Skip to main content Go to Site Map
Collage of student work

Course Information

Recognised as a centre of excellence, the BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design course has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its ‘distinguished degree-level education in costume design for the UK’s leading creative industries’. To allow students to dive deeper into specialised pathways two courses have been developed – BA (Hons) Costume and BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume.

BA (Hons) Costume offers a comprehensive approach to the study of costume, focusing on both designing and creating. Students will become skilled at producing accurate historical recreations of costumes as well as expressing imaginative flair.

Although the course focuses on costume for shows, films and new performance disciplines, the skills you learn will prepare you for a wide range of other careers.

Costume is a diverse and demanding subject – you need to be interested in art, design and all genres of theatre and film. You’ll discover how to create whole new worlds on this exciting and creative course. As well as technical skill, you’ll learn that great costume production depends on your ability to interpret ideas.

You’ll work alongside set and costume designers, Film Production, Make-up and Acting students on stage and in ‘live’ productions. While your eventual career may not be in costume supervision and making, we believe that understanding the overall production process is what sets our students apart and gives them an edge. Over the three years of study, you can choose to focus your studies and specialise in costume making or costume supervision, or a combination of both areas.

Level 4 (first year)

In your first year, we aim to give you a solid grounding in both Performance Design and Costume Interpretation. This will help you to experience the creative process of both designing and interpreting designs.

The first unit is focused on core skills and aims to introduce you to a wide range of sewing techniques, including making the male and female blocks, boning and many seams and fastenings. Design-orientated projects include life drawing, costume design processes and scale model making, as well as looking at the contextual and theoretical issues around the subject.

The Design and Making unit asks you to develop a performance design through the study of a text. You can then try your hand at making one of your designs. This unit investigates the designer/performer/audience relationship in a given space and culminates in a set of sampled costume designs and scale set model with a made costume.

At the end of this unit, you’ll have the opportunity to decide if you want to continue with the BA (Hons) Costume course that you enrolled on or transfer to the BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume course.

If you remain on the course, you'll then be introduced to our Costume Workshop unit – which allows you to see the complete costume interpretation process – right through from measuring performers to working on a creative brief and learning more detailed costume supervision skills.

Throughout all years, you'll be writing essays and reviews. A critical understanding of performance is integral to all aspects of the course curriculum.

Level 5 (second year)

Your second year begins with the Historical Costume unit – where you'll learn about how to be a ‘dress detective’ and how to analyse the historical clues in clothing and the historical context of clothes. You will then get the opportunity to make an historically-inspired costume or part of a costume – this may be historical pattern cutting, ‘cut on the stand’, or how to make a corset. This unit is followed by the Tailoring unit – where you'll make a tailored garment step by step. The final practical unit is entitled Experimental Costume and will require you to make and supervise a costume that will challenge you to push boundaries and break rules to help you to develop your creativity.

This final unit of the year aims to provide you with opportunities for you to develop as a creative maker and supervisor with high aesthetic standards and strong technical ability. This unit may offer live project briefs, including working with BA (Hons) Film Production students on their films and designing for BA (Hons) Acting productions.

Collaborating with other students will help you to learn by doing, extending your conceptual and creative ability, technical understanding and practical expertise.

Remember that you'll also be writing an essay and developing your critical analysis skills.

Level 6 (third year)

In your third year, the focus is on film, theatre and site-specific projects. Throughout Level 6, you’ll have learned how to use the skills that you have developed on the course to produce work of a professional standard within a near-professional context.

The first unit, Production Practice, asks you to choose from a selection of exciting projects. These range from making or supervising a show that will be staged by BA (Hons) Acting students, to making for a series of short films for BA (Hons) Film Production students. We also regularly make costumes for professional theatre productions or museum exhibitions.

You’ll find the atmosphere in the studio reflects the pace and intensity of industry; we expect students to work in tight creative teams, solving problems as they occur.

You’ll also prepare and write your Research Project unit in the autumn term. You’ll have the opportunity to choose your own topic for research and to complete a 5,000-word essay.

The Major Project unit is designed to develop your professional skills in either costume making or supervising. This unit can be entirely speculative – you might want to create a costume from a design that has always inspired you, or you might work on one of the many professional and BA (Hons) Acting projects that we undertake.

Another key focus of your third year will be on developing your professional identity. You’ll attend mock interviews with objective industry personnel, who can help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses – and identify any gaps in your portfolio.

This feedback will help you to create work that complements your existing projects, for example, a maker might build a specific item to demonstrate their sewing skills.

All students are registered for the award of BA (Hons). However, exit awards are available if you leave the course early, having successfully completed one or two levels. If you successfully complete a level of the course, you'll automatically be entitled to progress to the next level.

For the award of a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 120 credits at Level 4. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the first year of your course.

For the award of a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), you must have achieved a minimum of 240 credits of which a minimum of 120 must be at Level 5. This qualification may be awarded if you leave the University following successful completion of the second year of your course.

For the award of a BA (Hons) you must have achieved a minimum of 360 credits of which a minimum of 240 must be at Level 5 or above, of which a minimum of 120 credits must be at Level 6. This qualification will be awarded upon successful completion of your course.

A BA without Honours may be awarded if you have achieved 300 credits, at least 180 of which are at Level 5 or above, and at least 60 of which are at Level 6.

You’ll be taught by experienced teaching staff during your time at AUB. You can find out more about their specialisms and research interests by exploring their profiles below.

Photo of Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill acting Course Leader BA (Hons) Costume and BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume

Photo of Wayne Martin

Wayne Martin

BA (Hons), Cert Ed Wayne has worked in the theatre and film industry for over 20 years as a costume cutter and interpreter...

Picture of Katerina Lawton

Katerina Lawton

BA (Hons), PGCE Katerina trained in tailoring, costume making and designing. She is an expert historical cutter has a particular interest...

Photo of Mandy Barrington

Mandy Barrington

MA, PGCE Textile artist, costume maker and international ambassador for the AUB. Mandy is currently researching the use of digital...

Dr Jon Croose headshot

Dr. Jon Croose

PhD, MA, Certificate in Newspaper Journalism, BA (Hons) (University of Kent at Canterbury) Jons academic background is in Theatre...

Photo of Alison Hart

Alison Hart

BA (Hons), PGCE Alison trained in Fashion and Textile Design, Costume and Millinery and currently works as a Senior Technician...

Photo of Milena Nawrocka

Milena Nawrocka

Milena qualified as a seamstress and tailor in Poland and has almost 20 years experience in garment making. She spent 3 years as an...

Jen Ridge Profile Picture

Jennifer Ridge

Jennifer trained in Costume with Performance Design. Since then she has worked in the theatre industry mainly in Running Wardrobe...

Bex Richmond profile picture

Bex Richmond

Technician Demonstrator – School of Art, Design and Architecture...

Photo of Helen Ford

Helen Ford

Helen’s background is as a Costume Supervisor and maker with over 20 years of experience within the Theatre and events industries...

Watch Our Videos

How to apply

Once you've found the perfect Undergraduate course, you can apply to study via UCAS, including direct entry applications to second and third year.

When applying through UCAS, use the institution code A66. All of our courses take place on one site, so we don't have a campus code. We'll then use your completed UCAS form to make decisions about your application. You can find out more on entry requirements in our apply section.

When you apply to one of our courses, it's important that you help us get a good picture of both you and your work – so you'll need a great personal statement. We want to know more about why you're interested in the course, your key influences, and what you hope to do after your studies.

If you're invited for an interview, many of our courses will ask to see a portfolio of your work so we can get more insight into your ideas and abilities. To help you, we've created guidelines outlining what we expect from your portfolio for each course.

Fees and Funding

The fee that you pay the Arts University Bournemouth provides the necessary equipment and training for you to complete your course.

You may also choose to buy some items of personal equipment such as a laptop or tablet computer, but this is not required; desktop and laptop computers are available for you to use in common study areas, including a loan system in the Library.

Studios and Resources

Students on the BA (Hons) Costume course benefit from specialist facilities and equipment, tailored to the studies of the course which reflects industry practice.

Costume Studio featuring mannequins and sewing machines

Costume and Design Studios

We have three large open plan studio space with enough industry-standard cutting and designing tables for each student to work on.

Student using tools in a Workshops

3D Workshop

Our 3D workshops with manual and digital manufacturing equipment and computers

Student performing in AUB Black Box style theatre

Black Box Theatre

Our versatile ‘Black Box’ style theatre is a space for performers and set designer to test their mettle for real

Teaching and Learning

The course objectives are met by deploying a wide variety of teaching and learning methods, including projects, lectures, seminars, group critiques and tutorials.

In consultation with the Course Leader, staff are responsible for co-ordinating individual units of study, and for selecting appropriate methods of delivery according to subject matter and student experience. The methods employed induct you to the disciplines required of a creative practitioner and promote the development of transferable skills.

The study time allocated to each unit in the course incorporates a balance of formal teaching, tutorial support and independent learning. The course is structured progressively to provide increased opportunities for independent learning as you reach the later stages of the course.

Although teaching is directed at supporting individual engagement in learning, there'll be opportunities for you to work in teams to enable you to learn the value of peer co-operation.

The integration of theory and practice is promoted and reinforced through a team teaching approach. Lectures, seminars and tutorials may be delivered by team members, as appropriate, in the creative environment of the studio.

The progressive promotion of independent learning reflects your anticipated maturity as a student and allows you to guide your learning towards individual goals. The teaching is directed at providing you with the knowledge, concepts and skills to take increasing responsibility for the management of your own learning.

Assessment and Feedback

Each unit is assessed separately, and the assessment forms part of the unit. Assessment both provides a measure of your achievement, and also gives you regular feedback on how your learning is developing.

For every unit of your course, we'll inform you of what you're expected to learn, what you have to submit, how your work will be assessed, and the deadline for presenting your work for assessment. This is made available through Unit Information, which is on your course blog.

You'll receive a final mark for each unit in the form of a percentage, which will be recorded on your formal record of achievement (transcript). Each component of assessment is graded using a notched marking scale, whereby only certain marks are used within each grade. The only marks available within any ten-point band are *2, *5 and *8 (e.g. 62, 65, 68). These marks correspond to a low, mid, and high level of achievement within each grade band.

All learning outcomes must be passed to successfully complete the unit. On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you'll be awarded a degree classification based on your unit marks. The final classification is determined using all unit marks at Levels 5 and 6 using two different algorithms, which are detailed in the HE Student Regulations. If the two algorithms produce different results, you'll be awarded the higher class of degree.

If you have joined Level 6 through either the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route or having completed a Foundation Degree (FdA), the final classification is determined using only your unit marks at Level 6. For further information on assessment, progression, awards and classifications, please visit viewpoint.aub.ac.uk.

What Our Graduates Are Doing

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high-profile awards.

Graduates from the costume pathway of BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design are employed at some of the most prestigious organisations in the UK and internationally, including the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Pinewood Studios, Glyndebourne, Royal Opera House, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. Some graduates have careers as:

  • Costume Supervisor for theatre or Film
  • Costume Maker
  • Costume Prop Maker
  • Costume Buyer
  • Costume Standby for film
  • Costume Assistant for Film
  • Costume Tailor
  • Alternation Hand – film and theatre
  • Curator
  • Museum Conservation
  • Costume Academic
  • Textiles teacher
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Head of Running Wardrobe
  • Dresser – theatre
  • Stylist

Graduates have gone on to make costumes and costume supervise shows for theatres and film studios all over the world.

Lucy Anderson

Lucy was one of several AUB alumni to work on the costumes for the 2015 Disney blockbuster, Cinderella...

Image of Maudie Whitehead working

Maudie Whitehead

BA(Hons) Costume and Performance Design alumna, Maudie, is a freelance costume designer...

Modern artwork

Mea Warburton: A Day in the Life at the Circus

We're taking a peek into the life of 2016 BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design graduate, Mea Warburton.

Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high-profile awards, such as:

  • Winner 2017 for the Costume Society Patterns of Fashion Award
  • 2 Runner’s Up 2019 for the Costume Society Patterns of Fashion Award
  • Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Awards, New Zealand
  • Podium Awards – Bronze Award for Successful Student Led Activity
  • Podium Awards – Silver Medal in Creative Cultural Project Award
  • Prime Cuts Festival; Free Range – Best Costume

Trips and Visits

As part of your course you may also get the opportunity to take part in course trips. Previous trips have included:

  • New York
  • London

*These trips are optional and some may incur additional costs

Due to the current travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines, it is unlikely that any trips will be planned in the first half of the new academic year. We will follow Government advice as soon as it is available for the remainder of the year.

Costume news

See more of our student work

Discover how to create whole new worlds on this exciting course. Design and make costumes and sets for shows, films, plays.