Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 Years

UK/EU fee

£9,250 per year* (2020/21)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2020/21)

UCAS points

112 (September 2020 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Markeaton Street, Derby Campus
Derby Theatre

Course description

This course will guide you in thinking practically, creatively, collaboratively and critically, and will equip you with the technical skills and knowledge to produce original theatre and performance design in a wide range of theatre and performance productions. We prepare graduates for the workplace and embed professionalism throughout the programme.

Derby Theatre
The UK's unique professional, producing and learning theatre 

As a Learning Theatre, Derby Theatre provides a unique opportunity for students to learn to their craft by working alongside both academics and theatre professionals in the heart of a professional producing theatre, to develop your skills in technical theatre or performance. 

Students, academics and artists work, create and learn side by side at Derby Theatre. All decisions about the development of both the art and the learning opportunities are made together. At every stage, there is huge potential in the crucible of the arts, learning and research combining to both underpin and inform our future work.  

Derby Theatre provides an extraordinary platform for real life learning to take place, not only through the exciting main stage and studio programmes, but also through the work that the Theatre does with young people, young people in care, emerging artists and the community. Graduates of the programme can also be supported by our Artist Development Programme, In Good Company, which is part of a large regional funding programme. 

Winner: Excellence in Arts Education Award, UK Theatre Awards 2019
Derby Theatre won the Excellence in Arts Education Award at the annual UK Theatre Awards, in recognition of its learning theatre vision which has transformed the venue and provides opportunities for young people to take part in high-quality arts, sports and cultural activities across the city. The award was also in specific recognition and celebration of This is Derby, a unique project delivered by Derby Theatre and other cultural and sports organisations in the city, including Derby County Community Trust, Cultural Campus: Derby's Cultural Education Partnership and the City's Sports Forum.


Team from Derby Theatre stand for their photo at the UK Theatre Awards

Derby Theatre wins Excellence in Arts Education Award at UK Theatre Awards

Derby Theatre has won recognition of its learning theatre vision and innovative This is Derby project.

View the full storyView the full story

What you will study

You will study modules such as:

We focus on process, experimentation and risk taking within a safe learning environment. During this year you will develop a pro-active approach to your learning and receive formative feedback.

  • Spotlight on Industry Practice 
    This module provides the opportunity for all students to fully interact with the processes involved in the professional theatre environment in which you are based. 
  • Theatre Production in Context 
    This module provides historical and critical frameworks to examine the development of performance, technical production, and design for theatre/performance in order to understand the decisions made by theatre/performance makers, and the impact this has upon audiences.  
  • Introduction to Costume Design: Process and Application  
    This module will provide you with an insight into the fundamental skills of costume design and introduce you to costume in performance. You will begin to identify your own skills and interests within the area of costume design through experimentation, creative risk taking and practice-based study. 
  • Introduction to Set Design: Process and Application 
    This module will provide you with an insight into the fundamental skills of set design and enable you to explore what is scenography. You will begin to identify your own skills and interests within the area of set design and begin exploring your personal visual language using experimentation, creative risk-taking and practice-based study. 

The focus of this year is in identifying strengths, research interests and careers aspirations, applying your skills in actual productions and in gaining professional work experience. 
Spotlight on:

  • Research Methodologies for Theatre Production 
    This module will engage you in a deep consideration of your developing interests and skills in creative, academic and work-based contexts. You will consider critical and analytical issues in relation to research methodology and practice. You will also consider your future interests and potential employability. 
  • Creative Project in Performance Design 
    In this module you will work in an innovative manner with the spatial, technological and material aspects of performance design. You will have the opportunity to experiment through a wide range of performance design practice (immersive, site-specific, installation, participatory etc.). You will use this knowledge to design and/or realise a piece of practice and reflect critically on your practice. 
  • Exploration of Costume Design  
    In this module you will develop further your practical skills and gain a deeper insight into aspects of costume design in a variety of contexts. As part of this, or the parallel module on Set Design, you will have the opportunity to contribute to a realised production as a designer. You will develop your ability to communicate and negotiate ideas and formulate professional design proposals whilst taking into account the requirements to work within financial, technical, and logistical constraints.  
  • Exploration of Set Design 
    In this module you will develop further your set design skills and gain a deeper insight into aspects of performance design and practice. As part of this, or the parallel module on Costume Design, you will have the opportunity to contribute to a realised production as a designer. You will develop your ability to communicate and negotiate ideas, and formulate professional design proposals whilst taking into account the requirements to work within financial, technical, and logistical constraints.  

If you want to gain work experience, you can take an optional work placement between stages two and three to apply your academic knowledge in a work environment. During the placement, you'll study an additional qualification, the Diploma in Professional Practice which features modules such as: 

  • Applied Professional Practice 
  • Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice 

This is your portfolio development and industry year, planning for next steps after graduating. The emphasis is very much on you as an independent learner and emerging professional working towards your extensive major project and research.   

  • Professional Practice in Theatre Production 
    This module provides opportunity to experience professional practice related to your programme of study. This may be achieved either through an industrial placement or by engaging with a defined project related to the professional practice of an industrial sector. 
  • Spotlight on: Industry Preparation  
    This module is focussed on ensuring you have the skills and knowledge required to seek and gain employment in the theatre industry, wider arts sector, or beyond. You will build upon the job seeking skills, such as CV writing and interview techniques as well as exploring topics such as Internet presence and social media. You will also study different types of business structures with a view to possible self-employment or running your own business. 
  • Research Project in Costume and Set Design  
    This module gives you the opportunity to develop a focused research project on your area of interest and developing specialism that you identified in your level 5 module Spotlight on: Research Methodologies For Theatre Production. This may take the form of practice-research, with a written component, or may be exclusively written, dependant on the relative needs of your area of research. 
  • Major Project in Costume and Set Design 
    In this module you will take on a key role in the instigation, creation, planning and realisation of one or more public-facing performances or productions. The produced work is intended to be an expression of your professional potential. You will be part of the creative team, working at a high level of responsibility. 
Derby Theatre's Artistic Director Sarah Brigham tells you all about the organisation

View Study at Derby Theatre video transcript

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

Smiling girl with scarf sitting in cafe with cup of coffee

Find out more about Costume and Set Design

The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

Book your Open DayBook your Open Day

How you will learn

This course involves an inspirational mixture of practical and theoretical work, including speculative and realised performances, research and development of original practice, lectures and seminar activities and work placement opportunities.

You will undertake performance project work and engage with the professional production programme at Derby Theatre. As part of your studies, you will also conduct an in-depth research or practice-led research investigation into an area of costume and set design which particularly interests you, underpinned by analysis, academic argumentation and critical reflection.

Assessment covers a broad range of modes across all levels, including presentations, practical work, journals/portfolios, essays, speculative and realised performances. This enables students to explore their learning and developing practice in a number of ways and communicate successfully to different audiences/professionals/peers.

Where you will learn

You will gain valuable industry experience within Derby Theatre by exploring costume and set designing for both student and in-house shows.

Take a virtual tour of our facilities at Derby Theatre:

A 360 look around Derby Theatre

Recent field trips and work placements have included:

Student experience

We work closely with the School of Arts, the Student Wellbeing Centre, the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and the Centre for Student Life to provide the best possible experience for our students.

Degree Show

Every year students from the School of Arts celebrate their time at University by showcasing their work at an end of year Degree Show at Markeaton Street and across the City of Derby. The Show usually runs throughout June and is a fantastic opportunity for potential employers, friends, family, industry and members of the public to see exciting creations by the next generation of artists, designers, creators and makers from Derby. The Show takes the form of:

Take a look at highlights from the 2019 Degree Show.

Entry requirements

September 2020 typical entry requirements

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112 (up to 16 from AS-levels)
Specific requirements at A-level

No specific subject requirements

Specific requirements at GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade C/Grade 4 (or above) or equivalent qualification
IELTS6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area)
Interview / AuditionN/A

Yes - Digital portfolio

Alternative entry qualifications:

We usually consider an A-level in General Studies as a supplementary qualification. A good application/performance will be taken into account if you do not meet the criteria/offer conditions.

Our entry requirements for this course should be read together with the University's general entry requirements, which details subjects we accept, alternative qualifications and what we're looking for at Derby.

Fees and funding

2020/21 Fees


£9,250 per year*



£14,045 per year


* The fees stated above are for the 2019/20 academic year; fees for 2020/21 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. We will update this information as soon as it is available.

Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

UK/EU students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Part-time students should apply directly to the University.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS or you can apply directly to the University for an undergraduate course if you’re not applying to any other UK university in the same year.

Apply through UCASApply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for an undergraduate degree


The course is based in the Derby Learning Theatre and offers opportunities for placement and internships, and designing and making for both student and in-house shows. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to work across a number of industries relating to display, production, theatre companies and performance in live and film contexts.

Dr Christina (Xristina) Penna
Programme leader

As Programme Leader and Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Costume and Set Design, Dr Penna is bringing over fifteen-years of professional performance design expertise and her research to teaching within the learning environment of Derby Theatre. Contributing actively to its mission to engage, empower, inspire and enable the widest possible audience through transformational learning and theatre.

View full staff profileView full staff profile

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

Additional information about your studies

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

You might also like