module specification

DN5014 - Performance Design Techniques and Practice (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Performance Design Techniques and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
180 hours Guided independent study
120 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Practice Journal
Coursework 40%   Assessment feedback from work placement/ work related learning
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

This module allows you to engage with the technologies, materials and making practices of designers working in performance design, and develops your understanding of the collaborative nature of the process involved in creating performance and performance space. You will develop communication techniques appropriate to the diversity of information designers use and of the audiences targeted.

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

The module will also include practical work in a production role either on an industry work placement or a third year performance created by or in conjunction with BA Theatre Performance students.

Prior learning requirements

Pass and Completion of Prior Level

Module aims

This module seeks to:

  • demonstrate the range and scope of the performance design industries and the different disciplines involved in the design and delivery of performance space, through precedents and work related, collaborative practice
  • utilise a range of drawing conventions including set construction, costume, prop making, material experimentation and model making techniques to communicate the relevance and resolution of designed ideas
  • investigate the effects of lighting, prop sourcing and direction in relationship to the performance
  • develop scaled modelling skills using both traditional and digital methodologies
  • provide an understanding of historic, contemporary and emerging performance technologies and their relevance to space, text and available technologies
  • introduce risk assessment and the range and role of regulatory bodies in relation to performance design
  • • establish a critical, personal practice of recording, documenting and interpreting approaches to making performance and performance space


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

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

Practical work in a production role either on an industry work placement or a third year realised performance created by or in conjunction with BA Theatre Performance students.

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 and site visits that extend this knowledge and establish the students’ use of reference, critical analysis and interpretation.

A key aspect of learning in this module is the workplace-based learning that will take place during an industry work placement or a third year realised performance.

The drawing, material and modelmaking workshops will continue to 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:

  1. explain the purpose of each professional and technical role within the collaborative practice of creating performance and performance space
  2. describe the position of the designers’ practice within the creation of performance
  3. understand the requirements and different types of drawings and communications required by all production departments including, costume, set construction, prop making, prop sourcing, lighting and directing
  4. identify and describe principal historic and contemporary constructional methods through drawn or modelled examples
  5. demonstrate precise and appropriate modelmaking and drawn techniques to communicate design ideas in a simple small-scale design proposal
  6. work within the regulatory relationship between audience and performer both in terms of effectiveness of performance and safety
  7. apply a careful, methodical and imaginative approach to recording knowledge, methods and ideas  to understand the relationship between concept, performance and built spaces

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.

Students will receive assessment feedback on the practical work undertaken in a production role.


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 John Blurton, A&C Black
Dixon, S. (2015) Digital Performance: A History of New Media in Theater, Dance, Performance Art, and Installation, MIT Press

Thorne, G. (2010) Technical Drawing for Stage Design, Crowood Press 
Howard, P. (2001) What is Scenography?, Routledge
Todd, A. and Lecat, J.-G.  (2003) The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments, Faber and Faber 
Thorne, G. (1999) Stage Design – a practical guide, Crowood Press
Reid, and Payne, D. (1981) The Scenographic Imagination, Southern Illinois University 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