MA/MFA Scenography


Program Description

MA/MFA Scenography


These courses approach scenography from multiple practical and theoretical perspectives to create new opportunities for performance design, experimentation and authorship. Students will develop key skills and undertake creative set design, stage design and performance design projects for theatre and other contexts.

About the course

Some of the major innovations in performance practices over the past hundred years have been drawn from scenographic developments.

Drawing from past and present approaches to performance design, these Scenography courses are concerned with exploring dynamic and innovative interplays between the body, space and time further informed by a variety of disciplines including sculpture, digital media, puppetry, choreography, film, architecture and sound.

Course Detail

Students of the MA and MFA combine for terms one to three of their course. The MFA extends into the second year that prolongs key practical and theoretical findings from the first year through independent and/or collaborative research, workplace/professional attachments and mentorships.

In the first year (MA and MFA) students’ existing skills and practices are challenged, extended and refined as they investigate design processes, strategies and tools for creative developments. With a balanced mix of collaborative and independent work, and a particular attention to the interplay of practice and theory, the courses include: workshops and mentoring to explore speculative and operative uses/misuses of processes and tools ranging from dramaturgy, model making and technical drawing to audio-visual media, casting, interactive sensor technologies and software; as well as studies in relevant historical and theoretical frameworks and contexts for understanding and developing practice.

The second year (MFA only) extends the practical and theoretical findings from the first year by undertaking one or two workplace/professional attachments, as well as tutorials and occasional seminars throughout the year, as part of an ongoing process of development and reflection leading to the submission of the final assessment.


This is by practical conceptions and realisations, written assignments and research presentations.

Professional Focus

Collaborative work, with fellow MA/MFA students and industry professionals, is a key part of both courses.

Students have collaborated with other courses within Central to create and design new performance work, including MA Music Theatre, MA Advanced Theatre Practice, MA/MFA Performance Practice as Research, and MA Acting for Screen.

Industry partners have included the V&A Museum, London Contemporary Dance School, London Biennale, Clerkenwell Design Week, English Touring Opera and National Theatre Studio.

Students also work alongside a range of artists and designers, for example, Helen Pynor, Nic Sandiland, Antony McDonald, and Dick Bird.

Recent Visiting Staff

Sophie Jump, Helen Pynor, Phoebe von Held, Dick Bird, Pete Gomes, Daniel Scott-Cumming, Robin Auld, Nenagh Watson, Scarlett Perdereau.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

You should normally have an undergraduate degree in the broad field of performance, drama studies or a design subject, although applications from students of other disciplines (e.g. visual arts, architecture, sonic arts) will be considered. Applications from those with at least two years' relevant experience will also be considered. An offer will normally only be made after the interview.

An MFA top-up year for those with an existing MA in this subject is also available.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.

Application Details

If you are selected for an interview for a place on the Scenography, MA or MFA courses, we will require you to bring with you some relevant examples of your practical work.

This portfolio will contribute to a further discussion about your qualifications, experience, interest in the subject and your plans for the future. Please be careful to edit and prepare your portfolio so that you can present and discuss the work with ease, and be prepared to leave it with the course team for further consideration. Preferably this portfolio will be in the form of a digital media (DVD, CD, etc). It should be no longer than four minutes in duration and should include at least two examples of your work. You will also be asked to submit evidence of your technical experience where appropriate to the nature of your chosen media.

Applicants may be seen individually or as part of a group, undertaking a number of activities as part of the interview process.

During the interview process, you will have a chance to learn more about the courses and the School.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central travelling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

Distance Interviews

Central does allow applicants to undertake a distance interview for these courses. If you live abroad and are unable to attend an interview in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance interview. If you are selected for interview in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an interview. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon the material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The interview will be conducted by the Course Leader or a member of the course team.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.

Beyond Central

Graduate employment and career pathways include:

Working with a range of practitioners and companies, for example, Hotel Pro Forma, Shunt, Grid Iron Theatre Company, New International Encounter: Visual Theatre, Opera North, Charcoalblue, Bart Hess.

Some have transferred to study Research Degrees.

Graduates have been the recipients of awards such as The Linbury Prize for Stage Design and the Protégé Arts Initiative.

Alumni are designing all over the world and have won fringe awards in Canada, China, Japan, USA and UK.


Ana Ines Jabares Pita

Graduated 2012, currently assisting and designing on a number of productions.

“Having a background in painting and music, the course challenged and broadened my creativity and, in particular, my understanding of space. The diverse range of students’ backgrounds on the course was also very enriching. After graduating, I assisted on and designed for over 20 productions including theatre, opera, film, exhibitions and events. In 2013, I received the Best Design Award at Ottawa Fringe Festival and was the Overall Winner of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2013.”

Alice Helps

Graduated 2014, currently undertaking practice-based PhD.

“After ten years working in performance design, I sought to deconstruct my working practices, in order to expand my creative potential. The course exceeded expectations, challenging me to rigorously interrogate my process and question my creative habits, which opened up vital and exciting new pathways in my creative thinking both as a researcher and practitioner. This allowed me to develop a new body of conceptual work leading to doctoral studies.”

Last updated Jan 2018

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About the School

Central stands at the forefront of training and research in the Dramatic Arts. Graduate employment statistics are amongst the highest in our sector, and our research has recently been assessed as ‘Wor ... Read More

Central stands at the forefront of training and research in the Dramatic Arts. Graduate employment statistics are amongst the highest in our sector, and our research has recently been assessed as ‘World Leading’ – and is unique in the realm of drama conservatoires. The ratio of undergraduate applications to places is the highest of any UK university. Read less