Course specification and structure
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UDTHEFSD - BA Theatre and Film Production Design

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Bachelor of Arts Level Honours
Possible interim awards Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Higher Education, Certificate of Higher Education, Bachelor of Arts
Total credits for course 360
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS  
Part-time Day 6 YEARS  
Course leader Kaye Newman

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning

BA (Hons) Theatre and Film Production Design uses the expertise that exists within the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design as well as the knowledge, networks and industry links across the wider University to prepare students for careers in production design for film and theatre. Students will learn from experts in theatre and performance practice, interior design, TV and theatre studies, film and broadcast production, fashion, animation and music.

The course is designed to be multi-disciplinary, developing skill sets for the theatre and film industries but also for other creative industries, where students can seek employment in exhibition and retail design, installation and festival design, lighting design, the entertainment and event industries, with corporate social responsibility collaborators in large corporate businesses, and in entertainment and arts journalism. The course also prepars graduates for postgraduate study in design, teaching, curation, or other arts disciplines.
Being delivered in London provides the course with an excellent base for student experience of industry practice and collaboration, of new and innovative cross-disciplinary practices, of employment and work-related learning, and allow access to immense research and archive resources that exist in the film and theatre museums and institutes based in London. The course has strong links with performance companies through existing contacts, as well as with the London boroughs that are keen to develop arts and performance programmes that reach their communities both educationally and culturally.

BA Theatre and Film Production Design brings a new group of students together from differing arts and humanities A level and BTEC backgrounds who may have English, classics or drama backgrounds as well as art and design/design narrative students. Learning is supported with external visits to theatres and production workshops to broaden students’ understanding of the context of the work undertaken. The wealth of current practitioners amongst the teaching staff is be supported by an intensive programme of visiting speakers who enrich subject knowledge and encourage depth of debate. The course works with live productions and with theatre and film production teams and professionals and has strong links both within the capital, and nationally and internationally. Students study modules that focus specifically on the professional, creative and historical context of their area of study, on the technical and technological aspects of performance design, and in creative thematic studios, in which students can exercise and develop their individual approaches to design for theatre and film production. The course has an ambition to exhibit student work at exhibitions of production design (for example the Prague Quadrennial).

The course staff have strong and active links to the industry associations and governing bodies, for example the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD), Association of Courses in Theatre Design (ACTD), SkillScene, PACT, BFI, Creative Skillset, Chartered Society of Designers, The Production Guild, UK Screen Association, Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU). The teaching team includes well-connected industry specialists in theatre and film production design, directors of theatre and film, designers of lighting and sound for performance, choreographers and a wide and diverse range of theatre, film and performance companies and makers; in a range of fields with expertise that extends from broad ranging creative skills to fine detailing and intelligent craft.

Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, live briefings, group formal critiques, workshops and studio practice.

Each year of study comprises of four year-long (30 weeks, 30 credit) modules in the areas of concept and realisation, subject-specific industry practice and cultural and contextual studies (including professional practice).

Lectures provide a critically informed overview of a topic, to conceptualise and contextualise the subject and illustrate applied approaches. Lecture series will be from industry experts and based upon contemporary industry subject matter.

Workshops and practical teaching takes a variety of forms. The objective is to apply knowledge and/or acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively, to master technique and to develop the capacity to work independently and in teams. Opportunities will be available to students to develop skills specifically relevant to their project work, a specific brief, or a discipline collaborative project.

Studio practice enhances lectures, seminars, study visits, critiques, workshop activities, group and individual tutorials. Both projects and theoretical work offer opportunities for developing professional competency in presentation (including visual, spoken and text-based modes), using digital technologies, blogs, videos, photography and websites.
Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice, furthering research interests and project opportunities in context of the School ethos. Disciplinary skills are embedded at the beginning of the course, and are built upon each academic year. The body of work accumulated at Level 6 is significant, making up an academic portfolio that demonstrates the full range of attributes that are required for career development in creative practice and/ or for entry to MA level Courses. Shared projects across courses and years enable opportunities for peer-to-peer learning to be maximised.

Critical and Contextual Studies run in parallel to the design and subject-specific industry practice modules. These modules focus upon transferable graduate skills in the field of academic scholarship and writing as well as aspects of professional practice. As part of their professional profile, students need to be able to retrieve, analyse, interpret, articulate and structure information and knowledge for different purposes and audiences. These modules frame key skills of research within the specific context of design history and theory, taking into account the practice requirements of the industry, its professional, legal, ethical and institutional contexts. Intensive blocks of learning in seminar and lecture presentations, alongside site visits, image analysis, case studies, and workshops, aid acquisition of skills in presentation, visual and textual analysis and representation.

The course’s use of virtual learning supports students on day-to-day and project work in progress, enhancing the studio environment through a blended learning approach. Blended learning encourages students to form learning communities, whilst providing a personal reflective space, offering a knowledge portal that supports research-banks and studio sessions, exercises and lecture notes.

The University Careers department has a strong understanding of the employment links and opportunities and would be able to support this new course through its links with the National Careers Service and the creative industry bodies.

Course aims

The aims of this course are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. The course aims to:

  1. Deliver a high quality education in theatre and film production design that will ensure graduates are knowledgeable, creative, technically able and work-ready
  2. Foster critical understanding of and creative approaches to the cultural, technological and economic factors surrounding the professional practice of theatre and film production design
  3. Foster self-reliance and openness to professional development, ensuring individual practice that is accurately positioned in relation to current economic, ethical, cultural, environmental, material and global needs
  4. Develop confident entrepreneurial, promotional and presentational skills, encouraging multidisciplinary approaches and critical thought
  5. Develop curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason, critique and reflect upon practice through an integrated approach to practice and theory, research and analysis
  6. Through working intimately with materials and making/ production, enable skills for professional practice including subject knowledge, efficiency, confidence and autonomy relevant to individual interests, creative ambitions and sector conditions

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding

  1. Apply self-critical, investigative and evaluative practice while developing an individual perspective and approach to theatre and film production design
  2. Recognise how developments and trends in theatre, film and performance design and developments or constraints in production and design processes, platforms and technologies influence each other and apply this knowledge to practice
  3. Understand the contemporary and historical framework and broader academic debates in theatre and film production design and related fields such as live performance art and installation

Cognitive Intellectual Skills

1 Observe, investigate and synthesise complex visual and material effects towards the production of creative design solutions
2 Master the materials and processes associated with production design, demonstrating an understanding of the field of trans-disciplinary design, and the rapidly evolving possibilities for digital design possibilities and relationships
3 Take responsibility for the content and signature of individual creative practice within professional and commercial contexts, demonstrating ethical sensitivity and a reflexive, innovative personal approach

Transferable Skills

  1. Competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to self-promotion in order to professionally articulate practice intent visually, textually and orally
  2. Respond to a defined industry brief and its constraints (including technological and aesthetic considerations), utilising creative opportunities towards professional project realisation
  3. Work professionally and effectively with others through collaboration and negotiation, in a variety of roles, as sole practitioner and within a multi-disciplinary team

Subject-Specific Practical Skills

  1. Employ the necessary skills to select appropriate platforms, materials and processes suitable for the realisation of creative intent
  2. Apply knowledge of the theatre and film production design industry and the commercial contexts to effective career planning, strategically placing your work within clearly defined markets and reaching defined audiences

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statements; Art & Design (2017), Dance, Drama and Performance (2015)

Assessment strategy

The course deploys a range of formative and summative assessment methods, including peer appraisal and individual reflective practices throughout studio based work and personal projects. These evaluative achievements are evidenced through coursework and demonstrated within presentations, seminars and portfolio reviews, to accommodate differing learning styles. Each assessment (formative and summative) seeks to build students’ confidence as independent learners, providing pertinent advice for all aspects of learning. Students are guaranteed a consistent approach to assessment and feedback across the years to ensure they have a secure grasp of their progress.

The course team provides ongoing opportunities for scheduled tutorial ‘drop in’ sessions and the course’s virtual learning environment offers students opportunities to discuss (with tutors and peers) their assessment strategies. Further support is available via personal academic advisors, Library Services, University Student Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

The understanding of the needs of industry and an introduction to work based learning is embedded from early beginnings in Level 4 with oral presentations to peers and staff. Competitive projects reflect current professional practice culminating in ccritiques and presentations at the School-wide Celebration Week events. Students at this level take part in study trips and visits to theatres, community performances, understanding film locations and designers in order to increase awareness of career possibilities from the outset.

Exhibitions and live projects with growing expectations of professional standard outcomes build through the three years and are significantly enhanced through work-based learning in year 2 and collaborative projects set with year 3. Live projects and external presentations encourage and necessitate negotiation and team working in a range of differing scenarios. Students learn to balance demands and negotiate solutions while understanding deadlines and practicing modes of delivery and presentation. Students will be able to present their work on a number of platforms including the Cass Celebration Week presentations and collaboration in design, production and performance events with performance and film students.

Building on the experiences at Level 4 the Level 5 & 6 studio projects include live projects in various industry sectors with embedded presentations for external critique and presentations. Students are asked to apply for these projects in a simulation of the real-world experience of work. All students are asked to utilise their knowledge and skill in obtaining work placements and job opportunities researched and undertaken during level 5 or level 6. Work-related learning is an integrated and mandatory part of the course, with at least 70 hours working on live projects for organisations delivered through placement, live briefs and entrepreneurial activities built into the course. Students will experience a competitive recruitment process or pitching for opportunities, and they will be required to reflect on their experience of the project and undertake forward career action planning. Students undertake CV writing, statements and cover letters and explore online media, web and social networks through the professional practice modules. Students are asked to critically reflect on all of these various experiences through their reflective journals and sketchbooks.

Course specific regulations

ACADEMIC PROGRESSION: As a condition of progressing from level 4 to 5 and level 5 to 6, students are required to have gained 120 credits per level, that is, by achieving pass marks (40%) in all four modules in the preceding level of study.

Level 6: In order to achieve an honours degree award on this course, students must have completed and passed each Level 6 module at 40% or above.

Part-time study is defined as 60 credits per year. Consequently, in part-time mode, the duration of study for a 360-credit degree will be 6 years. The pattern of study in CASS degrees shall be as follows:

Year 1: DN4010 Introduction to Performance Design
SM4011 Objects and Theatre

Year 2: DN4011 Performance Techniques and Technologies
CP4019 Critical and Contextual Studies 1: Theatre and Film Production Design

Year 3: DN5013 Scenography Text and Place
DN5015 Designing the Performance

Year 4: DN5014 Performance Design: Techniques and Practice
CP5019 Critical and Contextual Studies 2: Theatre and Film Production Design

Year 5: DN6001 Project Design and Development
DN6024 Major Project Realisation: Theatre and Film Production Design

Year 6: DN6025 Community Engagement
CP6015 Critical and Contextual Studies: Dissertation (Interiors)

Modules required for interim awards

All modules are core and compulsory

Year 1/ Level 4 core modules:
DN4010 Introduction to Performance Design
DN4011 Performance Design Techniques and Technologies
SM4011 Objects and Theatre
CP4019 Critical and Contextual Studies 1: Theatre and Film Production Design

Year 2/ Level 5 core modules:
DN5013 Scenography Text and Place
DN5014 Performance Design: Techniques and Practice
DN5015 Designing the Performance
CP5019 Critical and Contextual Studies 2: Theatre and Film Production Design

Year 3/ Level 6 core modules:
DN6001 Project Design and Development
DN6024 Major Project Realisation: Theatre and Film Production Design
DN6025 Community Engagement
CP6015 Critical and Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (Interiors)

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

Reflective learning is embedded in the studio practice modules through Level 5 study and within the final professional modules at level 6. Students are required to reflect on and critique their work and that of others throughout the programme. The skills acquired support the course remit of developing students with critical and intellectual skills needed for graduate employability and understanding of their personal context within the industry culture.

Students develop work plans and personal development plans in order to organise their working process and articulate their method and practice argument with a view to communication and presentation of ideas and outcomes.

With peer critique alongside visiting critics each student is guided and helped along a path of self-analysis and discovery that culminates in a clear and well developed ability to express their particular ethos and communicate their underlying working process and practice.

Students keep reflective diaries or blogs and keep annotated sketchbooks alongside their practical work. Critical review is central to teaching methods with students regularly presenting and discussing their approaches, research and final outcomes in a rich and constructive approach to learning.

Arrangements on the course for careers education, information and guidance

In addition to access to the University’s careers service, students will also be involved in employability and career preparation enhancement activities such as ‘Making a Living’ week and the University’s Accelerator Unit initiatives. Students are able to take part in a wide range of activities that provide advice and guidance in rewarding practical and live projects that encompass groups of students from all disciplines. These are all intended as a culture of career guidance that enriches the experience of careers advice and enables student to fully integrate the advice into their study programme.

Other external links providing expertise and experience

All students are expected to participate in a range of externally facing briefs with live clients; alongside this invaluable opportunity for professional contextualisation of their work, students experience the pressures and deadlines essential for professional understanding and achievement after graduation. Presentations take place both on university premises but also externally in a range of venues.

Staff on the course have a huge range of industry contacts ranging from English National Opera and the National Theatre to Complicite, Cardboard Citizens, and the Hope Theatre. These professional contacts will be used to provide work-based learning opportunities during the course.

School Support and Consultancy:
The Cass Projects Office provides a supportive professional environment that allows students and staff to undertake consultancy commissions and research projects as well as providing project management support to live projects carried out by students as part of their course.

The University’s business start-up incubator and support unit ‘Accelerator’ can assist student to find or maximise opportunities to enter competitions, undertake commissions or start their own businesses.

Career opportunities

The Theatre and Film Production Design BA course will offer opportunities within the film and theatre industries in a number of roles within design and production, including set and costume designer, production designer, art director and a range of making roles. It also prepares you for exhibition design, curation, lighting design, community, and youth work and education.

Entry requirements

In addition to the University’s standard entry requirements, you will normally be expected to obtain:

  • for entry in the 2017-18 academic year: a minimum grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC in at least two A levels in in relevant humanities, art and design subjects (or a minimum of 96 UCAS points from an equivalent Level 3 qualification, eg BTEC National, OCR Diploma or Advanced Diploma)
  • English Language GCSE at grade C (grade 4 from 2017) or above (or equivalent)

We encourage applications from international/EU students with equivalent qualifications. We also accept mature students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Suitable applicants living in the UK will be invited to a portfolio interview. Applicants living outside the UK will be required to submit a portfolio of work via email.

If you do not have traditional qualifications or cannot meet the entry requirements for this undergraduate degree, you may still be able to gain entry by completing the Art and Design Extended Degree (with Foundation Year).

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Portfolios and interviews

Your portfolio should be selected but have enough work to show the range of your interests and talents. We are interested in seeing how you develop a narrative through a project. You can also include creative writing, story boarding, lighting and photography, costume and CAD work if you have examples of these.

We always want to see traditional drawing whether observational, life or concept generating. Pieces that show us how you conceive ideas, select and emphasise stories through atmosphere and scale. If you cannot bring work within your portfolio to your interview, please take photographs and include them.

Finally, be ready to talk about your work and how you see your future as a film and theatre production designer.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2017/18 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 02 Jun 2017 Last validation date 02 Jun 2017  
JACS codes W461 (Stage Design): 100%
Route code THEFSD

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 04 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP4019 Critical and Contextual Studies 1: Theatre and ... Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE PM
DN4010 Introduction to Performance Design Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
DN4011 Performance Design Techniques and Technologies Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR TUE AM
SM4011 Objects and Theatre Core 30 NORTH AUT+SPR THU AM

Stage 2 Level 05 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP5019 Critical and Contextual Studies 2: Theatre and ... Core 30        
DN5013 Scenography, Text and Place Core 30        
DN5014 Performance Design Techniques and Practice Core 30        
DN5015 Designing the Performance Core 30        

Stage 3 Level 06 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
CP6015 Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (... Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR WED AM
DN6001 Project Design and Development Core 30 CITY AUT+SPR FRI AM
DN6024 Major Project Realisation: Theatre and Film Pro... Core 30        
DN6025 Community Engagement Core 30