Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Stage Combat

BA Acting and Stage Combat


The details
Acting and Stage Combat
October 2020
3 years
Southend Campus

BA Acting and Stage Combat provides a professional vocational training in stage combat and performance unique in the UK and the world. We enable you to develop a variety of physical performance skills in a disciplined, focused and emotionally connected way. These include gymnastics, martial arts and the use of multiple weapons.

Applicants must be able to face the strenuous physical demands of this course, which is ideal if you have a physical background and want to develop your skills in a creative context using your whole body to express character and story.

Why we're great.
  • Advanced skills in multiple forms of stage combat.
  • Intensive acting skill training by leading UK and international faculty.
  • Acting for camera.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Your future

Over the years, a number of East 15 graduates have gone on to become leading actors,fight directors, stuntmen and specialist performers. This work extends from staged fights on film, television, in the theatre, opera and ballet, to re-enactments of historic battles, and animal and mechanical costume operating work for films.

This course intends to draw upon this expertise and put stage combat and related specialist performance skills into a coherent context and improve practice in this area.

“For three years I have not only thrown punches and swung swords, I have used puppetry, studied classical text, learnt to tumble, devised, written and acted, fired the occasional handgun and collaborated with and been taught by some incredible industry professionals that have pushed me to succeed.”

Dean Ridge, BA Acting and Stage Combat

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Applicants will need to successfully complete a physical workshop audition and should also have, or expect to have:
A-levels: CDD, or the equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A Levels


International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.


Example structure

We offer dynamic and unique course for actors, directors, technical theatre specialists and students of theatre practice. Training at East 15 draws upon 50 years of tradition combined with a keen sense of the world of stage and screen today.

Our carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore and develop your specialist training.

Stage Combat I

Unarmed Combat: This unit will introduce you to unarmed stage combat and during the course you will look at moves and techniques that are in common use in professional stage combat. Rapier and Dagger: This unit will introduce you to your first bladed weapons. Rapier and Dagger are the most commonly called for weapons system in stage work – as it was the Elizabethan / Jacobean choice of weapon. Quarterstaff: Following assessment of skills proficiency in performance with Rapier and dagger and unarmed combat in the second half of term two this unit will introduce you to stage combat with staves. It is one of two units in which you use an individual, double-handed weapon. Mediaeval Sword (hand and half broadsword): This unit will introduce you to stage combat with the Broadsword and is the second of the two units in which you will use an individual double-handed weapon.

View Stage Combat I on our Module Directory

Physical Skills I

Gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling: The overall aim of the unit is to provide you with the capabilities of performing advanced physical routines. This will directly apply to unarmed stage combat and will also relate to armed combat and personal development. Aikido: You will be introduced to and train in the martial art, Aikido. By studying Martial Arts you will begin to appreciate the motivation and intention behind real techniques, so that you will be able to apply this knowledge in a performance of unarmed stage combat and benefit from increased physical awareness and flexibility. Movement: This unit will look at different styles of movement training than is offered in other units – with the principles rooted in the teachings of Alexander, Laban and other revolutionary movement practitioners. By understanding the way that we move and the habits that have developed, we can make can an active choice to alter habitual and ineffective motions. Dance: This unit will introduce you to ballet. In ballet you will study movement that can be used to inform a great deal of “period style”. Ballet will also inform the balance and footwork that will be required when you progress to 18th-century smallsword. Note that we reserve the right to substitute other styles of dance. Archery: This unit will introduce students to modern archery practice and the English longbow. In the first part of the unit in Term Two you will focus on how to use the weapon system safely and begin to understand how it could be used effectively in a performance context. In the second part of the unit, in Term Three, there will be an increased focus on the effective incorporation of correct technique in an historical performance scenario. You will have an opportunity to apply your training in a shooting competition.

View Physical Skills I on our Module Directory

Contextual Studies

Theatre History and Research Methodology: This unit is designed to present students with an overview of theatre history; you will examine the roots and traditions of British theatre history and consider the effects of key European influences on the development to Theatre and Drama in this nation. Anatomy and Physiology: In this year-long unit you will study the human body – developing understanding of how it can be nurtured and destroyed. You will learn efficient ways to look after your own health, as well as the health and safety of others. Health and Safety:You will receive lectures to introduce the current legislation requirements, practices and accepted style of risk assessments and forms of evaluation that could be expected of you in the profession. Another strand of this course is the care of weapons, as poorly looked-after stage weapons can quickly become a hazard to performers.

View Contextual Studies on our Module Directory


Year 1

Your first year combines an intensive focus on stage combat and physical training with an introduction to the basic methods and theories of acting, particularly the work of Konstantin Stanislavsky and Rudolf Laban. Stage combat and physical training includes:

  • Study at least 4 weapons systems in stage combat
  • Aikido training
  • Physical skills including ballet and gymnastics

This is supported by contextual studies which help you to understand the skills you learn in terms of their historical significance and contemporary potential.

Year 2

Your second year continues to combine aspects of stage combat and physical training with the development of your acting abilities. This includes:

  • Four further advanced weapons in stage combat
  • Introduction to film
  • Work towards higher belts in Aikido
  • Gymnastics-focusing on ensemble work and storytelling using a variety of physical skills

Alongside contextual studies, you also have opportunities to refine and apply your skills in a range of performance projects.

Final year

Final year students will immediately notice the change in focus from the units of the first and second years. There is no longer an intense focus on building skills in specific weapon disciplines. The goal of the final year student is to combine combat training, acting skills and enhanced creativity to given circumstances. You will move from being performers of stage fights and explore choreography, which will call upon a variety of physical and contextual skills. You will study the logic and progression of story line and character action within a stage fight and explore the different presentational requirements of a variety of performance venues in a range of scenarios and production briefs. You will be given opportunities to put your ideas into practice and will learn how to communicate your ideas to others.

You will take part in a number of public performances that highlight your skills – demanding focus, creativity and professional conduct. Working with a director, you will be expected to do research and rehearsals outside of sessions and bring the results into rehearsals to be refined and moulded.

You will be introduced to another group of theatre practitioners who will directly affect your practice: the technical department consisting of designers, costume and wardrobe, stage managers etc. and experience the demands of sustaining performance in a technical production

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee


Additional costs for materials and field trips of up to approximately £650 per academic year. Equipment lists are reviewed annually.

International fee


Additional costs for materials and field trips of up to approximately £650 per academic year. Equipment lists are reviewed annually.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

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  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.


Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are ‘L’ and ‘S’ respectively.

You also need to complete and send us a completed East 15 application form, including a copy of your audition payment receipt so that we can arrange your audition.

For full details, please see the East 15 website.

Apply now


Applicants to this course will need to book an audition. If you apply to us through UCAS we will send you information on how to do this. Alternatively, you can apply to East 15 directly. If you’re resident in the UK you’ll visit our campus to take part in the audition, where you’ll meet some of our staff and sample our teaching. Please see our website for more information about preparing for auditions.

Our staff travel the world auditioning applicants so if you’re not resident in the UK, it’s likely that we’ll be in a location near you at some point. This will be a one-to-one audition. If you still can’t make a physical audition, we are sometimes able to accept video auditions.

Offers for these courses will only be made after a successful audition.

For full details, please see the East 15 website.

Southend Campus

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