Undergraduate Course

Technical Theatre and Performance Design

BA (Hons)*

 * This course is subject to validation 

Course details

Study options

Full-time: 3 Years

UK fee

£9,250 per year (2024/25)

International fee

£14,900 per year (2024/25)

UCAS points

112 (September 2024 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BA (Hons)

Start date



Derby Theatre
Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

Please note, this course is not currently open to applications for September 2024. We expect to open for applications from the 5th September 2024 for students to start in September 2025. If you are interested in joining us in September 2024, please see our BA (Hons) Theatre Arts course which is open for applications.

Develop your practice in conjunction with students from our BA (Hons) Theatre Arts and MA Applied Theatre and Education, as well as other Derby students and external partners. The programme embeds partnerships with tech and other partners, where you’ll develop your Createch (creative digital) skills within theatre and performance. Sustainable theatre production, accessibility, inclusivity, civic, and community engagement are at the core of our Programme curriculum. Additionally, there is a wide scope for experimentation, innovation and development of practice-research and independent projects.   

Expert teaching

The course tutors maintain close industry links and are members of the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) and the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD). They have links with companies as well as personal contacts with myriad design and technical practitioners currently working in industry and are recognised internationally for their research in the field of performance design. 

Practical learning at Derby Theatre

Your course will be delivered at Derby Theatre, a fully equipped, professional theatre and major live performance venue, allowing you to gain valuable industry experience and contacts as you learn. To find out more about the work that Derby Theatre do outside of the University, please visit their YouTube Channel. 

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. 

Modules, topics and themes

You will work to speculative and live briefs to be part of creative and technical teams working on ‘in house’ productions at Derby Theatre and other venues or environments. Working in Derby Theatre you will get the chance to be embedded and learn from theatre professionals, to work alongside them, to understand how the whole theatre making process works, to have immediate access to staff to ask questions. New Digital and Virtual Technologies, creativity, collaboration, communication, organisation and time management skills are developed at all levels of the Programme. 

As a graduate from this course, you will be a confident designer and/or technician, familiar with the creative possibilities of existing and emerging digital technologies with a particular focus in Theatre and Performance (lighting, sound, video, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Extended Reality (XR) – such as AR and VR; Artificial Intelligence (AI) and content generating tools), low-fi technologies (related to experimental constructions) and tools such as model making, drawing and theatre mechanisms. This course will enable you to use a selection of these technologies fluently. At the same time, you will be equipped with valuable managerial skills including stage management and production management, which will enhance your capacity to realise your ideas within specific timeframes and enhance your freelance, enterprising and entrepreneurship capabilities.

Modules are being confirmed for this programme for September 2024.

Technical Theatre students working
A brown haired male smiles for a portrait photo

The course has allowed me to develop my skills and understanding by putting them into practice on numerous shows and productions in Derby and surrounding cities.

Dominic Murray
Technical Theatre graduate
Technical Theatre student Aaron Mace
Aaron Mace, BA (Hons) Technical Theatre

"I chose to study a degree at Derby thanks to the outstanding facilities they have on offer. Due to the fact they have their own theatre, I’ve had the opportunity to gain real life learning by working in a professional theatre for the 3 years of my course. This has given me networking opportunities I’ll be able to take with me outside of the University and experiences working on big, main house productions that look great on my CV."

Aaron Mace, Technical Theatre graduate

You may be interested in similar undergraduate courses within Theatre and Dance:

A teenage girl in a school uniform stands looking out from a dark stage with mannequins behind her and a laptop by her feet with computer programming code projected on the background
University of Derby Theatre Programmes' production of Darknet by Rose Lewenstein. Photography credit: Sarah Blanford.

What you will study

You will study areas of focus and content including:

  • Contemporary Theatre and Performance
  • Stage Technology
  • Stage, Production & Project Management 
  • Design-led Theatre and Performance
  • Performance Design
  • Interactive Storytelling 
  • Lighting, Sound and Projection Design
  • Ethics, Exploration, and Application of AI, XR {eXtended Reality} (incl. VR {Virtual Reality}, AR {Augmented Reality} & MR {Mixed Reality})
  • Sustainability in Theatre Production
  • Stage Management and Production Management
  • Costume and Set Design for Theatre and Performance
  • Design for site-specific theatre and public spaces
  • Non-linear and immersive narrative development
  • Practice-Research and the context of practice
  • Research and Development and Experimentation across technologies
  • Creative Coding
  • Collaboration 
  • Being industry ready 

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.

Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

Undergraduate Open Days

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 Undergraduate Open DayBook your Undergraduate Open Day

How you will learn

Teaching is through a combination of practice-led, studio-based exercises, workshops, performances and lecture or seminar activity. You will learn from expert lecturers who are also practising artists, as well as from theatre professionals based at Derby Theatre and visiting companies and lecturers. There will also be the opportunity to take part in masterclass residencies and engage in a variety of field trips.  Field trips in the past have included visiting the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, backstage tour and shows at The National Theatre and visits and tours at Alton Towers. You will have the opportunity to learn by working within your own student-led theatre company with full professional technical support and mentoring. The work will be underpinned by the professional production programme of Derby Theatre.   

How you are assessed 

Assessment is through a range of methods including creative portfolios, presentations, written coursework, practical workshops and public performance. 

People you will meet 

You will be taught by practising professionals with expertise in their own specialist areas of technical theatre.   

Technical Theatre students working

Personal academic tutoring

Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

Find out more about personal academic tutoring

Who will teach you

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

Entry requirements

2024 entry

These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2024 entry. Contextual offers may apply to students who meet certain criteria.

RequirementWhat we're looking for
UCAS points112
GCSEGCSE Maths and English Grade 4/Grade C (or above) or equivalent qualification
Access to HEN/A

English language requirements

IELTS: 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each skills area)

Fees and funding



£9,250 per year



£14,900 per year


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

Additional costs and optional extras

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

This course is not currently accepting applications, please check back at later date to make an application for September 2025. 


Graduate from this programme as a multidisciplinary designer and/or technician familiar with the creative possibilities of existing and emerging digital technologies alongside traditional theatre tools and techniques. You will be able to explore the potential of theatre and performance in both text-based productions and expanding practices such as socially engaged, immersive, site-specific, design-led performance, performance installation, exhibition design, sound design, and event design. This will provide you with the creative, critical, and technical soft and hard skills that are expected at Industry level for becoming a successful free-lancer, employee or progression to Post Graduate study. 

Notable Graduates

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.

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Additional information about your studies

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.

The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

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.

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