Performing Arts BA (Hons) module details

Year one | Year two | Year three

Year one

Block 1: Performance Company

This project is about establishing some core skills and knowledge in contemporary dramatic performance and textual analysis, as well as developing self-management and ensemble devising skills, which are essential for success on the degree. The project centres on rehearsing and then performing small or whole group pieces, using existing text. This then provides a benchmark for later programme modules dealing with how contemporary performance deconstructs such practice. The module provides you with a range of foundational performance skills concerning movement and voice, which are often at the core of both dramatic and post-dramatic practice.

You will develop dramatic acting skills through this project and will collaborate with other students to create performance with text as a starting point. A dramatic text will be chosen that allows the group to experience playing fictional characters, creating a storyline for their audience to follow, representing ‘real’ situations, whilst also providing the opportunity for an understanding of ensemble performance techniques. Therefore, sometimes you will represent individual fictional characters and sometimes you will perform within a group ensemble, as a foundation to understanding principles of dramatic performance. Through this project, you will also be asked to think about familiar terms such as performance, text, character, acting, theatre and drama and be encouraged to expand or reconsider your own definitions of these.

Assessment: Performance, 50%. Oral viva, 50%.

Block 2: Contemporary Performance Making

On this module you will engage with performance making that is exploratory and experimental and the module supports creative collaboration alongside the development of performance skills and performance making skills. There will be an emphasis on the role of play in the creative performance making process and how structures of play can be utilised to help generate original material. You will undertake regular physical and vocal skills sessions and also be introduced to digital film editing skills for live performance practice. You will be challenged to explore the relationship of text to performance making, with the aim of generating original performance material. In this way, you will develop skills in authorship of performance material and utilising your own voice. You will experience how contemporary performance practices seek to layer multiple disciplines or elements such as voice, body, film, sound, audience, text in order to create texture and multiplicity of meaning. Theoretically the work will draw from performance studies and notions of what and where is performance, play, concepts related to postdramatic performance, the avant-garde and the relationship between performance and audience.

Assessment: Practical, 80%. Report, 20%: 1000 words.

Block 3: Physical Theatres

On this module you will engage with and develop knowledge and practical skills in the field of physical theatres, drawing on a number of approaches from professional practice and academic discourse. You will also begin your journey toward autonomous creative practice by working on a performance project in small independent groups to generate a final performance work, rather than directed by a tutor. You will be encouraged to develop your work utilising skills and approaches already experienced in previous modules, such as initiating a process of play and experimentation and layering of multiple elements in order to arrive at the development of original material. You will continue to undertake regular physical and vocal skills sessions and also be introduced to digital sound editing skills, as well as apply knowledge and skills in film editing developed in the previous module.

Assessment: Practical, 70%. Group presentation, 30%.

Block 4: Performance Festival 1

You will work in small groups or companies to generate a final performance work to be shared potentially for public viewing as part of the end of year festival. The work will be a realisation of a performance project with a tutor-given context and creative brief. You will employ skills and techniques of contemporary performance practice that you have learned which may include; the role of play and creative structures in performance making; collaboration and ensemble; layering of multiple performance elements; the relationship between performance and audience, the role of text, body and voice and the possibilities of working across both live and recorded mediums for each of these as well as the consideration and implementation of digital technologies.

In addition, you will be introduced to concepts regarding space and performance, deconstruction as an interrogative tool of performance making, and dramaturgy whilst also developing skills and knowledge in projection mapping.

Assessment: Practical, 100%.

Year two

Block 1: Multi-media Performance

This module will introduce you to a range of digital practices that examine how the live and the virtual/digitised can co-exist in performance. The module will further the skills in digital technologies developed in the first year; exploring the dynamic collision of technologies, digital realms and the body in performance that can create unique experiences for audiences. Borrowing from gaming, digital performance, and human-computer interaction, you will workshop and laboratory test working prototypes of a range of approaches for creating multi-media performance. You will learn a range of techniques and creative approaches for the use of media and technology within the creative industry of performing arts. Its key ethos is creativity and experimentation aligned to relevant creative industry practices. This will develop further creative approaches to performance making in solo, partner and ensemble work.

Assessment: Practical, 100%. 

Block 2: Making Theatre and Performance

This module will develop your skills in the processes and practices of theatre and performance making. You will explore a series of approaches to making theatre or performance through practical exercises, critical analysis of performance texts, theories, and contexts of performance making, and through independent research and development. The practical project will enable you to develop your practice as an emerging theatre makers in a climate of ongoing feedback and support.

Assessment: Performance, 70%. Reflection, 30%: 1500 words or 10 minute presentation.

Block 3: Applied Performance

This module reflects upon the multitude of social contexts in which performance, specifically drama and theatre, are utilised, outside of standard theatrical situations. These range from drama and theatre in education to drama therapy, drama in healthcare and community settings alongside many other forms. Content will include key methodologies within these fields and case studies of major companies and performances to illustrate techniques and contexts. The module considers the aims, objectives and methodologies behind such practices and their relationship to broader performance practices.

Assessment: Practical, 70%. Essay, 30%: 1500 words.

Block 4: Performance Festival 2

This festival incorporates all three year groups. Contemporary theatre practitioners now utilize a wide variety of locations to inspire them and to situate their performances within. This project is designed to consider and experiment with the specific performance challenges of different sites, beyond the limits of conventional theatre spaces.

This module draws from Blocks 1, 2 and 3 to explore ways in which digital media, immersive and applied practices, (& body, text and image) can be used at the core of site-based performances. It includes a focus on 'production of performance'. You will be introduced to key ideas, practices and theoretical frameworks that examine space, place and environments work.  This project is partially self-directed and parts of the scheduled sessions will be used to develop and share work in progress with tutors in order to receive feedback.

Assessment: Performance, 100%.

Year three

Blocks 1 and 2: Choose one from:

Artists in Residence

This module will introduce you to ways of developing creative practices through being artists in residence. This method, employed widely by professional art makers, will entail an intensive one-week residential trip to a national or international location. During this week, you will become and ‘Artist in Residence’ as you immerse yourself in your immediate environment, exploring the local culture, history, perspectives, architecture, landscapes, people and general goings on of a place. There will be daily Think Tank sessions that provide a space for sharing practice, debate and engagement with creative, political, personal and theoretical concepts. Post-residency, you will create an original art-work in response to the embodied experience of working and living on location as an artist.

Throughout the module you will engage in theoretical debates about notions of space, place and the body and how physical engagement with environments change understandings, perspectives and possibilities of creative reflection. With a focus on international perspectives, you will explore professional practices that examine personal and political identities such as environment, culture, ethnicity, class, sexualities and gender.

Assessment: Performance, 70%. Viva, 30%.

Education and the Performing Arts

This module will equip you with an understanding of performing arts education policy, pedagogy, curriculum design, and Assessment: in a time of educational, economic, technological and social change. We will explore the place of the performing arts in the evolving English education system and in the early years, through primary and secondary and special education. In particular, the module explores the potential of contemporary performance pedagogy within the sector and encourages you to utilise your own contemporary practice skillset as methodology for your project work. Throughout the module, you will be introduced to key arts education theories including aesthetic theory, experiential learning, models of creativity and multiple intelligence theory.


Practical 1 and 2, 50% each: You will develop a creative ‘pitch’ to a school or educational provider.

Personal Research Project

This module enables you to lead an individual research project in order to explore an aspect of the course content and your personal interests in further depth. The module encourages the development of autonomous learning, research skills, preparation, planning and the communication of process and product. You will work independently with support from tutorials and group sessions. You can choose either a written or practice-based project.

Assessment: Essay, 100%: 5000 words. OR Essay, 50%: 2500 words and Practice, 50%.

Live Art and Experimental Theatre

You will explore practices that challenge and push the boundaries of performance and be introduced to a wide range of experimental, interdisciplinary and experiential approaches. Discover artistic models such as painting bodies, body art, living sculptures and autobiographical performance, durational performance, conceptual art, and participatory practices. You will engage in a range of relevant methodologies and related critical concepts, as well as gain an understanding of the ethical and artistic debates that surround the work being explored. There is a strong focus on working as partners and collaborators to develop your practice.

Assessment: Performance, 70%. Viva, 30%.

Block 3: Choose one from:

Professional Performance Company

This module presents the opportunity for you to contribute to the local arts scene within the city, building connections with venues, practitioners and potential audiences. You will work as a company with a visiting professional performance group or practitioner, to develop an original performance work for a public audience. You will develop rehearsal, performance making and performing skills specific to that of the visiting artists.

The module involves regular and intensive periods of practical, studio-based making and rehearsal time leading to a public performance. You will contribute to artistic direction and develop and demonstrate appropriate interpretations and understanding of material. You will engage in a rigorous creative process that demands an understanding of professional standards.

Assessment: Performance, 100%.

Creative Media in Performance

You will learn a range of techniques and creative approaches for cutting-edge use of media and technology within performing arts, considering what the future of performance might look like. The ethos of the module is creativity and innovation aligned to emerging and cutting-edge creative industry practices. You will explore topics including technology as a creative agent, theoretical and philosophical approaches in the use of technology in creative practice and the aesthetics of composition and 'liveness' of performance. You will gain practical experience in planning, creating and evaluating the use of creative media in performance through exploring real-world prototypes such as Interactive Sound Design, Telematics and Networked Video-based Performance, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Projection Mapping and VJ’ing, Social Media and Gamification.

Assessment: Practical, 100%: presented in a format of your choosing for example a power point, walking tour or installation.

Music Industry Management

Music has a major influence on our everyday lives and the music industry ranks as one of the most successful elements of the UK's creative economy. The aim of this module is to increase your general understanding of the sector and to develop your personal confidence in it as a possible source of employment. The module provides an overview of the sector since 1945, tracking the emergence of the global system that we have today and considering key developments and influences in its history. It examines both the commercial and subsidised sectors and the role of Government and other national bodies, exploring their different roles and how they work together. You will explore theoretical and philosophical frameworks for examining the workings of the music industry, the relationships between its many parts and the different styles and genres it produces, as well as how different aspects of the sector are managed e.g. an orchestra or a rock band. The module will include subjects such as copyright, royalties, live (touring, festivals), music publishing and recorded work, and explore the relationship between artists and management, and the role of the latter in developing a band/an artist's career.

Assessment: Poster presentation, 80%: 15 minutes. Report, 20%: 2000 words.

Block 4: Performance Festival 3

This module consolidates learning from across all three years of the course. Drawing upon developed skills in performance making, critical thinking and producing an event, this student-led festival will contribute to the local arts scene within the city, building connections with venues, practitioners and potential audiences. You will work, as a Producing Company taking on selected production and management roles (such as marketing, outreach, general administration etc.) aligned with the design and fulfilment of a tutor/student designed Individual Brief. The designed briefs will reflect current Job Specifications for relevant professional arts positions. The festival will incorporate the final performances created in the first and second years of the course.

Additionally, you will also contribute a performance or presentation to the festival event, which may involve returning to a previous submission (theoretical or practical) which has been developed in response to tutor feedback. This presentation will draw from the learning of contemporary, interdisciplinary practices examined throughout the programme. Fundamentally, this module provides you with the opportunity to further develop and put into practice the skills required to programme and platform an event. It requires an engagement with the local and regional arts industry, opening prospects of networking with professional organisations and individuals.

Assessment: Performance, 60%. Viva, 30%.