Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre

BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre


The details
Acting and Contemporary Theatre
September 2019
3 years
East15 (Loughton) Campus

Our BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre is a dynamic and challenging course that trains multi-talented actors with the capacity to create bold and original theatrical works. Our philosophy sees the actor as independent, inventive and entrepreneurial ‘artist’, and gives you the confidence and competencies to realise your own artistic vision.

We combine developing your skills as an actor with experimentation in European physical theatre, devising, creative writing, composition and cross-media art, allowing you to expand into roles such as actor/musician, actor/writer, and actor/choreographer. Our teaching is inspired by Lecoq, Grotowski, Boal and their followers, and incorporates methodologies of leading contemporary international companies such as Complicite, the Schaubühe and the Wooster Group.

Why we're great.
  • Intensive acting training.
  • West End industry showcase.
  • Creation of spin-off professional theatre companies.

Your future

Alumni of the BA Acting and Contemporary course are participating in the industry not only as actors in theatre, film and TV, but also by staging their own work on stages worldwide. Recent graduates have gone on to work with major companies such as the National Theatre, Complicite and the BBC.

A highlight of the graduate year is the staging of the Debut Festival, dedicated to staging new work written, directed, devised and performed by students. Many past works have transferred to professional production in Britain and abroad.

Award-winning companies that were formed on the course include ‘Bear Trap Theatre’, ‘Late Night Gimp Fight’, ‘Snuff Box Theatre’, ‘Antler’ and ‘Lost Watch’. Major awards received by recent individual graduates include ‘Spotlight Best Actor’, ‘Olivier Bursary’, ‘Soho Theatre Young Writer of the Year’ and an Off West End “Offie”.

Festivals to which BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre students work has transferred includes;

  • Brighton Festival
  • Latitude Festival, Southwold, Suffolk
  • Pulse Festival, Ipswich
  • RADAR Festival at the Bush Theatre, London
  • Greenwich and Docklands Festival, London
  • Vaults Festival, London
  • Camden Fringe
  • HighTide Festival, Halesworth
  • Incoming Festival, London Diorama
  • Festival 45 at the Kings Head Theatre, London

Student’s shows have also transferred to The Soho Theatre and Manchester Royal Exchange. Tours included Belgium, Denmark, Iceland and New Zealand.

“This course nurtures creativity and playfulness in its actors whilst instilling in them a practical and extensive understanding of theatre craft and its artistry. It allowed me to develop both as an actor and an artist. By the time I graduated I had already signed to a leading agent and established a production company with two of my peers. We went on to win national awards at the Edinburgh Festival, leading to an international tour.”

Nathan Parkinson, BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Successful audition, plus
A-levels: CDD, or the equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A Levels

BTEC Extended Diploma: MMP (in relevant subject)

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.

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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.


Year 1

Your first year focuses on introductory acting, voice, articulation, singing and movement. You explore your own individual creativity and responsiveness to other actors. During the first year you will:

  • Develop skills in observation and self-assessment
  • Create individual character studies
  • Learn to re-create through reflection, research and improvisation
  • Understand how to act and react to emotional upheaval through a wide variety of texts
Year 2

Your second year focuses on familiarisation with form and style, allowing you to explore and experiment with a range of areas, including:

  • Visual and physical expression
  • Contemporary and Classic text
  • Physical comedy, the theatrical clown and parody
  • Scriptwriting
  • Film and cross-media art

The year ends with a site-specific production of a classical text.

Final year

Your final year focuses primarily on staging new work. Visiting industry practitioners help you develop ideas and a range of different projects, including:

  • New plays
  • Casting and approaching employers
  • Starting and marketing a company
  • Short films

As well as receiving guidance to prepare you for your post-training career in areas such as forming your own companies and casting exercises, you have opportunities to stage work in public, including a showcase event for agents, producers and casting directors.

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

We don’t currently offer Open Days for this course but if you would like more information, then please email us at east15@essex.ac.uk.


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. You’ll need to prepare three pieces of around two minutes each; one classic, one contemporary (post-1950), and one that is preferably something you have created (be it a piece of writing, music or visual art). You may also be asked to take part in a group workshop.

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.

Loughton Campus

Visit Loughton Campus

You’ll be in intensive training at one of the most prestigious and internationally respected conservatoires in the country gaining the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in the performing arts. But fear not! It’s not all work and no play at East 15 Acting School in Loughton.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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