Drama and Performance BA (Hons)
BA Hons Drama and Performance
Do you love drama and creating experiences for live audiences? Are you fascinated by how performances are created and how they relate to what's happening in society?
On this BA (Hons) Drama and Performance degree course, you'll study all forms of drama. You'll write, direct and perform physical theatre, fringe productions and promenade performances. And you'll examine drama's impact on society and culture, today and in the past.
In year 2, you'll choose modules that match your interests and career aspirations. Specialist areas you can study include puppetry and musical theatre. You can also learn how to form a theatre company and create performances for younger audiences.
You'll get plenty of chances to apply your writing, acting, directing and production skills in public performances and opportunities to use your skills in the industry on short-term placements and an optional year-long sandwich year.
Come to Portsmouth to study the subject you love, and gain the practical skills you need to turn your degree into a career.
95% Graduates in work or further study (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019)
100% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2020)
- A levels – BBB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–120 points to include a minimum of 2 A levels, or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
- International Baccalaureate – 25
- Applicants will be invited to a workshop.
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
What you'll experience
On this Drama and Performance degree course, you'll:
- Study the history of theatre and drama, and apply what you learn to productions of your own
- Hone your acting skills, with workshops and projects to help you develop your performances
- Learn about technical theatre, including lights, sound, scenography, set, direction, and stage management
- Practise your skills in a black box theatre and modern facilities, kitted out with studios, lighting rigs, video and music suites and scene shop (for constructing set pieces)
- Take part in a variety of productions, including physical theatre, fringe theatre, applied theatre and promenade performance
- Be taught and inspired by internationally recognised teaching staff and benefit from their expertise and experience in the industry
- Have the chance to take part in teaching staff professional projects – students have previously performed in productions at the Brighton Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe and Portsmouth Guildhall
- Get valuable input from local theatre professionals as you create your own theatre company
- Have insight from guest speakers about their experiences in the world of theatre production
- Learn transferable skills you can apply to all parts of your life and career in areas such as event planning, public speaking, proposal writing and critical thinking
Careers and opportunities
The skills and experience you gain on this course will set you up for a career in all areas of the drama and performing arts industry, whether you want to be on stage or behind the scenes.
And because the art of performing is embedded in daily life – from business negotiations to people's behaviour in the workplace to marketing communications – you can also apply the skills you learn in roles in other industries.
Jobs you can do with a drama and performance degree
Previous graduates have secured roles at prestigious theatre companies including the Barbican, Chichester Festival Theatre and Marlowe Theatre and performed at events including the Edinburgh Fringe and Brighton Fringe.
Typical roles graduates go onto after the course include:
- Stage manager
- Theatre manager
- Arts administrator
- Drama teacher (with further training)
- Event manager
Previous graduates have also used the entrepreneurial skills they've developed to form their own event companies.
Placements and industry experience
After your second year, you can do a year-long placement year in the industry. This lets you put your knowledge and skills to work, while developing professional links and building your network.
Previous students have taken placement years at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, as attractions cast members.
You can also do a summer internship, or shorter-term work experience placements. Previous students have done the following short-term placements:
- Stage and production crew at Rock Challenge
- Running and stage management at Hip Hop International
- Stage management at the Groundlings Theatre
- Dance teaching at Upbeat Music
- Journeys Festival
Interested in running your own business on your placement year instead? You can start up and run your own company for a year as an alternative to a work-based placement. You'll work alone or with fellow students to build and launch a successful venture.
You'll get support and mentoring before and throughout your placements.
You’ll have access to Creative Careers, a team within the faculty that helps students find placement opportunities within the creative industries.
They’ll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including helping with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement, if you need it.
Work experience and career planning
Our Careers and Employability service can also help you find relevant work and performing experience during your drama degree.
They can help you identify placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your CV.
When you finish the course, our Careers and Employability service can help you find a job that puts your skills to work in the industry. You can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years as you advance in your career.
What you'll study
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
- Making Theatre
- Movement for Performance
- Performance - Criticism and Analysis
- Performance and Society
- Devised Project
- Voice and the Actor
There are no optional units in this year.
- Advanced Scene Study (Drama and Performance)
- Critical Contexts
- Performance Histories
- Political Performance
- Theatre Skills
- Art, Design and Performance Study Exchange
- Engaged Citizenship Through Interdisciplinary Practice
- Modern Language (Institution-wide Language Programme)
- Musical Theatre and All That Jazz
- Playwriting and Text for Performance
- Professional Experience
- Puppetry and Object Theatre
- Space, Time and Performance
- Student Enterprise
After your second year, you can do a year-long paid placement year in the industry. This lets you put your knowledge and skills to work, while developing links in the industry.
- Alternative Theatres
- Applied Theatre For Young Audiences
- Applied Theatre: Workshop Skills
- Forming a Company
- Major Academic Project
There are no optional modules in this year.
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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
Teaching methods on this drama degree include:
- One-to-one tutorials
You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a web connection.
Teaching staff profiles
Dr Erika Hughes
Course Leader; Academic Lead in Performance
Erika has worked extensively around the world as a director, on stages in Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan.
Her research focuses on the intersection of memory, history, and performance, and she has published on topics including Holocaust Theatre, Applied Theatre, and performance with people who have experienced military conflict.
Dr Matt Smith
Matt is an experienced director and theatre creator, with a particular interest in applied theatre and puppetry – both of which have been a core element of his teaching since he joined the University in September 2009.
For many years, Matt has used puppetry in unusual settings – both as applied theatre and as a means to explore social change.
Dr Phoebe Rumsey
Phoebe has a background as a professional dancer in touring shows and has worked in Las Vegas as a dancer.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- Practical productions
- Dramatic writing
- Video productions
- Group presentations
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.
The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:
- Year 1 students: 8% by written exams, 48% by practical exams and 44% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 47% by practical exams and 53% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 37% by practical exams and 63% by coursework
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
At university, as well as spending time in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars and tutorials, you’ll do lots of independent study with support from our staff when you need it.
A typical week
We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your drama degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as acting lessons for 4 hours per week and lectures and seminars for 4-6 hours per week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends. There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
It's divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- Teaching block 1 – early October to January
- Assessment period 1 – late January to early February
- Teaching block 2 – February to May
- Assessment period 2 – May to June
Extra learning support
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
You’ll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.
Student support advisor
In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.
Academic skills tutors
You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- Improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- Delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
- Understanding and using assignment feedback
- Managing your time and workload
- Revision and exam techniques
Creative skills tutors
If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.
IT and computing support
Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5pm to midnight at busy times of the year.
Academic skills support
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- Academic writing
- Note taking
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Presentation skills
- Working in groups
- Revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Tuition fees (2021 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 a year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £15,500 a year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
You may need to buy items such as DVDs and MiniDV tapes to use on practical units, which cost approximately £20–£30.
You’ll also need to cover:
- the material costs for individual project work, which usually costs £50–£100
- the costs for performance work and other practice based units, which are normally in the region of £50–£100
How to apply
To start this course in 2021, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – W491
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.