module specification

DN4010 - Introduction to Performance Design (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Introduction to Performance Design
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
150 hours Guided independent study
150 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio of work including all design projects from the module
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Morning
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

This year-long first year module will introduce and develop your understanding of design principles and approaches in production for performance design.

The module asks and enables you to investigate, analyse and explore the context of performance design and practice. Through exercises, projects and workshop scenarios you 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 you will investigate the requirements and focus of both live and recorded production.

By the end of the module you will have developed an understanding of the role of the production designer in a range of contexts and of your own design process and how it might progress.

Module aims

This module will enable you to:

  • apply design methods and techniques and appropriate discipline-specific skills in studio practice
  • develop strategies for idea generation, problem solving and concept testing
  • use and develop strategies to reflect, test for innovation
  • learn and apply key knowledge necessary to the exercise of performance design in a variety of contexts
  • investigate and analyse both theatre and film contexts, production methodologies 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. This will include a short introductory project and two larger design projects.

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

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 canonical text and students will create a design scheme for theatre performance.

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.

Learning and teaching

A mixture of group and individual work will enable a range of learning opportunities such as:

  • acquisition of workshop and studio skills for concept generation, design development, both traditional and contemporary, in discipline specific environments and contexts
  • research and analysis through case study of object, context and process
  • discussion of ideas, processes and approaches, developing confidence through shared experience
  • peer and self-assessment opportunities fostering reflection and independent development
  • set tasks and site visits that encourage teamwork, community networking and peer communication
  • face to face and online study groups through the University E-learning environment

Learning outcomes

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

  • explore concepts of narrative, textual analysis and character in relation to performance design
  • understand a range of approaches to the design of and for performance both live and recorded
  • 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
  • apply key skills in the areas of research, analysis, development of ideas, communication and collaboration
  • use key design skills including model making, storyboarding and costume drawing

Assessment strategy

You 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, and concepts/findings, together with critical self-evaluation of your 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 or spatial 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 your name, student number, module code and date. Students must attend timetabled sessions.


Bachelard, G. (Rev. Ed 2014) The Poetics of Space, Penguin Classics
Baugh, C. (2005) Theatre, Performance and Technology: the Development of Scenography in the 20th Century, Palgrave
Bellatoni, P. (2005) If it’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling, Focal Press
Collington, M. (2016) Animation in Context: A Practical Guide to Theory and Making, Bloomsbury
Davis, T. (2001) Stage Design, Rotovision
Howard, P. (2001) What is Scenography?,  Routledge
Ingham, M. (2016) Stage-Play and Screen-Play: The intermediality of theatre and cinema, Routledge
McKinney, J. (2009) The Cambridge Introduction to Scenography, Cambridge University Press
Payne, D. R. (1993) The Scenographic Imagination, Southern Illinois University Press
Shorter, G. (2012) Designing for Screen: Production Design and Art Direction Explained, The Crowood Press
Warren, J. (2017) Creating Worlds: How to Make Immersive Theatre, Nick Hern Books
Wells, P. Hardstaff, J. (2008) Re-Imagining Animation, AVA Publishing

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