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Teaching Excellence Framework 2023 - Gold Award

BA (Hons) Acting and Performance-Making

Train with theatre company The Actors Wheel as a creative and entrepreneurial performer, gaining experience in performing in a wide range of venues and contexts. Please note this programme is currently subject to approval.

Students performing

Performance opportunities and no written examinations

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Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades CCC or above

Or BTEC triple grades MMM or above

Or Access 23-45 D/M with min 6D

Or T levels P (C+)

And GCSE English Language at grade 4 or grade C or above

Applicants with other qualifications are welcome to apply

Audition required

UCAS points 96

UCAS code W410

UCAS institution code P63

Duration 3 years full time

Any questions?

Contact Charley Lumley, our Applicant Support Coordinator, if you have any questions. Email and Charley will get back to you.

Course Summary

Taught by academics and theatre professionals actively researching and making work in the industry, this programme will help to connect you with theatre companies and cultural organisations in the city of Plymouth and beyond, both nationally and internationally. It will prepare you for your future career through focused training not only in performing and in critical thinking, but also in self-producing, self-marketing and entrepreneurship, teaching you how to set up a company, apply for acting jobs, and organise a tour. 

Through practical training and seminar discussions, this course will develop your acting and performance-making skills and your theoretical understanding, and encourage you to think deeply about theatre, culture,and society. In each year you will build specialisms, for example in physical theatre and naturalism in year one, in experimental practice and acting for media in year two, and in community theatre and international tour preparation in year three.

You will take part in three major productions as well as smaller shows, one each year, performing to diverse audiences as well as invited industry contacts. As well as working within the vibrant Marjon Arts Centre in the Quad Theatre, our 300-seat theatre, and the Tempest, our black box studio, you will be given opportunity to work and train in a variety of leading and fringe theatre venues across the UK and internationally, with local links combined with international expertise to guide your journey into further study and/or industry. 

Taught by theatre professionals and expert researchers with a wealth of experience, this course features unique links with theatre makers and companies. You will have opportunity to connect with and learn from artists active in the field of theatre and performance.

Our core staff team is led by director Ellie Chadwick (previous work at Barbican Guildhall London, Exeter Phoenix, Jackson's Lane London, Trinity Centre Bristol, Tate Modern London), and includes performance maker Sharon Smith (member of international collective Gob Squad), performance artist Natalie Raven (work presented across Europe and North America). 

Additionally, we have arts practitioner Kate Massey-Chase (experienced facilitator of community projects, including in prisons, addiction recovery services, mental health services, with young refugees, adults with Parkinson’s, and in schools) and performer/director Karma Tucker (experienced singer, dancer, actor, and director of professional and youth theatre with recent productions in the South West and London).

Past guest lecturers on our performing arts programmes include director Natasha Nixon (previous work at West End, The National Theatre, The Young Vic Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith), actor Alice Feetham (as seen in TV series Save Me) and actor Adam Courting (voice actor for BBC Radio 4).


The black box performance theatre is a large and versatile 300-seat space. Some acting students are rehearsing while other students look on. It is used for a variety of events and performances.

Why this course at Marjon?

Opportunity for local, national, and international touring across all 3 years of study

Strong alumni network of working acting professionals

Work, study, and perform in a 300-seat theatre and black box studio within the vibrant Marjon Arts Centre

Train in our state of the art radio and TV studios on site at BBC Broadcasting House in Plymouth

Industry-focused modules with collaboration opportunities, including working in collaboration with established companies within the locality - as well as further afield.

Create an original work ready to tour, a business plan and marketing materials including headshots, and show and voice reels

Modules for this course

1st Year

Physical Theatre
An intensive introduction to the craft of acting, focusing on physicality and physical approaches to making theatre. Teaching core skills in movement, choreographic technique, physical characterisation technique, ensemble, and physical discipline/training/fitness.
New Writing
An in-depth, critical (and de-colonising), and practice-based look at a diverse range of exciting contemporary playwrights such as Jackie Sibblies Drury, Nathaniel Martello-White, Lucy Kirkwood, Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm, and more. Teaching skills in reading and interpreting text for performance, critically analysing plays, undertaking/applying wider research into socio-political contexts, and applying vocal and physical skills to bringing contemporary text to life on stage.
Artists in Industry 1
In this module, students are prompted to consider themselves as independent and resilient artists who have the prospect of creating their own work through self-producing as well as marketing themselves as performers to a range of potential employers. This module will provide the actors with new headshots, working CVs and introduce a range of audition and showreel material. Skills taught include: how to find work, how to write an application, how to prepare for and deliver an audition, how to build your CV and showreels, how to set and achieve professional development goals.
Theatre Lab: Devising and Improv
A chance to get to grips with devising new work and with improvisational technique, experimenting with a range of approaches and exploring various practitioners. This module will additionally explore the making of verbatim, autobiographical and biographical theatre. It will hone skills in devising, improvisation, ensemble, editing text and using a variety of stimuli as inspiration for creating new performance.
This module delves into Naturalistic acting, training students in skills required for this type of performance, such as: script analysis, interpretation, objectives, actions and characterisation. It provides a thorough introduction to methods of integrating experience and imagination to achieve truth in acting, and explores influential 19th and 20th century practitioners and writers such as Konstantin Stanislavski, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, their socio-political context, and diverse interpretations/influences of their work today.
Production 1: Regional Performer
Students will perform at Marjon’s Quad theatre as well as having the opportunity to present at a local fringe theatre such as Cygnet in Exeter. This module gives students the opportunity to present a polished piece of work in front of a public audience. They will develop their skills in performance including voice, physicality, line-learning, text-work, characterisation and so on, as well as learning more about professional practice, rehearsal room etiquette, and working as a team. They will have the opportunity to connect/collaborate with local practitioners/artists, developing their knowledge of and access to regionally produced theatre.

2nd Year

Media Performance
An introduction to how performance contributes to and intersects with a range of media including film, television, gaming, radio, podcasting, projection, and multi-sensory technologies. Providing an initial overview of a wide variety of media techniques, the module then allows students to choose an area of specialism to delve into in more depth and detail. This module is supported by specialist resources at the BBC Workshop.
Classical Theatre
This module gives a practical and theoretical overview of early theatrical history, tracing performance from its early years in rituals of ancient Greece and wider Europe to the invention of the first professional theatres in the age of Shakespeare. Students will have opportunity to perform ancient Greek plays in translation as well as Shakespearean texts, and will be introduced to specialist skills including verse-speaking, mime, mask, and stage combat.
Experimental and Immersive Performance
On this module, students will engage with non-traditional performance spaces and experimental practices in a professional arts context, through bespoke workshops and collaborative projects with experimental theatre companies/makers such as performance collective Gob Squad / HAU in Berlin and Sleight of Hand / the Watershed Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol. Students can consider travel abroad to a city such as Berlin, a cultural capital in Europe, to see a range of international performance work. They will learn about site-specific and site-responsive approaches, working with multi-media technologies onstage, immersive and participatory theatre, and interdisciplinarity in performance.
Global Theatre
Aiming to expand students’ horizons, this module will give opportunity to think internationally as a performer: honing research methods and approaches, developing a global artist outlook, and understanding ethical practices in diverse cultural environments. It will prepare students for the potential of launching an international tour in year 3, and build openness, confidence, cultural understanding, and global knowledge.
Creative Company: Community
Creative Company: Community focuses on the principles of community engagement. Exploring forms of engaging with communities as part of the practice and to share practice, this module explores how we can reach new audiences for our work. Students will explore how to design high quality educational resources to offer alongside theatre productions; how to reach out to local communities in ethical, professional and informed ways; the importance of cultural understanding and the need for highly research-informed practice when working outside traditional theatre settings; facilitation-skills and workshop design.
Production 2: National Performer
This module focuses on giving students a national outlook as they prepare a full-scale production. This might involve, for example, connecting with a director/artists working nationally, working with texts or other stimuli with particular ties to locations in other parts of the UK, and/or giving performance(s) at national venues. This module give opportunity to further polish and perfect skills in performance including voice, physicality, text-work and characterisation, as well as skills in adapting to different performance spaces and contexts.

3rd Year

Festival Performance
An opportunity for students to pitch, create, and produce their own fringe festival consisting of small-cast, self-directed performances and solo projects (such as solo performances, research project presentations, experimental interactive workshops, rehearsed readings of new writing or devised work, etc). This module hones skills in performance as well as self-producing, lighting, set-design and sound.
Community and Activist Theatre
This module will practically explore applied theatre and activist/political theatre, including the history and development of these fields, with particular emphasis on approaches to theatre as a vehicle for socio-political change. Skills taught include: analysing socio-political contexts and frameworks, facilitation and workshop leading, ethical practice when working with (vulnerable) communities, applying knowledge of leading practitioners within community/social contexts.
Artists in Industry 2
As a follow-on from first-year module Artists in Industry 1, this module seeks to provide third year students with the tools they need to jump start their careers in industry. It will provide the actors with updated headshots, polished CVs and a range of audition and showreel material. It will additionally support the Festival Performance module by looking at how the work created could feasibly be given a life in the professional world. Skills taught include: how to pitch a show to venues, how to apply for funding, how to pick and choose what to apply for, how to think outside the box for employability, tackling self-employment (tax returns and more), how to navigate industry and retain resilience and mental wellbeing.
Creative Company: Industry
Creative Company: Industry is a production focused module. Students work as a company towards the organising and planning of a production. The module will support students in their understanding of: • National and international production and touring structures • Arts Council Grant writing • Private patronage and other fund-raising methods • Production partners, communication with venues, networking • Market research, audience demographics
Production 3: International Performer
This module focuses on giving students an international, ‘global artist’, outlook as they prepare a full-scale production. This might involve, for example, connecting with international artists, working with texts or other stimuli with particular ties to locations outside of the UK, working on a virtual/digital collaboration with an institution or company in another country, and/or giving performance(s) at international venues. This module give opportunity to further polish and perfect skills in performance including voice, physicality, text-work and characterisation, as well as skills in adapting to different performance spaces and cultural contexts, preparing students for a globally-focused career in the performing arts.

Current students say...

Joanna Karim

I chose this course at Marjon because I was interested in finding out and working on different aspects of acting. There are many things about this course that I enjoy. For example, in first year I did a classical performance where we looked at Shakespeare. Within this module, there was an audition process and we learnt about what often happens in an audition and then put it to practice to help build confidence. This has encouraged me to audition for other opportunities outside of university. N

Holly Docherty

“I have been given opportunities that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I performed at The Minack Theatre in Cornwall, I remember standing on the stage staring out to the stormy sea, and I thought “this is what I am trained for”. I have been pushed outside my of comfort zone but for the better, I now have the confidence to go for auditions. When I came to Marjon I had lost sight of where I wanted to go but now I’m ready to start a PGCE to train as a Drama teacher. Thank you Marjon - for everything.”

Ashleigh Reynolds

"This course gives me the opportunity to tour not only regionally and later, the country, but to experience performing internationally. With a wide range of industry experience inbetween; from camera work to physical theatre; Shakespeare to Beckett. The course gives me the time to find my strengths and weaknesses, what I like and dislike doing within the industry."

This course is perfect if you’re curious about

How do I set up my own theatre company, and how do I tour work?

What methods and techniques for training in acting and performance are there out there, and which ones suit me?

How can innovative digital media and technology enhance acting and performance?

How can I represent myself and express my identity on stage?

What routes to sustainable employment are open to me?

Can theatre impact positive social change?

What might you become?

Our graduates go on to work as actors in theatre, film and TV, a range of theatre industry roles including technical roles, playwrighting, front of house management, directing and running their own theatre companies.

Students also develop the thinking and critical skills needed to go on to postgraduate study such as qualifying to teach drama in schools.

Students during a performance of The City

How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Every lecturer is a practicing professional in their field ensuring they are up to date with current industry practice, we also draw on an extensive network of visiting industry professionals and directors.

Students are taught through reflective praxis, which is a process of learning through doing and reflecting. This includes practical skills training, practical classes exploring acting for different theatre and media forms, rehearsal and performance, reflection and engaging with current industry debates.

Students are taught through weekly classes alternated with blocks of intense daily rehearsals for productions.

How will you be assessed?

Students are assessed through practical work. This is supported by research and reflection which is assessed by presentations, written work such as essays and blogs, and discussion, to ensure students develop the necessary communication skills for the industry. There are no written exams.

Course leader

Ellie is a theatre practitioner and researcher with international experience. As a resident artist at the Watershed Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol with her company Sleight of Hand, Ellie directs and produces experimental theatre practice using immersive technologies and community-engaged approaches. She has previously worked for the University of Bristol, the University of Warwick, and Shanghai Theatre Academy. In addition to teaching at Marjon, Ellie continues to work for a variety of companies and venues as a freelance theatre director in London, the South West, and further afield.

Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum

Fees for International students: £12,500 per annum

This fee covers your tuition and access to course-specific equipment and facilities, as well associated services including access to the library, study skills support, IT support, student support and wellbeing services and membership of the Student Union. There may be additional costs by course.

Funding available for this course

Our Student Funding Advisors offer confidential and impartial advice about your funding options.

Learn more


Kate Massey-Chase


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Kate is an experienced Performing Arts teacher. She is passionate about social justice and the use of drama and theatre for social and political purposes, and as a platform for individual or social change. She is currently researching the use of theatre in mental health contexts.

Dr Natalie Raven


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Dr Natalie Raven is a proudly working-class scholar and performance artist with over 15 years professional experience in industry, presenting and exhibiting her work across Europe and North America. She has teaching and research interests in: performer training; material and materiality in performance art; scenographic approaches to performance making; feminist performance (1960 - present); body-based performance practices; queer performance; semiotic and phenomenological approaches to performance making; re/presentations of self and identity in performance; site-specific performance in outdoor environments.

Karma Tucker


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Karma directs musical theatre productions and teaches across a range of modules including Acting Through Song, Dance, Ensemble, Singing. 

More information

Training Company Model

By studying with us students automatically become a company member, as well as a student on the programme. We intentionally keep numbers small in order to enable our person centred approach to training, each student benefits from regular one to one tutorials in order to ensure their progression is tailored to the individual.

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

In addition to the structured course elements there will be numerous additional opportunities to develop your practice and CV which are actively encouraged.

  • Workshops from visiting professionals and companies.
  • Castings and auditions for film, radio and theatre roles.
  • Theatre visits and film screenings.
  • Being part of a buzzing creative community based at Marjon Arts Centre.

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