School of Society and Culture

BA (Hons) Directing

The BA (Hons) Directing degree at the University of Plymouth is a unique blend of newly designed curriculum, apprenticeships, and collaborations with professional theatres in the South West. It is designed to appeal to high achieving students interested in learning more about the art of theatre direction.

As a partner with Theatre Royal Plymouth, the Plymouth Conservatoire offers you access to professional directors, actors, designers, and producers who bring with them a wealth of specialised and skilled expertise. Further, you are able to access the professional spaces of TR2 and Theatre Royal in the classes offered by the theatre such as our introduction modules and final year performance lab modules.

Plymouth Conservatoire - Esme Appleton in Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Golem. Photograph: Bernhard Mueller.

Join Plymouth Conservatoire

This programme is delivered through Plymouth Conservatoire - a unique collaboration between the University and Theatre Royal Plymouth, providing training and professional experience that will set talented students apart in today’s arts and creative industries.

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Key features

  • 154 placements this year for directors, producers, practitioners and performers including with paid placements with Jermyn Street Theatre (West End), Kneehigh and at Theatre Royal Plymouth.
  • Teaching may be delivered solely at University of Plymouth campus or a combination of specialist spaces at the University and the rehearsal and educational spaces at Theatre Royal Plymouth.
    By implementing a professional theatre company model within the subject’s strategy for degrees, we provide you with a small company incubation period that allows you to create your own work alongside your school work.
  • In the second year of the degree, you will undertake placements with a professional theatre. The professional placements are conducted in workshops such as lighting, sound, costume design, or theatre or stage management. You will be required to observe and offer assistance  and will learn production skills directly from theatre professionals.
  • The apprenticeship and integration of directing students onto acting modules allow the directing students the opportunity to assistant direct a professional director and further understand the complexities of the craft and unique directing styles. These placements and apprenticeships are designed to assist you in networking and building your CV for future employment. 
  • In the final year, you will undertake a semester-long professional apprenticeship with a theatre off-site. The apprenticeships are designed to build your skills as a director, and you will be required to evaluate your own contribution and discuss the different strategies for collaboration undertaken within the theatre. 
  • Plymouth Conservatoire is our unique partnership with Theatre Royal Plymouth which offers you access to professional directors, actors, designers, and producers who bring with them a wealth of skilled expertise. You are able to access the professional spaces of TR2 and Theatre Royal in modules offered by the theatre.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • In Year 1, students take two modules in acting, two modules in theatre making, one theory-based module, and one module on script analysis for directors. Directors should undergo actor training as well as theatre making to better equip themselves as practitioners. In doing so, the students gain a better understanding of their actors’ processes and gain insight on generating new ideas for productions.

    Core modules

    • Page to Stage 1 (ACT442)

      This module encapsulates the aims of the programme in a condensed and intensive experience of theatre-making: students work together, with leadership from staff to read, rehearse design and present a number of fully realised scenes from plays. Students will experience all aspects of theatre production in a concentrated rehearsal process, with a performance at the end of each process.

    • Self and Character (ACT444)

      This module is all about preparing actors to work in a profession with certain innate dangers to personal mental and physical health. The process of adopting a character, and enacting a role can mean that actors have to negotiate some very personal feelings and experiences, and giving them tools to do this is a health and sustainable way is what this module is all about.

    • Directing Analysis (DIR400)

      Directing Analysis builds on the work done in Page to Stage 1, teaching directing students techniques analysing a script with a director’s point of view. The students will gain an introduction to dramaturgical analysis, as well as learning the directing metaphor and active script analysis for a director. Where Page to Stage 1 helped students to understand an actor’s work in starting to discover a character, Directing Analysis will help the directing students start to examine the ‘larger picture’ of the script and will culminate in a full script analysis as well as a short directed scene applying this analysis.

    • Theatre Making and Collaborative Processes (DRAMA402)

      Launching the first year of the Drama and Theatre Practice programme, this module will offer an intensive learning experience designed to explore the specific of studying a practically driven subject at degree level. Through the development of a range of critical and analytical skills, the student will be introduced to material that will encourage them to reflect upon their role as an embodied learner.

    • The Body in Performance (PLYCO404)

      This module positions all performance practice as the product of its own specific cultural setting. The module explores a wide range of performances from different cultural settings whilst providing a context and awareness of the key issues and debates surrounding cultural theory and practice. It problematises the issues of theatre, culture and ideology: the politics and problems of cultural contact and exchange.

    • Devising Toolkit 2: Ensemble Practice (PLYCO415)

      This module will focus on developing the skills necessary to work in a successful ensemble context, exploring the practice and examines the creative processes involved in the crafting and devising of performance work. Through workshop study, a creative understanding of the physical and mental processes necessary in performance presentation will be established.

  • Year 2

  • Year 2 includes two placement modules, as well as modules on performance making, cultural awareness, and performance styles. The placements will take place over the course of two semesters, allowing the students to experience one craft for one semester before switching to another craft in the new year.

    Core modules

    • Advanced Directing (DIR520)

      Advanced Directing builds on the work done in Directing Analysis, teaching directing students about different ‘isms’ in theatre history and how those particular movements influenced and shaped the art of direction. The students will gain an investigate the different eras of theatre history through research and practical exploration. Where Directing Analysis helped students understand script analysis, Advanced Directing will help directing students start to apply historical theatre styles to a modern performance and will culminate in a directing portoflio as well as a short directed scene and lecture demonstration applying a specific style.

    • Placement (PLYCO511)

      In this module students will be assigned a working placement or supporting educational setting. Working as an apprentice and learner, the students will learn the elements of that specific area that is different from their own studies. Students will reflect on the importance of that knowledge as it applies to their own studies.

    • Theatre Residency (PLYCO522)

      This module addresses collaborative and interdisciplinary practice. It is a practical and studio-based module that emphasises the development and presentation of student-led work and collaboration across year groups.

    • Performance Practices (PLYCO523)

      This module encourages students to find their creative voice through the exploration and application of a specific performance practice. Students will develop and practically interrogate the skills and understandings that establish specific forms of contemporary performance practice as both skilled activities and culturally significant artistic statements.

    • Apply, Fund, Deliver, Repeat (PLYCO525)

      Apply, Fund, Deliver, Repeat is a training module for students to build their management and professional capabilities. Just as the students are required to have performance training, they will also undergo training on budgetary and management skills while learning how to successfully apply for funding and then how to manage those funds once the project is underway.

    • Performance and Everyday Life (PLYCO555)

      Research-informed lecture-seminar based exploration of an exciting and diverse range of performative case studies and influential theories, this module gives students the opportunity to study independently and work together to open up for themselves a whole new way of seeing the world of the everyday.

  • Final year

  • Year 3 includes modules on dramaturgy, director’s research, applied practices, festival practices, and an off-site work placement module. The second semester requires directing students to collaborate with other students in the Plymouth Conservatoire to generate community-integrated work based on applied practices, as well as a new performance for festivals. The performance will stem from the students’ research in their modules on Dramaturgy and Director’s Research.

    Core modules

    • Acting Rediscovered (ACT620)

      The module fosters deep understanding and practical knowledge of a form/approach to performance training. Through expert-lead practice, students will experiment with techniques, strategies and approaches to training that will help them to develop and deepen their understanding of skills germane to a specific style.

    • Dramaturgy (DIR601)

      This module (offered completely online) evaluates the role of dramaturgy in theatre direction. Students will study the history of dramaturgy within theatre as well as learn the role of dramaturgy in the rehearsal process. Through practical exploration, the students will apply the skills learned to create a dramaturgy portfolio to be used in their rehearsals.

    • Work Placement 3 (DIR612)

      In this module students will be assigned a specific professional working relationship at a theatre offsite from Plymouth University. Working as an apprentice, the students will learn the elements of that working theatre and will have the opportunity to work on their theatre and networking skills.

    • Performance Research (PLYCO610)

      Students will plan and conduct a research enquiry relevant to the application, practice and study of performance (including acting, dance, theatre, live art, and cross-form practices). Through lectures, workshops and tutorial guidance, students develop appropriate ways of collecting, analysing, documenting and organising material to present and evidence their research process and findings. Projects can be articulated in one of three ways; lecture demo, practice as research or dissertation.

    • Festival Practices (PLYCO629)

      This module will support students’ entry into the wide field of the creative industries through the planning and development of a professional quality performance product, commensurate to professional practice. Working solo or in small companies, students will engage with mentoring and feedback processes and locate their practice within the context of the contemporary performance practice and Festival platforms.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BA Hons Directing programme specification 6464

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

112

A level: Normal minimum entry requirements at A level to include a minimum of 2 A levels, General Studies accepted. As a standard, all applicants are required to interview before an offer is made.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: Candidates are interviewed before an offer is made. Grade DMM.
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application. As a standard, all applicants are required to interview before an offer is made.

Access to Higher Education at level 3: Candidates are interviewed before an offer is made. Pass a named Access to Higher Education Diploma (preferably performing arts, humanities or combined), with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction.

United States Grade Point Average: 3.00. As a standard, all applicants are required to interview before an offer is made.

International Baccalaureate: 28 points. If overseas and not studying English within IB, must have IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all other elements.
As a standard, all applicants are required to interview before an offer is made.

GCSE: All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) mathematics and English at Grade 4 /C or above.

  • All applicants are required to complete an interview/audition. Please see below the details of the audition process.
English language requirements. 

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021 2022
Home £9,250 To be confirmed
International To be confirmed To be confirmed
Part time (Home) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business additional costs.

How to apply
All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Welcome to Plymouth Conservatoire

Experts from the University of Plymouth and Theatre Royal Plymouth work together to give you training and professional experience that will set you apart in today’s arts and creative industries.

Get the very best, up-to-date industry expertise, research and teaching practice as well as unrivalled access to professional opportunities.

Watch our film about Plymouth Conservatoire.

Interview/audition information

In addition to the necessary University guidelines for applying, each applicant to the BA (Hons) Directing course will need to complete an interview (either in person or via Skype) and one of the following tasks:


1. Directing Portfolio (submitted online)
The first task you can choose to do in addition to your interview is submit a directing portfolio. 

If you have been in the directing business a while, you most likely have built up a directing portfolio that includes a directing CV, photographs/videos of your directing work, as well as a directing statement.

Please keep in mind that, if you choose to do this task, you must include a CV, stills or video of your directing work, and a directing statement.

2. Director’s Idea Book (submitted online)
The second task is designed for those who do not have as much directing experience. You can choose to submit a directing ‘Idea Book’ for a certain play of your choosing. This idea book should include your vision for the play and images that inspire the production's design. The book should be in depth – what do you see? How does it look onstage? How do the characters look? Where do you take inspiration from? What does this play say to you? In this book, you should embed your directing statement. Approximately 7–10 pages (but can be longer if necessary).

3. Director’s Pitch Presentation (in person)
The third task that you can choose to complete is done completely in person – but does require preparatory work. When you come for your in-person interview, you will do the above task (an ‘Idea Book’), but in person. Essentially, you are ‘pitching’ your play with your ideas about what you see on stage, design elements, and what your message for the play is. Again, the choice of play is completely up to you. The presentation should be 10–15 minutes in length.

Meet the Programme Lead

I am a director with a special interest in Boalian techniques in actor training. I studied directing with professional British director Antonia Doggett, and American professional directors Eric Forsythe and Suzanne Burgoyne, and have apprenticed with Robert Wilson, Brandon Bruce, and Meredith Alexander. I trained in Theatre of the Oppressed as well as various acting techniques to create a unique directing style that focuses on the delicate balance between safety and vulnerability in actors.

Meet the rest of the team

Dr Alex Cahill

Dr Alex Cahill


Take a tour of Plymouth Conservatoire

Watch a video tour of the spaces at Plymouth Conservatoire with Josh Slater, Lecturer in Dance, Theatre and Performance. See the spaces where our students learn, perform and experience visiting performance companies. Hear about the equipment available for students to use. See how flexible our purpose-built spaces at Plymouth Conservatoire are.

Your own purpose built theatre:

The House

The University of Plymouth committed £7 million to building The House, a purpose built theatre on campus – and now the teaching home to Plymouth Conservatoire. 

A state-of-the art building, built to the very highest technical and sustainable specification, this award winning facility is a fully-accessible building with a 200-seater auditorium, a studio theatre and rehearsal spaces.

Come in to The House


<p>The House stage</p>
The House stage
<p>The House stage viewed from above</p>
The House stage from above
<p>The House studio</p>
The House studio
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 307</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 307
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 306</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 306
<p>Roland Levinsky Building room 308</p>
Roland Levinsky Building room 308

The Theatre Company Model

The Theatre Company Model is one of the distinctive features of the Plymouth Conservatoire. The creation of each of our degrees is done purposefully so that you are able to generate your own theatre company based on collaborations with other Plymouth Conservatoire students. Directors, actors, theatre practitioners, and dancers all offer unique talents to any performance, and in the specifications of each degree, you are required to work across all programmes in certain modules to generate performance material. In doing so, we create an interdependence on all degrees that illustrate the collaborative nature of performance making. The Theatre Company Model is designed so you are able to create and share material with your peers both in modules and in addition to your coursework. The model enables the development of individual practical skills as well as skills in collaborative practices and the creation of material.

Alex Cahill directs Josh Ollendick in How Catherine D__ Got Her Expression.

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