Home Courses Stage and Screen BA (Hons) Acting for Contemporary Theatre
MT Amber Elbishlawi (1)

Create and act in your own performances

3 years Full Time
Bishop Otter Campus (Chichester)

Top 40

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rated university in the Teaching Excellence Framework

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best university in the South East

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Study acting and develop your skills in directing, playwrighting and workshop leading

Our BA (Hons) Acting for Contemporary Theatre degree is a highly practical programme which will develop your skills, ideas and experiences to prepare you for your career in the theatre industry.

Centre yourself in the theatrical world

Examine the broad and diverse role of the actor in contemporary theatre as an integral part of the theatre-making process. As part of this, you will study devising, scriptwriting, and directing alongside developing your acting skills.

Develop your performance skills

You will train to become a versatile, proactive, and independent actor-maker, with an emphasis on rigorous and generous creative practice.

Produce your own work

You will work to produce and perform in original work and develop high-quality professional contacts that prepare you for a demanding, diverse and flexible career in the professional theatre industry.

Work placement opportunities

You will benefit from the department’s excellent links with the professional theatre industry and have opportunities to work closely with a range of artists, theatre companies, producers, and festival programmers.

Past students have worked with:

  • Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • The Marlborough, Brighton
  • Brighton People’s Theatre

… and many more.

Creative and collaborative community

You will become a member of a shared creative community where cultural identity, experimentation and research are central to making contemporary theatre. You will be able to take part in casting opportunities, auditions, and talks with industry professionals.

This course runs in parallel to our BA (Hons) Acting course, so you will work with and perform with other students throughout your degree.

On this course you will:

  • Develop your performance skills as a theatre actor.
  • Explore the expanded role of the actor within contemporary theatre.
  • Expand your knowledge and skills beyond performance as you study devising, scriptwriting, directing and workshop leading.
  • Have the option to undertake placement with a range of theatres.
  • Benefit from our professional industry partnerships throughout your studies.
  • Access placement opportunities including roles at the Chichester Festival Theatre, Brighton People’s Theatre, Edinburgh Festival and more.

The Course

Focus on the role of the actor in the theatre-making process

During your studies you will have the freedom to explore a range of theatrical styles to shape your own artistic identity.

Study areas include:

  • Acting skills
  • Physical theatre
  • Narrative
  • Text and character
  • Production
  • Playwriting
  • Adaption and direction
  • Critical and cultural studies
  • Business management for theatre
  • Applied arts practice

How you learn


Year One: Foundations

  • Building core skills in acting
  • Discovering new techniques
  • Freeing the actor

Year Two: Specialism

  • Deepening core skills
  • Bespoke actor’s toolkit with a range of optional modules
  • Two staff-led productions

Year Three: Independence

  • Applying the craft in the actor across four practical projects from a range of options; devised production (compulsory), professional showreel, solo performance, directed play and devised production.
  • Focused professional development including theatre company management and graduate festival for programmers, producers and funding bodies.

Three types of modules


Acting skills

Skills classes develop the actor’s craft. Running throughout the three years, through sustained engagement with core skills and the introduction to new skills, these classes help to develop the individual actor’s toolkit.

  • 12 hours a week of skills classes a week for years one and two.
  • Foundation skills: Acting, voice, movement and devising.
  • Specialism skills: Core skills in voice and movement – build a bespoke skills package from options including theatre in education, gender and sexuality in performance, visual and technical arts, stage combat, acting for camera, voiceover, accents, singing, mime, mask.
  • Professional development skills: Theatre company management, graduate festival, visiting lectures from actors, agents and casting directors

Projects and Productions

Project and production modules are where our actors meet the audience. Designed to challenge and hone the actor’s creativity and individual artistic identity, project modules will introduce actors to a range of performance opportunities.

  • 8 hours a week of project classes and rehearsals for years one and two.
  • Focus on projects in year three to develop the graduate actor’s portfolio.
  • Year one projects (Foundation): Storytelling, physical theatre, text and site-specific theatre.
  • Year two projects (Specialism): Two full scale staff-led productions (dramatic and post-dramatic) in our professional theatre.
  • Year three projects (Independence): Devised production (compulsory), directed play, devised production, solo performance, actor’s showreel. Year three projects are performed in our professional theatre during three festivals of work across the year.

Theoretical studies

The theory class aim to support actor’s practical development by introducing integral reading, cultural analysis and research skills across the three years. In these class actors will deepen their understanding of culture, analyse specific examples from theatre, film and art and follow their own independent research interests.

  • 2-hour class a week across years one and two. Individual tutorial support in year three.
  • Year one (Foundations): Introduce key critical ideas including feminism, post-colonialism, class, race, intersectionality.
  • Year two (Specialism): Chart key movements in theory, art and culture across the twentieth century including dramatic and post-dramatic, modernism and postmodernism, structuralism and post-structuralism.
  • Year three (Independence): Individual research project.

Cycle week

Cycle is a two-week long theatre festival where third years showcase their work in our professional theatre – The Showroom. Three times a year every year, you will perform in front of a packed audience in three of these four forms:

  • Solo performance
  • A group devised production
  • Adaptation and direction
  • Workshop project


These projects allow you to showcase your talents and ideas in a supportive and collaborative environment, as well as gain experience in a variety of roles in putting on a production.


This list is indicative and subject to change.

Select a year

Critical and Cultural Theory 1: Theory-Lite

The aim of this module is to introduce students to a variety of theoretical, cultural and critical ideas used in the practice and evaluation of the arts. It aims to explore ways of describing, analysing and interpreting theoretical concepts that are vital to an understanding of the arts.

Vocabularies and models such as intersectionality that describe the cultures in which the arts are seen and made are drawn upon and developed in order to explore the methods by which meanings are created and understood in the arts.

Critical and Cultural Theory 2: Modernism

This module interrogates the changing theoretical models and perspectives of the period that is often categorised as ‘Modernist’. You will explore, examine and debate the historical, social, cultural and theoretical influence of Modernism(s) challenge to traditional structures, forms and styles and investigate the impact this has upon contemporary arts practice.

Performance Skills 1: Voice, Body Text

This module serves as foundation training for developing technical skills in voice, movement and devising for the modern theatre performer. As such it draws from a broad area of interdisciplinary practice and aims to introduce and develop basic proficiency in vocal and physical techniques for work in devised contemporary theatre.

Performance Skills 2: Interdisciplinary Devising

This module follows and expands the work studied in Performance Skills the broad perspective in the first module will be explored more rigorously while emphasising the links between other practical modules.

Theatre Project 2: Physical and Visual Performance

This module introduces you to different modes of connecting conceptual ideas of the body with practical modes of creating visual and physical performance work. You will engage in analysis and practical exploration of the compositional challenges to dramatic conventions within existing performance works and professional theatre practices that are oriented in body-based aesthetics.

Theatre Project 3: Text and Deconstruction

This module introduces you to practices and approaches to making text-based devised theatre. the module also serves as an introduction to theories and practices of ‘Deconstruction’: to identify and investigate deconstructive processes used by contemporary theatre practitioners, companies and thinkers, and apply that learning to a project of their own.

Theatre Project: Narrative

This module explores a variety of stimuli for performance-based devised theatre products, with a particular emphasis on narrative. It aims to investigate different approaches to devised story-telling theatre and identify specific crafting devices and methodologies to develop work.

Theatre Project: Site Specific

This module encourages you to consider the possible relationships of performance to everyday experience, society and political/historical contexts.

Through the analysis of a range of site-specific practices, you will explore geographic, architectural and philosophical approaches to the creation of site-specific theatre.

You will question the various definitions of “Site-Specific” practice, developing your critical awareness and understanding of how performance interrogates ideas of place and space.

Children and Young People’s Theatre

This module introduces you to a number of examples of innovative contemporary theatre work for children and young audiences in the UK.

You will produce your own short (20-30 min) work for children ensuring that a dialogic relationship with students inform their research agendas and devising methodologies. Your compositions and professional work are analysed and evaluated with specific reference to appropriate devising methodologies and theatrical concerns.

Clown, Comedy and Mask

In this module, you will explore specialist field of physical theatre and performance. You will examine its historical roots in Commedia dell’Arte, through into a study of the contemporary practice and art of the theatre clown.

You will consider the historical function and influence of the clown and its place in contemporary theatre through practice and self-evaluation.

Using neutral mask and the transformative qualities of the red nose mask, the module explores physically led approaches to improvisation, character and comic performance, alongside a critical, creative and cultural questioning of the functions and constructions of collectively devised comedy.

Critical and Cultural Theory 3: Romanticism

This module explores the importance of revolution, the sublime, the gothic, landscape, and imagination as motive forces in the making of art and culture.

By examining the notion that Classicism and Romanticism are opposites, as the reaction of many 19th century artists to 18th century Enlightenment would appear to demonstrate, the module aims to investigate notions such as wilderness, fantasy, heroism and nationalism and to initiate a discourse between the art of the present day and that of 19th century romanticism.

Critical and Cultural Theory 4: Postmodernism

This module relates theories of postmodernism to contemporary arts practice.

It begins by considering postmodernism’s relationships to both romanticism and modernism, exploring ‘definitions’ of postmodernism and illustrating postmodern features in a range of arts practices. A selection of postmodern term and practices such as Pastiche, Hyperreality, Event, a crisis in subjectivity, Intertextuality, the merging of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, Deconstruction and recognition of the ‘Other’ are explored in more detail in relation to specific arts practices and texts.

The module also allows you to debate the cultural, social and philosophical implications and validity of postmodernism for arts practice today.

Drama in Education

This module examines the role of drama in educational contexts and applies devised theatre concepts, facilitation skills and pedagogical considerations in the design and development of educational theatre: workshops and performance.

Gender, Sexuality and Theatre

This module will develop your critical understanding and creative engagement with how notions of gender and sexuality inform approaches to the creation and analysis of theatre and performance. It aims to examine a variety of artistic approaches to the politicisation of gender and sexuality in contemporary performance.

Rooted in a critical understanding of feminist discourse and gender studies, the module introduces you to the work of key artists and performance theorists, providing appropriate case-studies to frame the creation of the student’s own performance work.

Performance Skills 3: Devised Text and Character

This module develops your devising, dramaturgical, directing and writing skills as they collaborate to produce and perform a staged dramatic scene.

Performance Skills 4 (Post Dramatic Theatre)

This module examines post-dramatic practices in theatre and offers alternative forms, responses and reactions to the notions of text, character and acting. The module components synthesise elements of post-structural performer practices, legacies of professional works and contemporary approaches to devising processes.

Through a series of learning engagements investigating the potential of the ‘post-character’ performer, the post-dramatic event and post-structural concerns, the module’s impetus is in the integration of reflexivity within processes of making new theatre.

Production 1: Ensemble Practices

This module provides you with extensive performance and production experience, as you explore the devising process rooted in character narrative, specifically in relation to dance theatre. You will be given insight into the way that characters can define (and hinder) a clear making process and, in the process, will consider structural processes, such as narrative as a key determinate to the progression of the piece.

Production 2: Postmodern Theatre Project

This module is designed to give you additional extensive performance and production experience as an integral development towards individual and independent arts practice.

Theatre, Politics and Activism

This module aims to explore the relationships between theatre and politics, alongside the idea of theatre as politics post-Brecht. You will be introduced to a number of artists and theorists exploring political ways of thinking about theatre and political approaches to theatrical engagement.

Visual and Technical Arts

This module aims to introduce and develop key skills and practices in Visual and Technical Arts in/for (devised) theatre and performance. This module caters to a visual and technical arts-related practice and is underpinned -practical and theoretically -accordingly.

This module is for students wishing to develop their knowledge and skills in making work that deals with methods drawn from the Visual Arts and as such encompass a range of possible routes for exploration: Multimedia Performance, Installation Art, Photography and Video, Sound and Sonic Art, Time-Based Art, Live Art and related ‘Fine’ Art practices.

Adaptation and Direction

This module explores the process of the adaptation of materials from a source text to theatre performance.

The development of both a conceptually informed directing process is set alongside the employment of a breadth of devising skills. The research involved in and informing the adaptation and direction will be used to support the process alongside extension and application of prior learning.

The project engages devising/performance experiences and handling of performance texts with rehearsal organisation and workshop delivery.

Applied Arts

This module you the opportunity to plan and deliver a devised community production or arts-based workshop for/with a community client group.

Company Management

This module introduces you to a professional practice environment – the creative and cultural industries. You will how to take work into public and professional venues, platforms, festivals and events; regionally, nationally and internationally, post-graduation. This module provides the opportunity for you to develop “professional” knowledge and skills as creative artists, and create a portfolio and career plan to aid your pathway as a creative artist.

Documenting Performance

This module develops your practical skills and critical understanding of documenting performance. Initially, you will analyse and discuss the problems and possibilities of documentation practices from a wide variety of Performance disciplines.

Performance and Material

This module explores the crossovers and intersections between visual art and contemporary performance, as you explore the performativity of different materials and the connection of materiality to the performance encounter. As part of this process, you will create an original piece of performance drawing on current practical models and theoretical frameworks on materiality, live art and participation.

Performance Writing

This module enables you to produce an original performance text through the acquisition of playwriting and dramaturgical skills by means of a systematic exploration of traditional plays and Post Dramatic Theatre texts.

Personal Study

You will have an opportunity to select an area of study of your choice over an extended period, to research and present their findings in written form.

Production 3

The module offers you the opportunity to work in an ensemble, as you develop your creative and performance vocabulary in a major performance of an original theatrical event.

Solo Performance

This module develops your devising, expressive and communication skills in solo performance.

Work Placement

This double module provides invaluable experience working as a performance analyst within a sporting organisation. It will enable you to foster an acute understanding of how performance analysis is used within sport, offer insight into organisational culture, develop essential professional knowledge and skills, facilitate reflective practice, and develop a network of professional contacts.

Workshop Project: Practice As Research

This module develops your devising, research, theoretical and interactive skills as you design, initiate and facilitate a series of creative workshops exploring key performance practices in an academic context.

Teaching and Assessment

Feel the support of expert and industry-experienced acting tutors


In the first year you can expect to attend 12 hours per week of taught skills classes, at least four hours of rehearsals for third year directing exercises, six hours of project classes, at least six hours of group rehearsal and personal study and two hours of lectures and seminars. This amounts to 30 hours per week during term time.

Skills development sessions are taught by a range of dedicated specialists in small classes of about 15, whereas some modules are taught in lectures and small seminar groups.


You will be assessed through a range of assignments including practical and performance contexts. These assessments will include group and individual performances, directing exercises, presentations, creative installations, and essays.

During your degree you will be involved in at least 12 examined performances, including three major productions, over the three years. There are no formal exams.


Discover a collaborative creative community and dedicated performance spaces

The Showroom

The ShowRoom is recognised nationally for presenting some of the most exciting companies touring on the UK circuit, and the programme is shaped to support the learning of students.

We often run workshops and post-show discussion for Theatre students with visiting artists. We believe that one of the best ways to learn about professional theatre is by watching a training with arts industry professionals. This is at the heart of the ShowRoom’s ambition.

The ShowRoom is highly adaptable, with retractable seating, making it an excellent teaching and workshop space in addition to its role as a venue. It is run by our Theatre Manager and Department Technician, who work closely with our students, helping them to realise creative and adventurous ideas in a professional working space.

Other facilities include:

  • Studio spaces exclusive to the department
  • Rehearsal Rooms
  • Recording studio
  • Editing facilities
  • Audio/visual equipment
  • In-house lighting and sound technicians to assist student projects

Find out more on the ShowRoom website.

Work Placements

Gain vital experience within the theatre industry

Our BA (Hons) Acting for Contemporary Theatre course has a strong vocational focus and supports you to find work in professional contexts.

You will benefit from the Theatre Department’s excellent links with the professional theatre industry and have opportunities to work closely with a range of artists, theatre companies, producers, and festival programmers.

Past students had opportunities for placements with:

  • The Chichester Festival Theatre
  • Total Theatre Awards, Edinburgh Festival
  • Forest Fringe, Edinburgh
  • The Marlborough, Brighton
  • The Paper Birds Theatre Company, Leeds
  • Arts Admin, London
  • Bootworks Theatre
  • The Basement, Brighton
  • Battersea Arts Centre, London
  • Search Party
  • Brian Lobel
  • A range of schools and outreach environments

Study Abroad

Explore the opportunity to study part of your course abroad

As a student at the University of Chichester, you can explore opportunities to study abroad during your studies as you enrich and broaden your educational experiences.

Students who have undertaken this in the past have found it to be an amazing experience to broaden their horizons, a great opportunity to meet new people, undertake further travelling and to immerse themselves within a new culture.

You will be fully supported throughout the process to help find the right destination institution for you and your course. We can take you through everything that you will need to consider, from visas to financial support, to help ensure that you can get the best out of your time studying abroad.


Prepare for a career within the theatre industry

This BA (Hons) Acting for Contemporary Theatre degree will prepare you for a range of careers in industry and you will graduate ready for the workplace.

Our professional development programme offers a range of formal internships with professional partner organisations to ensure that graduates are well-prepared for careers in the cultural industries.

Abby Butcher

Theatre Producer, Brighton
“The University of Chichester is fast becoming a hotspot for exceptional performance talent within the region. I have had the pleasure of working with a number of Chichester graduates and they come to professional spaces armed with an aptitude for work and boundless enthusiasm.”

Course Costs

Course Fees 2024/25

UK fee
International fee

For further details about fees, please see our Tuition Fee page.

For further details about international scholarships, please see our Scholarships page.

To find out about any additional costs on this course, please see our Additional Costs page.

Entry Requirements

Typical offers (individual offers may vary):

tariff points from A levels or combination with AS / EPQ / BTEC/ Cambridge Technical.
A Levels
(Performing Arts)
28 points
with no element lower than 5.5.


You will need to attend an audition. You will present two prepared speeches, discuss your interests with staff, share ideas for making theatre and take part in a devising workshop. You will have the opportunity to meet current students over lunch.

Interviews and Auditions

Auditions and interviews usually run from January until March/April.

We aim to offer you a genuine dialogue during your application process. This gives you a sense of worth and achievement from the audition process itself; a sense of ownership for you during the process and, ultimately, is an opportunity for us to get a clear understanding of who you are, what you need, and how we can best prepare you for your degree.

We judge you on your skills, your potential, and your personality, not your background.

Booking Your Audition

If you are invited to audition you will receive an email asking you to book your audition date on ChiView. If you are unsuccessful we will email you to let you know.

You can usually choose between multiple days on ChiView at one time. If none of the current dates suit you please contact admissions@chi.ac.uk.

Once you have booked your audition, you will be able to access the audition guidance document on ChiView – just log into the ChiView portal, click on ‘Events schedule’ and then ‘View details’ to access the document, which will tell you how to prepare for your audition, what to expect on the day, etc.

If your situation changes and you can no longer attend your audition date, you should cancel your booking in ChiView by visiting your ‘Event Schedule’ and clicking ‘Cancel Attendance’. You also need to inform the admissions team by emailing admissions@chi.ac.uk, so we can send you a new audition invitation.

Using ChiView 

Sometimes if you are viewing your ChiView portal on a phone you will not be able to see the page correctly. If this happens you should try again on another device.

You may need to clear your browser history.

If you are still unable to see the ‘View details’ button, please check that you have successfully booked your audition by clicking ‘respond to interview invitation’.

If all else fails please email admissions@chi.ac.uk with your query and applicant number.

Your Audition Day

Once you have booked your audition, please log into the ChiView portal, click on ‘Events schedule’ and then ‘View details’ to access the audition guidance document, which will tell you (amongst other things) what will happen at the audition itself, a basic itinerary of the whole day, parking information, etc.

In brief, there should be an introductory talk by the department, the chance to meet lecturers and other applicants, as well as your opportunity to perform for the audition panel.

After Your Audition

After your audition, the panel will discuss your performance and pass our decision onto the admissions team, who will update UCAS and email you with the outcome, whatever it might be.

  • We make bespoke offers: Your offer is specifically for you. If we offer less than your predicted grades, this will reflect the potential and quality of your audition and we’d like to take a bit of pressure off of you heading into your exams.
  • We don’t do unconditional offers: Unless you already have your grades (you are a mature student), we will always insist on certain grade achievements because we want you to succeed in all aspects of your academic life including your A levels, BTEC, etc.
  • If you do not get the grades you wanted: Don’t panic. You received an offer because you were good enough for the department at audition. On Results Day, just ring us on the clearing hotline, so we can discuss things with you.
  • We may offer you a different course: We may offer you a place on an alternative, relevant course within the department, rather than offer you the course you applied for. If this is the case, we will state this in your offer letter/email and update your course on UCAS. We will explain our reasoning, which will revolve around placing you on the most appropriate course where we think you will thrive.


Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

Click the ‘Apply now’ button to go to relevant UCAS page.

What are UCAS tariff points?

Many qualifications have a UCAS Tariff value. The score depends on the qualification, and the grade you achieved.

How do I know what my UCAS tariff points are?

Head to the UCAS Tariff Points web page where you can find a tariff points calculator that can tell you how much your qualification and grades are worth.

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