BA Drama and Theatre Arts

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Whether you want to be working on the stage or behind the scenes, our Drama and Theatre Arts programme gives you an excellent grounding in performance and theatre. The degree covers all the key practical and theoretical dimensions of theatre work, and we will train you to be a confident researcher and performer, with fantastic career prospects in the theatre and related professions. You will learn every aspect of stage production, with the chance to take part each year in a season of plays closely tied to your academic and practical work. These plays are directed by members of the Department or guest directors from the professional theatre, staged in the newly refurbished George Cadbury Hall on our Selly Oak campus, and supported by our expert production staff. Students from all three years are involved in the productions by sharing responsibility for the lighting, sound, costume, stage management or as peformers in the third year.

We currently rank 1st overall in the Guardian University League Table for Drama. When you graduate from here you could go on to join our growing list of famous alumni, pursuing outstanding careers in many fields. Our Drama graduates enjoy a higher than average rate of employability for the subject, with 90% going into work or study within six months of graduation and 70% of those going into professional or managerial roles. The professions they enter include acting, theatre choreography, TV production, events management and teaching at every level.

Course fact file

UCAS code: W440

Duration: 3 years

Places Available: 50

Applications in 2011: 534

Typical Offer: AAB–ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

First year

The Drama and Theatre Arts programme incorporates a variety of modules, many of which integrate theory and practice. In your first year you will be given a foundation in the core study and practical aspects of the programme, which will form the basis of your studies throughout the rest of your degree. To help you through the transition from school to university, the course covers the fundamental aspects of the study and practice of drama. You will work on various aspects of the study of theatre and performance and be encouraged to develop your skills in performance and textual analysis and essay writing. You will also be introduced to the major library and electronic resources relevant to university-level study.

Second year

Here you will build on the foundation work of the first year and also have opportunities to develop a wide range of practical specialisms and study options. Practical modules are taught by core staff and visiting professional practitioners. Study modules are taught by academic staff who are researching and publishing in that particular field of inquiry.

Third year

In your third year the one compulsory element is your final year portfolio, consisting of a dissertation and a final practical presentation, both involving independent research. Your dissertation work is supported by a series of workshops, as well as one-to-one supervision meetings with your personal tutor. You are also supported by a supervisor in your final practical piece.

For your other modules you select from a menu of practical and study options. As one of your major practical options, you can choose to take part in one of a series of public performances. These productions are directed by experienced members of staff or visiting professional directors and are supported by our full-time production staff and theatre crafts students. They can range from contemporary or historical texts, to devised, site-specific pieces, and theatre in education productions

Why study this course

The Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at Birmingham is one of the most respected of its kind, consistently rated highly in the UK teaching and research rankings.  We currently rank 1st overall in the Guardian University League Table for Drama. You will find we offer exciting opportunities, first-class facilities and a commitment to excellence in teaching. Study here and you will have the privilege of learning from visiting professional practitioners and academics at the forefront of research, from modern epic drama to the plays of Anton Chekhov; from automata to medieval theatre.

The research resources available to students include the substantial holdings of the university library which houses the Noel Coward Collection, as well as the collections in Birmingham Central Library, including its world-ranking Shakespeare collection. In nearby Stratford, you will also find the Shakespeare Institute and the Shakespeare Centre - the latter holding the RSC's archives as well as exceptional holdings in other performance-related material.

At Birmingham, you will benefit from an intellectually challenging and stimulating environment for your undergraduate studies, focused on ensuring you are a fully supported and active learner. Our unique degrees are designed to provide both academic excellence and vocational development; a balance that is highly sought after by employers in today's intellectual and creative industries. The courses are also very flexible, allowing you to specialise more and more as you progress, culminating in a chance to take part in a series of public performances in your final year.

We have a Drama-dedicated site on the Selly Oak campus. It is home to the Drama Building (SOVAC) which has high quality studio and rehearsal spaces. Drama students have easy access to the Orchard Learning and Resources Centre that includes Library and seminar/lecture rooms. There are also plenty of study spaces available. The George Cadbury Hall theatre on the Selly Oak campus is where performances for the course are put on, with adaptable performance space and professional quality facilities. This campus is close to student accommodation in Selly Oak. 

The BBC Drama Village, where Doctors is filmed, is located on the same site as us and provides excellent opportunities for to work closely with the BBC. 

Birmingham is an ideal place to study Drama as it has one of the highest concentrations of live theatre outside the West End of London.  It is home to many theatres ranging from the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Birmingham Rep to the Old Joint Stock (which is a pub and a theatre).  

The Guild (our Students' Union) has 9 different drama and theatre student societies including Article 19 theatre (who run two or three productions a term), Comedy Footnotes (for those interested in stand up comedy), Guild Musical Theatre Group, Infinity Stage Company (who are charity based and get involved in volunteer work), Three Bugs Fringe Group (who host socials and take a play to the Edinburgh Festival) and Watch This (who produce original and experimental plays). 

Open day talk

Dr Adam Ledger delivers the June 2013 undergraduate open day talk.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding 

Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: AAB–ABB

Required subjects and grades: A level Drama or Theatre Studies is desirable but not essential. If taken, it will be requested at grade B.

General Studies: not accepted

Additional information:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 34–36 points 

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

Audition: If you are successful in your application, you will be asked to attend an audition, on a day when you can also meet academic staff and students in the department and familiarise yourselves with our teaching and practice spaces. Those domiciled outside of the UK will be required to demonstrate a satisfactory standard of performance evidenced by a visual recording, for example a DVD, that you will need to send to the Admissions Tutor.  A choice of monologues for this performance will be provided to overseas applicants once your application has been received. 

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com

Learn more about applying

Joint Honours combinations

You can study Drama as part of a Joint Honours degree with the following subjects:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

As a Birmingham student you are part of an academic elite and will learn from world-leading experts. At Birmingham we advocate an enquiry based learning approach, from the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers. We want you to be challenged and will encourage you to think for yourself.

Your learning will take place in a range of different settings, from scheduled teaching in lectures and small group tutorials, to self-study and peer group learning (for example preparing and delivering presentations with your classmates).

Support

To begin with you may find this way of working challenging, but rest assured that we will enable you to make this transition. You will have access to a comprehensive support system that will assist and encourage you, including personal tutors and welfare tutors who can help with both academic and welfare issues, and a formal transition review during your first year to check on your progress and offer you help for any particular areas where you need support.

Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions to workshops on a range of topics including note taking, reading, writing and presentation skills.

From the outset, you will be assigned your own Personal Tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies, providing academic and welfare advice, encouraging you and offering assistance in any areas you may feel you need extra support to make the most of your potential and your time here at Birmingham.

The Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) will provide you with individual support from an academic writing advisor and postgraduate subject-specialist writing tutors. You will receive guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level which can be quite different from your previous experiences of writing. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, feedback through email and tutorials.

Student experience

Supporting you throughout your transition to University, offering research opportunities and study skills support and helping you develop and prepare for your post-University careers - our Arts and Law Student Experience Team strive to help you get the most out of your academic experience.

 

Practical classes and workshops form a large part of the programme and are essential for helping you to gain skills in performance and devising techniques. They involve input from tutors and project-based small-group work, culminating in performances or fulfilling production tasks.

Theatre crafts classes also give you valuable technical skills in theatre production.

Assessment methods

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with the subject and find things out for yourself. We will enable you to make this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time at Birmingham.

You will be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You will be assessed through coursework which may take the form of essays, group and individual presentations and formal exams (depending on your chosen degree).

During your first year you will undergo a formal 'transition' review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed for that particular programme of study. You will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done. You will be given feedback on any exams that you take; if you should fail an exam we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is made available to enable you to learn for the future. 

Employability

[Video above - Dr Adam Ledger discusses careers and employability during the Drama and Theatre Arts open day presentation]

As a student of Drama and Theatre Arts you will develop your confidence and fantastic skills for your future career, such as presentation, communication and teamwork skills. Many students who study this course are interested in careers in the arts sector and here at the University of Birmingham we have great links with local arts organisations, as well as producing a broad programme of our own performances each year.

Drama and Theatre Arts graduates from Birmingham have a higher than average rate for employability for the subject, and we’re ranked in the top ten universities nationally for graduate employability. 93% of our Drama graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation. Our graduates start careers with employers including the BBC, The National Theatre, The Birmingham Hippodrome and The Royal Court Theatre, in roles such as theatre choreographer, drama teacher, performing arts tutor and TV production assistant director. But working directly in the arts isn’t your only option; recent graduates have also gone into marketing, events organisation, teaching and writing.

Famous University of Birmingham alumni include:

  • Phyllida Lloyd, BA English and Drama, 1979: Director of plays, opera and film including Mamma Mia! on stage and screen and the recent film The Iron Lady.
  • Victoria Wood, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1974: comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and director.
  • Ben Shephard, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1997: television presenter currently working for Sky Sports and ITV.
  • Stuart Blackburn, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1987: Current Series Producer of Emmerdale at ITV.
  • Pippa Evans, BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2004: comedienne - arrived on the Edinburgh Fringe in 2008 and nominated for Best Newcomer

Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our Careers Network can help you achieve your goal. This is a unique careers guidance service tailored to your academic subject area, offering a specialised team (in each of the five academic colleges) who can give you expert advice. This includes individual careers advice and events to give you insight into the professions and employers of interest to arts graduates. The Department also has a long-established relationship with the BBC which has led to work experience placements being offered to our students, and we’re developing links with local arts organisations to provide more amazing opportunities.

We encourage all our students to apply their skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer; the work experience bursary scheme enables students to apply for funding for those career areas where placements are often unpaid. You can also apply for our ‘Global Challenge’ to work overseas on an expenses paid placement during your summer vacation.

Internships

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities while you're at university to broaden your skills and your network of contacts. This can include the many societies at the Guild of Students and also the many voluntary opportunities offered with local arts organisations. Our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.

Our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of the College's academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.

Cultural Internships

Our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships are a unique opportunity to learn fundamental, transferable business and interpersonal skills, through experience of real work in an established cultural institution. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust and the Library of Birmingham. We have plans to expand the scheme to include our own major cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. This scheme will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market.

We also offer voluntary work which complements your studies by helping you gain practical experiences in occupational settings while contributing back to society. This can bring new skills that will be useful throughout your future and can make a positive impact on your learning whilst at university. Volunteering enables you to develop skills such as communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork, self-confidence and self-discipline all of which can be transferred into your studies.

Your Birmingham degree is evidence of your ability to succeed in a demanding academic environment. Employers target Birmingham students for their drive, diversity, communication and problem-solving skills, their team-working abilities and cultural awareness, and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of the wide range of services you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.