Derby Theatre will be your ‘home’, offering you valuable industry experience and contacts. This course is unique; no other university level course is housed in a producing theatre. You will be at the centre of this professional environment developing skills in acting, devising and directing for your career as a professional theatre artist.
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.
This contemporary theatre and performance programme will develop your theatre and performance skills such as acting, directing and devising for your career as a professional theatre artist. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to showcase your work and you may be involved in performances regionally, nationally and internationally.
This dynamic and exciting theatre arts programme is taught by practising professional artists with expertise in their own fields. Built around process, experimentation and risk taking you will encounter a range of practices to explore and develop theatre making and performance skills. An exciting part of your studies will be the professional work experience within Derby Theatre or partner organisations which will contribute to the development of your professional portfolio. You will take part in a number of public performances across your years of study and in a variety of venues, including main house and studio theatre spaces, off-site in the community, schools, and art centres.
The learning theatre model was a big part of why I chose to study at Derby, I’ve forged important relationships with people in the industry as well as experts who are willing to guide you.
BA (Hons) Theatre Arts graduate
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.
#ThisIsDerby award winning project Derby Theatre has won the Excellence in Arts Education Award at the UK Theatre Awards in 2019 and the Guardian University Award 2020 for Social and Community Impact in recognition and celebration of the #ThisIsDerby 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, the project provides opportunities for young people to take part in high-quality arts, sports and cultural activities across the city and aims to develop their essential life skills.
University of Derby wins Guardian University Award for #ThisIsDerby
The Social and Community Impact award recognises the work by a partnership initiative involving Derby Theatre to bring cultural education and events to Derby city’s young people.
Watch the video below to find out more about Abby's experience of studying Theatre at the University of Derby.
As an aspiring theatre maker and director, I have been able to develop and refine my craft. I’ve performed in several studio performances and directed my own adaptation of a production. I’ve also secured a graduate opportunity for paid professional work.
BA (Hons) Theatre Arts graduate
Our students have a rare and exceptional learning experience at Derby Theatre. We are one of the only universities in the country to own and run a professional producing and receiving theatre.
All Art and Design, Film, Photography and Music courses are based at our Markeaton Street site where industry-standard, purpose built studios and labs provide a modern and creative space for our students. Markeaton Street encompasses Chandos Pole Street which is home to our Fashion and Textiles courses and Britannia Mill is home to Fine Art, Illustration and Interior Design studio spaces. Our Theatre students learn from professionals at the professional producing and learning Derby Theatre in the heart of Derby city centre.
Markeaton Street is a 15 minute walk from Kedleston Road, and is serviced by regular site shuttle buses.
This Theatre Arts programme involves a combination of practice-led, studio-based exercises and lecture or seminar activity. There will be major performance projects, study of devising strategies, case studies and analysis of movements and practices in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will learn through workshop presentations, rehearsal strategies, directing and dramaturgy, new theatre writing and contemporary performance practices. The work will be underpinned by research, academic criticism and the professional production programme of Derby Theatre. You will carry out coursework that will be subject to academic criticism both written and practical.
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. 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.
Assessment is through a range of methods including written coursework, presentations, creative portfolios, assessed rehearsals, practical workshops and public performance.
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. It 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:
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.
After studying for a BA (Hons) Performing Arts Phil worked in the industry in theatre, television and radio. He moved into teaching in Further and Higher Education on completion of his MA Theatre. He has extensive experience as an external examiner. He continues to produce work as a solo performer.
These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2023 entry.
What we're looking for
GCSE Maths and English Grade 4/Grade C (or above) or equivalent qualification
Access to HE
Pass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 with a minimum of Distinction: 15, Merit: 24, Pass: 6
Offers will be made initially based on your application, including predicted grades and/or grades you have already achieved. You may be given the opportunity, within your offer letter, to submit a portfolio. If you submit a strong portfolio we will make you an unconditional offer, to reflect the quality of your work and your potential.
Students from this discipline area regularly go on to successful careers in film, television and theatre industries for example as actors, directors, theatre crew, teachers, artistic directors of their own theatre companies and other arts professionals. Alternatively, many students go on to postgraduate study and employment in a wide variety of professions like marketing or public relations.
Be inspired by Andy's journey to employment in the below video:
Please note these are graduates from the subject discipline, not the course, as it is new
Graduate Danny Hendrix stars in War Horse
Danny Hendrix graduated in 2014 in Theatre Arts and is currently in the National Theatre touring production of the iconic First World War drama, War Horse. His tour of War Horse will visit Hong Kong and New Zealand – and his 2019 will end with a month of performances in Paris.
Danny is playing Billy Narracott, Seargent Klebb and Heine in the National Theatre tour, which is also visiting a string of theatres in the UK and Ireland.
His acting career has previously taken him to Australia to perform in Sydney Opera House and seen him appear in the West End and touring production of David Walliams’s Gangsta Granny.
If you’re interested in studying theatre at Derby, Danny has some tips for you: “Get involved in any way you can, not just in performance but also backstage and in technical roles, because the industry demands it. Use your time wisely and give 100% but also enjoy every second – I had the time of my life."
“The University provided me with opportunities and stepping stones that enabled me to put myself out there into the theatre/performing business. My lecturers inspired me in many different ways by challenging my abilities and skills but also by having faith in my talent and abilities to undertake such large roles.” - Danny Hendrix
More notable graduates
Simon Stephens: Director (Theatre) - Brit School
Adam Buss: Chief Executive – Derby Quad
Janthi Mills: Executive Director - Hull Truck Theatre
Richard Gerver: Inspirational Business Speaker
Rachel Delooze: Actress
Angharad Jones & Laura Ford: Artistic Directors of Fifth Word Theatre Company
Cara Nolan: Theatre director
Ben Redfern: Actor/Choreographer
Amber Taylor: Stage Manager
Daniel David: Director/Actor
Andy Nairn was Head of Production and Premises at Derby Theatre. The Andy Nairn Bursaries in Technical Theatre is a fund set up across three Midlands Theatres to support, encourage and enable young people to pursue a career in Technical Theatre.
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.
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
Study visit to the RSC and National Theatre
Here at Derby, we provide excellent learning resources, libraries and specialist laboratories and studios
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Correct clothing for practical classes - if not already owned £20 - £30
There will be occasions when you will be expected to attend exhibitions, screenings, performances and festivals. You will need to budget for these over each academic year
Optional costs not included in your fees
Additional course related publications (approx. costs £100)
Specialist software/hardware (costs up to £1500)
Final year project costs (costs determined by student £200-£600)
Travel for work placement opportunities (costs will vary dependant on location)
We provide full details of all course fees, but extra costs may include field trips (approx. cost £200-£400)
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.