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BA (Hons) Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance

Explore the creative connections between playwrights, directors and performers

Year of entry: 2022/23
Show year of entry: 2021

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

UK (home) fees

£9,250 per year

International and EU fees

£19,600 per year

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Theatre is one of our most ancient and enduring forms of art. From the Ancient Greeks to today, theatre’s unique engagement with the audience and ever-changing liveness make it the most exciting way to reflect society, challenge our preconceptions and entertain us night after night. This undergraduate degree draws the key roles of director, performer and playwright together, in order to provide you with an in-depth knowledge of theatre practice, and the skills you’ll need to succeed in any area of the industry.

Distinguished visiting speakers

We have a wide range of industry connections and regularly have visiting speakers and masterclasses.

Unique creative environment

Bringing together world-leading researchers, dynamic teachers and industry professionals.

York has given me the chance to explore aspects of theatre in a supportive and professional atmosphere. With the wide range of opportunities, engaging staff and resources, there’s no limit to what you can do in making theatre, on and off stage, theoretically and practically.
Audun, Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance

Course content

Throughout the degree course, we emphasise a close connection between theatre practice and its histories, theories, politics and ethics. You’ll develop keen critical analysis skills alongside your practical work in acting, directing and playwriting, and explore a broad range of plays and productions covering theatre’s many pasts and presents. As you progress, you will hone your skills through increasingly ambitious production and research projects, gaining the experience and expertise needed to fulfil your potential in the theatre industry and beyond.

You will be taught by a unique team of theatre academics and practitioners. Many are leading researchers in theatre practice, history and theory, and have worked as professional writers, actors, directors and designers.

Our teaching takes place in a contemporary and dynamic environment, purpose-built for the study of theatre. The department’s theatre spaces, production facilities, rehearsal rooms and workshops are some of the best the UK higher education sector has to offer. We have close industry connections with many leading figures from the world of theatre, film, and television who share their knowledge and experiences through a series of masterclasses.

Study abroad

There are opportunities for you to spend time abroad during your course:

Year 1

Your first year will be an all-round introduction to the theatre environment, giving you a broad base from which you can choose to specialise as you move through the course, while supporting you as you make the transition to independent, university-level study. Practical modules in acting and directing take a hands-on approach from the start. At the same time, you will begin to develop analytical and writing skills, exploring play scripts from ancient Greece to the present day, and learning how to transform a good idea into a truly memorable script.

You will be introduced to the process of moving from script to performance and the challenges involved in imagining and extrapolating performances from plays from contrasting periods and styles. Your modules also introduce workshop practice and some key practitioners, and train you in fundamental vocal and physical skills. Additionally, you'll begin to develop some key skills in analysing performance as an audience member.

You'll begin to explore the challenges of characterisation in plays from different periods, and of ensemble work. You'll learn and experiment with key directorial preparation and rehearsal techniques, enhancing your practical skills in a collaborative environment. You'll study dramaturgy, and look at ways in which plays are shaped by historical, cultural and material circumstances, and explore the issues involved in producing plays on the modern stage. You'll develop core playwriting skills, especially in creating characters, crafting dialogue, plotting a scene, and imagining dramatically effective stage visuals. 

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

Year 2 works thematically, with modules exploring a range of performance genres, styles and traditions, from comedy to site-specific practice. Some of these modules bring together the practical and analytical skills developed in the first year and apply them to a variety of historical and contemporary texts, working towards assessed group performances. Other modules encourage you to explore the polemical and political power of theatre. From the Holocaust to contemporary civil rights, we’ll examine how playwrights have dramatised political dilemmas and confrontations, and you will create your own performances in response to a prominent political event or theme.

Additionally, you might choose to continue to develop your creative playwriting skills in a dedicated module, or to explore the design possibilities afforded by set, costume, lighting and sound, while developing your marketing and organisational skills. Towards the end of the year, you will do focused work on research skills, in order to help you move towards the larger group and independent projects of Year 3.

You'll develop your practical and analytical skills through the exploration of a particular performance style as it developed across time. Past years have explored feminist theatre, site-specific practices, physical theatre, monologue plays and wit comedy. You'll choose one of two option modules, where you can cover a wide range of design and production processes, including set, costume, lighting and sound design, producing and marketing, supplemented with a range of industry professionals, or continue to progress with scriptwriting, applying those skills to larger narrative structures.


Performance Styles and Traditions 


You will take an option module, examples of which may include:

You'll explore the transformation of a major comic tradition, farce, from Ancient Rome to The IT Crowd. You'll examine the ways in which political issues have been expressed through theatre in the 20th and 21st centuries, and grapple with the philosophical and ideological ideas behind political theatre. You'll develop your research skills in preparation for your final year dissertation, and you'll research a political event or theme and stage a political play from scratch.

Year 3

In the third year, you will tackle some of the highlights of the classical theatrical canon, working as a company of actors, directors, dramaturgs, designers, stage managers and producers to stage full-scale productions of major plays from before 1900 on the Department’s main stages.

With an eye towards the future, you may choose to collaborate with BSc Film and Television Production colleagues to explore directing for theatre, film and television, or take a module keeping you up to date with the current trends in theatre.

You will focus on two major pieces of work. The first, an independent dissertation project, allows you the freedom to conduct a significant piece of research on any aspect of theatre. In the second, you may choose to write a full-length play, or work practically in small groups on a production of a play of your choice.

You'll prepare a full public production of a major work from before 1900, giving you a chance to deploy the full range of practical and analytical skills that you have developed on the course. You have the option to choose a shared module which encourages dialogue and sharing practice. Or you can develop your skills in researching, writing and presenting on the most recent developments in theatre. This includes new writing (processes of script development, new writing initiatives), new practices (such as rehearsal techniques, devising processes, and technological interventions) and new contexts (such as the development of new audiences, theatre spaces, funding models, artistic policies and employment practices).


Pre-1900 Theatre Production Project 


You will take an option module, examples of which may include:

You'll have the chance to research and write on a topic of your choice. You can develop a full play script, or work in a small group to prepare and perform a play or section of a play of your choice.


Independent Dissertation Project 


You will take an option module, examples of which may include:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Interpret how scripts are, and historically have been, translated into a range of performance events by critical evaluation of a range of scripted drama. 
  • Combine independent research skills, practical exploration and experiment in successfully undertaking ambitious research projects. 
  • Apply the practical and organisational skills necessary to effectively contribute as writers, directors and performers in realising the production of a successful performance from a challenging script. 
  • Actively reflect the organisational, practical and technical skills that they have gained from working with theatre professionals, academic tutors and through work experience opportunities, so as to improve and develop their own theatre practice and enhance their employability for future careers. 
  • Write and develop practical work with creativity and with flair, both independently and within teams, to respond to challenges and to communicate their ideas with clarity and focus to a range of audiences. 
  • Effectively employ a set of transferable skills (such as presentation, leadership, project management, and research skills) that will allow them to work across a range of media (theatre, television and film) and within a variety of roles.

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2022/23 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year

Annual tuition fees

UK (home) International and EU
£9,250 £19,600

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK (home): further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international and EU students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at two per cent each year.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.

Additional costs

Theatre trips

We are ideally placed to take advantage of some of the country's best theatres, in York, Manchester, Sheffield, Scarborough, Hull, Leeds and more. As a student of theatre we want you to become familiar with as much and as wide a range of theatre as possible. We run regular trips to local and regional theatres, some connected directly to a module and others of wider interest, and encourage you to make your own way to see more. The majority of organised trips are optional, but you should budget for at least one theatre trip a term.

Extra materials

The Theatre Design and Production module may require you to purchase some basic crafting and drawing equipment and materials for the design workshops and final portfolio.

Research trips

Some projects - such as the Political Theatre Project, and final Independent projects - may require limited travel to conduct interviews and consult external libraries and archives. These trips are at your discretion.

Type Amount
Field trips Optional additional expense £0
Travel to non-UoY locations Optional additional expense £0
Equipment/facility hire and insurance Optional additional expense £0


We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 throughout the year.

Our Visionaries Scholarship programme provides a package of financial and industry support to welcome talented UK undergraduate students from Black, Asian, Gypsy, Traveller, and ethnically diverse backgrounds to our creative community.

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Our course emphasises the constant interplay of practical and academic theatre skills. You will explore theatre through hands-on seminars and workshops, interactive lectures, independent rehearsals, and library-based study. Alongside the vibrant tutor-led and student-led content, masterclasses from visiting professionals will enhance and expand on various aspects of your learning.

Penelope Wilton Masterclass

Masterclasses, delivered by high profile theatre directors, actors, and playwrights, run throughout the academic year. These invaluable sessions give you the opportunity to ask question about everything from career opportunities to ideas and inspiration.

Recent visitors have included the actors Penelope Wilton and Sam West; director Sean Holmes; producer Jenny Topper; and the writers Simon Stephens, Nick Payne, Alan Ayckbourn and Laura Wade.

Timetabled activities

In your first year, you can expect:

Lectures2 hours per week
Seminars2 hours per week
Workshops4-11 hours per week
Film Screening2 hours per week
Independent rehearsals2-4 hours per week

These figures are based on an average student in an average week. Your contact hours will vary throughout the year due to your module choices, non-compulsory classes, exam periods and changes to scheduled activities.

Outside your timetabled hours, you'll study independently. This may include preparation for classes, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

In the UK, full-time students are expected to spend 1,200 hours a year learning. That's about 40 hours of classes and independent study each week during term time. Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours you spend on independent study will be different to other students on your course.


Your base will be one of the best theatre production facilities in any UK university. Our facilities include a 200-seat thrust-stage theatre, a 110-seat black box theatre, rehearsal rooms, dressing rooms, workshop space and production areas.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Theatre, Film, Television, and Interactive Media on Campus East

Most of your contact hours will be in Theatre, Film, Television, and Interactive Media with some additional teaching on Campus East and Campus West.


About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

We embrace a range of assessment methods, in order to best reflect each individual module and the course as a whole. Every core module involves a written component of assessment, and many will also assess your practical work as an individual or in a group. During your studies with us, you may find yourself preparing essays of various lengths (from short reflective pieces to the final year dissertation project), portfolios or logs documenting practice, seminar presentations and oral examinations.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Practical exams28%18%35%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The Dutch Courtesan
Simon Stephens Writing Workshop

Careers and skills

Our approach to learning has been designed to provide wide ranging knowledge and skills that will set you up for a career in the world of theatre. Many of our graduates move on to work as writers, directors and performers in the industry, while others have taken up roles in the film and television industries and the wider arts world. For more information on our graduates take a look at the graduate achievement page. Our track record speaks for itself.

Career opportunities

  • Writer
  • Director
  • Performer
  • Drama therapist
  • Literary manager
  • Art journalist
  • Theatre/film/television production roles
  • Teacher
  • Academic researcher
  • Arts administrator.

Transferable skills

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Critical analysis
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
  • An ability to act on constructive criticism.

Entry requirements

Typical offer
A levels


You don't need to have an A Level in Theatre or Drama.

Access to Higher Education Diploma 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit or higher
BTEC National Extended Diploma DDD
Cambridge Pre-U D3, D3, M2
European Baccalaureate 80% overall
International Baccalaureate 35 points
International foundation programme Foundation Certificate from our International Pathway College or an appropriate alternative.
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

Alternative offers

Meeting the following additional criteria may qualify you for an alternative offer.

Criteria Adjustment
Widening participation If you successfully complete one of the following programmes, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to three A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer: Next Step York, Realising Opportunities. More about widening participation.
Contextual offers If you have experience of local authority care or live in an area with low progression to university, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to two A level grades (or equivalent) below our typical offer. More about contextual offers.
EPQ If you achieve C or higher at EPQ, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.
Core Maths If you achieve B or higher in Core Maths, you may be eligible for an alternative offer up to one A level grade (or equivalent) below our typical offer.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component
Duolingo 110 overall, with a minimum of 100 in each component
GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first or second language) Grade C
LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B2 Communicator High Pass with a minimum score of 33/50 in each component
PTE Academic 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component
TOEFL 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in each component
Trinity ISE III Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Applications must be made through UCAS. We look for applicants who can demonstrate a real passion for theatre, through your studies, extra-curricular activities and wider reading. We don’t require you to have taken a Theatre or Performing Arts course at college, and welcome students studying a mix of subjects and/or qualifications.

UK students may be asked to attend an interview in the department, for which you will need to bring one piece of analytical writing (normally an essay from your recent studies). We will also look at up to one piece of creative writing. There is no audition process, although we may offer a practical workshop as a taster of the kind of work you might expect to do on the course.

International students unable to travel to York may be asked to interview via Skype.

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Katherine Graham
Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media

Learn more

Department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media

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