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Design for Performance

If you’re passionate about the performing arts and have skills in art and design our course will equip you to be part of the creative team responsible for bringing a production to life. Whichever aspect you’re interested in - costume or set design or the making skills involved in costume, props, puppetry and scenery - this course gives you a thorough grounding, before letting you refine your skills in your second year.

Course overview

In your first year, you develop your design skills, with a focus on set and costume, as you work on several projects across the year. You provide design work and hands-on creative support in the form of painting and making for college performances, and get the chance to try out a number of design based roles, while you do so. You also have the chance to showcase the knowledge you’ve acquired through creating a design-led installation for an immersive performance.

The second year builds on the skills and knowledge you have already acquired and gives you the option of focusing on a design-led approach of your choice. You work on several projects during the year, concluding with a final major project, where you design set or costume and/or work to realise design elements for a final performance piece.

The skills gained during the course enable you to apply for university or go into an entry level role in design.

Throughout both years, you work with students and staff from other disciplines to put on a range of performances - some in our own theatre space and others at venues across Liverpool. You also benefit from workshops delivered by industry professionals.

Course highlights

  • Provide regular design work and creative support for performances in our 100-seat Willy Russell Studio.
  • Experience trips to and workshops with inspiring local venues, galleries and creative organisations and individuals, along with some further afield.
  • Collaborate with students and staff from other disciplines – including actors, dancers and musicians – to put on a range of performances throughout the year.
  • Work with a wide variety of professional techniques and materials to develop your creative design and making skills.
  • Showcase your creative design skills through working closely with technical theatre students to create a live installation piece with an emphasis on design and technical elements.
  • Benefit from industry-experienced tutors who have a wealth of technical knowledge and performance experience and are still active in the industry.

Skills to be developed

Set & Costume Design

  • Drawing skills-2D sketchbook work & technical drawing
  • Model making – working to scale in 3D

Making & Construction skills

  • 3D construction (props/puppetry/set)
  • Sewing & costume construction
  • Scenic painting


Designing from text

Presentation & portfolio building


What our students go on to do

Students who have recently graduated from our Design for Performance course have gone on to study at:

  • Birmingham City University
  • Guildhall School of Music & Drama
  • Leeds Arts University
  • Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
  • Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts
  • Rose Bruford
  • The Northern School of Art
  • University of the Arts London (UAL)
  • University of Chester

Enrichment activities

We offer a range of enrichment activities alongside your studies, which vary from year to year depending on our students' interests. Previous enrichment activities have included directing, scriptwriting, our weekly lunchtime gigs the Soundcheck Sessions, knitting club, theatre special effects makeup, LGBTQ club, choir and football.

Did you know?

  • Design for Performance students have successfully participated in the annual Royal Opera House Design Challenge, where they are asked to design set, costume or marketing material for an opera or ballet while receiving a brief and guidance from a ROH director and designer.
  • Design for Performance students regularly work on a variety of projects and participate in talks and workshops with creative companies such as Lantern Company, Zap Graffiti, Welsh National Opera, Everyman Theatre, Qdos Entertainment and Backstage Academy.

How do I apply?

We usually hold in person presentations and interviews for our courses. Providing there are no pandemic-related restrictions during the application process from September 2022, we will continue to hold in person presentations and interviews during February and March 2023 for September 2023 entry.

The details of what applicants are asked to do can be found below, to help you prepare in advance of your presentation and interview. 

Presentations and interviews are held in February and March, and decision letters are sent out in April.