module specification

DN4010 - Introduction to Performance Design (2019/20)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2019/20
Module title Introduction to Performance Design
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
162 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
138 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio of work including all design projects from the module
Running in 2019/20

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

This year-long first year module will introduce and develop students’ understanding of design principles and approaches to production for performance design.

The module asks and enables students to investigate, analyse and explore the context of performance design and practice. Through exercises, projects and workshop scenarios students will examine and consider the process of production design, the different disciplines within performance design and all the various roles of the production designer. Through visits and lectures they will investigate the requirements and focus of both live and recorded production.

By the end of the module students will have developed an understanding of the role of the production designer in a range of contexts and of their own design process and how it might progress. The module allows them to develop strategies for idea generation, problem solving and concept testing whilst offering points to reflect and test for innovation. The module, through briefs and exercises, will use a variety of texts to investigate both theatre and film contexts, production methodology and how the narrative relates to the audience.


Within the module there will be a number of practical explorations in session time and a series of short design projects. Students will work predominantly individually but also as part of small groups to develop and present their design proposals.  LO2,LO3

Introductory project – using a well-known story or text students will work in small groups to create a simple design. LO2

Aspects of design - through a series of practical tasks students will explore approaches to aspects of performance design including character drawing, storyboarding, and working in scale. Students will also be introduced to the work of major practitioners both historical and contemporary.

First main design project: design for live performance. This project will take a recognised text and students will create a design scheme for theatre performance. LO4

Final project, live or recorded – an exploration of differing approaches to a given text or starting point in live and recorded performance.  This project will explore the roles of production designer and art director and the differing demands placed on the designer by live and recorded performance. LO1, LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

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.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding:

LO1: explain the process and varying roles of the designer in the context of the collaborative process of creating performance both live and recorded and how the design communicates to the audience;

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities:

LO2: explore concepts of narrative, textual analysis and character in relation to performance design and understand a range of approaches to the design of and for performance both live and recorded;

Transferable Skills:

LO3: apply key skills in the areas of research, analysis, development of ideas, communication and collaboration in team work;

Subject Specific Skills:

LO4: use key design skills for performance design including model making, storyboarding and costume drawing.

Assessment strategy

Students will produce and submit a body of project work demonstrating engagement with studio intentions, module aims and achievement of the learning outcomes. Work in progress will be assessed formatively and feedback provided as an ongoing process.

Students will produce coherent 2D and/or 3D presentations for each project within the module supported by written, drawn and visualised record of project research, development, concepts and findings, together with critical self-evaluation of their work.

The final mark will be awarded in relation to the completed project work presented at the end of the module. Summative assessment will reflect on the whole body of work and qualities demonstrated throughout, including research, idea generation, problem analysis, solution, critique and reflection in 2D and 3D design.  Written feedback will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria and guidance given towards future development. Precise requirements for submission will be given in project briefs.

Work must be carefully organised and presented to communicate the development of ideas and the content must be clearly labelled with name, student number, module code and date. Students must attend timetabled sessions.


Howard, P., (2009) What is Scenography?, Routledge
Howard, P, and Howard, P., (2009) What is Scenography?, Taylor & Francis Group
Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [5 April 2018].
Baugh, C., (2013) Theatre, performance and technology: the development and transformation of scenography, Palgrave
Todd, A., Lecat, J-G., (2003) The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments, Faber and Faber
Thorne, G., (1999) Stage Design – a practical guide, Ramsbury Crowood Press
Reid Payne, D., (1981) The Scenographic Imagination Carbondale Ill, U.P.
McKinney, J., (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography (Cambridge Introductions to Literature), Cambridge University Press
Collins, J. and Nisbet, A. (2010)  Theatre and Performance Design: A Reader in Scenography, Routledge

Society of British Theatre Designers exhibition catalogues
Make Believe UK Design for Performance 2011-2015, Society of British Theatre Designers
Collaborators: UK Design of Performance 2003-2007, Society of British Theatre Designers
2D > 3D: Design for Theatre and Performance, Society of British Theatre Designers
Transformation & Revelation,  Society of British Theatre Designers