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BA/BA (Hons) Performance

Focussing on practice, BA (Hons) Performance offers students the knowledge and skills to make innovative, relevant and engaging new work for contemporary audiences and communities.

The programme aims to develop students’ knowledge of the field of performance while equipping them with the practical skills that are essential for developing a career in this sector. This two-year programme is intended for Direct Entry to Level 3.

Why QMU?

The origins of Drama teaching at QMU reach back to 1929, with the foundation of the Edinburgh College of Speech and Drama, which became part of QMU (known then as Queen Margaret College) in 1971. Therefore all our teaching draws upon a vast experience and legacy of successfully preparing students for entry into the field of professional performance - there are QMU graduates in most of the major theatre and performance institutions in Scotland, and of course many have also gone on to successful careers further afield.

Just a six-minute train ride from the centre of Edinburgh, we are well placed to have easy access to the year-round performance opportunities that the Festival City provides, and our students often use the festivals as springboards for their own careers.

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About the course

The BA (Hons) Performance award offers a new articulation route for students who have already achieved an HND in Acting and Performance. Building on the performance modules that we successfully deliver on our Drama programme, it provides a tailored route to a degree level qualification for those students who find they learn best through the physical exploration of the subject. Focusing on the breadth of forms that performance can take, the programme will be of interest to those who wish to explore the potential of performance beyond the conventional modes and spaces with which it is most traditionally associated.

Teaching on the programme is comprised of a combination of workshops, lectures, seminars, tutorials, case studies, demonstrations, simulation exercises, embedded skills training, field trips and projects. The methods used vary from module to module. Students’ performance is assessed through a variety of methods including performances, presentations, essays, reports, reflective portfolios, group work exercises, and a practical dissertation or project.


You can opt to study for an ordinary degree, completing one year of this course or an honours degree, completing two. You will complete a range of modules each year as outlined in the following modules section.


Level Three

T2185  Contemporary Scottish Theatre in Context  
T3219 Devising Practices
T4177 Drama in Education
T3199 Performance Project
I3196 Designing a Research Project
  Optional module

Level Four

  Optional module
T4176 Creative Practice & Enterprise
T4132 Honours Study
T4178 Creative Learning and the Community

Optional modules change year on year, but may include: Playwriting, Site-Specific Performance, Site & Sound, Experiential Learning Placement, Devised Physical Theatre, Performance Art Practices, Theatre Laboratory Practices, Directing, Designing and Performing Shakespeare, Directing, Designing and Performing Contemporary Plays, Student Initiated Module

Teaching, learning and assessment

The programme adopts a blended learning approach with teaching and learning activities mostly falling into two broad categories, each best suited for particular types of activities: seminars and workshops, which comprise the majority of the hours of staff-student contact on the programme. In seminars students will participate in active debate on theories, concepts and ideas in this academic field; collaborate on problem solving; and engage in critical analysis of performance. Workshops are the primary form of student-staff contact for this programme, with students engaging in practical activities facilitated by the lecturer (or supervised by members of the staff team) either individually or in groups, as best befits explorative learning within this collaborative art form. The teaching team also recognises that student-to-student interaction can be a highly effective learning activity and use various forms of group work, problem-solving groups, case based learning and project production teams, to enable this.

Peer teaching is enabled through the use of seminar presentations, postings of individual and group research processes on the Hub and/or PebblePad, and collaborative devising or workshop generation processes. Students are also encouraged to be enquiring, critical and innovative. Emphasis is placed on analytical, divergent ways of thinking. In addition to their own independent learning, students also initiate and lead individual tutorials/workshops with members of staff in relation to coursework or dissertation supervision. Most modules on the BA (Hons) Performance are core, with one optional module in L3 and one in L4.


Students are offered the opportunity for Industry Based Learning through placement opportunities in modules Creative Learning and the Community, Drama in Education (Community Workshop Placement), and also if they elect to take Experiential Learning Placement. Industry based learning can occur in a diversity of areas, e.g. - community and youth theatre organisations, schools, arts organisations, charities and community groups.

External stakeholder links with the staff team continue to grow and develop. Examples of placement opportunities range from the Edinburgh International Festival to working with independent theatre companies or the Brunton or Lyceum theatres as well as a range of local primary and secondary schools. The mix of student placements is very diverse and we aim to accommodate all student aspirations.

Exchange opportunities

In Year Three, you have the opportunity (subject to availability) to study for one semester at a university overseas. For more information, see Exchanges and Study Abroad.

Please note that exchange opportunities are subject to availability. In addition, please note that where exchange opportunities are arranged in the EU, Erasmus+ funding is available for 2021/22 only.


This programme is particularly suited to those who wish to pursue a career through applied performance practice (education, community outreach, independent performance work etc.). For those interested in pursuing a career as a professional actor, we would instead recommend our Acting and Performance programme.

Employability is built into BA (Hons) Performance programme explicitly through modules like Creative Practice and Enterprise, as well as through the practical skills taught to students and the transferable skills of research, communication and independent learning that are delivered across the curriculum. Students are also encouraged to liaise with QMU’s careers service in order to identify further opportunities for professional and personal development.

During the programme, students are introduced to the on-campus Business Gateway and Business Innovation Zone (BIZ). The BIZ provides business incubation space for any student or graduate led start-up companies, providing them with:

  • Desk space
  • QMU business address
  • Meeting facilities within the BIZ space
  • Access to ad-hoc rehearsal space and editing facilities
  • Business Gateway support and advice
  • Profile for their company on the BIZ website
  • Support with marketing materials
  • Access to entrepreneurial networks within QMU and other universities, for example Enterprise Campus, Scottish Institute for Enterprise, Sporting Chance and Converge Challenge

In the last three years, 11 companies set up by 31 of our performing arts graduates have been successfully supported by the BIZ.

Entry requirements

Standard entry requirements

  • HND in Acting and Performance OR Musical Theatre OR Performing Arts with B/CB in the graded unit
  • Successful completion of year one and two of a undergraduate performing arts degree in a relevant subject area

Non-standard entry

While the centralised admissions team will manage applications for standard entry, to ensure consistency of decision-making the programme leader or admissions officer will assess applications for non-standard entry. An interview with the applicant may be arranged in order to gather evidence. Entry would normally be based on the following criteria:

  • Evidence of aptitude in written English, which is essential for ensuring applicants will be able to cope with the written assessments required.
  • A personal statement demonstrating a realistic anticipation of the challenges presented by the degree and a sense of their potential to meet these.
  • Experience of/enthusiasm for drama whether as an audience member or as a theatre-maker that is gauged within what was accessible to the candidate. In some parts of Scotland there is little youth theatre, offer of drama within secondary education and limited access to professional theatre performances.
  • Qualifications demonstrating the ability to engage in sustained, systematic study even if this is not within the standard entry requirements (see below with regard to recognition of prior learning).

Applications for entry with general advanced standing (i.e. credit for previous study) are referred to the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning Panel. Credit may also be given for prior experiential learning. Normally, credit given will be specific rather than general, i.e. on a subject for subject basis.

International: International: IELTS of 6.0 with no element lower than 5.5 

Awarding body


Professional registration. accreditation


Teaching staff, class sizes and timetables

For more information, please see ‘How we teach and how you’ll learn’.

Please note:

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2021/22 Entry Terms and Conditions (Undergraduate).

Teaching staff may be subject to change.

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Course Overview

On campus
2 years
Start Date
September 2021
Study Abroad
Fees & Funding