Through intensive practical and performance-based training delivered in a conservatoire setting, this course provides a challenging introduction to the theory and practice of performance-related design in preparation for a career in the theatre and/or its related industries.
First year modules introduce a broad range of practical skills including technical drawing, CAD, Sketchup, model making, pattern cutting, costume construction, millinery, tailoring, scenic art and props-making. Practical projects include collaborative Costume, Props and Puppetry.
A Foundation of Design module during the first term, provides structured introductions to the theoretical and professional processes relating to research for design, practical design development, and the realisation of finished designs.
Research skills are developed through lectures, seminars and field trips focussing on important developments in the history of theatre, art, architecture, design and costume. You will be required to present your research through seminars, essays, and a third-year Research Project.
In the spring term of the first year, you will work individually and as a part of a team to create a ‘costume as performance’ event in collaboration with stage management students.
A series of conceptual and specialist study projects then enable you to apply your skills and explore your creative identity unhindered by practical limitations. You will design set and costumes for a classic text in a given traditional theatre, working with a tutor in the role of director and with additional staff providing practical guidance. You will also explore puppetry techniques, equipping you for possible placements within the large-scale, site-specific productions staged each summer by the Design for Performance department.
Under the guidance of your tutors, you will identify particular strengths and interests to develop through advanced skills classes, conceptual projects and performance-based work throughout the second and third years.
As a member of a team on College productions, you will be expected to shoulder increasing levels of responsibility as you progress through the second and third years of the course. In the second year, you will work in roles such as design assistant, scenic artist, prop maker, costumer maker or milliner, depending on your area of specialism. During the third year, possible roles include that of designer, or a senior role within the realisation team for a College production.
The third provides you with the opportunity to undertake work placements across the industry. The final module of the course is the development of your professional website and the presentation of a major exhibition of your practical and project work, collated and refined over the three years. You will work individually and as part of a group to create a showcase for potential employers in Cardiff and in London.
Applicants are selected for interview on the basis of the information provided in their UCAS application.
Normally an A level or equivalent qualification in art and design is the minimum requirement for entry. Equivalent qualifications include WBQ, Scottish Highers, BTEC National Diploma/Certificate, International Baccalaureate, Advanced GNVQ, AVCE or Advanced Diploma (Level 3), or recognised international qualifications.
However, The College may consider applications from people without formal qualifications if they have an exceptional level of practical ability and suitable portfolio content.
Ultimately the offer of a place will be based on individual applications, interviews and portfolio presentations.
We do recommend that applicants complete a general Art and Design Foundation Course prior to entry.
International applicants whose first language is not English will need to demonstrate that their English language ability meets the College’s minimum requirements. Please refer to our English Language Requirements page for details of accepted English language tests and required scores.
Tuition Fees for 2023-2024
* Undergraduate tuition fees for UK students are set by the Welsh Government. They are reviewed annually and may be subject to an increase in future years.
** Undergraduate tuition fees for overseas students are subject to an annual increase.
Travel costs are low as most parts of the city are easily accessible on foot. The halls of residence, most residential areas and the city centre are a 10-15-minute walk from the campus.
Some teaching will take place at our Llanishen Studios, which is a short bus ride from the campus. A weekly ticket from Cardiff Bus is £14.50 and students aged 16-21 can apply for a pass which reduces this to £9.40 (prices correct as of December 2021).
There is an essential tool kit at the start of the course containing the following items in order to start the course, which is available to purchase from the College at a specially negotiated price of £75, which is 50% of the normal price.
Essential Tool Kit
Swann-Morton Graphic Knife Set (No. 3 Handle and 10a Blades)
Set of 12 artists’ sketching pencils – grades 2H to 8B
Winsor & Newton Gesso 500ml
Hardback spiral sketchbook A3
Set of Daler-Rowney System 3 Acrylics 75ml Tubes (8 colours)
Winsor & Newton Watercolour Set
Artists’ drawing inks – set of 4
General-purpose brushes 1”, 2”, and 3”
Set of 10 assorted small round and flat artists’ brushes
Metric scale rule (triangular) with specified scales
Adjustable set square
Set square 45 degree
Lockable toolbox 20 inch or more
Set of 4 fine liners (black): 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.7
45cm plastic T-square
Flat metal ruler 30cm
9” fabric scissors
Clear plastic ruler 18”
Tape measure – cloth
A2 cutting mat
5m steel retractable tape measure
Snap-off craft knife
Small, pointed pliers
Small wire snips
You will also need to purchase your own steel toe safety shoes. Students are not allowed into the workshops without safety shoes.
The use of laptops or tablets to support your design and academic studies forms a crucial part of your learning. While the College provides computers for teaching and access throughout the day, you will find it necessary at times to use a computer while working at home. The computer should have the following specification:
Intel Core i5 processor
500GB hard drive
NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics card with 2GB of dedicated RAM
The College provides students access to a large range of software both on college computers and with licenses for the students’ personal computers on a project-by-project basis. Students should however subscribe to Adobe Premiere Suite as all students will use the software provided via the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Students are encouraged to attend as many College performances as possible and are eligible for free tickets to Richard Burton Company shows. For other performances, students are eligible for discounted tickets.
Students who arrange external professional placements in conjunction with course leaders are responsible for any expenses incurred.
The College covers the cost of transportation to London and back for the final exhibition as well as 50% of the accommodation costs. Students are required to cover the remaining 50% – currently £100. Breakfast is provided but other food and drinks are at students’ own cost.
For the exhibition stand, you will need to cover the costs of any extra technical equipment required, in consultation with the technical manager. Packing materials for your exhibit are also at your own cost, as
are website hosting fees, printing, business cards and crew t-shirts.
Dissertations need to be submitted in hard-copy and the cost of printing and binding is the responsibility of the student.
Students who are required to re-sit assessments may be expected to pay a resit fee.
2021 National Student Survey Results: RWCMD Design for Performance
The teaching on my course: 100%
Learning opportunities: 100%
Assessment and feedback: 95.83%
Academic support: 98.15%
Organisation and management: 96.30%
Learning resources: 92.59%
Learning community: 97.22
Student Voice: 92.59
Overall satisfaction: 100