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BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume

  • Duration: 3 or 4 years full-time
  • Placement year: Optional 1 year
  • Course code: W453 (UCAS)
  • Institution code: A66 (UCAS)

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Overview

Learn the skills you’ll need to become a professional costume designer in the film and television industry and to design stage sets, costumes, props and puppets for theatre, live performance, festivals and events.

Performance Design and Film Costume course information

The BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume course (PDFC) trains students to work as costume designers in film and television, and as set and costume designers for theatre, live performance, festivals and events.

The course produces adaptable and innovative designers with a sought-after professional skill set, an achievement that's recognised by our accreditation with ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills body for the screen industries.

In addition to training students in costume and stage design, our ‘on-set skills’ strand teaches our students how to work in the costume management and supervision departments of film and TV production companies. Other PDFC students go on to become scenic artists, prop and puppet makers, to work as designers in site-specific and outdoor performance, or to become designers and producers in the events and exhibitions industry.

Unlike many other courses, in PDFC we do it for real. Our students learn the role of the costume and performance designer for grad films and for outdoor performances. They often see their designs evolve from their initial sketchbook ideas to pitches and collaboration and into full production. Every year, our Level 6 students see some of their set designs fully realised for live AUB Productions and their costume designs made and tailored by students on our partner course BA (Hons) Costume.

It's important to note when making your degree choice that BA (Hons) Costume at AUB focuses on the making of costumes, rather than on costume design. If you're into costume and stage design, then BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume is the course for you.

BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume at AUB lets you dive into everything from designing live theatre shows to life-drawing, digital costume illustration, theatrical modelmaking and more. The creative buzz in our well-equipped studios trains you for the pace and intensity of the professional costume and performance design industry. Our aim is to help you develop the visual skills, collaboration and creative freedom of expression that every working designer needs.

PDFC is a design-led course that puts the costumed, performing body at the centre of your creative practice. The course offers hands-on training in historical, contemporary and experimental costume and performance design.

During your studies, you’ll also work closely alongside students from the BA (Hons) Costume, Film Production, Make-up for Media and Performance and Acting courses on live theatre productions, student films, outdoor festival events and installations.

Course duration

3 or 4 years (full-time)

Placement

Option of a 1-year placement

UCAS course code

W453

UCAS institution code

A66

Placement year

All undergraduate courses at AUB offer an optional placement year, to be taken between your second and third years of study.

If you’re unsure about this optional placement, you don’t need to decide now.

Once you’re here and studying with us, the course team will discuss the placement options with you, so when the time comes, you can make a decision that’s right for you.

If you’re required to have a Student Visa to study in the UK, it won’t be possible to undertake the one-year placement option; there’ll be other opportunities for you to engage with industry during your study at AUB.

Level 4 (first year)

First-year PDFC Core Skills units are focused on three strands of your development as a professional designer: 1) Designing for the Performing Body, 2) Designing for Performance Spaces and 3) Designing Costume for the Screen.

Level 4 sessions include life drawing, costume design processes and scale modelmaking. You’ll explore essential, design-led 3D costume construction skills and learn about contextual and cultural issues related to costume, dress, performance design and representation.

In the first year, you’ll develop a realised Performance Design based on the study of a text. You’ll also produce a full set of sampled costume designs and a scale model.

You’ll learn about the role of the costume designer in the film and TV industry and develop your critical and academic skills through a series of research and writing tasks.

Level 5 (second year)

Level 5 PDFC is all about helping you develop as an independent creative designer with high aesthetical standards and strong technical ability.

The year begins with the Historical Design unit, a design project based on a historical text that allows you to create a set model and costume designs based on primary research. You’ll also get to grips with a range of industry-standard digital design platforms.

In the L5 Critical Contexts unit, you’ll develop your contextual cultural knowledge and academic essay writing skills, in preparation for your final-year Research Dissertation.

Throughout the year, you’ll attend industry masterclasses and explore film, TV, theatre, site-specific design, festival design, carnival and puppetry.

In the Design-Led Practice unit, you’ll bring all these skills together, while the Creative Projects unit looks specifically at costume design for film through a series of in-depth film analysis lectures and associated creative workshops.

Level 6 (third year)

Our Level 6 (third year) focus is on "doing it for real". The final year requires students to define the direction of their practice for the remainder of their studies. This year, you'll also refine your interpersonal skills and professional behaviours in a way that reflects industry expectations.

PDFC graduates go on to work in every area of the performance industries, as film costume designers, as well as performance designers in theatre, circus and festivals. Graduates have also been able to use the transferable skills they learn on the PDFC course in a wide range of other employment settings, including all levels of education, visual merchandising, marketing, arts administration and event production.

In the Production Practice unit, you’ll get to choose from a range of supported, independent projects, which could include designing for live film, theatre and site-specific performance, or working up designs for festivals, installations and exhibitions. You'll have opportunities to develop and realise costumes and set design for an AUB Productions stage play performed by BA (Hons) Acting students, or to design costumes for graduate films produced by BA (Hons) Film Production.

The third year also includes opportunities for industry work placements, working alongside our many professional partners in film, TV and performance.

In the Research Dissertation unit, you’ll write a 5,000-word academic essay based on your own practice in context. We also offer Inclusive Assessment options for students with specific learning styles such as dyslexia, as an alternative to the academic essay.

The Major Project unit develops your professional skills by working on a production or film project that feeds directly into your graduating portfolio. We make sure that when you graduate, you have an effective, professional web presence and promotional materials in Performance Design and Film Costume that showcases your work across a range of platforms and boosts your contacts and employability.

You’ll also curate your work as part of the graduate summer exhibitions in Bournemouth and London, subject to competition.

Course awards

  • Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education (2016–18) for ‘Distinguished degree level education in costume design for the UK’s leading creative industries.’*

Student awards

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

  • Costume Society Patterns of Fashion Award – Winners (2007, 2015); Finalists (2012, 2019); Highly Commended (2018)
  • BBC Stitch Please! – Winner (2022)
  • The Linbury Prize for Stage Design – 2017
  • 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

Students also have opportunities to participate in the following national and international competitions, exhibitions and symposia.

  • National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image/Kodak Awards
  • Costume Society Patterns for Performance Awards
  • UK Student Delegation, Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space
  • World Stage Design
  • Dorset Art Prize.



*BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design

Looking for inspiration? You can browse the gallery below to take a look at some of the work that our BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume students create here at AUB.

Course team

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.

Bunny Winter Senior Lecturer Costume Design

MA, PGCert, BA (Hons), HND, ND

Jennifer Ridge Early Careers Academic

BA (Hons), PGCert, FHEA

Email me jridge@aub.ac.uk

Watch our videos

Explore our videos showing some of the projects students have worked on within AUB, as well as external collaborations with alumni, theatre companies and more.

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Our student ambassadors are here to answer any questions you might have on university life, our courses and all things AUB.

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Application process

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 for courses taught at Arts University Bournemouth. For courses based at Bournemouth and Poole College, use code B49. 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.

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.

If you decide to undertake an optional placement year, the tuition fee is £1,850. This is subject to inflationary increases based on government policy, and providing you progress through the course in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

This course doesn't require a portfolio as part of the application process.

There are only a few courses where you'll be asked to attend an interview or audition.

The courses currently requiring interviews are BA (Hons) Make-up for Media and Performance and BA (Hons) Textiles. BA (Hons) Acting and BA (Hons) Dance require auditions. If you're invited to one you'll have at least 10 days notice.

Studios and resources

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

A row of mannequins and sewing machines in a costume design studio.

Costume and Design Studios

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

Inside one of AUB's costume stores, with rails of costumes and shelves with boxes, hats and helmets sitting on them.

Costume stores

BA (Hons) Costume has two costume stores. One houses our 20th century costumes; the other is home to pre-19th century, uniforms and more.

Student working with illustration software on a computer.

Computer suite

Our high spec computer suite features Eizo monitors, Wacom tablets, large bed scanners, and printing facilities.

A brightly lit workshop space with shelves and planks of wood at the left. Four people stand talking in a circle in the background.

Scenic Studios

The AUB Scenic Studios are a 120msq dedicated workshop for the building and painting of bespoke sets and props for theatre and film...

A performer stands with a serious expression on the left-hand side with a group of other performers reaching towards him.

Studio Theatre

The Studio Theatre is a flexible black box space suitable for experimental and intimate theatre, with retractable raked seating...

Student wearing safety goggles using a machine in a workshop.

3D Workshop

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

Filming at Elliott Road

Film Production Studios

Students have access to four bespoke studios including our Elliott Road Studio Complex

A model sits on a chair in the centre of a room while a group of artists draw them.

Drawing Studio

Our iconic, blue Drawing Studio is used by student from all courses and was designed by Alumnus, Sir Peter Cook​

Four banks of desks in a computer suite with monitors on them.

Digital Suites

Our Digital Suites offer a digital post-production facility and digital teaching space.

Students working at computers in a library. A set of stairs leads up to a second landing with a balcony running along.

The Library

The Library at AUB holds an excellent range of print and online collections

Ten rows of empty seating viewed from the front of a large lecture theatre.

Lecture Theatres and Seminar Rooms

We have a number of lecture theatres and seminar room scattered around campus to assist students with their studies.

A member of AUB staff talking about a camera with a student at the Central Media Store counter.

Central Media Store

The Central Media store houses a diverse array of equipment, offering students the means to craft and capture...

Innovation Studio, photographed by Richard Bryant. Photo of an exterior wall with two reverse-L shaped windows and three semi-circle panels visible. A person walks past towards the right.

Innovation Studio

The Innovation Studio operates as a lab for creative technologies, a nucleus for start-ups and enterprises and an industry engagement hub.

Person stands by a table. Two printing presses are in the foreground.

Printroom

Our printmaking facilities are a hub of creativity on campus and have been inspiring students since 1964.

Three people working on projects in a print room.

Letterpress and Bindery

The Letterpress and Bindery studio is a central resource, where students can learn and explore bookbinding and letterpress printing.

Teaching, learning and assessment

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

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.

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.

The progressive promotion of independent learning reflects your anticipated maturity as a student and allows you to direct 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.

Although teaching is directed at supporting individual engagement in learning. There will 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.

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 https://viewpoint.aub.ac.uk

What our graduates are doing

We've been teaching costume design for film and performance since 1992, and theatre set design since 2008. From 1992–2020, this was via a combined course: BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design (CaPD).

In 2017, our CaPD Design curriculum won the Queens Anniversary Prize for ‘distinguished degree-level education in costume design for the UK’s leading creative industries.’

In 2020, CaPD evolved into two new specialist AUB courses:

  • Making-led: BA (Hons) Costume
  • Design-led: BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume (PDFC)

The first PDFC cohort graduated in 2023, and already our alumni are working in some exciting professional roles, including:

  • Design assistant, Oxford Playhouse
  • Design assistant, Rose Bruford College

Our CaPD Design graduates have gone on to employment at some of the most prestigious cultural and media organisations in the world, including:

BBC | Netflix | Disney | Marvel | Amazon | Channel 4 | ITV | Pinewood Studios | HBO | Lucasfilm | Glyndebourne | Royal Opera House | The Royal Shakespeare Company | National Theatre

Our Design graduates work as:

  • Costume designers for film, TV and theatre
  • Assistant costume designers for film, TV and theatre
  • Personal assistants to costume designers
  • Theatre set designers
  • Theatre designer’s assistants
  • Costume illustrators for film and TV
  • Crowd and costume co-ordinators for film and TV
  • Wardrobe supervisors for film and TV
  • Costume trainees
  • Costume buyers
  • Costume assistants, dailies and stand-bys for film, TV and theatre
  • Breakdown artists for film, TV and theatre
  • Theatre dressers
  • Photographic stylists
  • Scenic artists
  • Event designers
  • Creative producers
  • Puppet designers and makers
  • Festival designers and makers

Find out what some of the alumni from our previous BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design course have gone on to do.

A scene from Saltburn, with character Oliver Quick wearing deer antlers with a birthday cake, surrounded by people on the stairs in red light.

Sophie Canale – BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume

Sophie Canale is an acclaimed costume designer with credits including Saltburn and the award-winning...

Image of Maudie Whitehead working

Maudie Whitehead – BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design

Maudie is a freelance costume designer. One of her recent projects saw her work as costume stand-by on...

Image of theatre show

Eleanor Bull – BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design

Eleanor Bull is a set and costume designer based in the UK across London and Brighton. In 2017, she won the Linbury Prize for...

Kate McStraw

Kate McStraw – BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design

Kate McStraw is an independent creative producer working across the arts and cultural sector...

Trips and visits

The PDFC course offers regular educational trips and group opportunities*. These help you explore the cultural and professional landscapes that inform design for costume and performance at local, national and international levels.

Some past examples include:

  • Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, 2023: Student participation, UK delegation
  • Reimagining Musicals: Exhibition, V&A, London.
  • Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams: Exhibition, V&A, London.
  • Regular London fabric shopping trips.
  • National Theatre backstage tours.
  • Inside Out Dorset. International Festival of Outdoor Arts.
  • Trips to Heritage Sites and Museums, e.g. National Trust: Kingston Lacy, Dorset/Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth.
  • Site visits for outdoor theatre, e.g. The Tempest Re-rigged, SISATA Open Air Theatre/B-Side Festival, Isle of Portland, 2023

*These trips are optional and some may incur additional costs

During your studies, you'll have the opportunity to attend lectures and devised workshops from some of the industry leaders and top professionals.

In the past, we've invited down a variety of guests to inspire and offer practical advice on a wide range of topics within the field of performance design.

  • Consolata Boyle – Consolata Boyle was born in Dublin and is a graduate of archaeology and history from University College, Dublin. After graduation, Consolata trained in set and costume design at Dublin’s legendary Abbey Theatre. Consolata is a costume designer and producer and is best known for The Iron Lady (2011), Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) and Philomena (2013).
  • Jenny Beavan – Jenny is an internationally renowned costume designer for film and has received 10 Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar for costume design for the Merchant Ivory’s adaption of Room with a View (1985) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Numerous other films include The King’s Speech, Gosford Park and Sherlock Holmes. In 2018, Jenny received an Honorary Fellowship from the Arts University Bournemouth.
  • Tamsin Fessey – Tamsin is an actor (including War Horse at the National Theatre), director, movement director, writer and puppeteer. She has bases in London and Dorset and is also a founding member of Angel Exit Theatre Company where she has worked at times, with graduates from the course on numerous successful productions. Tamsin also loves contributing to other projects and working with other artists and has been a visiting tutor and director at the Arts University Bournemouth.
  • J. François Campbell – J. François Campbell is an accomplished author, cutter, costume interpreter and skilled tailor. Jay trained at Central St Martins School of Art, London College of Fashion and Arts University Bournemouth. She worked as a freelance before joining the Royal Opera House, where she was employed for more than 15 years in the ladies and men’s departments. In a career spanning more than 25 years, Jay has worked on more than 100 productions for TV, film, opera and ballet including The Lion King, Les Misérables, and The Phantom of the Opera.
  • Simon Higlett – Simon is an award-winning set and costume designer whose work has been seen worldwide. He has worked at a wide range of theatre in the UK including much work at Chichester Festival Theatre, Sadler’s Wells, Leeds Playhouse, Almedia, Donmar and in the West End. Recent work includes The Argument and A Song at Twilight at Bath Theatre Royal, and Big: The Musical and The Price in the West End.
  • Catherine Kodicek – Catherine is a successful freelance costume Supervisor and was the Head of Costume at London’s Young Vic for many years. Catherine is a costume activist and founding member for the Costume organisation CITA (Costume in Theatre Association). Catherine also regularly writes for The Stage publication.
  • Jane Law – Jane is an internationally renowned costume designer, cutter and maker who has worked in the theatre and film industry for over 40 years, working regularly with designers such as Sandy Powell, Consolata Boyle and Jenny Beavan. Current and recent projects include: Mission Impossible 5, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Cinderella, Jupiter Ascending, Beauty and the Beast, Kate Bush: Before the Dawn and Mad Max: Fury Road. Jane was awarded an Honorary Master’s Degree from Arts University Bournemouth in 2016.
  • Carol Lingwood – Carol worked as a costume cutter, maker and supervisor in TV and regional theatres including York Theatre Royal, Leicester Haymarket and the Palace Theatre, Watford. Carol became Deputy Head of Costume at the Royal Opera House in 1989 and Head of Costume at The National Theatre in 1999 managing a department of over 47 staff and producing over 20 shows per year. Carol is an Honorary Fellow of Arts University Bournemouth.
  • Chrissy Maddison – Chrissy Maddison is a skilled historical cutter and costume interpreter. Chrissy is best known in the industry as a successful and prolific costume supervisor. She started her career at Leeds Playhouse, Yorkshire Working her way up from laundry duties to working with such luminaries as Ned Sherrin, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Joan Plowright, Paul Scofield and Sir Alec Guinness. Chrissy’s West End credits include Hello Dolly!, 42nd Street, The Tempest and The Little Foxes.
  • Tom Piper – Tom is an award-winning theatre designer who has worked extensively in the UK and abroad. He was Associate Designer at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2004 to 2014 and as well as designing shows, Tom was closely involved in the redevelopment project in Stratford and also mentored the RSC Assistant designer scheme. One of Tom’s most prominent projects was the collaboration with the ceramicist Paul Cummins, which saw thousands of giant poppies installed at the Tower of London in 2014.
  • Caroline Pitcher – Caroline started her career in textiles, which led her to create costumes for the puppets on the satire show Spitting Image in the 1980s. Since then, she has predominantly designed for TV comedy including Father Ted, Green Wing, Motherland, The Inbetweeners, White Gold and Smack the Pony. Caroline is also an expert on '50s fabrics and also runs a textile and ceramics business.
  • Fiona Watt – Fiona is a freelance scenographer and educator. Since 2011 Fiona has been involved in programming and running international projects as part of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space and World Stage Design. Fiona is the chair of the Society of British Theatre Designers (SBTD) and UK Performance Design Commissioner for OISTAT (International Association of Scenographers Theatre Architects and Technicians). Fiona is also the curator for Staging Places: UK Design for Performance 2016–19 at the V&A.

Latest from BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume


See more of our student work

This course will start in September 2020 and was previously part of BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design.

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