BA (Hons) Drama and Performance - University of Portsmouth
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BA (Hons)

Drama and Performance

UCAS codeW491

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Enjoy purpose-built facilities adjacent to Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Do you like performing and have an interest in directing, production management or devised theatre making? Do you wish to develop as a theatre practitioner whilst also gaining a deep understanding of contemporary theatre?

On this course you will study the nature and functions of theatre in society, while honing many transferable skills valued by employers in a range of industries, including professional theatre.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Create your own working theatre company, with professional input from our links with local theatres.
  • Receive first-class performer training and get involved in numerous productions.
  • Gain a deep understanding of contemporary theatre performance from leading experts in the field, studying a range of approaches from Grotowski, Berkoff and Robert Wilson to Punchdrunk Frantic Assembly and Forced Entertainment.
  • Apply performance to a range of social and educational contexts. Past projects have included Hamletmachine, Fewer Emergencies and 4:48 Psychosis.

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course equips you with the ability to tackle the challenges you may meet in a performing arts career. You’ll gain the techniques and understanding to succeed in the pathway that fascinates you most, as well as the confidence to succeed in the arts sector.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • theatre
  • arts and events management
  • local and community broadcasting
  • teaching


Jade Pullman, BA (Hons) Drama and Performance student 2013

The course offers a lot of opportunities for practical work and not just acting – you can learn how to produce, how to direct – so you get a full idea of all the different skills that are involved within the theatrical world.

Jade Pullman, BA (Hons) Drama and Performance student 2013


Drama and Performance

Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • The creative atmosphere that encourages students to explore their own interests and ideas
  • The excellent facilities which you will have access to
  • Exhibiting, curating and promoting your work, preparing you for future employment

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

Your first year will set you up with a broad platform of understanding of performance. You’ll also establish the basic practical skills which you’ll be able to practise through projects such as devising your own show.

Core units in this year include:

  • Milestones
  • Text and Practice
  • Theatre, Drama and Performance Histories
  • Intensive Drama Workshop
  • Devised Project
  • Practical Skills

Year two

In this year you can opt to take contemporary theatre, interdisciplinary performance or a musical theatre pathway. You’ll experience a specialist introduction to your chosen area and develop the relevant skills for the route you choose through project group work and independent study.

Core units in this year include:

  • Critical Approaches to Theatre
  • Drama in Context
  • Performance Laboratory
  • Theatre Skills

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • British Musical Theatre: Unsung Legacies
  • Immersive and Micro Performance
  • Professional Experience
  • Puppetry and Object Theatre
  • Student Enterprise
  • Voice Studies

Year three*

In your final year, your practice becomes industry based. Gain valuable practical experience by working on local theatre projects, forming your own theatre company or doing a work placement. Also, round up your studies with a final practical project and your dissertation.

Core units in this year include:

  • Applied Theatre
  • Drama and Performance Dissertation
  • Forming a Company
  • Post-Dramatic Performance
  • Studio Project

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement)

Placement year

Between the second and third years of study you will have the option to undertake a work placement year. There are two exciting options for the placement year:

We offer a range of salaried professional placements as part of your degree.  You can gain invaluable work experience to help you prepare for your graduate employment.  The University can provide you with advice on how to secure a work placement that matches both the needs of your degree and your future career plans, as well as giving you useful links and contacts.

Interested in running your own business instead? We also offer students the chance to start-up and run their own company for a year as an alternative to the traditional work-based placement. Students who choose this option often start-up their companies with fellow, like-minded students, working together, as a bona fide operation, in an attempt to build a successful venture. The Faculty and University provide mentoring and support throughout the year.

To find out more visit our Employability and Enterprise page.


The greatest feature of our course is the emphasis on the practical element of performance. Over the years you’ll have numerous opportunities to perform or put on shows both at and outside the University. The theoretical side of the course is delivered via workshops, seminars, lectures and one-to-one tutorials.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 22% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 78% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 20% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 80% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 15% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 85% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Assessment takes many forms on the course enabling you to demonstrate the variety of your skills and talents. Here’s how we assess your work:

  • practical productions
  • dramatic writing
  • essays
  • video productions
  • group presentations
  • examinations
  • dissertation/project

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 8% by written exams, 48% by practical exams and 44% by coursework
  • Year two students: 0% by written exams, 47% by practical exams and 53% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 37% by practical exams and 63% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr George Burrows
Drama and Performance

Our students enjoy specialising in musical theatre or contemporary performance and, in balancing theoretical with practical approaches, the course helps develop creative, inquisitive, enterprising and disciplined graduates that have flexible career possibilities. Truly, “the entire world’s a stage” but we're looking forward to a new home for the Drama Department next to Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal.

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Facilities & Features

Purpose-built facilities

Practise your performance in front of your peers in our purpose-built studio theatre in the White Swan Building, connected to Portsmouth’s New Theatre Royal. The studio theatre offers flexible seating accommodating an audience of up to 80 people; it acts as a fully workable theatre. We also have a number of rehearsal facilities kitted out with lighting and mirrored dance space, as well as a sound recording booth, a video editing suite and music practice rooms equipped with pianos.

The Show Committee

Our students run their own society, the Show Committee, which supports and nurtures the talent of its members in an un-assessed, extra-curricular environment. Whether your speciality is in music, sound and lighting, or performing, the Committee will welcome your skills.

Guest Speakers

We organise a lively programme of visiting speakers. Recent speakers on the course have included Sheila Hancock, Edward Bond, Mark Ravenhill, David Edgar, Howard Brenton, Michelene Wandor, the Fecund Theatre Company, Pete Wyer, Yvon Bonenfant, the Solent People's Theatre and the Big Brum Theatre. Overall, we aim to encourage a vibrant culture of debate and industry contact.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

There may be costs for items such as DVDs and MiniDV tapes for use on practical units of approximately £20 - £30. Material costs for individual project work may cost between £50 - £100. Costs for performance work and other practice-based units is in the region of £50 - £100.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Our course is deliberately intended to develop skills that will help you create your own working opportunities or gain employment in the theatre industry.

As well as some of the more conventional roles found in the world of theatre, some of our graduates have gone on to form events companies, find work in media and arts organisations or follow careers in teaching. Many have also pursued further courses in vocational performer training or postgraduate opportunities here at the University or elsewhere.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • actor
  • producer
  • playwright
  • theatre manager
  • arts administrator

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Here at the CCI’s Creative Careers Centre we are committed to improving your employability. Whether it’s placements, self-employed placements, internships, short-term work experiences, freelancing opportunities and volunteering, we will help you find valuable and relevant work experience to complement your degree. The experienced team is always on hand to offer advice on everything from producing high-quality applications through to preparation for a company assessment day.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Portsmouth PO1 2UP

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