module specification

DN4011 - Performance Design Techniques and Technologies (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Performance Design Techniques and Technologies
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 25%   Series of Models & Material Experiments
Coursework 25%   Set of Analytical, Technical and Annotated Drawing
Coursework 50%   Practice Journal
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to technologies, materials and the communication and making practices of designers working within performance design, developing students’ understanding of the collaborative nature of the process involved in creating performance and performance space.

Students will develop communication techniques appropriate to the diversity of information designers’ uses and audiences targeted. These will include the use of different orthogonal drawing conventions, diagrams and sketches, and a range of model making and storyboarding approaches.

The module will use different methods to establish this knowledge, including case studies, making and drawing workshops, lectures, seminars and the utilisation of a wide variety of published sources.

Module aims

This module seeks to enable you to

  • identify the range, scope and practice of the roles and disciplines involved in the design and delivery of performance spaces
  • employ a range of drawing conventions, material experimentation and modelmaking techniques to communicate precise ideas and information
  • understand historic, contemporary and emerging performance technologies
  • work within the key statutory and regulatory responsibilities relating to production design
  • analyse methods of critical and reflective recording, documenting and interpreting approaches for performance and performance spaces


A series of lectures, seminars and case studies will introduce the various disciplines and roles involved in the realisation of a design for performance.

An introduction to simple construction and material technologies, informing the construction of performance spaces and design components.

An outline of historic and contemporary principles and techniques.

A series of workshops develop drawing, material and modelmaking techniques to support the testing and communication of knowledge arising from the lectures and seminars and their application to studio projects.

Drawings will include designers’ technical drawings (plans and elevations), bench drawings, concept drawings, costume drawings and storyboards. The subject of these may be case studies or the studio module project work.

Models will develop students’ workshop skills by developing familiarity with a range of materials and processes. The models will be used to test material and constructional principles and to test these in the application of the students’ ideas developed in studio practice modules.

Learning and teaching

As a module that introduces and develops a variety of learning methods a key aspect of the learning and teaching strategy is to establish students’ method of recording, managing and reflecting on the knowledge and skills introduced.

The module uses lectures to introduce key principles and the subject knowledge base. The seminars reflect on this and on the case studies, site visits and surveys that extend this knowledge and establish the students’ use of reference.

The drawing, material and modelmaking workshops enable students to develop the practice of using 2D and 3D visual communication skills to communicate specific types of design information. The information described will be particular to this module but complementary to the studio design modules.

Successful learning in this module is dependent upon regular attendance and engagement in the scheduled teaching and the level of self-managed study undertaken. The tool to manage and achieve this is the ‘Practice Journal’. The Journal will record each module event – lecture, seminar, workshop etc - and the students’ participation, contribution and reflection upon these, and is the principal assessment item.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • understand the importance and methods of collaboration in designing and delivering performance and performance space
  • describe the position of  designers’ practice in the creation of performances
  • understand the requirements and different types of drawings and communications required by production departments including for costume design, set construction, prop making, prop sourcing, lighting and directing
  • identify principal historic and contemporary constructional methods through visited and researched precedents
  • demonstrate appropriate and accurate model making and orthographic drawn techniques to communicate design ideas
  • demonstrate a careful, reflective, methodical and imaginative approach to recording knowledge and stating key regulatory responsibilities, understanding how they influence decision making within performance design

Assessment strategy

The Practice Journal records the students’ progress through each element and activity of the module. The understanding and critical enquiry demonstrated in the journal is key to its success. The consistency of the record of learning, the care with which the journal is produced and the consequent effectiveness of its communication of the knowledge and skills acquired will be assessed.

The series of material experiments and models will demonstrate the students’ skill in material understanding and modelmaking and their understanding of the use different techniques to convey ideas and information and to convey particular and appropriate information.

The set drawings will demonstrate students’ development in using drawings as a tool to develop and communicate ideas. They will demonstrate their understanding of the use of different drawing types and the use and integration of textual information.


Baugh, C. (2005) Theatre, Performance and Technology: the Development of Scenography in the 20th Century, Palgrave
Blurton, J. (2001) Scenery: Drafting and Construction: For Theatres, Museums, Exhibitions and Trade Shows Routledge
Glebas, F. (2008) Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques for Live Action and Animation, Focal Press
Howard, P. (2009) What is Scenography?  Routledge
Orton,K. (2004) Model Making for the Stage: A Practical Guide, Crowood Press
Reid-Payne, D. (1981) The Scenographic Imagination, Southern Illinois University Press
Thorne, G. (2010) Technical Drawing for Stage Design, Crowood Press 
Thorne, G. (1999) Stage Design – a Practical Guide, Crowood Press
Todd, A. and Lecat, J.-G. (2003)  The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments, Faber and Faber
Wilson, A. (2003) Making Stage Props: A Practical Guide, Crowood Press

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