Performance Design MA Develop advanced level skills in Performance Design.

Full Time Professional Training Courses

Performance Design MA

Key Information Apply Now via UCAS Term Dates

Course Overview

The MA in Performance Design provides specialist vocational training preparing you for a career in designing for the stage and screen.

The course has been revised with the latest industry developments in mind and is taught over one academic year through a combination of project and production work.

You will acquire a broad range of specialist skill sets in both design and making.

Specialisation will enable you to acquire practical knowledge and technical skills from a range of School production staff and/or visiting industry professionals. You will be able to explore unique creative collaboration opportunities within the course and benefit from shared learning, knowledge and skills exchange with other postgraduate and undergraduate creatives.

You will be able to create an impressive professional portfolio of project and realised design work. You will launch your career to a range of industry professionals, one-to-one industry interviews and in a graduate exhibition.

A summary document with key course information for 2020 entrants can be found on the policies and procedures page.

ⓘ Where Covid-19 control measures impact our ability to deliver this course as described for the 2021-22 academic year, we will update offer holders by email and confirm teaching arrangements at least four weeks before term begins.

Applications can only be accepted through UCAS Postgraduate and not via any third party.

Figures holding umbrellas walking under bright lights and rain in The Laramie Project

Course Highlights

A full time one-year vocational course designed to create confident leading industry professionals.

Learn from design practitioners and visiting industry professionals.

Apply a specialist design approach across projects and on School productions.

Meet a range of industry professionals in a series of one-to-one interviews, including at the public graduate exhibition.

Create an impressive professional portfolio with excellent pathways to employment.

Course Structure and Subject Specialisations

Set and costume design

Set design and scenic crafts: construction and/or scenic art

Costume design and making / supervision

Lighting design

Projection design

Prop design and construction

Puppet design and construction

Design for screen

Additional specialisations could include

Event Design or Opera Design

Design for Dance

Design for Screen

Design for Theatre in Education (TIE)

Set Design for Touring and Design for Devising.

Specialisation options require approval by the course leader and may be subject to change according to production schedules. Students are always consulted about any change which affects their course.

You will explore your specialisation pathway on at least one realised production. These may include:

School theatre productions which usually take place at venues across Bristol short films produced at the School’s Christchurch Studios
School theatre productions which usually tour to schools, arts centres and regional theatres.

Designer Carly Brownbridge talks about her work on the double-bill production of Edward Allan Baker’s one-act plays, North of Providence and Dolores, directed by Victor Lirio. Original production pre-lockdown was scheduled for a Wardrobe Theatre run in May as part of the BOVTS Directors’ Cuts 2020 season.

Actors on stage dressed as angels and one dressed as a cowboy Photography - Mark Dawson

Graduate Successes

Recent graduates have designed at Bristol Old Vic, The Tobacco Factory, Shakespeare’s Globe, Kneehigh, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Orange Tree Theatre and the RSC.

Graduates are regularly successful in attaining the RSC Trainee Design positions and as finalists for the Linbury Prize.

Model of design set Theatre Design


‘The course at Bristol is excellent preparation for a career in Design. I got practical, hands on experience as a designer while working in a well-supported environment, and the classes gave me a firm basis in the skills I needed for working life. The small class size is pretty unique too – you really do get catered for as an individual, by both BOVTS tutors and visiting professionals, and I made some lifelong friends and collaborators along the way. It’s a well-respected course, and deservedly so.’
Anisha Fields, Set and Costume Designer

‘It was a wonderful environment to realise how valuable teamwork is and how much every department relies on one another to make a production a success.’ Corina Bona (Design Course), Puppeteer / Theatre-maker

‘Training at BOVTS set me up with the skillset, confidence and connections for the career I now have as a freelance theatre designer’  Max Johns, Theatre Designer

Model design of barn structure Model set design by Edoardo Lelli

Excellent Opportunities for Collaboration

The production designs provide excellent opportunities for collaboration with a range of professional practitioners and student production teams, including collaborative working with the MA Drama Directing  and MA Dramatic Writing students.

An impressive and varied professional portfolio of design work can be achieved during the course.

Students gain further promotional opportunities by exhibiting their work in final exhibitions and also create excellent pathways to employment by contact with a high level of industry practitioners.

Various costume designs for Her Naked Skin Set design by Edoardo Lelli
Headshot of Head of Performance Design
Working relationships made at BOVTS often extend beyond the course, design commission rates are excellent, it’s fantastic to see the graduates embracing successful and rewarding careers as Performance Designers in a professional environment. Angela Davies, Head of Performance Design