2020 applicants
Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Stage Combat

Now In Clearing
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

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2020 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

English language requirements

If you do not require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK then we will assess your English language proficiency/ability at your interview or audition.

If your first language is not English and you are an international student that requires a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK then you will need IELTS 6.0 overall, with 5.5 in each component.

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.

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 course 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

Stage Combat II

Sword and Shield: This unit will introduce you to stage combat with a single rapier/ single-handed broadsword and a buckler. It will be the first course in which you will use a shield as well as a bladed weapon. Military Sabre: This unit will introduce students to military sabre play. This weapon is traditionally associated with cavalry and mounted troops and can have a straight or curved blade, usually single edged. Group Fights: In this unit students will be introduced to the disciplines and focus required for group fights with multiple attackers. You will work in groups, under direction, to rehearse and perform scenes of group conflict using weapons, unarmed combat and found objects. Smallsword: This unit will introduce you to a new form of stage combat; this weapon and style will require a greater delicacy of swordplay, pointwork, and footwork than you will have previously encountered. It will call on the footwork and pointwork covered in previous modules, but also introduce new manoeuvres specific to this 18th-century weapon. Knife: This weapon skill introduces you to a new fighting distance – due to the length of the blade. The techniques for knife combine the skills acquired in both unarmed and armed combat. The rhythm, tempo and speed of a knife fight will be completely different to any other weapon system you will have previously explored. Fighting on Camera: This unit will introduce students to performing fights on camera. In term two you will be presented with the disciplines involved in creating a variety of styles of combat, both as foreground and background artists within the particular technical requirements often encountered in the filming of drama.

View Stage Combat II on our Module Directory

Physical Skills II

Advanced Gymnastics, Acrobatics and tumbling: You will continue to develop both individual and team-related skills. The experience of applying a variety of skills to differing performance situations will create a strong cornerstone for the work that will be required in the final year. Aikido: As your skills and knowledge expand you will progress further in status through additional Aikido grading stages. This year also sees the blending of martial skills with stage combat. Abseiling and climbing: This unit will focus on how to climb a number of surfaces and descend from various heights using ropes and safety equipment and how these techniques may be used to achieve other team activity objectives. Movement and Dance: Explore the physical body in connection with the actor’s imagination. The student will learn and develop a process using movement as an integral part of acting by investigating: character, relationships, and the physical world of the play. Term 3 will focus on social dance, to learn the dance of a different era and the social and gender politics that go with it.

View Physical Skills II on our Module Directory

Contextual Studies II

This module aims to encourage students to develop the ability to present, discuss and defend ideas in seminar and written contexts, consider how theatres reflect their own era, and gain an understanding of the relevance of commedia and other theatres to contemporary practice.

View Contextual Studies II 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:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • 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.

2020 Open Days (Southend Campus)

  • Saturday, October 17, 2020

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.

Find out more about Clearing


We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.

Apply now
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