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Performance Design and Film Costume

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

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 Costume and BA Performance Design and Film Costume.

BA Performance Design and Film Costume encourages students to be innovative, individual and adaptable designers. Paying attention to historical, contemporary and experimental costume for film, theatre and site-specific projects.

At the end of your first year, you have to opportunity to continue with BA Performance Design and Film Costume or switch to BA Costume

You’ll discover how to create whole new worlds on this exciting course. As well as technical skill, you’ll learn that great costume production depends on your ability to interpret ideas and we place a real emphasis on conceptual work. You’ll work alongside students from the BA Performance Design and Film Costume, BA (Hons) Film Production, Make-up for Media and Performance, and Acting courses on stage and film productions.

Level 4 (first year)

In the first year, the course curriculum is partly shared between the BA Performance Design and Film Costume and BA Costume courses from week 1 – 24, when both performance design and costume production are explored equally. For the final six weeks of Level 4, students will either remain in the course on which they originally enrolled or they may change to another through the usual transfer process. From this point onwards students are taught separately, although all are collaborating on projects in a way that reflects industry standards and methods. The focus for both courses is to introduce students to the fundamental skills and behaviours required for the professional costume and performance design practitioner and for conceptual thinking and experimentation to develop as core skills are mastered and refined.

Contextual study relating to performance study theory is taught together to both courses in the Practice in Context unit. Practice in Context introduces students to the politics of representation by looking at how costume and performance design reflect critical notions of ideology, gender, race, the performing body, performance space, ritual, carnival, pageant and play. Live theatre visits underpin students’ research and performance analysis work as they develop their ability in academic writing.

Level 5 (second year)

The focus of Level 5 is to develop advanced knowledge and skills. Ideas and concepts relating to historical context are introduced in the first unit of study Historical Design. It is intended that this knowledge, taught through the study of material culture (study of material things) will underpin teaching in Level 5 and 6.

The focus on this year is to develop creative problem solving and experimentation in relation to design for film and theatre. All units connect film and theatre learning, first within a historical context (Historical Design), then within a more design-led context (including processional, site-specific design). The focus in Design-led Practice is to allow the student designer to develop their own understanding of how to create and curate material for performance possibly without the constraints of a text. The Creative Projects unit will introduce film analysis skills and puppetry. The concluding weeks of this unit will allow students to design for the productions that will be staged in the Autumn term. Working with a director will be a key aspect of this unit and though competition it is possible that the outcome designed in this unit will be realised in Level 6. Throughout Level 5, designers (film and performance design students) will be learning how to articulate their ideas through their preferred professional contexts.

The Critical Contexts unit deepens students’ critical investigation of costume and performance design by asking them to broaden their theoretical focus and apply their critical understanding to written research analysis of costume and performance design in a genre of their choice

Level 6 (third year)

The intention in this final year of study, is to work in a live context on Film or live performance projects. Students may focus on one specialism but are encouraged to collaborate on a combination of both areas of study.

The final year requires students to define the direction of their practice for the remainder of their studies. They are encouraged to refine their interpersonal skills and professional behaviours in a way the reflects industry expectations. This is because graduates from the course 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. Beyond the media and performance industries, graduates have been able to use their transferable skills to work in a wide range of fields including all levels of education, visual merchandising, marketing, arts administration and event production.

Research Dissertation completes students’ critical study as they explore a further aspect of theory by conducting independent research on a topic relevant to their costume and performance design practice. Students develop a research question and draft a dissertation of 5000 words that combines analysis of costume and performance design with historical research, cultural studies and critical theory approaches.

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 will 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.

Photo of Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill

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

Photo of Will Hargreaves

Will Hargreaves

Will studied at Royal Holloway, London University and worked as a set and costume designer for 13 years at many venues, regionally...

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Bunny Winter

Bunny’s background is in theatre, film and television. She spent a number of years as a Wardrobe Mistress for various productions in the...

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Adele Keeley

Adele joined the AUB in 2001 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2006. In that time, she has continued to...

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Dr. Jon Croose

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

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Alison Hart

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

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Sam Edwards

Sam graduated from the BA (Hons) Modelmaking course in 2005 and currently works as Production Design Co-ordinator...

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Jennifer Ridge

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

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Heidi Steller

Heidi trained as a Theatre Designer at Nottingham Trent University and did her MA in printmaking at Camberwell College of Arts, London...

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Helen Ford

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

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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...

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Bex Richmond

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

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.

AUB Productions

Students from across BA (Hons) Acting, BA (Hons) Costume, BA (Hons) Performance Design and Film Costume, BA (Hons) Make-Up for Media and Performance and BA (Hons) Creative Writing degrees collaborate on live theatrical productions throughout the academic year. This provides students with a key insight into the industry and for developing skills in their specific areas which make up theatre.

During the third year of study, Performance Design students take on lead roles such as set design, costume design, scenic art, prop design and construction.

There are also many opportunities to get involved in the live productions during the first and second year of study in assisting roles, where you gain experience and insight into live theatre.

Looking for inspiration? You can browse the gallery below to take a look at some of the work that our students create here at AUB. Students studying this course achieve great things and have won prestigious and high-profile awards, such as:

  • The Linbury Prize for Stage Design
  • 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
  • Royal Television Society Student Awards - Best Drama (Sealskin)

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) Performance Design and Film 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 working at computer

Computer suite

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

image of workshop

Scenic Studios

AUB Scenic Studios are a 120 metre square, dedicated workshop for the building and painting of bespoke sets and props for theatre and film

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

Student using tools in a Workshops

3D Workshop

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

Filming at Elliott Road

Film Production Studios

Students have access to 4 bespoke studios including our Elliott Road Studio Complex

Trees in front of the Drawing Studio

Drawing Studio

Our stunning Drawing Studio was designed and completed by renowned architect and AUB alumnus, Professor Sir Peter Cook RA.

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.

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.

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

In the past we have 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 been received 10 Academy award nominations; winning the Oscar for costume design for the Merchant Ivory’s adaption of Room with a View in 1985 and Mad Max Fury Road in 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 Warhorse 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.
  • Jay Francois Campbell:
    Jay Francois 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 in 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 Miserables, and 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 Schofield 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 - 2019 at the V&A.

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 will inform you of what you are 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 will 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.

The University has agreed that, during 2019/20, it will run a pilot project. This will mean that on some courses, one unit at Level 4 will be assessed on a Pass / Fail basis only, with written feedback but no numerical grade. If your course has been selected for the pilot, your Course Leader will tell you this, and the details will be clearly expressed on the Unit Information Sheet.

All learning outcomes must be passed to successfully complete the unit.

On successful completion of your Honours degree course, you will 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 will 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

Graduates from the film costume and design performance pathway of BA (Hons) Costume and Performance Design have gone on to design set and costume for theatres and costume for film studios all over the world.

They’re 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.

Our graduates go on to work in a variety of different roles, including:

  • Costume assistant for the film industry
  • Costume designer for the film industry
  • Costume supervisor for the film industry
  • Breakdown artist for the film and/or theatre industry
  • Set and costume designer for theatre
  • Costume designer for theatre
  • Dresser for theatre
  • Costume assistant for theatre
  • Theatre designer’s assistant
  • Photographic stylist
  • Scenic artist
  • Event designers
  • Creative producers
  • Costume Buyers
  • Puppet designers & makers
  • Festival designers & makers

Kate McStraw

Kate McStraw

Kate McStraw is an independent Creative Producer working across the arts and cultural sector...

Image of theatre show

Eleanor Bull

Eleanor Bull is a Set & Costume Designer based in the U.K across London and Brighton...

Image of Maudie Whitehead working

Maudie Whitehead

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

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

  • The Linbury Prize for Stage Design
  • 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

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
  • Prague

*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.

Performance Design and Film Costume news

See more of our student work

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