity and quality of the course means that you will get more from a year’s training than you would think possible.’