School of Humanities and Performing Arts

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.

Plymouth Conservatoire

The House Stage, The Architects Journal

Key features

  • 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
    • ACT442 Page to Stage 1

      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.

    • ACT444 Self and Character

      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.

    • DIR400 Directing Analysis

      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.

    • DRAMA401 Devising Toolkit 1: Improvisation and Creativity

      The module identifies and explores the dynamics between the key elements of performance through the medium of improvisation, fundamental to all forms of ‘live’ theatre and performance. The module places the study of theatre and performance within a contemporary context by exploring the discourse of and tension between naturalism and non-naturalism in 20th century performance theory and practice.

    • DRAMA404 The Body in Performance

      This module positions all performance practice as the product of its own specific cultural setting. Aiming to resist a Western-centric approach, the module explores performances from different cultures whilst providing a context and awareness of the key issues and debates surrounding intercultural/cross-cultural theory and practice. It problematises the issues of theatre, culture and ideology: the politics and problems of cultural contact and exchange.

    • PLYCO400 20th Century Performance Practices

      Taught through a series of weekly workshops, students will acquire a number of basic vocal and movement techniques that will foster the development of key expressive skills. The course will seek to provide students with an introductory knowledge of vocal technique, which will include the study of breathing, projection, resonance, pitch control and posture. Students will develop basic techniques for usages of the voice in performance, in both singing and spoken registers. The module will also introduce students to basic movement techniques seeking to develop an awareness of concentration, observation, relaxation, sensitivity, responsiveness, focus and ‘presence’.

  • 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
    • DIR500 Advanced Directing

      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 full script analysis as well as a short directed scene and lecture demonstration applying a specific style.

    • PLYCO510 Placement

      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.

    • PLYCO522 Theatre Residency

      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.

    • PLYCO523 Performance Practices

      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.

    • PLYCO525 Apply, Fund, Deliver, Repeat

      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.

  • 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
    • DIR601 Dramaturgy

      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.

    • DIR602 Work Placement 3

      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.

    • DIR610 Director's Research

      Students will plan and conduct a research enquiry relevant to the application, practice and study of theatre direction. 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 in either: a written dissertation, lecture demonstration, or practical portfolio and analysis.

    • PLYCO617 Applied Practices: Community, Education and Wellbeing

      This module offers students access to community-based professionals and work-based experiences within the realm of the student's employability. Through seminars and independent practice, the student will take an initiative in directing their future endeavours regarding employability within the field.

    • PLYCO618 Festival Practices

      This module will support students' entry into the wide field of the creative industries through the careful planning and execution of a professional quality performance product. Working in small companies, students will be expected to define their particular area of interest. In dialogue with supervising tutors, students will negotiate their role within the company, and articulate how their contribution will lead towards the development of performance material commensurate to professional practice.

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.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


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

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

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.