Performance Design MA Develop advanced level skills in Performance Design.

Full Time Professional Training Courses

Performance Design MA

Key Information Apply Now Term Dates

Course Overview

The MA in Performance Design provides specialist vocational training preparing you for a career in designing for the stage and screen.

The course has been revised with the latest industry developments in mind and is taught over one academic year through a combination of project and production work. You will acquire a broad range of specialist skill sets in both design and making.

If you would like to find out more about training on the course, join us for an online information session on 16 January, 2023 from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm.

Register for online information session

Specialisation will enable you to acquire practical knowledge and technical skills from a range of School production staff and/or visiting industry professionals. You will be able to explore unique creative collaboration opportunities within the course and benefit from shared learning, knowledge and skills exchange with other postgraduate and undergraduate creatives.

You will be able to create an impressive professional portfolio of project and realised design work. You will launch your career to a range of industry professionals, one-to-one industry interviews and in a graduate exhibition.

A short taster video to give you an idea of what to expect.

Figures holding umbrellas walking under bright lights and rain in The Laramie Project

Course Highlights

A full time one-year vocational course designed to create confident leading industry professionals.

Learn from design practitioners and visiting industry professionals.

Apply a specialist design approach across projects and on School productions.

Meet a range of industry professionals in a series of one-to-one interviews, including at the public graduate exhibition.

Create an impressive professional portfolio with excellent pathways to employment.

Course Structure and Subject Specialisations

Set and costume design

Set design and scenic crafts: construction and/or scenic art

Costume design and making / supervision

Lighting design

Projection design

Prop design and construction

Puppet design and construction

Design for screen

Additional specialisations could include

Event Design or Opera Design

Design for Dance

Design for Screen

Design for Theatre in Education (TIE)

Set Design for Touring and Design for Devising.

Specialisation options require approval by the course leader and may be subject to change according to production schedules. Students are always consulted about any change which affects their course.

You will explore your specialisation pathway on at least one realised production. These may include:

School theatre productions which usually take place at venues across Bristol short films produced at the School’s Christchurch Studios
School theatre productions which usually tour to schools, arts centres and regional theatres.

Actors on stage dressed as angels and one dressed as a cowboy Photography - Mark Dawson

Graduate Successes

Recent graduates have designed at Bristol Old Vic, The Tobacco Factory, Shakespeare’s Globe, Kneehigh, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Orange Tree Theatre and the RSC.

Graduates are regularly successful in attaining the RSC Trainee Design positions and as finalists for the Linbury Prize.

Model of design set Theatre Design


‘The course at Bristol is excellent preparation for a career in Design. I got practical, hands on experience as a designer while working in a well-supported environment, and the classes gave me a firm basis in the skills I needed for working life. The small class size is pretty unique too – you really do get catered for as an individual, by both BOVTS tutors and visiting professionals, and I made some lifelong friends and collaborators along the way. It’s a well-respected course, and deservedly so.’
Anisha Fields, Set and Costume Designer

‘It was a wonderful environment to realise how valuable teamwork is and how much every department relies on one another to make a production a success.’ Corina Bona (Design Course), Puppeteer / Theatre-maker

‘Training at BOVTS set me up with the skillset, confidence and connections for the career I now have as a freelance theatre designer’  Max Johns, Theatre Designer

Model design of barn structure Model set design by Edoardo Lelli

Excellent Opportunities for Collaboration

The production designs provide excellent opportunities for collaboration with a range of professional practitioners and student production teams, including collaborative working with the MA Drama Directing  and MA Dramatic Writing students.

An impressive and varied professional portfolio of design work can be achieved during the course.

Students gain further promotional opportunities by exhibiting their work in final exhibitions and also create excellent pathways to employment by contact with a high level of industry practitioners.

Various costume designs for Her Naked Skin Set design by Edoardo Lelli
Graduate Sahir Mehta
As soon as I visited the School, I fell in love with the place. Perhaps it sounds a bit irrational, but sometimes you get a vibe - and you just know! BOVTS gave me all the tools I needed to prepare for a career as an actor. Sahir Mehta, MA Professional Acting, 2018