This course is a rigorous, intensive and unique actor training programme, available to students who are seeking graduate-level study at a leading UK conservatoire. With a cohort of just 8 students, the programme provides a bespoke approach to meet the individual needs of each actor, and allows you to gain your Master of Fine Arts (MFA) qualification in just one year.
You’ll develop your skills as an actor, perform in a professional-standard theatre production for the public, and hone your acting to camera and voiceover skills at the School’s film and recorded media department, before preparing for your industry launch.
ⓘ This course is open to both UK and international students who do not require a visa to study in the UK. If you hold a UK or Irish passport, then you will be eligible to apply. We are unable to consider applications from students requiring a visa to study in the UK during the 2024–25 academic year. If you are unsure about your eligibility, then please contact the admissions team for further information.
During this intensive MFA course, you’ll strengthen your creative process as an actor by taking a range of integrated modules covering vocal and physical development. The curriculum you follow will typically cover voice, accent, singing, movement, yoga, Alexander technique, period movement, dance and combat. A range of in-house text projects will help you develop a coherent, self-managed and dynamic approach to interpreting dramatic text. There is a substantial focus on the classical British and European repertoire in the course, with close attention given to a practical exploration of Shakespearean text in performance.
In the summer term, you’ll perform in a professional-standard public production, normally drawn from British or European theatre and supported by design, stage management and costume students at the School. You’ll also work on a screen and audio showreel, and complete a reflective performance journal as you become an independent artist, capable of realising your unique ambitions.
Because the course is restricted to just 8 students, you will find that our staff provide a highly individualised approach throughout all your group classes, text projects and rehearsals; you will learn and hone your craft together as a close-knit, small ensemble which celebrates the unique story each actor has to tell. This course is structured to allow you to gain your MFA in one intensive year; as such you will have a shorter spring vacation and an extended summer term compared to students on the School’s other courses. For full details, please see our term dates page.
The course aims to equip you with a range of techniques appropriate to the varied demands made within the current performance industry. You’ll gain experience in both theatre and recorded media and graduate with the skills to work at a high professional standard. Your ongoing professional development as an actor is a key focus of the course and you will be supported in planning for your professional launch throughout the course’s duration. Graduates from the course have gone onto a range of successful careers in theatre, film, TV and voiceover. Find out more about recent graduate success on our Graduating Acting Students pages.
From your second term onwards, you’ll prepare for future auditions, undertake self-marketing work and develop an appreciation of how best to navigate the arts and entertainment industries. We’ll equip you with the tools to work successfully in your home industry, be that in the UK or overseas. You will also have the opportunity to take part in a London showcase event for agents and casting directors, following competition of the formal aspects of the course. Accommodation, travel and subsistence costs associated with the showcase are normally self-funded.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is an associate school of the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), a Higher Education Provider registered with the Office for Students. On successful completion of this course, you will receive an award from UWE Bristol. Because of the vocational nature of the degree courses, BOVTS does not award degree classifications – all assessments are completed on a pass or fail basis.
This course is taught predominantly at the School’s main site at Downside Road. Audio and film work is taught at the School’s centre for recorded media at Christchurch Studios, and on-location across the city of Bristol. Read more about the sale of Christchurch Studios.
The School stages theatre at venues across Bristol and your summer term production will be based in one of the city’s many performance spaces. From time-to-time, rehearsals may take place in alternative spaces in close proximity to the School.
The Professional Acting course allows you to gain your Master of Fine Arts (MFA) qualification in just one year. This is an intensive degree course and your scheduled learning time will typically be at least 30 hours per week, across the 40 weeks of the programme. Particularly in your first two terms, you will follow a highly structured timetable with a range of classes, individual and group tutorials and project rehearsals. In-house projects with staff and/or invited audiences and internal practice auditions will help consolidate your learning and allow you to explore a variety of approaches in your artistry. Individual weekly or fortnightly tutorials in acting and singing will further support your development as a reflective and disciplined practitioner.
Whilst preparing for your public production, you will follow the rehearsal calls according to the production’s needs and you may find that your contact hours are more variable. All BOVTS productions are presented for the public and therefore during production week there is some evening and weekend work. You will also need to be capable of working independently and undertaking self-directed research and therefore considerable additional work outside of your scheduled learning time is expected. Further information is available about academic and student support services available to you as a BOVTS student.
Most teaching is delivered in-person. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, we have retained some online delivery in response to student feedback including for certain planning and feedback meetings, and classes and tutorials supporting you in preparing for your professional launch.
The course is led by the Head of MFA Professional Acting. Teaching is delivered by the core acting staff, along with a range of peripatetic staff. Text projects and the public performance are often directed by visiting industry professionals, meaning you will benefit from working with a range of different practitioners. In your final term, you will also have the opportunity to practise auditioning for industry professionals including agents and casting directors, who will provide you with individual feedback. You can find further information about all our core teaching staff on our staff pages.
The MFA in Professional Acting is an unclassified Master’s of Fine Arts degree. This means that on completion of your course you will receive a degree but without a classification (i.e. without distinction, merit or pass).
Assessment at BOVTS is continuous throughout each term and all your modules will be marked on a pass or fail basis. All timetabled classes are compulsory and your tutors will monitor your progress closely, providing you with regular feedback to help you develop. This includes both verbally in class and in individual tutorials, as well as written feedback at the end of each module. You will also receive feedback from a variety of different staff – for example directors working with you on text projects or core acting staff observing internal auditions.
Nearly all of your assessment will be based on practical work in classes, rehearsals and performances, including dance and combat sequences, performance of text projects, and your final production. You will be assessed against relevant industry standards and your ability to bring together all aspects of your learning. There are no written exams although, in your final term, you will need to complete a production journal with details of your research and acting processes, as well as a market research and self-promotion report.
Each module is worth a specified number of credit points. All modules are compulsory, enabling you to cover key subject knowledge while developing your own interests.
The Actor’s Instrument (40 credit points)
This module runs throughout the year and will support you in your physical and vocal development throughout the programme. In a wide-ranging curriculum, you’ll cover voice, speech and accent work, singing, movement, Alexander Technique and dance.
Applied Movement and the Classical Tradition (30 credit points)
You’ll enhance your physical acting abilities through a range of classes in period movement, dance and stage combat, enhancing your understanding of period texts and acquiring the ability to choreograph movement and fight sequences for a range of genre.
Text and Context (40 credit points)
In this module you will develop a coherent, flexible and methodical approach to interpreting both period and modern texts as an actor. You’ll undertake a variety of text projects and explore different period styles, such as Early English, Shakespeare, Chekhov and contemporary.
Performance (30 credit points)
In your final term, you’ll synthesise your learning to perform in a fully mounted, professional-standard theatre production with support from production staff and students from across the School. The rehearsal period aims to follow industry practice with a short performance run in a professional theatre space.
Professional Portfolio (40 credit points)
You’ll research the employment market you intend to work in and, towards the end of the course, prepare self-promotion publicity, audition pieces, and develop recorded media showreels of both voice and camera material, working with industry practitioners.
Applicants would normally be expected to have an undergraduate degree in a related subject area such as drama, acting, theatre studies or performance studies. However, applicants with extensive relevant professional experience will also be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please see “selection process” for further information, or contact our admissions team for further advice.
If English is not your first language, you will need to demonstrate English language proficiency through a relevant qualification, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For this course, an overall score of 7.0 is normally required, with a minimum of 7.0 in reading, 6.0 in writing, 7.0 in listening and 7.0 in speaking. Please contact our admissions team for further advice.
Entry to the MFA Professional Acting course is by audition. Auditions for this course are held online. At audition you will need to demonstrate a high standard of acting, both in terms of your preparation and ability to take direction. You will be auditioned by two members of staff and will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the programme.
At your audition, you will be required to present:
> A speech in verse from a classical English play (written before 1800). Shakespeare is recommended.
> A piece in prose from a modern play (written in the twentieth or twenty-first century).
> A short, unaccompanied song – we suggest avoiding contemporary pop songs.
Each piece should last no longer than two minutes; if you exceed this time limit you may be stopped. For the song, you may wish to perform a verse and chorus from your chosen piece. Please note that there is a £25 audition fee for this course.
We will only accept one application per applicant, per year. You cannot apply for more than one course. If you need further advice about choosing a course, please contact the Admissions Office or visit our apply pages.
All students £26,510
We regret that we are unable to consider applications from students requiring a visa to study in the UK during the 2024–25 academic year. For further information, please see the dropdown “Students requiring a visa to study in the UK.”
Accommodation and living costs are not included in your tuition fees.
Further information about financial support from the government, and bursaries and scholarships that you may be eligible to apply for is available from our fees and funding page.
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School has been approved for the US Federal Student Loan programme. Further details on options for funding and loans for US students in the UK can be found on the US student funding page.
There are some additional costs associated with this course that are not covered by your tuition fee. Costs given in brackets are to help with budgeting and are indicative only. These are likely to include:
• clothing and footwear for acting, dance voice and movement classes (£200);
• recommended texts – before buying your own copy, you may wish to see if you can borrow through the UWE library or the Drama Online service (available to current students) (up to £100)
• IT equipment – it is recommended that you have your own laptop or computer. Please see the School’s recommended IT specifications for further information (PDF, 52 Kb);
• self-promotion costs – for example the cost of headshot photography (from £150), business cards or CV printing (£30) and the costs associated with registering with Spotlight (or industry equivalent).
• stationery, photocopying and printing costs (£50).
• showcases – you will take part in a graduating students’ showcase after the formal parts of your course are complete. The format of the showcase may take different formats depending on class size and make-up of the cohort. For in-person showcases, accommodation, subsistence and travel costs are normally self-funded.
A detailed equipment list will be sent to new students ahead of beginning their training. If you are facing financial hardship, then the School may be able to loan you equipment or help you meet these costs with a bursary. New students should contact admissions for further advice.
Due to a recent change in the Theatre School’s governance, our Higher Education provider UWE Bristol is unable to issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) documentation for BOVTS courses. Regrettably we are therefore unable to consider applications from students requiring a visa to study in the UK for 2024 entry.
The Theatre School is able to consider applications from international students who do not require a visa to study in the UK. If you are unsure of your tuition fee status, please consult the UK Council for International Student Affairs guidelines or contact our admissions office for further guidance. Prospective international students for entry in 2025 or beyond are encouraged to join our mailing list to learn more about training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.