Undergraduate Course

BA Acting and Community Theatre

BA Acting and Community Theatre


The details
Acting and Community Theatre
October 2020
3 years
Southend Campus

If you believe that theatre is for all and you want to use the power of drama to influence the world, our BA Acting and Community Theatre is a dynamic, practical and professionally orientated course that provides a complete training for careers in participatory theatre in the wider community.

Alongside becoming a professional performer, you develop vital skills for contemporary community practice. This includes workshop facilitation and leadership, project management, as well as musical, technical, video and web-based experience, which you gain through working on projects with local communities and external partners.

Why we're great.
  • Intensive acting skill training by leading UK and international faculty.
  • Theatre making and creating skills.
  • Professional industry community placement during study.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Your future

Since the course was established in 2005, our graduates have worked as actors, project leaders and facilitators in communities all over the world. Several companies formed by graduates are now well established, respected and funded in an increasingly competitive industry.

“This course doesn’t only teach you to be an actor/actress but also equips you with a very handy bag of tricks ranging from circus skills to clowning to Commedia. I have worked with a huge range of people from different theatre companies and with people in the community. I’ve also learned how you can put your own company together.”

Dale Curran, BA Acting and Community Theatre

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Applicants will need to successfully complete an audition, interview or physical workshop, depending on course applied for. Applicants 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.

Please note that a satisfactory enhanced DBS check will be required prior to starting any placement(s) for this course. This will be organised by the University.
A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS Check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

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, 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.

Contextual and Community Studies

Actors spend their entire careers speaking other people’s words and trying to imagine how other people think. Contextual Studies is intended to help students to observe, to make rational sense of their observations and to put their own ideas into their own words as part of seminar discussion and in writing. The arts administration component introduces students to the principles of community theatre and the way companies work in the community.

View Contextual and Community Studies on our Module Directory

Introduction to Acting Theory, Methods and Practice, and Development From Self to Character

This core first year acting module provides an initial training in acting theory, method and practice based on the uniqueness of the individual and the ability to change, adapt, extend, perceive, accept and reject. Students move through self-study to look outside themselves, 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 are able to begin to create a character from a text and to start the process of creating the world of the play.

View Introduction to Acting Theory, Methods and Practice, and Development From Self to Character on our Module Directory

Verbatim Theatre and Contemporary Scene Study

For this core first year acting module students work in small groups to study scenes from a contemporary play, learning how to divide a scene into units of action, how to discover objectives for a character and use the text to discover information – about the play, its themes and characters. You workshop scenes in your groups, practising your learning from the early part of the course. By the end of this block of work you will be able to find a character’s through line and recreate work achieved during the rehearsal process.

View Verbatim Theatre and Contemporary Scene Study on our Module Directory

Actor and Text

This core first year acting module provides opportunities for students to apply the introductory learning of Introduction to Acting Theory, Method and Practice to more demanding textual and acting challenges. You continue to advance your actor training through a focussed approach to the theatre of a particular period. Work on this course will be informed by your learning on Contextual Studies. The work of this module progresses into second year when it informs and supports the acting/voice project in Acting Techniques and Styles.

View Actor and Text on our Module Directory

Improvised Living History

This core first year acting module provides you with opportunities to play out the life of a character under simulated rather than ‘staged’ conditions in order to understand more fully the true meaning of the character’s experience and emotional depths.

View Improvised Living History on our Module Directory

Voice I

This core full year module is one of the programme’s four skills modules. The work begins in Term One with an introduction to the anatomy of voice production. You will begin the work of acquiring good vocal habits through the use of basic vocal exercises. Techniques for direct communication with voice will be introduced. In Term Two you will develop the structures used by voice. You will work on improving articulation and explore accents and the voices of others. The work of the final term is on the vocal demands of acting, on developing clarity and power. By the end of the module you will have the ability to assess critically your own vocal capabilities and will have in place vocal exercises and a regime for future use.

View Voice I on our Module Directory

Movement I

This core full year module is one of the programme’s four skills modules. The work begins in Term One with an introduction to basic anatomy. You begin the work of developing suppleness and stamina. Techniques for the release of emotion in movement will be introduced. In Term Two you develop balance, co-ordinations and rhythm, linking movement and dance with acting. You learn a range of styles and carriage. The work of the final term covers preparation for physical demands and the extension of physical and dance vocabulary.

View Movement I on our Module Directory

Music and Singing I

This core full year module is one of the programme’s four skills modules.

View Music and Singing I on our Module Directory

Applied Theatre Skills I: Consulting the Community

In this core second year module you begin to develop relationships with key local organisations and to explore the different influences and contexts that form the cultural landscape of communities. The module is project-based and encourages you to engage with your local communities in Southend, Loughton and the wider south east England region. You gain experience of working with and for a range of people from the very young to very senior citizens, to create and present community theatre. Projects draw on observation and narrative, exploring and referring to local histories and identities. Performances take place in a range of environments such as on campus, in studios, care homes, public libraries or outdoors.

View Applied Theatre Skills I: Consulting the Community on our Module Directory

Applied Theatre Skills II: Developing the Community

This core second year module has a focus on community development, and you have opportunities to investigate equality of opportunity and community cultural development as you engage with communities in Southend, Loughton and the wider south east England region. You extend your experience of creating theatre in a range of forms, styles and performance environments. You explore a variety of approaches to physical theatre, object manipulation and outdoor performance, extending your technical and acting skills to apply to the demanding environments of street theatre. The work of this module culminates in the creation of Pandemonium – a street theatre festival for the people of Southend.

View Applied Theatre Skills II: Developing the Community on our Module Directory

Community Theatre Arts Management

In this core second year module you examine a range of community theatre contexts of arts management. You explore the structure and management of small-scale community and voluntary sector arts organisations, and community and education departments within large organisations. The module includes preparation for work placements assessed in the final year. By the end of the module you are prepared to learn and begin to apply arts administration skills in a professional company context. Aspects of event management and production management are explored. This may include such aspects as marketing, databases, budgets, liaison with agencies, licensing, risk assessment, audience management and other aspects of health and safety, along with scheduling and logistics. The structure and purpose of organisations involved in community theatre: community, voluntary, public and relevant departments under the umbrella of larger organisations.

View Community Theatre Arts Management on our Module Directory

Technical Theatre Skills

The emphasis in this module is on developing design concepts and technical expertise for mounting small-scale community theatre, and developing technical skill in video documentary. You explore case studies of design for performance in the community. You are encouraged to make use of found materials and low-budget solutions suitable for small-scale touring and work in community settings. You gain an understanding of the technical, legal and health and safety issues of performance in a range of scales and settings. You learn to carry out established risk assessment procedures and to propose appropriate solutions to health and safety issues.

View Technical Theatre Skills on our Module Directory

Special Performance Skills

The work of this module provides a training in voice, music movement and any other skills required for performance in community settings. You explore techniques of physical theatre and extended vocal work. You expand your understanding of dance and movement vocabulary including popular and culturally diverse dance forms. The work of this module provides you with an overview of the music appropriate to contemporary and historical contexts of your acting projects. You are able to apply standard body and vocal warm-ups and take active responsibility for identifying and remedying areas of personal weakness in performance. Contemporary theatre practices extend your understanding of physicality, voice, movement and characterisation in relation to community theatre. You undertake a series of intensive workshops with visiting practitioners active in the contemporary theatre profession to stimulate fresh responses to space, place and identity. The work of the module is completed by providing you with opportunities to develop a range of skills in samba, street music-making and circus in support of the outdoor project being developed in Applied Theatre Skills II. You learn how to perform percussion improvisations using junk and found instruments to create outdoor processional spectacles. You explore a range of carnival traditions and learn to make appropriate choices for your use in practical projects. You build on the skills developed in the first year to extend your technique in movement, voice and music. You are offered challenges and opportunities which can develop your competency to industry entry level. As well as developing the skills required of performers in community theatre, you develop specific skills related to your projects such as period dance or song, song writing and playing samba instruments. New skills are introduced in combat (to foundation level) and circus skills. You develop one circus skill to performance level competence.

View Special Performance Skills on our Module Directory

Applied Theatre Skills III: Wellbeing, Social Care and Criminal Justice
Applied Theatre Skills IV: Site-Specific and Web-Based Historical/Political Projects

The work of this core module complements the simultaneous work of Applied Skills III module. This module explores site-specific, issue-based and socio-political theatre. It explores citizenship, the inter-relationship of performance environment, form and content, the notion of community-based media and theatre for development. You develop a performance in an identified community setting with local historical or social significance. The performance draws on advanced technical resources in performance and production. You explore theatre as propaganda, consultation and persuasion. Provocative texts designed to stimulate debate and interactive techniques designed to promote participation and enquiry, may be be used to illustrate this theatrical form. The role of theatre in development, regeneration and conflict resolution are examined. You apply these approaches to research and development of a theatre performance. Advanced techniques in recording and editing of video and audio documentary and performance are applied to develop a project of contemporary community media. Technical skill in web design are developed.

View Applied Theatre Skills IV: Site-Specific and Web-Based Historical/Political Projects on our Module Directory

Arts Administration and Professional Development

In this module you undertake a placement for a minimum of one day per week over fifteen weeks with a local or regional arts organisation of other user/provider of applied theatre. The work may be ‘blocked’ into a total of three weeks’ work or a combination of days and weeks by negotiation with the tutor and placement provider. Potential work placement providers include arts organisations, schools hospitals and social care or youth work settings. You are supported in their placements by the module tutor and a designated work placement supervisor within the organisation. You undertake 15 days work placement during the summer vacation between second and final years or other non-teaching periods as negotiated with the course leader. You critically examine the working practices of the organisations and companies with which you have a work placement. You further explore issues in current arts management, funding and arts development. You extend your arts administration knowledge in funding sources, developing a pitch and completing an application. Production management is advanced to consider planning, prioritising of areas and time lines. The work of this professional preparation module includes lectures with key industry bodies and personal management sessions.

View Arts Administration and Professional Development on our Module Directory


Year 1

Your first year focuses on introductory acting, voice, articulation, singing and movement. You explore individual creativity and responsiveness to other actors, as well as learning how to engage and collaborate with a range of different community groups. In addition you will:

  • Develop skills in observation and self-assessment
  • Create individual character studies
  • Learn to re-create through reflection, research and improvisation
  • Participate productively in shared group experience and larger community based projects

Your first year culminates in a unique Living History Project, in which you research, identify with and experience the lives of others through different periods of conflict.

Year 2

Your second year provides key practical and public experience. This includes working in partnership with practicing professionals to create theatre based on the stories of local people alongside a range of other opportunities:

  • Collaborate with young people to make new dramatic works
  • Create and edit your own videos
  • Develop workshop facilitation and leadership skills
  • Learn clowning, puppetry and circus skills
  • Managing our annual Southend Street Theatre Festival

You also undertake an internship with a professional company, which enhances your practical understanding of the community theatre industry and helps you to forge useful links for your future.

Final year

Your third year involves extensive work with communities and professionals to help you make a seamless transition into professional life. Projects include:

  • Facilitating theatre projects within health, justice and social services settings
  • Developing a political theatre project
  • Organising a site-specific performance
  • Creating your own community play
  • Developing skills in production, marketing and evaluation

The year culminates with students showcasing their graduation projects to theatre companies and industry professionals.

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.

What's next


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 a completed 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.

Application requirements

All students on the BA Acting and Community Theatre course are required to undertake an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check because you will come into contact with children and/or vulnerable adults through a work placement undertaken as part of your course. DBS checks must be completed prior to commencement of the relevant work placement or activity.

You are required to declare a criminal record at the time of applying for the course and/or prior to completing a DBS check application. A student with a DBS disclosure certificate containing details of a criminal record will be referred to the University’s DBS Review Panel who will determine whether or not the student can be admitted to the course or permitted to continue on the course.

Southend Campus

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