Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Physical Theatre

BA Acting and Physical Theatre


The details
Acting and Physical Theatre
October 2023
3 years
Southend Campus

This course is now closed for new applications for October 2023. The next entry point for this programme will be October 2024.

East 15 Acting School’s BA Physical Theatre course is for actors who want to specialise in a world of physical and visual performance beyond traditional theatre and television. We combine dynamic, exciting acting training with devised and ensemble work, offering all you would expect from a traditional British drama school coupled with modern European performance methodologies.

We are looking for actors and performance makers who are passionate about physical performance, creating new work and re-imagining traditional text whilst working in parallel with the traditional intellectual approach to acting.

You acquire a wide skills base by experiencing areas such as aerial circus, devised storytelling, mask, mime, puppetry and clowning. This is underpinned by a core training in acting, voice, singing and movement, enabling you to create challenging new shows and to re-imagine traditional pieces for public performance.

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.
  • Intensive acting training for stage and screen.
  • Opportunity to create new individual and ensemble performances.
  • Award winning graduates working in all areas of the Performing Arts Industry

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

In addition to working as actors and performers on stage, film and television in the UK and across the world, BA Physical Theatre graduates have worked as puppeteers, aerial specialists, street and clown performers, and have set up their own theatre companies creating and touring new work including the award winning ‘Outbound Project’, ‘Ditto’, ‘Moth Physical Theatre’ and ‘Project Lockout’.

Graduates are currently performing in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, ‘Life of Pi’, ‘War Horse’ and ‘A Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ and work with companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, The Globe, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Told By an Idiot, Improbable, Les Enfant Terribles, Tangled Feet, Tall Stories, Graeae, La Fura Dels Baus, Theatre Royal – Stratford, the Barbican, Contact Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland.

“I believe the training in physical theatre gives a deeper awareness and understanding for any actor. I am very privileged to be in this course at East 15 with the most supportive staff and classmates, which made studying overseas feel like home.”

Deborah Hoon, BA Physical Theatre

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Applicants will need to submit a video audition and, if successful, complete a recall audition/workshop. Applicants should also have, or expect to have:
A-levels: CDD, or the equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A Levels


T-levels: Pass with C in core

IB: 25 points or three Higher Level certificates with 433.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) 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.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. 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.


Course 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.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Skills I

Regular studio classes for development of skills. Building of competence in skills such as voice, movement and singing.

View Skills I on our Module Directory



Exploration of the classical mime vocabulary. Exploration of the movement vocabulary of modern mime practitioners. Introduction to the work of key modern practitioners such as Etienne DeCroux and Jacques Lecoq.

View Mime on our Module Directory


Narrative and Story Theatre

Exploration of processes for devising, rehearsal and performance of narrative through physical and vocal techniques. Analysis of narrative structure. Analysis of text. Exploration of single narrative using multiple approaches. Performance of a story using combined techniques.

View Narrative and Story Theatre on our Module Directory



Neutral mask. Western styles of mask work. Introduction to masks from non-Western cultures. Creation of solo and ensemble performances.

View Mask on our Module Directory


Poor Theatre: At Work on Grotowski

Exploration of the mental-physical-emotional approach to performance developed by Grotowski and his followers.

View Poor Theatre: At Work on Grotowski on our Module Directory


Contextual Studies I

Introduction to learning resources. Introduction to personal record of analysis and reflection. The structures and conventions of essay writing. Introduction to the context of physical performance. Reading and analysing texts for physical theatre performance. Introduction to the contextualisation of practical work currently being explored. Critical examination and discussion of current practical work. Observation and analysis of documented performance.

View Contextual Studies I on our Module Directory



The module provides an initial training in acting theory, method and practice based on the ability to change, adapt, extend, perceive, accept and reject. You look outside yourself, approaching firstly improvised situations and then scripted text in imaginative and collaborative ways. By the end of the course you will know how to start work on a play and will have begun collaborative text work. You will be able to begin to create a character from a text and to start the process of creating the world of the play.

View Character on our Module Directory


Skills II

Regular studio classes for development of advanced skills Building of professional level competence in skills such as voice, movement and singing.

View Skills II on our Module Directory


Human Comedy; Human Drama

The module aims to examine and develop analysis and performance techniques required for Commedia dell’ Arte and melodrama, extend your ability to produce scales of acting that transcend psychological realism, and develop the ability to create melodramatic performance work, e.g. monologues and operatic songs.

View Human Comedy; Human Drama on our Module Directory


Object Theatre

Exploration of techniques of visual theatre through objects, puppets, elements of design and physical image. Practice of methods and styles of puppetry and object manipulation. Creation of a performance which emphasises the visual/kinaesthetic imagination.

View Object Theatre on our Module Directory


Meyerhold and Biomechanics

Introduction to notions of stylised theatre, to the work of Vsevolad Meyerhold and to the theory of biomechanics.

View Meyerhold and Biomechanics on our Module Directory


Circus in a Suitcase

This module introduces you to the broad range of circus skills needed to create circus. It provides an individual performance focus and encourages development of individual performance ability in a particular skill such as aerials, juggling, clowning or stilt-walking. The course delivers physical conditioning for circus skills and development of acrobatic skills. Circus is a predominantly specialist discipline in which the focus is on skills and virtuoso performance. You build on your understanding of, and experience in a variety of circus skills, and work toward a professional level of expertise in their individual circus discipline such as corde lisse, bungy, trapeze, or clowning. This unit also further develops acrobatic balancing and tumbling to a professional level. By the end of the module you will have developed and experienced a range of advanced circus skills, an individual creative performance focus in a discipline such as corde lisse, bungy, trapeze, juggling, or clowning and advanced acrobatic balancing and tumbling skills. The work of the module also includes an element of street theatre training which aims to integrate and apply elements of mask, clowning skills and commedia and thus provides you with opportunities to put into practice a wide range of the skills you have learned in the first year of the course.

View Circus in a Suitcase on our Module Directory


Contextual Studies II

The work of this module is to provide you with opportunities to examine, contextualise and interpret texts. The choice of texts will normally be guided by what is deemed suitable for the specific needs of the year cohort as a whole, thus helping to develop areas of work and professional growth which need to be addressed and consolidated specifically within the company of actors. You use music and visual art as well as text as context and source material for physical interpretation.

View Contextual Studies II on our Module Directory


Skills III

The work of this module consists of regular studio classes to deal with any on-going problems in building of professional level competence in skills such as contemporary dance, stage combat, voice and music/singing, for show preparation and preparation of audition pieces, and to establish development and practice of specific, non-standard warm-ups for a range of rehearsal and performance preparation.

View Skills III on our Module Directory


Final Performance Project

For this final performance project students usually prepare solo, dual or triplicate performances for public performance. You are encouraged to apply imaginative interpretations of text, music or the visual arts in the projects. You must also develop the ability to work independently of a director or tutor with a high degree of confidence and creativity. While the final performance will be in solo or small groups, you are also judged on your alertness to a company production. You must demonstrate the generosity and creative energy necessary to sustain fellow actors in your performances as well as your own. You write a logbook of the rehearsal and performance process and submit this at the end of the module.

View Final Performance Project on our Module Directory


Ensemble Performance Project

Development of small group ensemble. Research and development of original performance projects. Rehearsal and performance of physical theatre projects.

View Ensemble Performance Project on our Module Directory


Performance of a Text

Following the devised performance project in term one, you start to use your physical skills on an existing play. They experience the different challenges involved in bringing your creativity and athleticism to a more structured piece of writing.

View Performance of a Text on our Module Directory


Professional Preparation

This module provides you with the necessary skills and preparation to launch your professional career. You receive specific training in audition and interview technique, in marketing skills such as web design, CVs and letters of introduction and legal and financial issues affecting professional actors. Opportunities are provided for workshops, meetings and lectures by and with industry professionals such as agents and casting directors, as well as with working actors and directors. Throughout the module you are given practical assignments on which you receive feedback from guest lecturers and industry professionals.

View Professional Preparation on our Module Directory


Year 1

Your first year focuses on developing the basic skills that you will use throughout your career. You will:

  • Develop fundamental voice, movement and singing techniques
  • Focus on acting, improvisation, Poor Theatre, devising, mask, mime, bouffon, acrobatics and contextual studies
  • Work towards classroom-based performance in contemporary scenework, Poor Theatre, narrative & story theatre, mime and expressive mask
  • Present your own devised work to peers through East 15’s unique ‘Theatre Café’

Many modules culminate in performances among your peers and your practical classes are supported by contextual and historical study.

Year 2

During your second year, you will extend and build on the skills developed through first year and continue core work in acting, voice, movement and singing. You will also engage with more technically demanding subjects, such as:

  • Aerial circus
  • Object theatre & puppetry
  • Commedia Del Arte
  • Melodrama
  • Acting technique

Technical skills work results in two major classroom-based performance projects per term.

Year 3

Your final year concentrates on professional performance and career preparation. Alongside core classes, this includes:

  • Employment talks and workshops with industry professionals from major companies
  • Training in acting for screen, including filming material which can be used in a professional Showreel
  • Working with industry professionals on full productions in our state of the art theatre, including an ensemble devised performance, a scripted play and a self-created small group devised performance. Since 2016, we have collaborated with the artist-led international theatre company, ‘David Glass Ensemble’ to create shows that can be professionalised and taken beyond East 15

Students also undertake an Industry Showcase for an invited audience of influential agents, casting directors, film, motion capture, TV and theatre directors. East 15 continually liaises with industry professionals to ensure the format for the event accords with the changing landscape of the industry.

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250 per year

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

International fee

£18,585 per year

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/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding 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.

2023 Open Days (Southend Campus)

  • Saturday, October 14, 2023


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.

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Visit Southend Campus

Want to live in a central city location, with state-of-the-art facilities at your finger tips? Southend is the perfect environment for living and learning in a close-knit international community.

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

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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. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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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