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BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Performance

BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Performance offers you a combination of practical skills development in vocal performance, a range of dance performance styles and the acting skills of a musical theatre practitioner with the freedom to elect a particular focus within this mix. Combining these skills creates an opportunity to position yourself with a very strong offer for future performance work. You’ll develop a broader knowledge of musical theatre and its history and develop an understanding of how this contributes to and reflects contemporary culture.  You’ll also acquire a toolkit of vocational knowledge in work based modules designed to help you to work in a variety of roles, and to develop real understanding of the challenges of work in a professional environment.

Student view

Harry Boulter
The last 3 years at Chichester on this course have set me up for a career within musical theatre, whether it be from the enthusiasm and inspiration of the lecturers to the classes that are full on and mean you are pushed to your potential. I have loved every single day, doing what I love alongside people who want to push you to achieve your dreams, it has helped me take my steps into a career in musical theatre and I am forever grateful for the opportunities I was given whilst studying here.

Course content

Delivered by highly experienced practitioners in dance, choreography, acting and singing this course offers access from first year onwards to extensive practical training in musical theatre and students will select a focus within this mix which reflect their strengths in particular areas of study.

Complementing this is the specialist development of practical skills in technical theatre and arts management – within one of the largest music and musical theatre departments in the UK.

Second and third year students can opt to audition for performance projects at the Alexandra Theatre, other regional theatres and in our own campus performance spaces and performance projects range from large scale musical theatre with full pit orchestra set and costume to straight plays, smaller ensemble projects and dance revues.

You can also develop skills in technical theatre and arts management roles in supporting performance projects.

Final year students have a dedicated agents and industry showcase in an external venue (this year the Electric Theatre, Guildford) with additional careers workshops and advice from leading industry professionals available to them after graduation.

Our facilities

Our facilities content

Over the past few years, we’ve redeveloped both of our campuses so that you have the best-ever facilities available for your degree.

We pride ourselves on the quality of the learning environment we can offer our students which is as much about the quality of the tutors as it is about the spaces we work in.

This programme is mainly taught at our Chichester campus and is located in one of the largest music departments in the UK, with enviable teaching, performance and practice resources.

These currently include:

  • On campus and off campus theatre spaces, including box office and other facilities
  • Studio performance space
  • Dedicated dance studios with Harlequin flooring
  • Lighting and sound equipment
  • a suite of 30 practice rooms
  • dedicated pit band and orchestral rehearsal rooms
  • new high quality kits, amps, PA, mics and other equipment
  • Dedicated acting rehearsal rooms
  • new concert pianos supplied by Steinway & Sons
  • new practice grand pianos supplied by Steinway & Sons

The on campus Assembly Theatre has been redeveloped into a multi-purpose rehearsal and theatre studio space, seating up to 80 audience. Students will also use the 350-seater Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis, and a range of external theatre venues in the UK and overseas.

The Bognor Regis campus is seven miles from the Bishop Otter campus and is connected by frequent buses. Our students therefore have access to both an historic cathedral city and an iconic south-coast seaside resort.

The Learning Resource at both campuses is the hub of the learning environment. 

It has two upper floors of library resources, with a comprehensive musical theatre and film collection, one for silent study and one for quiet study, both of which have recently been refurbished.

On the ground floor, you’ll find the Support and Information Zone, Media Hub, Otter Gallery, Costa Coffee and a variety of IT resources.

Where this can take you

Students will have the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills to enhance employability in a range of areas beyond University.

Course progression in the department has been very high, with a number of students going on to further study at masters level in some of the most prestigious conservatoires in the country and in PGCE teacher training.

As performers, alumni have gone into:

  • West End productions
  • major touring productions throughout Europe
  • major cruise ships including Disney
  • UK and International small-scale touring theatre
  • ​Film and TV in both the UK and US
  • Edinburgh Festival
  • Cabaret
  • stage managers, arts managers and producers picking up contracts in the UK and around the world

Work placements

We understand the importance of ensuring that you have the knowledge, skills and experience to compete successfully in today’s challenging jobs market. 

Our commitment is to make sure that students from all disciplines complete the necessary preparation to be able to apply for internships.

Our alumni are now working within some of the principal producing houses.

Indicative modules

Year 1

Acting, Vocal and Dance Development 1

This year-long programme of study is intended to develop performance and communication skills in the individual musical theatre disciplines of acting, vocal and dance, and to introduce a more developed sense of performance context and quality. Students develop their current repertoire and technical ability, their exploration of new work under the direction of specialist acting, vocal and dance tutors, and their skill in preparing for audition or performance. This module offer a broad range of genres and disciplines including; Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Contemporary dance, 1-2-1 Technical vocal tuition, Repertoire classes, Vocal ensembles sessions, Voice classes, Acting technique and Studio performances of straight plays.

Students will be assessed in all three areas and must select which of the three disciplines will be allocated as their principal, second and third study by the end of semester one:

  • Principal study (50%)
  • Second study (30%)
  • Third study (20%)

British Musical Theatre

The module will introduce students to key skills in examining repertoire drawn from succeeding periods of British Musical Theatre history, supporting an examination of musical structure with a parallel focus on developments in dance and drama within the genre.  Awareness of historic performance practice will be emphasized, and connections between music for the stage and film will be explored. Students will also be exposed to the influences of key practitioners within the genre. 

Musical Grammar

A vital tool for any musical performer: students are streamed according to ability so even if a student has had no previous experience, classes are set at an appropriate level to provide knowledge from a basic overview up to a high level of understanding. The module is designed for students whose practical skills in performance need to be matched by a confidence in using some of the technical language of music, or in describing and articulating its mechanical elements. 

American Musical Theatre

With over a century of history behind it, American Musical Theatre has a notable tenacity in reframing and reinventing accessible musical language for the stage. This module begins by tracing the development of the genre from its foundational roots, through to the present day, and is intended to provide students with an overview of succeeding styles and reinforce an awareness of the relevant social context that can help translate and explain material for the modern viewer/listener.

Year 2

Acting, Vocal and Dance Development 2 

This year-long programme of study is intended to develop performance and communication skills in the individual musical theatre disciplines of acting, vocal and dance, and to introduce a more developed sense of performance context and quality. Students develop their current repertoire and technical ability, their exploration of new work under the direction of specialist acting, vocal and dance tutors, and their skill in preparing for audition or performance. This module offer a broad range of genres and disciplines including; Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Contemporary dance, 1-2-1 Technical vocal tuition, Repertoire classes, Vocal ensembles sessions, Voice classes, Acting technique and Studio performances of straight plays.

Students will be assessed in all three areas and must select which of the three disciplines will be allocated as their principal, second and third study by the end of semester one:

  • Principal study (50%)
  • Second study (30%)
  • Third study (20%)

The Musical Theatre Business

Students will explore examples of different types of musical theatre performance and the function of a range of professional roles in commercial and publicly funded contexts. The development of this knowledge base will support their own personal development as aspiring professionals. The inclusion of industry professionals as guest speakers will be a key element of module delivery, supported by seminars, tutorials and plenary sessions.

 Musical Theatre Critique and Arts Journalism

Students will hear first-hand from critics and journalists across the industry with broad backgrounds and working histories that clearly demonstrate the changing shift from printed newspapers to digital outlets. The module offers exposure to the challenges and joys of being a theatre critic. There will also be an opportunity to engage with discussion and debate whilst gaining experience of writing reviews. If coverage is declining and standards are dropping, if it's getting harder for theatre to be taken seriously, then what's to be done about it? 

Jazz and the Origins of the Modern Musical

The influence of jazz is felt today in musical theatre, and was very clearly evident in the transition from the Variety show style to the early work of Rogers and Hart and others.  This module is intended as an opportunity for students to examine some of these early shows, using the lens of this particular musical style, and to chart a broader development of Jazz over the same period. This course will explore early 20th century examples of musical theatre, with a particular focus on performance style, the role of the pit band/orchestra, use of popular dance forms in supporting the development of narrative, and expressive parallels that exist with mainstream Jazz material.

Contemporary Musical Theatre

This module builds upon the level 4 British Musical Theatre or American Musical Theatre by relating an historical overview of the development of the genre to an examination of current trends and practices in musical theatre both here and in the USA. A range of models will be used to help students to further their understanding of the different cultural contexts in which contemporary musical theatre operates.

The Movie Musical

The module will introduce students to key skills in examining repertoire drawn from succeeding periods of movie musical history, supporting an examination of musical structure with a parallel focus on developments in dance and drama within the genre. Awareness of historic performance practice will be emphasized, and connections between music for the stage and film will be explored in detail. 

Year 3

Acting, Vocal and Dance Development 3

This year-long programme of study is intended to develop performance and communication skills in the individual musical theatre disciplines of acting, vocal and dance, and to introduce a more developed sense of performance context and quality. Students develop their current repertoire and technical ability, their exploration of new work under the direction of specialist acting, vocal and dance tutors, and their skill in preparing for audition or performance. This module offer a broad range of genres and disciplines including; Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Contemporary dance, 1-2-1 Technical vocal tuition, Repertoire classes, Vocal ensembles sessions, Voice classes, Acting technique and Studio performances of straight plays.

Students will be assessed in all three areas and must select which of the three disciplines will be allocated as their principal, second and third study by the end of semester one:

  • Principal study (50%)
  • Second study (30%)
  • Third study (20%)

Swing Project (Personal Study)

This third year module is intended to give students an insight to the role of a ‘swing’ within a musical theatre performance context. It will encourage students to develop an exploration of performance styles in practical work and to encourage a willingness to approach new and more ambitious material. A more professional approach to rehearsal will be encouraged and students will be required to keep a ‘swing bible’ (written log) of all information needed to effectively take part in the performance, in any given role. This module allows students to enhance their contribution to ensemble performance and to develop their skills in solo work in the context of a large performance project. Longer term planning, rehearsal and preparation strategies for performance techniques will be emphasised. The module will work towards, and culminate in, a semi-staged performance. Students will be required to prepare effectively and thoroughly for this performance.

Musical Theatre in the Community

Musical theatre is a popular subject for community groups and schools to use to enhance and explore curriculum topics. This module utilizes analytical skills in a practical manner through the development of a workshop and performance which will be planned in taught sessions. This will give students the opportunity to research and prepare musical theatre materials and apply the contextual knowledge gained over the previous two years of study in a practical context.

 Devising for Musical Theatre

Understanding how music can be used to drive a narrative is a useful skill for any creative musician or musical theatre practitioner. Combining this with the knowledge of creating music in a collaborative and interdisciplinary context enhances the composer and writer/lyricist’s ability to create new and diverse pieces. By exploring the devising process within the field of musical theatre, the students will engage with aspects of creating music and developing a narrative that are rarely explored together, but have produced some of the most iconic works of the 20th and Early 21st Century. Students will examine the relationship between music and the dramatic form within composite art-works in order to develop devising and improvisation skills in order to generate successful compositional and theatrical presentations.

Devising for Theatre

Devising challenges students to engage with interdisciplinary skills in generating new pieces of contemporary theatre work. Students will refine their understanding of ensemble practice by collectively crafting an original piece of performance material. In doing so they will be drawing upon the skills of the actor, director, dramaturge and producer. Students will study a cross-section of theatre companies who use devising as their primary method for generating material. They will be encouraged to adopt extant strategies for ‘making’ whilst also innovating their own distinct methodologies predicated on their own idiosyncratic interests and respective areas of specialism/expertise. The limited time period of the module allows students access to the kinds of creative pressures familiar to industry working.

Teaching and assessment

The mission is to provide the student with skills that will enable them to navigate the complexities of the musical theatre industry through the offer of a professional standard of training within a well-structured and ambitious timetable with considerable contact time with tutors.

We pride ourselves on the quality of the teaching given to our students. Innovation, enthusiasm and expertise combine to deliver the excellent standards that give our institution its high reputation in this field.

The tutors are professional practitioners, demonstrating leadership in the industry offering peer support to colleagues and are generous with their knowledge and expertise.  

You will be taught by a core team of experienced and highly-qualified tutors together with a wide-ranging team of acting, dance and vocal coaches drawn from a core of more than 200 specialist staff.

You will be assessed by a variety of methods, including essays/portfolios, examinations, performances and practical work, project work, presentations and seminar discussions.

Additional Costs

Places still available

Codes

UCAS code: 
W43W
College Code: 
C58

Course length

3 Years
Full Time