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Undergraduate course

Drama and Theatre BA (Hons)

This immersive and varied degree is centred on creativity, giving you the opportunity to grow as an artist.

Drama and dance students performing in the Quad

Do you thrive on performing live and creating unique theatre experiences? Do you want to make work that speaks about important social issues? Are you ready for the talent of others to inspire your own growth as a performer? If the answer is ‘yes’ then our Drama & Theatre course is a great match for you!

York campus

  • UCAS Code – W400
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | Part-time options available on request
  • Start date – September 2021
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    96 UCAS points

    3 GCSEs Graded at C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2021 entry £12,750 per year full time

The York St John Experience

Course overview

This course is practice-led, so you’ll be writing, directing, performing and exploring - using your mind and body creatively together. You’ll select modules that match your interests to become a theatre practitioner, an expert in your field.  

This course is designed so you can make the kind of performances you want to see in the world.  We help you to find your own unique voice and style, building the confidence to bring your whole creative self to the stage. The course emphasises contemporary performance practice, so you are encouraged to respond to social and political events you feel passionate about or want to develop a deeper understanding of.

You will gain excellent experience of working both independently and alongside other students not just in your own year group, but across the course. You’ll be taught by experts with experience of writing and performing a variety of work and who write and theorise about the role and importance of drama and theatre in the 21st century.

You will also get immersed in a whole variety of opportunities: from making performing your own work to being in the work of other students, including an end of year large outdoor performance to a public audience, a field trip to Europe, establishing your own theatre company for our annual creative showcase and working with recognised theatre companies outside the University. You will work with a variety of visiting artists and develop skills that enhance your career prospects.

Course Structure

Year 1


Compulsory modules include:

Acting (20 credits)

Take part in practical exercises to develop your understanding of acting techniques and training. You will draw on the methods outlined by practitioners such as Stanislavski and Chekhov and contemporary techniques used by companies including the Wooster Group and Forced Entertainment. You will consider the contested nature of the actor and actor training in the 21st century.

Making Ensemble Performance (20 credits)

Learn what it means to work with your peers to create original ideas and bring them to life. You will work from a dramatic text to inspire your ideas as a collaborative group. You will experience for yourself what it is like to share ideas and work together with other performers. This module will give you a whole new perspective on performance.

Big Ideas in Performance (20 credits)

Contemplate the significance of performance and what it means to you. You will be mindful of how these interpretations are rooted in our history and culture, and how they have influenced society today. You will study key movements, ideas and practices in 20th and 21st century performance, theatre and dance with topics including:

  • The Space and Place in Performance: from Robert Wilson to the immersive performance of Punchdrunk
  • The Body: Movement, Gesture and Voice
  • Ritual and Play.
Ensemble Political Performance (20 credits)

Work together with your peers on a devised performance using a political ‘text’ as inspiration. This could be a photograph, painting, written document or even a costume. You will develop a range of creative, compositional and performance strategies to help you understand the complex political times we live in.

Workshop Facilitation (20 credits)

Learn the valuable skill of planning, leading and evaluating workshops. You will have the opportunity to participate, observe and lead dance and drama workshops on campus with other students on your course. Topics that you cover will include:

  • Principles of effective facilitation
  • Structuring a workshop
  • Ethical and political issues related to facilitation.

This work will not only prepare you for years 2 and 3 but for your career as a professional dance or theatre practitioner.

Writing for Performance (20 credits)

On this module we will introduce you to the relationship between writing and performance. You will study theatrical language for both the page and performance space so you develop the skills you need to become a successful practitioner. Explore the works of the anti-naturalist movement from the Dada and Surrealist periods so you experience a range of modernist and postmodernist movements. You will learn how language can be a great tool to imagine and embody your own ideas.

Year 2


Compulsory modules include:

Politically Engaged Practice 1 (20 credits)

This is the first of 2 modules that will introduce you to different politically engaged performance practices from the 20th and 21st centuries. Lectures will chart key events in modernist and postmodern performance.

Politically Engaged Practice 2 (20 credits)

Take what you have learnt in Politically Engaged Practice 1 and deepen your understanding of performance as political. On this module you will explore the relationship between arts practice and political activism. Consider your own art as a form of political activism and explore the potential affect of art as politics.

Artist as Witness (20 credits)

Through a series of workshops you will examine key practitioners in the practice of witnessing. You will develop an understanding of the societal responsibility of the artist when representing lived and non-lived experiences. Continue to develop your understanding of collaboration and it’s relationship with cultural and social practices.

Auto/biography and Performance (20 credits)

On this module we will introduce you to key autobiographical performers and help you to develop a practical understanding of autobiographical performance. We want you to learn to create autobiographical work that not only tells stories about yourself but uses the details of your life to explore universal issue.

Optional modules include: 

  • Acting for Screen: The Performer as Auteur (20 credits)
  • Acting Vignettes (20 credits)
  • Children and Young People (20 credits)
  • Performance in Social Context (20 credits)
  • Physical Theatre (20 credits) 
  • Politics and the Play (20 credits)
  • Site Specific Dance (20 credits)
  • Writing after Beckett (20 credits)

Year 3


Compulsory modules include:

Dissertation (20 credits)

This is your chance to conduct independent critical research on an area that interests you. You can choose an element of your performance practice to focus on and explore it through analysis, theory and reflection. A dissertation tutor will be assigned who will support you through this module and who will meet with you regularly to discuss your progress.

Contemporary Performance Practice: Research & Development (20 credits) 

This module gives you the chance to operate as a theatre company with your peers. As you work together you will develop your collaborative skills and expand your ability to create original performance work. The project you undertake within your company can be decided by you and your company and can be negotiated with your module tutors.

Contemporary Performance Practice: Actualisation (20 credits)

Continuing from your previous Contemporary Performance Practice module, you will continue to develop the work you created with your ensemble. You will continue to work with the same group and the content of this module will respond to support your creative collaboration. In addition to your performance, assessment of this module will include producing promotional materials appropriate for a professional theatre company.

Independent Practice and Research: Drama and Theatre (60 credits)

As you enter your final year, you will develop your independence as a practitioner and create original work. Engage with key professional infrastructures in dance, theatre and performance industries as you draw on your experiences from previous modules and prepare for employment beyond university. You will take part in exploratory sessions where you will gather ideas, possible collaborations and eventually, proposals for independent work. You will then conduct research related to your proposal and develop an independent and original piece of creative performance.

Teaching & Assessment

Drama & Theatre is mainly taught in studio spaces with a tutor leading workshops and rehearsing material. Each year of the programme contains set modules and in Year Two you have the ability to choose a specific module (one per semester) that align to your interests. In Year Three you are assigned mentors and supervisors who guide your own independent work and so offers you the opportunity for you to lead your own projects supported by members of staff. Each module runs on the same day each week throughout the semester, so that you study one subject on each day. This mode of delivery is very popular in student feedback.

Your contact hours may vary depending on the specific modules you are taking but practical classes are between three and five hours long and theory modules (one per semester in Year One and Year Two) are two hours and are usually broken into a lecture followed by a seminar. Due to the content of some modules your contact time varies because you are on work placements, for example delivering workshops in schools, and so the taught session time differs accordingly. In Year Three you are much more independent but throughout the degree you have the ability to book and reserve studio space so you can rehearse and create performance. We have designed the course and timetable to enable you to work in a concentrated and supported way with plenty of studio space available for your own practical development.


Outside of taught sessions, you will be expected to undertake further reading around the subjects you are studying and complete written assignments that include essays and written reflections from workshop sessions. Our ILS facilities are excellent and include an extensive collection of books, video material and journals for your research and development. Our staff team have incredible amounts of experience and knowledge on the subject. Many are active practitioners who make and present performance internationally. Our staff also contribute to the publication of books and journals on the subject of drama, theatre, dance and performance. All our staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. We also have two dedicated theatre technicians who facilitate our studio and theatre spaces and deliver workshops on stage design, theatrical lighting, scenography and sound.

Assessments in Drama & Theatre are weighted 70% practical and 30% written. Practical assessments take the form of live performances for audiences, private performances for student-peers, workshop presentations, on-location workshop delivery and written presentations. Written assessments take the form of Essays of between 1000 – 2500 words in length. Catalogue documents which are reflective books that explain your process of making work, student blogs, collections of writings for performance, and a dissertation project in Year Three (5000 words in length).

Entry Requirements


The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

96 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements. Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our international pages.

If your first language is not English you must show evidence of English language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

Fees and funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK or EU, or internationally (outside the UK/EU). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK and EU 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 202 entry onto this course is

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time.

These prices apply to all UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page.

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

International 2021 entry

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this course is £12,750 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK/EU.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a student visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree.

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

While studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

All undergraduates receive financial support through the York St John Aspire card. Find out more about the Aspire scheme and how it can be used to help you purchase equipment you need for your course. 

Aspire Card

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

Performing House - Our own touring venue for theatre companies to bring new performance direct to York St John University Campus. This means you are able to see professional live work on campus and meet the performers, and its Free! Core Field Trips – Each year group has at least one field trip.

Recently these include a three-day site-specific devised course in a castle in Northumberland, a four-day trip to Krakow in Poland and a three-day visit to London. Drifting East – An opportunity to present your work at the East Riding Theatre in Beverley. This happens twice yearly for Second and Third Year students and is a unique platform to showcase your work to a public audience in Yorkshire’s newest theatre.

Theatre Pages – Out in-house magazine has been running for over 10 issues and is facilitated by Staff and Students who work together to edit, compile and craft each issue. You can read all past issues online. Student Internships – As well as teaching you the drama and dance staff are all engaged with their own projects that include touring work nationally and internationally, writing for publications, organising conferences and developing long-term projects with a range of partner institutions. Within these projects there are often opportunities for students to support and learn as an intern.

In the past this has included students being tour manager, performers, lighting designers, stage managers, event organisers and collaborators on professional external projects.
Graduate Prize – Each year a graduating student or student company has the chance to receive the York St John Graduate prize which gives you the space, time and support to develop a final year piece of work to show in a professional theatre venue. This means that in less than six months after graduating you will perform your work live for public audience.

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