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 School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 3 YEARS  
Part-time Day 6 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-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.

Consideration has been given to the following: the Subject Benchmark Statement (Art and Design 2017), the HE Qualification Framework, the University’s Strategic Plan and Student Charter, the University’s Undergraduate Regulations, the views and feedback of students, external examiners and employers/ clients, developments within the subject area, and the changing needs of the cultural/ commercial sectors and professions. Due consideration has also been given to inclusivity in course and assessment design.

Embedded in the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University.

The course seeks to provide and foster:

• learning through direct experience, connecting academic and creative studies;
• student choice in subject and style of learning;
• a culture of independent and critical thought, encouraging the challenging of received ideas and practice;
• employability attributes, through live projects engaging with external partners, institutions and companies that create a realistic environment of professional expectations for students, preparing students for graduate-level employment;
• engagement across the School and University, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• individualised learning and study support opportunities, that cater for different learning styles;
• awareness of the duty of all to understand the impact of their decisions and actions as interior designers and to strive to act responsibly.

The course operates within a programme of related interior design undergraduate awards, bringing together best practice from related fields. Three cognate BA awards (Interior Architecture and Design, Interior Design, Interior Design and Decoration) enable students to explore the fundamental aspects of design for interiors, through the particular lens of the built environment, the client, and/or decoration and detailing.

The learning and teaching strategies of BA (Hons) Interior Design aim to inspire vision and enable effective learning through progressive development of relevant practical and intellectual knowledge and understanding of industry practice and process, providing an environment that encourages critical engagement within a meaningful context. Our philosophy embraces experiential learning. This process of discovery and progressive development through the stages and levels of degree studies encourages students to fully understand their discipline through reflection, peer review and self-assessment.

Students work through assignments and projects, steadily building on existing skills, developing and realising new ideas and concepts. This approach ensures that the student is guided through the acquisition of key knowledge, skills and critical development, as the course progresses.

Each year, the course comprises four year-long (30 weeks, 30 credit) modules in the areas of design concept and realisation, interior technologies and production, and cultural and contextual studies and professional practice.

As a common basis of engagement, the design studio encompasses lectures, seminars, study visits, critiques, workshop activities, group and individual tutorials with tutors, industry professionals and subject specialists. Project work and theoretical studies offer opportunities for presentation: visual, spoken and textual, using digital technologies, blogs, videos, photography and websites. The course seeks to foster development across a range of learning styles.

Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, external visits, live briefings and feedback from partners, group critiques, workshops and opportunities for studio practice. Teaching and learning adopts a student-centered approach that identifies individual learning styles and accommodates them.

Lectures provide and encourage a critically informed view of a topic, contextualising the subject and illustrating applied approaches. Lectures provide students with a managed introduction to a theme, enabling them to continue with suggested or directed self-study.

Seminars enable students to debate and explore subjects, questions and assignments with peers and tutors, encouraging an open and collaborative approach to shared learning.

Tutorials support individual learning, allowing for individual approaches to study, and catering for individual interests. Tutorials can be diagnostic or can support specific assignment or project-related questions, and support differing student paths to achievement of learning outcomes.

External visits offer opportunities for vital direct experience with objects and sites of study, and to communicate with and learn from experts and specialists attached to partner institutions and bodies.

Live briefings and feedback are an important aspect of work-based learning, exposing students to experience of professional ways of working, of professional expectations of standards, and of the most current professional practice.

Critiques allow students to benefit from feedback on their own and others’ work, to contribute to that feedback, and are a valuable part of the peer-to-peer learning that is a core expectation and reason for University study.

Workshops offer students opportunities to engage in creative practice. Opportunities will be available to students to undertake workshop and studio practice relevant to their assignments or collaborative projects. The objective is to apply knowledge and/or acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively, to master technique and develop the capacity to work independently and within teams.

Blended learning utilises the University’s VLE platform to support and reinforce reflective learning, to monitor progress through assignments, to foster peer-to-peer communication and collaborative research activity ,and to facilitate tutorial support for students and flexible approaches to learning

Project briefs develop from year to year in accordance with contemporary practice and opportunities for engagement with external partners that arise. Disciplinary research skills are embedded at the beginning of the course, and are built upon each academic year to ensure the maximum exploitation of the learning opportunities that projects and assignments offer. Students will graduate with a portfolio of work that will include written work and outcomes that exhibit analyses through the creation, manipulation, examination or curation of artefacts.

Critical and Contextual Studies run in parallel to the design and creative industry practice modules. These modules focus on transferable graduate skills in the field of academic scholarship and writing (alongside professional practice). 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 art/ architecture/ design history and theory, taking into account the practice requirements of the industry, and 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.

Digital Literacy is embedded in the curriculum through the use of the VLE and in curriculum delivery and expectations of digital capabilities as appropriate to task set and the level of study. Students make use of digital platforms alongside traditional approaches to research, develop and communicate their projects.

The course is designed to be multi-disciplinary, developing skillsets 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 prepare 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 allows access to the 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 backgrounds who may have language, classics or drama backgrounds as well as art and design/design narrati

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. promote risk-taking, exploratory and innovative strategies for designing performance environments and control their narrative, function and experience, through evidence-based design;
2. encourage penetrating research and analysis, developing a rigorous and professional making and modelling approaches to the practice and challenges of theatre and film production design;
3. ensure responsible ethical practice in relation to cultural, environmental, material and social circumstances and the needs of peoples and communities;
4. develop understanding of the working practices, roles and regulatory environment of the sector;
5. foster critical enquiry and understanding of the cultural, psychological, emotional, political, technological and economic factors related to the design, production, and use of performance environments;
6. 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;
7. develop curiosity, independent enquiry and capacity to reason, critique and reflect upon practice through an integrated approach to practice and theory, research and analysis;
8. 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;
9. produce graduates who can work independently, manage their own time and tasks and those of others, reflect objectively on their own performance, and plan effectively for the future, including for their careers;
10. develop confident entrepreneurial, promotional and presentational skills, encouraging multidisciplinary approaches and critical thought;
11. support the growth of the individual; fostering self-reliance and commitment to personal and professional development, ensuring that graduates remain well-informed about current and developing thought and practice, and therefore maintain their employability.

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 (CA1, CA2,CA3,CA5, CA7);
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 (CA2, CA4, CA7, CA8);
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 (CA5, CA6);

Cognitive Intellectual Skills:

4. observe, investigate and synthesise complex visual and material effects towards the production of creative design solutions (CA2, CA3, CA8);
5. 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 (CA2, CA3, CA8);
6. 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 (CA6, CA9,CA10,CA11);

Transferable Skills:

7. competently apply individual critical, practical and creative strengths to self-promotion in order to professionally articulate practice intent visually, textually and orally (CA1, CA4, CA6, CA8, CA9, CA10);
8. respond to a defined industry brief and its constraints (including technological and aesthetic considerations), utilising creative opportunities towards professional project realization (CA4, CA7, CA9, CA11);
9. work professionally and effectively with others through collaboration and negotiation, in a variety of roles, as sole practitioner and within a multi-disciplinary team (CA9, CA10, CA11);

Subject-Specific Practical Skills:

10. employ the necessary skills to select appropriate platforms, materials and processes suitable for the realisation of creative intent (CA1,CA8, CA9);
11. 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 (CA3,CA9, CA10 CA11).

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title Module Code Learning Outcomes
CCS 1 CP4019 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Introduction to Performance Design DN4010 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8
Performance Design Techniques and Technologies DN4011 LO1 LO2 LO4 LO8 LO10 LO11
Objects for Theatre and Film DN4016 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO8 LO9 LO10
CCS 2 CP5019 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Scenography Text and Place DN5013 LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO10
Performance Design: techniques and Practice DN5014 LO1 LO2 LO4 LO8 LO10 LO11
Designing the Performance DN5015 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11
CCS 3 Dissertation CP6015 LO1 LO2 LO3 LO6 LO7
Project Design and Development for Theatre and Film Production Design DN6030 LO1 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO10
Major project Realisation: Theatre and Film Production Design DN6024 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11
Community Engagement DN6025 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO10 LO11

Principle QAA benchmark statements

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

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy for the course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloads and clarity of expectations for students, and to avoid duplication of assessment of learning outcomes.

The assessment regimes for the modules and tasks are designed together with the briefs, prior to the start of the year, taking into account student, external examiner, professional collaborator and colleague feedback from previous instances. The requirements of briefs and their components, the assessment criteria, grading scheme and descriptors are published and explained to students at the start of the year and are designed to be used as consistently as possible, to avoid unnecessary complication. Assessment is related to the achievement of learning outcomes; qualification frameworks and subject benchmark statements are consulted to ensure clear language that is appropriate to level of study. Students are informed of the procedures for first, second and parity marking, and external examiner scrutiny of the assessment process and marks, to ensure that they understand and have confidence in the probity of the process and security of the final marks.

In every case, there is required formative assessment and feedback prior to summative assessment at set points. This is recorded so that it can be used by both students and staff to track further progress and engage support where it is required. Feedback follows good pedagogic practice in that it is constructed as ‘feed-forward’, with a focus on specific actions and strategies as to how to improve, not only on what requires improvement. Challenge to students is managed, so that students performing well in-year are encouraged to strive for excellence, while those performing less well experience clear, targeted and structured guidance, including notice of where they are doing well or are showing potential.

The course adheres to the University’s requirements for assessment and feedback turnaround times and to academic regulations for marking and second making sampling. Additionally, the course engages in Subject and School parity exercises to ensure that assessment standards are consistent. This is especially important in relation to studio delivery through which students on the same modules will be undertaking differing projects.

• Assessment and feedback practices are informed by reflection, consideration of professional practice, and subject-specific and educational scholarship.
• Staff and students engage in dialogue to promote a shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgements are made.
• Students are provided with opportunities to develop an understanding of, and the necessary skills to demonstrate, good academic practice.
• The volume, timing and nature of assessment enable students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the intended learning outcomes.
• Formative assessment supports students in developing for summative assessment.
• Feedback on assessment is timely, constructive and developmental.
• Processes for marking assessments and for moderating marks are clearly articulated and consistently operated by those involved in the assessment process.

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

Work- related learning is embedded in the course both formally and throughout the course through live projects, industry visits, visiting speakers and events such as ‘Making a Living’ and ‘Celebration’ weeks.

The majority of tutors and lecturers on the course are practitioners and share their knowledge and experience with students throughout their course of study. The studio delivery of the course means that opportunities for work related learning through collaboration with external companies, agencies, institutions, competitions and professionals can be taken up as they arise, if appropriate to the programme of study.

Studios function as simulations of professional workplaces, with expectations of professional standards, conduct and delivery building as students progress from level to level. During their final year, students are expected to work independently towards completion of professional portfolio of projects, culminating in exhibition of these in the annual summer show and associated events.

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 and 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
DN4016 Objects for Theatre and Film

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: DN6030 Project Design and Development for Production Design
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 for students to qualify for an award of BA (Hons) Theatre and Film Production Design (there is no flexibility in choice or in the order in which modules may be taken). The part time route is prescribed (section 25).

Year 1/ Level 4 core modules:
DN4010 Introduction to Performance Design
DN4011 Performance Design Techniques and Technologies
DN4016 Objects for Theatre and Film
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:
DN6030 Project Design and Development for Theatre and Film Production Design
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

The School’s studio system of curriculum delivery embeds reflective learning and personal development planning throughout the course.

Most summative assessment is at the end of year-long modules, with several formative assessment points formally instituted in the course of the year. At these interim formative assessment and feedback points, students reflect on their progress to date with their peers and course staff (with the benefit of feedback from professional partners), seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. The feedback and student reflection is recorded and forms an action plan for the next period of study.

This system is highly individualised, but also benefits from peer engagement in studio critiques. The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Throughout the modules and the course therefore, in this way, students build bodies of work, including reflections on progress and achievement, and planning for their future achievement of targets.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

On completion of the course you will be able to choose from a wide range of theatre and film performance opportunities and immersive, community and collaborative practices. It will give opportunities to understand new advances in technology as well as offering participatory approaches to new forms of entrepreneurial practice.
Industry competitions, work placements and industry experience through live briefs are an integral part of becoming a practitioner, giving you the opportunity to experience and participate in creative problem solving. The course has collaborative links with the theatre, film and performance industries directly through visiting professional designers, makers and industry specialists who regularly teach and mentor throughout the programme. These live projects, critiques, reviews, exhibitions and competitions particularly foster understanding of professional demands and attributes. Skills gained during the course will enable students to seek careers and further study in the following areas and industries; theatre and film production design, self-employment, stage management, community arts and a wide range of craft jobs within the theatre and film industries.

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 should have:

  • a minimum of grade C in three A levels or minimum grades BC in at least two A levels in relevant humanities, art and design subjects (or a minimum of 112 UCAS points).
  • English Language GCSE at grade C/grade 4 or above (or equivalent)

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 Film, Photography and Media Extended degree or the Art and Design Extended Degree (With Foundation Year).

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.

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        
DN4010 Introduction to Performance Design Core 30        
DN4011 Performance Design Techniques and Technologies Core 30        
DN4016 Objects for Theatre and Film Core 30        

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 PM
DN6024 Major Project Realisation: Theatre and Film Pro... Core 30        
DN6025 Community Engagement Core 30        
DN6030 Design and Development for Theatre and Film Pro... Core 30