2020 applicants
Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Stage Combat

BA Acting and Stage Combat


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

Unique in both the UK and the world, East 15 Acting School’s BA Acting and Stage Combat course provides a professional, vocational training in stage combat and performance. The course enables you to develop a variety of physical performance skills that combine discipline, focus and emotional connection. These include, but are not limited to, training in martial arts, gymnastics and multiple theatrical weapon systems.

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.

Students prepare to follow a career path in theatre, film, television and performance capture where they may choose to become actors, action performers or action directors, movement specialists or continue their training to become instructors in related fields.

This course is taught at our vibrant and modern Southend Campus. With its lively, state-of-the-art facilities and close-knit international community, Southend is the perfect environment for living and learning.

View more undergraduate courses from East 15 Acting School, including further Actor training programs as well as behind the scenes courses in Creative Producing and Stage & Production Management.

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

Our expert staff

Our training is by professionals and for professionals, allowing our graduates to work successfully across the globe.

Our international, outstanding teaching faculty is made up of professionals from all areas of live and recorded performance.

Learn more about our staff here.

Specialist facilities

Our Southend Campus is based in the heart of Southend-on-Sea. A vibrant and modern British seaside town with excellent transport links.

Famous for its beach resort and pier, Southend-on-Sea stretches along seven miles of award-winning coastline. There are also over 650 acres of parks and gardens, a fun park, leisure centres, pubs, clubs, cafés and restaurants.

Southend Central railway station is opposite our Campus and the journey to central London takes less than an hour. Southend Airport, with flights to many European and UK destinations is just three miles away. We are also just one hour away from London’s Stansted Airport.

Our Gateway Building houses a purpose-built suite specifically for East 15 students. This includes fully equipped, state-of-the art rehearsal studios with panoramic views across Southend-on-Sea, plus seminar rooms, computer labs and media production resources including an Apple Mac edit suite for our BA Creative Producing (Theatre & Short Film) students.

A magnificent Victorian former church in the heart of Southend’s conservation area was converted into East 15’s Clifftown Theatre. It also houses a variety of unique spaces for rehearsals, technical and practical work and performances. The church nave, with its original organ and stained glass windows now provides an inspirational and atmospheric environment, re-designed to accommodate the needs of a twenty-first century performance space.

In ‘The Forum’ building, students have round the clock, secure access to the Learning Hub, which provides innovative IT and study spaces. The Forum also houses an integrated public and academic library, carrying books and other support materials. Students in Southend also have access to the East 15 Loughton Campus library and the University’s Colchester Campus library.

Outside of learning, the Students’ Union at our Southend Campus provides a dedicated space for students to meet, have a coffee, relax and watch films or sport. It runs a wide variety of entertainment throughout the term, such as international nights and open mic nights.

Your future

Over the years, a number of East 15 graduates have gone on to become leading actors, fight directors and stunt and specialist performers. This work extends from performing and choreographing staged fights on film, television, in the theatre, opera and ballet, to re-enactments of historic battles, animal and mechanical costume operating work for films as well as motion capture and green screen performance for the film and games industries.

“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


IB: 25 points or three Higher Level certificates with 433.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

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

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 courses for actors, directors, producers, 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 along with acting techniques working from the East 15 philosophy, which is rooted in Stanislavski principles, character work and the creation of a fictitious yet truthful world. You will also:

  • Acquire and practice skills in numerous theatrical weapon systems
  • Train in physical skills such as martial arts, contact improvisation and gymnastics
  • Experience methods of acting from the traditional inside-outside methodology, as well as exploring outside-in approaches

Your traditional performance training is supplemented with voice, movement, Commedia dell’Arte, devising and 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:

  • Skills such as voice, singing, and movement for actors
  • Different methods of rehearsal and further exploration into the scenic unit from a choreographic standpoint
  • Introduction to film and screen work
  • Exploring advanced weapons systems and continued training in martial arts
  • Further gymnastics training alongside learning the principles of acrobatics, tumbling as well as social dance and storytelling using a variety of physical skills

Your core skills training is integrated into performance and refined through projects in Shakespeare, animal studies and devised work. In the final term, students have the opportunity to apply their skills in a professional performance environment.

All work is supported with classes in contextual studies covering 20th Century Performance and the History of Fights on Film.

Year 3

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 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.

Throughout the year you will:

  • Perform in a number of public productions, including text-based performances and a devised show
  • Harness and develop your skills through further study of stage combat in performance - looking specifically at choreography and fights for film
  • Continue on-screen work by performing in scenes for camera
  • Create your own devised work through a graduation project

You will also prepare for the professional arena with sessions in audition technique, personal management skills and the process of production preparation.

The year culminates with an Industry Showcase for an invited audience of influential agents, casting directors, theatre companies, and film, TV and theatre 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

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.


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 an 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

Visit Southend Campus

With its lively, state-of-the-art facilities and a close-knit international community, Southend is the perfect environment for living and learning.

If you're joining our School of Health and Social Care, East 15 Acting School, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, or Essex Business School, you may well be studying at our Southend Campus.

Famous for its beach resort and pier, Southend-on-Sea stretches along seven miles of award-winning coastline, providing plenty of opportunities for a wide range of water sports and leisure activities.


Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification 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, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the 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 students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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