BA (Hons) Musical Theatre - University of Portsmouth
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BA (Hons)

Musical Theatre

UCAS code2B69

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Experience everything from classic musical theatre to cutting-edge practices. Enhance skills, increase employability, and explore ideas

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Musical Theatre has an unrivalled history at Portsmouth. As the home of the only international academic journal dedicated to musical theatre (launched in 2007), we feel it is no overstatement to say Portsmouth is the home of musical theatre study in the UK.

This course offers you the chance to explore the many ways in which voice, music, movement, acting and production all work together to create successful musical theatre. Studying and experiencing everything from classic Broadway shows to cutting-edge work and new writing, our particular mix of practical and academic study will stimulate you to enhance your skills, sharpen your analytical tools, and enable you to be job-ready for a range of occupations or further training and study upon graduation.

As a member of the national Musical Theatre Network, we have direct industry connections which are integral to your learning and, as part of the annual London Showcase, you can perform in front of specially-invited agents, producers or casting directors.

What will I experience?

Lectures will equip you with the tools to analyse and understand the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ of musical theatre. This is important because directors no longer want performers that just ‘do’, they want performers that know ‘why’ as well.

Working in partnership with Musical Theatre Network, the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth, the King’s Theatre Southsea, and other national venues, you will have opportunities to create your own theatre company, and perform in a range of works.

Throughout your time on the course, you will mount a full-scale musical in just two weeks, receive dedicated one-on-one singing lessons and, also, have the chance to get direct industry experience through internships at local theatres or entertainment venues. At the end of your final year, you will have the opportunity to audition for our London Showcase, giving you industry exposure.

With around 70-90 student shows each year, along with regular performances by members of staff, you will join a personal, friendly but thriving department, in our state-of-the-art, purpose-built drama studios.

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course equips you with skills in performing arts, and – crucially – transferrable skills in project management, time management, interpersonal skills, presentation skills, research, analysis and production. Our emphasis on individual and group work means that performing arts graduates are highly sought-after in a variety of sectors because of their confidence, enterprise and initiative.

Graduate opportunities include:

  • a career as a performer or creative in theatre or the broader entertainment industries
  • working in arts and events management
  • broadcasting and media
  • journalism, marketing and publishing
  • teaching, or the academy
  • project management and team management


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


Film, Media and Performing Arts

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
  • The lively mix of creative practice and critical understanding, ensuring that knowledge and learning is stimulating, cutting-edge and relevant to the wider world

Browse all courses in Film, Media and Performing Arts

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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
  • Studying Performance
  • Intensive Drama Workshop
  • Devised Project
  • Practical Skills

Year two

In this year you will develop your skills and expertise further through project group work and independent study, and you can also specialise in a chosen area of practice.

Core units in this year include:

  • Practical Performance Project
  • Musical Theatre in Context
  • Musical Theatre Skills

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Professional Experience
  • Student Enterprise
  • Music: Practice, Performance and Research

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, you will round up your studies with a final practical project and your dissertation.

Core units in this year include:

  • Applied Theatre
  • Musical Theatre Dissertation
  • Forming a Company
  • Postdramatic Performance: Composed Theatre
  • Musical Theatre Production 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, 73% studying independently and 7% 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, 57% by practical exams and 43% by coursework
  • Year three students: 0% by written exams, 37% by practical exams and 63% by coursework

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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.

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.

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